Dear readers, tonight with me are two characters that sprang out of their books to confront their authors. One, a handsome rogue, is the last chauvinist left in the feminist fantasy realm; the other is a space defender, struggling to be a strong female protagonist in books written by a pulp-fiction author.
They are here to tell us about their adventures.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Xander: My background is of little importance.
Xander: Oh, all right.
I was born in the village of Scrubbleypot, a three-day trek from the Landrian capital. My father was a knight in the old king’s royal guard, and died a warrior’s death on the battlefield, leaving behind his wife with child, a farm, and a cow. I was the child, and I had a miserable upbringing. My mother thought little of me because I reminded her of Father. I, in turn, think little of her.
Lyra: I was born on Terra in the year 5740. After years of rigorous training, I was inducted into the prestigious League of Space Defenders, a special force that protects the galaxy from alien threats. In ’75, I and a team of seven other Space Huntsmen were dispatched to the Jerome Moon Outpost, in preparation of a future civilian colony. Unfortunately, there was a … devastating incident on the base that left everyone but myself dead. With our comms destroyed, I had no way to call home and report what had happened; instead, I’ve taken it on myself to identify the culprit and avenge my team.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Xander: A great warrior does not require such … intricacies…. Actually, we were too poor to buy toys, and I hadn’t a father to carve gewgaws and baubles from fallen branches as the other lads did. I never did learn to carve my own, but perhaps I shall when I meet a woman worthy of bearing my children.
My most cherished memories are those of solitude. When I’d finish milking the cow and letting it out to pasture, I would run to the untamed forests surrounding our land and listen to the birdsong. It is possible to lose track of time in there, for it is always dark beneath the canopy of trees. Thus ends the cherishable portion of any such memories, for Mother detested when the cow got out from being left unattended.
Lyra: My favorite toys growing up were my model starcruisers and VR headset. We all got them as space cadets for training simulations, but I figured out how to add a variety of entertaining games to my system….
What do you do now?
Lyra: I may have no contact with the League of Space Defenders, but I’m still a Space Huntress through and through. I’d dreamed since childhood of going to space, colonizing the moon, and expanding our access to the world as much as I can. I just hope I’ll make it back to Terra with my findings someday.
Xander: At this time, I am my own master. After a brief juncture in the Landrian army, I took up service as a rogue mercenary. I serve whomever I please, but unlike many, I am still a man of great honor. And alas, my heart belongs the fair ruler of Landria, Lady Jen Mondegreen.
Wait, what do you mean by “alas”?
Xander: For ages, I have felt stifled under the written commands of my authoress, whom you may know as Carolina North. In actuality, her name is Jen, and her physiognomy bears much aesthetic resemblance to the Lady Jen with whom I am forced to regard as a kindred spirit.
I do not love Lady Jen; but my authoress’s words which dictate that I act to the contrary.
Lady Jen does not please me: she is fat and homely, she talks too much, and her ideas … they’re positively outrageous! She expects that women are the future leaders of our realm, and that we should listen to them for they are better and far more capable than the menfolk. Bah!
If the fairer sex were to rule, Landria would be waging weekly wars against our Jeddan allies over petty disagreements of fashion! Picture that scenario in your mind and tell me it does not make you shudder….
Lyra: I am so sorry, everybody.
…Okay. What can you both tell us about your latest adventure?
Xander: My latest adventure was not confined to Ms. North’s pages: one day, I found myself delivered from my world to hers by a mysterious power even a man as wise as I cannot begin to understand. I took the opportunity, as improbable as it seemed, to ask Ms. North why she commanded me to behave so unpleasantly against my own wills … as well as to implore of her to stop writing about the state of my admittedly well-toned abs.
Lyra: (Ew.) I also found myself transported out of my world in the middle of a very intense battle…. It was like the ground opened up from underneath me, and the sky seemed to fold in on itself. Next thing I knew, I was standing on Ryan’s desk, staring up at him as he typed away on this peculiar black machine with buttons. And he was a giant!
What did you first think when you first arrived in your authors’ world?
Lyra: “Hm, not too shabby for such a shabby place.”
Xander: “Why does my authoress spend such an inordinate amount of time describing my, er, abs?” I mean, they are incredibly toned and all, but … I feel she ought to spend a little more time describing my wit, my reflexes, my ingenuity…. It’s not like I’m all brawn and no brain!
