Hey, Syawn here. Today we welcome the bright and shining star of the recently released Wilderhark Tales novella, The Song Caster, a minstrel-come-prince running off on one last adventure before facing the music of an impending marriage and the crown that comes with it.
Time for a little character-to-character confidential. (The sort of confidential that gets blasted to any eyes that happen upon my corner of the internet, naturally.)
So, Gant-o-the-Lute. You’re originally based on “And The Beanstalk” Jack. How do you feel about your literary predecessor? And how do you think that you and your stories stand out from the original?
“Ah, Jack,” says Lute, his smile amused. “The boy who sold the family’s lone source of income for a handful of beans on a stranger’s word they were magic. Points off, there, for lack of survivalist sense. Still, when the beanstalk sprouted, up he climbed, none put off from the sky’s treasures even when confronted with a man-eating monster. That’s daring! Daring, we share.”
“But then what? He makes off with the goods, chops the stalk down to nothing, and wallows in wealth the rest of his days, The End?” Lute shakes his head. “Thank you, no. The prize is not the prize; the going after it is. I don’t mean to stop seeking adventure one way or another ‘til the day I die.” His eyebrows lift. “Nor do I mean to die.”
A halfway reasonable hope, considering; fantasy is your genre, with fairy tale as your sub genre. But suppose for a moment that you could choose the world and writing for your tale—what genre would you inhabit?
Lute’s eyes shine between blue and green as he considers. “Hmm. The fantasy aspect, I’d be inclined to keep. I can hardly imagine a life in which I am not in some way magic. The fairytale qualities, however, I could do without. Give me a world with a bit more darkness to face. Give me fell creatures out to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. Give me cause to stand and fight with valor through bloody days and hopeless nights.” He smiles, wide and bright with rapture, breathless. “I’d ne’er know a moment of boredom again.”
As demonstrated in The Song Caster, you are proficient with just about any instrument (magical or otherwise) that comes under your fingers. So what made you choose the lute as your dominant instrument?
Lute’s fingers stroke the instrument in question, his expression gone tender. “It was much like the choosing of a mate. A matter of finding the music with which I best connected. Perhaps not just any lute would do it, but this one was given to me by someone I… valued.”
His gaze falls to the wooden shape cradled in his arms. “Therefore did I value my lute all the more. And it has ever played true for me. We’ve forged a bond, the songs of our souls twined in harmony. I can make music with any instrument, but not just any can make music with me. Thus am I not Jackillen Gant only, but Gant-o’-the-Lute.”
As your last hurrah before leaving the wandering path for confinement to a single (if highly musical) kingdom, what were you hoping for from this adventure? And how much did the reality differ from your hope?
“I’d hoped…” He trails off, his gaze faraway. “I don’t know what I hoped,” he whispered. “I only wanted more time. More space. One more chance for something to happen to me, and for me to happen to it. I just wasn’t ready to go still. I suppose,” he chuckles, “it was something like fear. To marry, to settle down onto a throne, is an unknown even I shy from exploring.”
“Funny enough, you could say the purpose of my journey was much like my travel companion’s: Both off to brace up and find the courage we needed to be kings. And I did find things inside of me I never thought I would. Found so much, lost so much… The last adventure of my youth did nothing to curb my desire for more, but it did effect a change in me – perhaps enough of one that I may live chained to castle with my spirit intact.”
Suppose that a career in minstrelsy had been barred in the first place. (Get it? Bard? …Nevermind.) Hardly imaginable, I know, but what path might you have taken to in its stead?
“Huzzah for wordplay,” Lute says dryly. “But if, for argument’s sake, I could not be a traveling musician, I expect I would have opted to be a traveling something else. Someone who goes out and acquires rare things from dangerous places and hands them off to people in retail, perhaps. Or at the least, if helpless rich people visiting between lands could use a guide and protector, I could easily provide. Or,” he laughs, “I could give up honest employment as a bad job and rob my way across the Great Land. Maybe make a profession of that!” He flashes an impish grin at Sy. “I don’t believe the area ‘round Wilderhark has nearly enough in the way of Thief Lords, do you?”
Wise man. No fantasy world–even one given to happily-ever-afters–can stand for long without its rouges and rascals. Now off to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Createspace with you, readers, to discover just what sort of rascally rogue the daring caster of song intends to be, with his final few glorious days roaming free.