Dear readers, tonight with me is a goddess, though as her domain is the moon you might find her a tad unhinged. She is here to tell us about her world, and about her struggles with her brother who ferries drowned souls to the afterlife.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up on the Isle of Shadows, the place of in-between, home of the gods. The place that shifts and drifts. It’s a corner of the After World sitting in the sea. A paradise full of unhappy gods.
But it had nice places to play and I could always see the moon at night. It smelled like honey and sweet flowers. My brother and I were close then. We had adventures and found treasures on the beach. Seashells and shiny rocks.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I had a doll. Pretty doll. Black hair and dark eyes with a dress that sparkled like the stars. Named her Min. Loved her. (sighs) Aryna blew her away on the wind. She was a mean sister. Never liked her. Wanted to see how Min would fly, she said. I cried.
Mother tried to make it better. Gave me a bone to play with instead. I didn’t like it. It smelled. I hit Aryna with it though. Felt better. Making her cry is a good memory.
What do you do now?
Stay on my island until the bad things happen. Stare at the moon, splash in the sea.
Sometimes I talk to bones. Sometimes they talk back. I sing to my children. Hugh sings too, though he doesn’t get too close. He has bad memories of my children. Of when they tried to eat him. We took a boat trip last week, to see the Stone Giants. They like me now. Mother may have told them too, but no matter. The Stone Giants have more to say than the bones.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
I took a trip to see Mother, caught a… oh best not say that. Someone told me it’s a spoilery thing. There were pirates sailing about, but I didn’t see them. Gave my brother a map. He might be cross about that, but I didn’t know. Mother did things to the map. (shrugs)
Before that I listened to the bones whisper secrets and did some magic with the Grey Sisters. Oh, and fought that nasty monster who…oh, another spoiler thing. Of course, I never used to be so helpful. I used to be mad at my brother and tried to… oooh, no can’t say that either.
What did you first think when the Nightmare Crow visited you?
I thought he was odd. A funny talking bird. All strut and puffed up feathers. A silly bird. But I liked him. He told me things. How to hurt my brother. I liked that. I was angry then. The bird said all the right words. All the right lies. Until I stopped listening. Then he got angry. Then he was a nasty bird. Don’t like nasty birds. Told him to go away. Things got better after he left.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
I was the scariest, or my children. Or maybe Ashteus, though he was more nasty. Mother probably scares most people. I don’t understand fear much. Hugh says that’s strange. Maybe. I like strange.
What is the worst thing about being a goddess?
All the boring bits. Years and years, all alone, roaming about. No one to talk to but the bones. Tried to make friends, but mortals die. And the other gods… well, we don’t get along most of the time. It was very lonely. Now I have Hugh, though, and it’s better. Hugh’s not boring. He listens. Doesn’t lie to me.
What is the best thing about it?
Doing what you want, silly. I can travel anywhere in the world and see anything. I can collect seashells from all the beaches. Nobody tells me what to do. Nobody bothers me. They usually run away. And I like flying in the sky. It’s a pretty blue.
Tell us a little about your friends.
That would be Hugh. He’s a ghost who used to be my brother’s, but he liked me better. He lives on my island now. He visits all the other creatures, though some have gone back to live with Mother, and he has a garden. He grows lovely flowers. (giggles) He sits for hours, growing flowers, pretty blooms all in a row. Pinks and blues, all the hues. (spins around) Lots of hues for Hugh.
He cries sometimes, though. For his wife. He’s dead and she’s not. He finds that sad. It is sad. The things that could have been that aren’t. I know how that feels. Sometimes I’ll sing to him. He smiles when I sing to him.
Any romantic involvement?
Don’t want to talk about it. (scowls, then sighs) That’s how all the bad started. I don’t think gods should fall in love. It never ends well. It didn’t for me. Or Mother. It didn’t for Hugh, either, and he’s not a god. Maybe love isn’t a good thing.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
I hated my brother. For years and years. Now I don’t.
Hate the nasty bird. Nasty, nasty bird. Listened to him. Did bad things. Made my children do bad things. Shouldn’t have listened to him. But I helped Mother… oh, almost said things I shouldn’t. (giggles) But the nasty bird got punished.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
I like the silver, the colour of the moonlight dancing off the dark water. I watch the moon when I walk on the beach or dance in the sand. That’s how I feel happy. Or I sing lullabies to my children and watch them drift to sleep under the water. Sometimes I listen to the wind to see if it’s whispering things.
I don’t have a favourite drink, but I like berry cordial. My brother likes wine or rum. Hugh doesn’t drink, but he says he used to like tea. (wrinkles nose) Don’t like tea much.
What does the future hold for you?
Don’t know. Father would know, but asking him won’t help. He won’t tell. Changes things he said. Not knowing is better. Maybe I’ll go on adventure all my own. Or one with Hugh. Maybe we should go visit the dragons. That would be fun. Mother killed a dragon once. She kept its bones as decorations.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
I know who lives in the Lost Sea. The bones told me. All the names, all the blame. They sailed away, on a sunny day, from the Isle of Shadows. Long long ago.
They’re not lost, they ran away. Rogues and rascals, misfits who didn’t like the rules.
My brother will find all that out one day soon…
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry.
You can find Manume on the pages of Ghosts of the Sea Moon and the rest of the Saga of the Outer Islands trilogy.
Join us next week to meet a man who rides dragons across time. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.
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