Nobody from the Olde School
Virtual Tour Author: Selah Janel Featured Book Release: Olde School Book One Kingdom City Chronicles May 26 to June 1, 2014
What Happens When Nobody Wants a Guest Post
I’d been willing to do a lot to promote Olde School, and this newest assignment shouldn’t have been all that different. I’d agreed to meet with my interview subject and so far, save a case of author nerves at having to face the massive structure coming in, nothing was amiss. The room I’d been led to could have been considered cozy, but to me it seemed somewhat off. There was a sense of claustrophobia, yet the room itself was decent size. The stone walls stretched upward to the high ceiling, and they curved instead of meeting in the traditional corners that I was used to. It was impossible to tell if the building was legit and dated back to the Golden Age of Kingdom City, or if the stonework was fabricated like how so much of the new construction was going in The Land. At any rate, it was spotless, as were the wooden floors that were almost certainly fake. My shoes didn’t catch once on the rough-looking grain or knot holes that dotted the boards, and the patterns in the wood were just a little too symmetrical to be real.
It had to admit, it was impressive. It wasn’t the building or the room that I was interested in, though. As its author, I’d explored more of Kingdom City than I’d shown in Olde School, so I wasn’t that terribly surprised by the fantasy meets modern tendencies. No, I was more concerned with the table in front of me. On my side, a vacant chair sat waiting. On the other side, serene as a calm pool, patient as death, she sat.
She was just like I’d always pictured her: probably in her early twenties, slight of stature, willowy of frame, slender face, delicate features. Her blonde hair slid in golden cascades over her shoulders, and though it looked a bit frizzed in the unforgiving overhead light, it cast a slightly unsettling halo around her sharp face. Large blue eyes took in every little gesture I made, every breath, every nervous twitch. A small almost-smile played at the corners of her full lips, but she said nothing. She was young and she still managed to look somewhat naïve and vapid.
There were subtle hints about what she’d been through, though. Her cheeks weren’t as apple-fresh as I’d remembered, and there were grey circles under her eyes. She was tired, worn-down, and it was no wonder. In my peripheral vision, one of my “escorts” that had met me at the gate—a mountain of an ogre dressed in the black leather— nodded. His strange facial features looked almost like a dark grey, vicious, skinned cat. I swallowed back my unease as I shuffled toward the waiting chair. My other escort—a long-limbed pixie who was golden-furred and must have been around six feet tall—said nothing, but kept careful watch with large, alert eyes. His muzzle wrinkled in disdain, as if his day of guarding the lady had been disrupted by my visit. Maybe it had.
I could do this. It was just an assignment, a promotional gig. It shouldn’t have been all that different.
But it was. She was an odd one, after all. Although I loved writing her, I also held her at a distance. She was capable of a lot and her rambles gave even the biggest tricksters in the old stories a run for their money. Even I was never truly sure when she was telling the truth and when she was putting me on until I went back and re-read her rants.
Her voice broke my uneasy silence. It was strangely girlish and a little bit affected. “Have a seat. My receiving room may look simple, but you’ll find the amenities here quite good. Not too hard, not too soft. Just right.” She laughed at her little joke, and her silvery voice held the slightest bit of derision. Of course it would. She thought she deserved much nicer, after all. I managed a tight smile, hesitated, and then strode to the chair. There was no reason to be nervous, after all. I’d written her. I knew her as well as anyone could. I just wasn’t used to confronting my characters face to face.
“Thanks. It was good of you to see me, Miss…” I trailed off, purposefully fishing, and held out a hand. She stared down at it, then raised her eyes to mine and quirked a brow.
“I don’t touch commoners unless I have to,” she sniffed, head held high. “And I’m sure you know my name. You’re here to interview me, after all,” she added quickly upon noticing the surprise on my face. I don’t know why I expected her to recognize me. If she did, she probably would have either refused to see me or flung her vitriol at me as soon as I was introduced.
“I know you call yourself Nobody from Nowhere, Daughter of No One. Surely that’s not your real name.” I’d always half wondered about this, myself, and tried to conceal my gnawing curiosity at the prospect of finally getting an answer.
“Should I give you three tries so you can guess?” she snipped, eyeing me with the grace of a royal, or a girl who desperately wanted to be one. “I don’t make fun of you for your weird name. You should watch your behavior, it’s very rude.” Nobody took a moment to look me over, and must have deemed me a less enough being to deal with. I was a little surprised she didn’t turn on the giggling, girlish charm, but then again I was another woman, and from the moment I’d walked in I’d felt her suspicion. She didn’t know who exactly I was, but she wasn’t sure how to appeal to me, either. “I thought you were going to let me tell my side of the story. That was the condition. That I get to tell the truth to your readers. What paper are you reporting for again?”
