Who's Your Fantasy Bartender?
Today I'm delighted to welcome author E. Chris Garrison to my blog as she tours the internet with her wonderful Tispy Fairy Tales. I gather she's just returned from the Indianapolis Monument Circle of her books, where she met... well, I'll let her tell you... Welcome Chrissy.
Having a Brew With a Fantasy Bartender
By E. Chris Garrison
Sometimes characters become fairly real to an author. We argue with them, trying to forward a plot while the character, in our mind's eye, pouts and stomps their feet, refusing to do as we say because it's not how they would handle the situation we put them in. We spend much mental effort putting ourselves in their places, to keep the characterization authentic and true to the vision we're trying to portray. But they have a way of taking on a life of their own.
But some characters spend a lot of time in the background, more or less as plot devices, and it's harder to get to know them. So, I thought I'd get to know one who's a constant for Skye, the main character of the Tipsy Fairy Tales. And since he's a fixture in his own bar, I thought I'd go visit Greg Heath.
Heath's place exists on the Indianapolis Monument Circle only in my books, so as I strolled in off the street, the tangibility of the scents of fried food and the noise of the crowd took me by surprise.
"Help you, ma'am?" The black-aproned man who peered at me from behind the podium at the door had amusement in his eye. He scratched his Roman nose absently, but his eyes focused with great attention on me.
Since I am me, I wondered what he saw as he looked at me. I smoothed the skirts of my dress and adjusted my purse on my shoulder, trying not to seem self-conscious. "Uh, I just want to sit at the bar."
The man nodded and pointed with his chin. "Seat yourself, I'll be with you in a minute."
As he slipped away to talk to a neon-green-haired waitress, I found myself a seat at the bar, uncomfortable because I couldn't find a stool with no one next to me. I found myself sitting next to an enormous hunk of a man, though he didn't acknowledge my quiet greeting.
The hawk-nosed man who'd met me at the door appeared behind the bar, towel slung over one shoulder; I knew at once that I'd been talking with none other than the proprietor, Greg Heath. He flashed me a grin and touched a chalkboard behind him. The list of beers taunted me. A fan of craft beer myself, I could only imagine what my idealized brewmaster had on tap. And in this case, I'd get to taste.
I bit my lip at the decision. Should I have "Pumpernickel Porter", "Strawberry Blonde", "Monumental Red Ale", or … OH!
"You still have some Heath's Heather Honey Gruit left on draught?"
Heath grinned and nodded, already pulling a pint of the legendary beer. As he set it in front of me, I must have seemed a little too excited, because Heath chuckled. "On the house, ma'am."
I hesitated, the glass halfway to my lips. "What, why?"
Heath shrugged. "I figure I know who you are. Your money's no good here."
I set the glass down and extended a hand. "Chrissy."
He nodded. "Pleasure, Chrissy. Greg Heath. But you know that."
I smiled and nodded. "The pleasure's mine. This place, well, you may not know it, but it's a favorite of the places, well, you know, the places that I…" I worried that if I said it aloud, the spell would be broken and the dream would fade.
He nodded. "That you've written about."
I let out a nervous laugh. "Right. Does that bother you?"
Heath shrugged. "Should it?"
I shook my head. "No, I suppose not."
He glanced at the glass between us and then met my eyes once more.
Oh! I lifted the pint, and said aloud, "To imaginary places, may we always find comfort there."
And then, I was lost in the rich, brown, floral heaven that filled my mouth and warmed my stomach as the Heather Honey Gruit and I became one. My certainty of which was more real, the imaginary bar, or my life up until that sip, blurred. I drew breath, and the flowery scent of the head of the pint made my head do a slow spin of joy.
"What ya fink that's supposed ta mean?" The big guy to my right turned his head and glared at me. His face, which might as well have been chiseled from stone, scrunched into a scowl, eyes disappearing into dark shadow under his brows.
I blinked. "Huh?"
"Yer a fine lady, ain't ya. All high and mighty and fancy, sayin' what's real and what's not. I fink ya don't know crapola."
