Has it really been this long, dear reader? I am told that the only thing nicer than taking a break is returning to normality, and there are hints of some exciting news on the horizon. Caribou Chronicles is set for a July relaunch with new material and contributors, This Burning Man is approaching a world-ending finale and there's another thing that may be even more exciting than that...but that's all to come.
In the meantime, my fellow Shadows at the Door contributor, Chris Long, has posted a challenge on his blog that consists of ten questions posed to a character from my works. I had everything set up to invite Phoenix, the god-fearin', pill-poppin', hillbilly hero of' 'This Burning Man' to take part, but he had to change out of his cassock and when he got back, Jayci Clemence was here too, tarring her hair. So, while it might be strictly against the rules to allow both to take part, it might be safer for all concerned just to let the pair of them get on with it. Chris, over to you...
1) What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?
PHOENIX: Reading? What, like, books'n'stuff?
JAYCI: I won't lie to ya, we ain't the greatest readers. That's more Gregor's territory. If you can add up all the zeros on a 'Wanted' poster, you're doing better than most in our profession.
P: I read my Bible.
J: And you're going to heaven, sweetie.
2) Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or
do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?
J: Well...I guess a writer's gotta have a bit of input, right? Technically, it was their story before it was ours? Though I do wonder sometimes if the guy who writes us knows what he's doing.
P: Is there a Bounty Hunter genre?
J: I mean, what we have isn't quite a buddy story. There's a bit of western, a bit of sci-fi. It's so busy being everything that it ain't quite anything, in truth. Maybe it's a romance. People are always telling us we'd be great together.
P: There's a lot of explosions for a romance.
J: Don't go spoiling the mystique, now.
3) If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?
J: Hell no. There are too many men cluttering up the space, for starters. If I was writing it, this story'd be full of space demons with giant teeth and with only a handful of hot, heroic, silent studs keeping order while the girls got shit done, you know what I'm saying?
P: I'd kind of like to write something historical. Like maybe back when America was still one country and there weren't all this magic and weirdness out in the desert.
J: I reckon it was always out there, even back then. It was just they didn't go out each day and look for it.
P: Do you reckon Gregor would know about historical stuff like that?
J: Oh, probably. His story would be, like, a technical manual or something. Anything even slightly realistic and he'd be heading for the hills.
4) Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?
P: I don't know if I'd say greatest. I mean, meeting my sister and my mother was pretty awesome, but then I died, and now the world is ending. It's been an eventful few days.
J: I once spent a weekend socialisin' in Nogales with a Mexican border smuggler. He was a handsome man, and so were both of his bodyguards. As greatest moments go, that weekend was up there.
P: You ain't never mentioned that before.
J: Didn't I?
5) If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?
P: I wouldn't say that I look to be centre stage, but when there ain't nobody else, a man's gotta step up, y'know?
J: Say what now?
P: I said I'm stepping up. Kind of leading by circumstance.
J: I heard what you said. I just thought that it's cute that you think you're in charge.
P: Oh, I ain't going here again. I died and came back to life. This is definitely my story.
J: Sweetie, main characters don't die.
P: This one did.
J: I'm just saying.
P: This one did.
J: If we were a band, it'd be Gregor on the drums, you on the bass, me lead guitar and singing.
P: You're an awful singer.
J: I'm just saying.
6) Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?
J: That'd probably be more handy for the writer than for us, if you know what I mean.
P: I already got more pages than I was supposed to. I guess I can't complain.
J: I got a lot of pages left. I'm popular.
P: Says you. Don't nobody know that for sure.
J: The writer would get lynched by my fans if he did anything bad to me.
P: I happen to know he's the kind of guy who would kill someone in your position just to provoke a reaction.
J: Says you.
P: She likes to have the last word.
J: Damn right.
7) Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?
P: You know what? The original premise of this story was so totally different - like, totally different - that I don't think we could go back to that world. The world ended in that one too, but there was all sorts of commentary about Old World politics and what it did to people. There was a kidnapping, an accidental death, an exile.
J: That all sounds...interesting.
P: It was a lot more like his first book. This version is more fun, though.
J: You spend a lot of time talking to this guy.
P: I was around for a long while before you were. Gregor was different then too. At the beginning, he was an artist and a political agitator. I had a sidekick called Macklin who was a Irishman who wore a top hat. He was a duelist and a performance poet. Parts of him got absorbed into the rest of you. Obviously not including the accent or the hat.
J: I refuse to believe that Gregor came before me.
P: He was a bare-knuckle fistfighter.
J: Okay, that never happened.
P: Best believe it.
J: You're talking out of your ass.
P: I reckon you only got added in for light relief.
J: It's only 'cause you ain't funny.
8) If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?
J: We hear from readers all the time! Mostly, 'Can you kill off this character, please' type of stuff. Seriously. I have a list.
P: Am I on it?
J: I'm hardly gonna tell you if you are, am I?
P: I got a world to save. I can't worry about stuff like review scores or real-world physics.
J: I bet Gregor would want to know the scores.
P: Only because he gets pissy when other people know things that he doesn't.
9) Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?
J: I like to think I add the pathos to the story.
P: And did Gregor tell you what that word means?
J: You shut your mouth.
P: The way that it is now, you gotta have a bit of everything. It's a live story, evolving week to week. There's a whole world happening in the background - or at least, there is for another few hours. Sometimes the writer has a chapter all planned out and then an idea wakes him up at 3am and the next day, things get rewritten. You have to care about the characters - and people seem to - but he has a rule.
J: An explosion in every episode.
P: He's working on that.
10) Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?
J: Phoe-Phoe's a reminder to readers that things can always be worse.
P: Thanks for that.
J: Hey, at least I didn't tell them that you freak out whenever you hear piano music.
P: On balance, I'm actually pretty courageous.
J: Sure you are. As for me, I'm happy just being an inspiration for all the little Jaycis out there. Believe in yourself. Walk unafraid. Chase down your dreams.
P: I heard a rumour that you once strangled a man with your hair.
J: And my next boyfriend will lift the damn toilet seat before he pees.
Aaaaaand for now, we'll be leaving it there. In the spirit of this arrangement, I would love to pass on the ten-question task to other amazing writers, so Zoe Sumra, Pete Alex Harris and L.B. Scott, here are ten for your own lovable cherubs:
1) Can you describe yourself in five words or less?
2) How do you feel about your writer at the start of your story?
3) How do you feel about them at the end?
4) Do you feel happy with the story arc that's been laid out for you?
5) If you could change places with any other character from your writer's work, who would it be?
6) Would you like to have your writer in the same world as you?
7) What would you say is your biggest secret?
8) If you could change one thing about your back story, what would it be?
9) What do you think about the readers who enjoy your story?
10) What events are you hoping will happen in your sequel?
This is just a quick reminder that the latest episode of 'This Burning Man', entitled 'One Shot', is due to be released tomorrow.