Right, the cover story for my visit. She’d never be able to understand what a blog tour was, or that she was part of a world that had come from the strange caverns in my mind. “Uh, the Daily Deeth.” I hoped that didn’t sound too obvious. “We’re online, mostly.”
She nodded sagely and examined her fingernails. Her voice had reverted to a bored and somewhat formal tone. “Ah. I don’t bother myself with the realm wide web these days, but I welcome the opportunity to finally get my points across, no matter in what form.” She adjusted herself in her chair and for a moment she looked like the type of golden haired, lithe queen that occupied an ethereal land, or someone with the mindset of a little girl pretending to be one, anyway. I had to admit, up close she was distracting, and I was well-aware of her conniving ways. It was impossible to not feel tightly strung, ready for anything. I could see why Paddlelump was so thrown by her. She looked fragile, but there was a core of strength there, as well as an undercurrent of something else, something undefinable. I didn’t know how I felt about it, so I kept talking.
“Right. So what was it like, working for Mr. Stonemonger?”
Her pleasant smile thinned and although she tried so hard to keep her face innocent, her expression hardened for the briefest of moments. “It was a job. A girl does what she has to do, especially when she’s promised her parents that she’d make it in the big city!” Her lip tremble suddenly, the game beginning. She was starting to relax, to fall into her story. Her face softened and she wrung her hands together.
“Of course,” I agreed. “I’d forgotten, you aren’t from around here, are you?”
She sniffled and shook her head. “No. I’m from a tiny city-kingdom further out in The Land. You don’t know what it’s like, growing up somewhere with no opportunities when you have so many siblings and only hopes and dreams to keep you going—”
I cleared my throat and she paused, open-mouthed. Not many could ever get a word in edgewise with her, so the fact that I’d dared to interrupt her left her stunned. I had to, or else all my time would be wasted listening to some sob story that may or may not have been true. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather focus on what it was like after you moved to Kingdom City. Not that your background isn’t important, but I’m more interested in that part of the story.”
Her mouth snapped shut and her jaw clenched. For a moment, a cloud gathered over her face, but then it cleared. Her countenance once more was pale, but agreeable-looking as she nodded. “Well, I gathered my courage and last little bit of coin and came to Kingdom City. There I tried to make my way, but almost immediately I was enslaved by a horrible, disgusting troll! He was horrible! He made me work all the time and never let me eat and—”
My sigh made her raise her delicate brows. “As I recall, Paddlelump hired you when you answered an ad of his.”
Her lips curled downward. “You’ve been talking to him?”
“I didn’t have to. The records were readily available, and you’re the talk of Kingdom City.”
Her face lit up at that. “Really? Am I on the cover of any magazines? I haven’t received any movie offers, but I’d really like to get a book deal going—”
My lip twitched at the irony. “Regardless, you were his employee, paid a wage to clean his house and cook—”
Nobody’s lip snuck between her teeth and she glowered at the table top. “Of course that’s what he’d say. Of course that’s what the city would say. They’re far too liberal here, letting the likes of him mingle with the rest of us!” Her nails curled against the table top and although they didn’t sink into the fake wood, her arm trembled from the attempted effort. It was hard to hear the quiet venom from her mouth in person. It was a mix of a desperate whisper and deep, deep anger. “You don’t know what he’s really like! That…creature wanted to keep me from my one true love!” She sniffled and looked away, her face crumbling as she hid it against her shoulder, hitching in silent sobs.
Uh-huh. Now I remembered why I was reluctant to have an audience with her. It took patience and a good sense of humor to put up with her at the best of times. “Nobody, you don’t have a one true love.”
“I do so!” Her head shot up and her shoulders rising to her ears. For a moment, her expression looked like a guilty child caught trying to steal the last piece of pie, and then her face crumpled and she looked as if she were about to cry. “And now I’ll never see him again! Tell that to your readers! Tell that to all who will listen! That despicable monster preyed upon my sweet nature and refuses to let me see my beloved!”
Never mind that “that monster” had nearly gotten killed nine thousand times being far too kind and trusting for his own good. I glanced up at the ogre who shrugged as if to say “yeah, I know, we’ve all heard this a hundred times by now, whaddya gonna do?” The pixie glanced my way, but quickly trained his gaze back on the wall above my head. I wondered if they had to listen to her all the time, or if they were ever allowed to go about their own lives. It was hard to tell with someone like her. I tried to gather my thoughts. It took a lot to keep up with the girl.
“What’s his name, then?”
“Oh, so I get a title now? You must be getting frustrated with me. “What’s your true love’s name?”
The silence stretched out for a few moments, and I could see the hamster running on its wheel as I watched her. “Fred.”