I looked to Heath for help, but the bartender just shrugged and slapped a hand on the bar, to demonstrate its solidity.
"Well," I said, "I mean, I did make this all up. Skye needed a place to get a drink, and an ally or two…"
The big guy snorted. "Yeh, that beer taste like anyfing? Or is it jest yer imagination?"
"Well, no, it's delicious, but I… I mean…"
He raised a hand, placed it on my shoulder, and shoved. I had to catch the bar to keep from falling onto the barroom floor. I stood next to my barstool and prepared an angry retort, but the imaginary character loomed over me, easily a foot and a half taller and two and a half times more massive than me. I swallowed the reply and just stared.
Why did this all seem so real? A thought experiment gone wrong? It's the beer. I should never have drank any. They say not to eat or drink anything in fairyland, you might not be able to leave. Maybe the same is true of my own made up worlds.
Heath snapped his towel between us and said, "Listen to me, Brick. I let you trolls drink here because Skye says it's okay. But not if you mess with my customers."
And in that moment, whether it was the beer or the mention of Skye, I had her second sight long enough to see the ruddy stone features of an even larger troll superimposed over the big guy's features. A hint of something like fear kindled in the recesses of those eyes, and he shrank into himself. "Er, sorry, ma'am. Jest tryin' to show yeh that I'm real as you."
Heath turned his piercing gaze to meet my eyes. "Just because you made it up, doesn't mean it's not real. Ma'am."
I picked up my pint and drank deeply, to calm my nerves, and to hide my confused feelings behind the glass for a moment. "Fair enough. And it's Chrissy to my friends."
Greg smiled. "Another?"
I realized that I held an empty glass. "Wow. Um, yeah. You know, this is even better than what I made at home."
Brick guffawed. "Nobody brews better than Heath."
"Where'd the recipe come from," said Heath.
"Well, I brewed based on a beer that Skye had here."
His grin was at least a hundred watts as he slid the new full glass in front of me. "Well, not every recipe clone is perfect."
"What? But I came up with…"
Brick growled next to me.
"Fine. I hear you," I said. "Wherever the recipe originated, you made it better, Greg."
Heath poured another pint and handed it to Brick. "Anyone ever tell you you're a lot like Skye, Chrissy?"
I laughed. "I am as short as she is tall, I'm old enough to be her mother…"
Heath's eyes squinted as he laughed. "You think that's important? Nah, you're like her where it counts." He touched one of his temples, and then touched the left side of his chest.
My face warmed, and once more, I hid behind my glass. "Thanks. But Skye's braver than I am. And a better leader."
Heath shook his head. "I see through you both. Skye's can be shy as you underneath, and you're as fierce as her if you need to be."
Uncomfortable, I said, "Well, I do put some of myself in every character…"
Brick set down his glass. "Or mebbe yeh learn from what yeh write about, hmm? Ever fink about that?"
I shook my head. "No, I hadn't. But it's something to think about."
The troll's face split in a toothy grin. He reached out a hand once more, and I flinched at his touch, but he merely patted my head this time. "Yer awright, Chrissy. Jes like Skye."
Heath held up a glass flute with something dark and foaming in it. "Welcome to Heath's, Chrissy. You're welcome here anytime."
We all drank to that.
If I had some Heather Honey Gruit and if it were gluten-free I'd drink to that too. Indeed, the flavors, the place, the characters, they all seem so real, and will to everyone who reads your books as well. So, lacking gf Heather Honey Gruit, perhaps I should just sit down and enjoy the read. Thank you for joining me here Chrissy, and you're welcome back anytime.
About the author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.
Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and the Tipsy Fairy Tales published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk.
Her novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013.
Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.
So perhaps I should ask you, Chrissy, can you make a gluten free version of that super-delicious brew?
Find Chrissy here:
Book Synopsis for Blue Spirit (Book one in the Tipsy Fairy tale trilogy): Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.
With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?
Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!
Book Synopsis for Restless Spirit (Book 2 in the trilogy): When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.
Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!
Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.
Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?
Find Chrissy's books here:
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble Link for Blue Spirit
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble Link for Restless Spirit
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