Lyra: Doubtful. There’s really something to be said about how writers live versus the worlds they write in. Ryan’s apartment is tiny, but he seems content with it because in his imagination, he’s having adventures on the moon. Well, he’s writing them; I’m having them.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
Lyra: The scariest thing that happened to me was when this really ugly, really pompous guy chased me up a tree and threatened to steal my heart!
Xander: Fair vixen, I was paying you a high compliment!
Lyra: If he doesn’t stop bothering me, I’ll….
Moving on. What is the worst thing about living in your author’s world?
Xander: The food displeased me. Everything is so large, and yet so insubstantial. At many a tavern in my authoress’s world, they serve not a single drop of ale. And the breads…. The breads are airy and saccharine – no wonder my authoress looks as she does!
Lyra: Putting up with this guy.
What is the best thing about it?
Xander: Meeting a truly beautiful woman who stole my heart!
Lyra: Ignore him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
I’d say the best thing about living in Ryan’s world was being able to get to know him better. And I think now he understands me too. Before, he was just the guy who told my story and made me say and do stuff. Now, he’s the guy who’s able to let my life unfold on my terms. It’s been a lot less bloody since then.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Xander: During my time in the company of my authoress, I befriended a kindly rodent whom I dubbed Bartholomew, after my mighty steed back in my world. He was faithful, obedient, and incredibly intelligent. Bartholomew the Second met an untimely end at the hands of a foul beast….
Lyra: All my friends are dead. I don’t want to talk about it.
Any romantic involvement?
Xander: Maybe…. *gazes longingly at Lyra*
Lyra: Nope. None at all. *fumbles around under the table for the panic button*
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Xander: My authoress’s feral beast, Ruffles.
Lyra: It’s a cat.
Xander: It is a giant cat, with an unquenchable appetite for mouse- and man-flesh!
Lyra: … Come on, Xander. If it were so hungry, it would’ve done away with your Jen lady a long time ago.
Anyway, what do I hate? I hate being alone.
Xander: Well, I could–
Lyra: *holds up a hand* I’m not finished.
I’ve spent the last several months battling every other alien to my home on the moon, on a vengeance quest to identify the killer of my colleagues. But it’s been a fruitless search; someone always winds up dead at the end of the day and I still have no leads, no answers.
If I keep at this, soon I’ll be the last person on the moon and I’ll have more blood on my hands than the one who murdered my people, cursed be their name.
Oh, and I also hate being alone with Xander. Please, make him go away before I stab him myself.
Whats your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Xander: I’ve been known to enjoy a tankard or two of mead or ale, sometimes both. And I love all the colors in the world except for fuchsia. (Why did that ignorant wench have to give me fuchsia eyes, of all things?)
Lyra: My favorite color is blue. It’s very calming. The idea of curling up on a comfy couch with a book and a cup of peppermint tea doesn’t sound too bad. I suppose if I lived on Earth full-time, I’d do that more.
What does the future hold for you?
Xander: My plan is to confess to Lady Jen that I care not for her affections, and perhaps return to my farm to inspect its state of affairs. I never did sell it after Mother passed into the Realm of Ancestors, and goodness knows where that cow ended up! I have a craving for a nice, juicy steak….
Lyra: Peace. When I go back to the moon, my plan is to stop letting my sword as a mode of communication. I’m going to start talking to people instead of fighting them. Then and only then am I certain that I’ll make headway in avenging my teammates’ deaths.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Xander: When I was a little boy, I found some paper among my mother’s things, and wrote my first book. It was the charming tale of a young boy named Xavier and his good friend, Bessie the Cow. It was called “Xavier and His Good Friend, Bessie the Cow.” Though Mother was unhappy that I’d used up so much of her good stationery with the rough draft, concept art, and final illustrations (hand-drawn by none other than myself), I was undeterred and sought to furnish a second copy to bring to the man with the printing press in town. However, I ran out of paper halfway through this process. So ended my career as an author myself.
Lyra: When I was still in the Academy, I was the youngest cadet to make the trans-Jupiter run in less than fourteen kleptrons.
Aerin S. Grey is an illustrious artist, creative writer, and caretaker to several feline overlords in the realm of the American Midwest. Elsewhere, in New England, resides Allison Rose, author of one other novelette that shall not be named, and a handful of short stories that typically involve hamsters taking over the world. Allison and Aerin first became acquainted through Figment, a now-defunct writing site for teens; Cliche is their first writerly collaboration.
You can find Lyra and Xander on the pages of Cliche.
Join us next week to meet an 11th century Viking who took a most amazing trip to Rome. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.