“Yes. Prince Fred. Of…the city-kingdom of Table, in The Other Other Land!” She recovered quickly, I’d give her that. “He’s such a dear, and he treats me so well! He was going to meet me here in the city and we were going to open a little organic food stall—”
“There is no city-kingdom of Table.” I tried to keep my voice calm, as if I was dealing with a small child, but I definitely had a migraine coming on.
Her blue eyes flicked down to her hands, then flashed back up. “Yes there is.”
For Fate’s sake! The discussion was growing tiresome and I didn’t have anything of use for my post! “No there isn’t! I wrote the book you’re in! I know there’s not! Nobody, you didn’t come here to seek your fortune, at least not by any conventional means. I know, okay? I know all about you. I know because I wrote it.” The young woman tensed, her face blank but her body looked taught under the large, rumpled workday gown she wore. “You used a dating site to seduce suitors into trying to assassinate your employer!” Maybe it was the frustration at her silly games and false airs, maybe it was how protective I felt toward Paddlelump, but I wasn’t in the mood for these follies anymore. Apparently she assumed I was going to say something else, because her shoulders dropped at my words and she released a slow breath.
“I’ve allowed you to visit my sanctuary to talk to me. Don’t you dare take that tone with me when you are an invited guest,” she warned, voice as soft as silk. Her attendants shifted their weight, but made no attempt to remove me. I’d expected her to deny the charge, to play the damsel in distress card like she so often did. Instead, her eyes narrowed to slits and the smile left her face. “I would have expected you to applaud my efforts at being a modern woman. After all, isn’t that the mark of a real heroine, to solve your own problems and fight for what you believe in?” Her chin raised in defiance. “I believe in myself. I should get what I want, what I deserve. What’s wrong with that?” Her tone bordered on snide and her mood shifted so fast that it was hard to think of a reply.
“It must be so nice to sit in your little corner of the realm and do what you want to do. I don’t see how my behavior is any different.”
Disgust gathered in the pit of my stomach. “You could have hurt a lot of people! You could have gotten your employer killed!
Her face was blank, as if she couldn’t comprehend the problem with that. “So? He’s a troll. Why should he be the richest in the city? That’s not how the stories go. Trolls are vanquished and young women live happily ever after! That’s how life’s supposed to be.”
“Life isn’t a story.”
She grew very quiet and leaned across the table under her pale fingertips almost ghosted against mine. A slow, girlish smile broke across her face and I nearly shot out of the chair and climbed the far wall. “Oh, but if what you say is true, then my life is a story, isn’t it?” My breath caught, and I realized I’d given away more than I’d intended. She’d outfoxed me, blast her.
Nobody opened her hand as if to grab mine. The ogre at the edge of the room flinched and made to approach, and she slid back by a few inches, that sickening smile still on her lips. It did not match the words that hissed between her teeth. “So if I am following correctly, my predicament and lack of comfort is actually your fault. You did this to me, and I do not forget those who slight me.” Her voice was quiet enough so that she wasn’t overheard and I wasn’t quite sure what it would take for her attendants to leave her side if I needed them.
She was fiction. She couldn’t hurt me. Yet my stomach still clenched at the cerulean fire sparking in her eyes. The malice there bordered on fanaticism, on obsession, yet there was a certain hope there, as well. It was other-worldly. Which gave me an idea.
It was time to cut my losses and forget about the guest post. I had to get out of there. I took a deep breath and forced myself to keep her gaze. “You would abandon faith in the ones that put you here?”
Her back straightened and she searched my face. She could lash out at any second or her attendants might be let loose on me, for all I knew. The Old Ones she’d put her faith in were not exactly the most reliable of help, but she’d possessed a weird, blind faith in them throughout her story. “They didn’t send you, did they?” she finally whispered. “You aren’t one of the fools that tried to help the Olde Ones and failed.” Her voice was so hushed that I could barely make out her words. “Yet there’s something different about you.” She frowned, brow furrowed, and trapped in thought until her mouth dropped open and she shot forward, grabbing my wrists.
“Are you one of them? You are, aren’t you? You must be.” Her words fused together in a fast, excited rush. It was hard to tell if this was another story, or if she well and truly believed her theory.
Unease shifted to being downright freaked out. “Uh, I think we’re done here. I’ll see what I can cobble together for the interview.”
Unease shifted to being downright freaked out. “Uh, I think we’re done here. I’ll see what I can cobble together for the interview.”
“I’m right, aren’t I?” she giggled. “There’s still hope! You’re one I don’t know about. A crafter of realms, teller of tales. You can help me! You will help me! You can give me the ending I want! What do you want in return?” Her small hands gripped my wrists painfully and I couldn’t help but notice the birch hair clips she was still allowed to wear. They’d be the perfect weapon if she had a mind to use them.
