Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Casting Call with Joely Sue Burkhart

When I begin a new project, I always have a "casting call" for my characters. Sometimes I know the actor/actress from a particular movie role; other times, I simply stumble across a photograph and know immediately that's who I'm looking for. A pretty face isn't enough to build an interesting character, though, and some characters prove more difficult than others. This is an interview I held with the hero of my current "Revision Xibalba" or "Revision Hell" project, a Maya Fantasy.

Gregar is a very popular character from my romantic fantasy trilogy beginning with The Rose of Shanhasson, published at Drollerie Press.

~ * ~
Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson sprawled in the chair beside my desk looking very bored.

“So, Mr. Rock.” I smiled nervously. Was that a bruise on his cheekbone? Gregar had been in a foul mood when I’d asked him to retrieve the hero for my next story. “You know the job I have for you. Maya shaman, jaguar shapeshifter. What do you want your name to be?”

“Ruin.”

I blinked. “Yeah, Mayan ruins will play a significant part in the story. But what name would you like? You know, something vaguely Mayan but pronounceable. Jaguar Claw or something, not Itzpapalotl.”

“What’s wrong with Ruin? I like Ruin.”

Okay, so this wasn’t going too well. “Maybe we should come back to your name. Why don’t you tell me about why you’re here. What’s your story goal?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m here because that idiot with the white knife told me he was going to skin me alive and feed me my own balls if I didn’t come with him.”

I shot a dark look at Gregar who parked his ass on the opposite corner of my desk.

“You said bring him.” The Blood shrugged, rolling the ivory rahke back and forth on his palm. “He was reluctant.”

“Did you at least fill him in on the basic story?”

“Brainy chick’s in trouble. She broke some taboo and I’m supposed to kill her.” The Rock yawned. “Chick falls in love with me. I save the day. Piece of cake.”

Groaning, I massaged my temples with both hands. “There’s a little more to the story than that. I need something really terrible in your past. What’s your greatest regret? Your fears?”

The Rock gave me that famous arched eyebrow. “I don’t have any fears. Hey, do I get a cool costume like the one I wore for The Scorpion King?”

The Scorpion King wasn’t Mayan,” I said very slowly and calmly. I would not scream. I wouldn’t. “You’re going to transform into a jaguar. Isn’t that cool? And you have tattoos. Lots of them. But I really need some details about your past.”

“Why?”

“If I know what you fear, then I can make the Dark Moment more--“ Painful? Terrifying? “Believable.”

“The Rock don’t fear nothing, lady.”

I could be reasonable. “Even Gregar fears something.”

The wretched Blood laughed beneath his breath, shaking his head.

Now I was really getting pissed at him. “I know everything, Gregar. Your darkest fears, your greatest secrets. Don’t mess with me.”

“Or?”

Shadows thickened about him, obscuring my vision. Goose bumps raced down my arms. “Stop it. I gave you that power, and I can take it away. Besides, you’d better cooperate or all that pleading you’ve done to get into Shannari’s bed will be for naught.”

He smirked. “You love me and you know it. Lady.”

The damned Blood was right.

“Hey, get your own story, bucko,” the Rock butted in. “So tell me more about Ruin.”

“Gregar has his own story, thank you very much, and that is *not* your name.” I took a deep breath. “I need *you* to tell me about Ruin. Dammit. Your character.”

“I like cars. That Mustang you’ve got parked out back isn’t bad, but I’d rather have a red one.”

“Sorry, that’s Conn’s car. Besides, you’ll be in a jungle.”

“How about a horse? The black one--“

“That one’s mine, bucko,” Gregar drawled. “If you can sit a horse without falling off, then I’ll eat my memsha.”

“I’ve done horses.”

Gregar laughed so hard he nearly fell off my desk.

The chagrined look on The Rock’s face made me laugh despite my frustration. Gregar always had that effect on people… when he wasn’t trying to kill them.

“Yeah, well, I’ve got a bigger knife than you.”

Ah, now that I could use. “Great. Big knife. Tattoos. What else can you tell me?”

“He’s done horses,” Gregar wheezed.

The Rock growled and started to stand.

“Gregar, why don’t you go practice for book two with Shannari. I’ll finish up with The Rock alone.”

Still laughing, the Blood hopped down and glided toward the door. “I don’t need practice, but I never refuse a chance to annoy her. Maybe she’ll challenge me again.”

With thick sable hair hanging nearly down to his knees and the short cloth about his hips revealing his muscular thighs, he made quite the picture. He knew it, too, pausing at the door to wink at me. “I don’t do horses, though.”

Even The Rock stared after him. “Damn.”

My mouth was rather dry. “Yeah. So what’s your character’s name again?”

“Ruin.”

This was going to be a very long night.
~ * ~
Thanks for having me, Ginger!

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