Fellow Fantasy author and blogger Assaph Mehr has a website solely dedicated to character interviews! Very Cool, right?! The Protagonist Speaks is dedicated to the characters living inside the books we love. Each week they aim to publish an interview with a protagonist from a novel they believe in. Yep, you read that right. The protagonist – or antagonist! – from the book. Not the author. Not the reviewer. The character. They aim to put the characters in the limelight – to be heard, to be felt. …Which is a notion I believe in as well, since I also do Character Spotlights.
So when Assaph said he’d enjoy talking with Gairynzvl, the lead of my Epic YA Fantasy Dark Fey Trilogy, I couldn’t refuse. Gairynzvl could, of course. One never knows when it comes to unpredictable malefey, but fortunately he was in a talkative mood. Below you will find the conversation, and the link to the full interview on Assaph’s site.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
My life has been dichotic. I spent my first seven years in the village Hwyndarin with my family and the Fey of the Light. It is a place of simple beauty and communal living, where each villager shares life’s responsibilities and burdens. I was very young, but remember playing with friends and learning to fly amid the forests, streams and meadows bathed in sunlight.
When I reached 7 ½, I was abducted by the Reviled Fey and spent the next 15 years of my life trying to survive the gloom and shadows of their dark realm, the Uunglarda. No sunlight warms their barren dominion and the skies are choked with soot and poisonous fumes. I suffered the Integration; five years of neglect designed to turn childfey into monsters and each day was a torment of hunger, thirst, cold, and abuse.
Gosh, that sounds horrible. How did you manage to hold onto hope? Was is a cherished memory, a favourite toy you clung to, a friend?
We had no toys in the Uunglarda, and very few friends, but I was determined not to forget the ones I had and to see them again. I kept the Light alive any way I could, mostly by repeated prophecies I had already learned and secretly studying others. Although I had to keep it completely hidden, which was not easy in a place where you are forced to do horrible things every day, as time went on, I formed a few secret alliances with Dark Ones who wanted to escape as much as I did and our mutual dream of freedom kept hope alive.
What do you do now?
Even though I have returned to the Light and live in Hwyndarin once again, I spend much of my time training with an exclusive unit of Fey Guards dedicated to the covert operation of returning into the Uunglarda at undisclosed times to rescue younglings and those Dark Fey who wish to escape.
That’s very heroic, but also dangerous, isn’t it? Have you always been driven to risk so much for others?
It is unquestionably dangerous, but also a self-rewarding sacrifice and one I am very willing to make, especially when I can see childfey restored to their families or those who will love and care for them. I would never call myself heroic, though I might agree with driven. Some of my friends describe me as tenacious and the Reviled thought me infuriatingly stubborn, (well, some of my friends say that too!) I simply choose to believe that positive action creates positive results and this conviction has proven true. Consequently, I am motivated to do more because it is so satisfying.
When you first decided to take such risks to help yourself and others, did you think you would succeed?
Honestly, no, but it was all I had; it was the only thing that kept me from being consumed by darkness. When I doubted, I forced myself to read and re-read the ancient texts, searching for anything that might help. When I met others who were doing what I was, it became easier to believe we would achieve our goal, but it was only when I first saw Ayla, the Fey of the Light Child Guardian who helped me when no one else would, that I knew with certainty I would stand in the Light once more.
Reaching out to her was extremely risky, wasn’t it? What was the most frightening thing about risking so much?
I risked everything and, believe me, it was terrifying. I lived in fear for months. If the Reviled had found out or caught me, I would have faced unbearable torture as a traitor. If Ayla had chosen not to listen to me and help, my only chance of escape would have failed, and if she had told others about the dark one who was following her for months trying to communicate with her from the shadows, I could have been captured and thrown into the Prison of Daylight; executed by the same Light I sought to return to.
Fey of the Light are taught from a very young age to fear the Reviled. As one of them, what was the hardest thing you had to do to convince her she could trust you?
The night I chose to confront her was stormy and the darkness aided my crossing, but I knew coming face to face with a Dark Fey, alone, would frighten her immeasurably. So, I had taught myself a spell that would protect her from the Legion I was forced to traveled with by casting a brilliant light, which would block them from crossing over to harm her and give me time to convince her I was no threat. It was difficult not only because I had no desire to scare her, but the light I used to protect her, at the time, was lethal to me. If she had not chosen to act and help me, it would have killed me.
Risking so much was certainly difficult; so, what was the best part of that night?
Ayla used her very special gifts to help me escape the torrent of light I had created. She covered me with her body; extended her strength to bolster my own and physically dragged me into the darkness of the parlor before it was too late. I remember standing there in the shadows trying to catch my breath as the sensation of burning I had been suffering subsided. She lay on the floor at my feet, utterly exhausted and overwhelmed; yet she did not try to run from me. In fact, she reached up to touch my hand, as if making sure I was all right. It was an extremely intense moment. For 15 years, no one had done anything for me; yet, although she was frightened, overcome, and wracked by physical and emotional pain that was not her own (because she had connected with mine), she did not retreat from me, but chose to draw closer.
That was and still is the most indescribable feeling I have ever experienced.
Are you still close to Ayla?
Yes, I am.
What does the future hold for the two of you?
She is my Beloved One, but this is all I will say.
Some things are too personal to talk about?
Something like that.
(smiling) I understand, but before we end our conversation, can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Hmmm? Sure, I know something, a very old prophecy, that can change the world for all Fey……
I would like to thank Assaph for this marvelous opportunity. It was a pleasure learning more about Gairynzvl, even for me, who wrote him. Please be sure to visit The Protagonist Speaks to read more fantastic character interviews (or to set one up for your own character!)
Beautiful Original Artwork by HJGArt and Negshin at Deviantart.com