“Unhand me. Unhand me right now!”
My words didn’t soothe her. If anything, they made her desperation worse. “No, listen to me!” she seethed. “I can give it to you, give the realm to you! I’ve nearly succeeded in releasing your kind before, I can do it again! Rewrite my ending, I beg of you, I demand of you!” She wasn’t bubbly anymore, or insipidly manipulative. This was something else, and what made it worse is that I couldn’t tell if she was for real or if she was trying to play my discomfort against me.
“Guards,” I gasped, but they were already approaching. A quick jerk up and down of my arms and I’d released her grip, forcing her to grasp the table to regain her balance.
She gripped the table and tried to shake it, but as it and her chair was bolted onto the floor, there was no chance of her flinging it at me. “Please. You must!”
Firm, long hands cupped my shoulders and tugged me out of the chair and away from the table. “Come along. I think we’re done here,” the pixie drawled in a bored, snippy voice.
“You think?” I muttered, watching as the ogre stood behind Nobody and helped her stand. Now that I was away from the table and she was on her feet, the elaborate shackles that linked her wrists to her ankles were perfectly visible. It was obvious that she didn’t wear a shift, but a weird cross between peasant wear and a prison jumpsuit.
“No, I need her! Keep her here, she can rewrite my tale and give me what I desire!” Nobody insisted, struggling against the ogre, flinging assorted venomous comments his way. Her effort was laughable. He towered over her, and it only took some light steering of his massive hands to guide her to the door in the far wall.
“C’mon now, princess,” he sighed in a tired, rumbling voice. “You know visiting hours upset you. Let’s get you back to your room so you can look out the window at the trees you like so much.”
“Is she always like this?” I asked as I followed the pixie guard out to the hall. I tried to reassure myself that this wasn’t my fault, that she’d done this to herself, but it was a hard argument to make. The guard dwarfed me easily, but there was something comfortable about his slender frame, delicate fur, and the fact that he carried a sword and five daggers belted to his black leather uniform. Although his expression was still apathetic, his eyes softened and his whiskers twitched at the end of his foxlike muzzle. I should have never had come to The Towers maximum security dungeon. I should have picked someone less unusual and more affable to being interviewed. I’d just had to push things.
“Some days are better than others. She’s lucky. In the old days it would have been a swift beheading or a long stay in an unfinished dungeon. We may harbor some of the worst of the lot, but at least we have access to good, modern facilities and new rehabilitation techniques.” His voice was lightly accented, soft, and tired. It occurred to me that he wasn’t bored or unfeeling at all. He’d seen this kind of thing so much, lived it so often, that it was impossible for him to find the energy to react to it anymore.
I nodded and glanced back behind me at the empty visiting lounge. Pity curled in my stomach. It was all because she wanted to be accepted, wanted more out of life, maybe too much in some ways. She was shameless, and her desperation made her dangerous, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I hadn’t expected things to come to this. Still, in some strange way maybe she was right. Maybe I could still help her once I’d thought long and hard about what that meant.
At any rate, I was going to have to come up with a really, really good excuse to Sheila about not having a guest post for her.
No excuses required. That was a really fun read! I'm honored Selah, and delighted to meet Nobody and you.
About the Author: Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination and a love of story since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Learning to read and being encouraged by those around her only made things worse. Her work ranges from e-books to traditional print, and she prefers to write every genre at once rather than choose just one. The stories “Holly and Ivy”, “The Other Man”, and “Mooner” are available online through Mocha Memoirs Press. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery, The Grotesquerie, and the short story collection Lost in the Shadows, co-written with S.H. Roddey. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.
Catch up with her thoughts and projects at selahjanel.wordpress.com
About the Book: Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It's all old superstition and harmless tradition.
Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he'd never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it's also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn't think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he'll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.
Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap's diner. It's enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians.
Olde School is Book One of The Kingdom City Chronicles
Tour Schedule and Activities
May 26 SpecMusicMuse Review/Interview
May 26 Vampires, Witches, and me oh my! Guest Post
May 27 Alexx Momcat’s Gateway Book Blog Character Post
May 27 Watch Play Read Review
May 28 Fantastical Adventures in the Paper Realm Review
May 28 Sheila Deeth Blog Character Post
May 28 Close Encounters with the Night Kind Review
May 29 Deal Sharing Aunt Promo/Spotlight
May 29 Workaday Reads Reviews
May 30 Exquisite Corpse Guest Post
May 31 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review
May 31 I Smell Sheep Character Post
June 1 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals and More! Interview
Amazon Links for Olde School
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Olde-School-Selah-Janel/dp/1937929655
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Olde-School-Kingdom-City-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00J4UGVIM