Today we’re doing something a bit different– a character interview.
As some of you may have seen, my novel “Fated Bonds” will be out this Wednesday. Tala Neil is the heroine of the story. Her brother, Kevin Neil, is here with us today to share some details about Tala and their life.
So, hi there, and welcome to my blog!
Hey. Happy to be here.
Tala’s story, and in part, your story, is coming out soon and I hear that you wanted to tell us some things about your sister?
Yep. Now don’t get me wrong, Tala is totally badass, but I thought I’d share some stories you won’t hear from her; stuff only a sibling knows. [Kevin winks.] As her brother, it’s my sacred duty to make sure she doesn’t get too big an ego, ya know?
Yes, and my sister does exactly that to me on a regular basis. Before we get into spilling Tala’s secrets, why don’t you tell us what it’s like to be a mage?
Sure. For one, there aren’t any mage schools anymore. There aren’t enough of us. Traditions are passed down a family line and if you’re lucky, you know where to look for more information. Most human magic users are no more than kitchen witches now.
The secret’s out, supposedly, but people don’t believe there are mages and vampires and stuff unless they run into it first hand. We’re considered urban legends or bad pseudoscience. I once lit a teacher’s desk on fire, totally accidental, of course. The guy convinced himself that it was an electrical fire, even though it was an old-school wooden desk and nowhere near cords or an outlet.
Wow. That must have been difficult for y’all growing up.
I suppose. You get used to it, eventually. I was a bookworm and socially awkward, so I didn’t really care. Tala, however, aspired to have a social life in high school. There was this one time she attempted to cast a spell, kind of like a no-see spell, but not as complex. The goal was to keep Mom from noticing she’d snuck out of the house. As spells like that have a way of doing, it backfired. She didn’t do it right, ended up blue as a smurf for a week and had to pretend she had the flu. She never made the rendezvous with snobby Sarah’s crowd and she got grounded.
Blue? That can happen?
A reader submitted a question. They asked, “Is Tala a nose wiggle or head-bob spell caster?”
[laughs] Neither. When she was a kid she’d bite her bottom lip and scrunch up her face, but she learned to be subtle. With small spells, sometimes it’s just a small finger snap, or even a blink. Personally, I like to wave my wand dramatically, but I’ve broken a few lamps and vases that way.
Magic is all about will and power. Now big spells require casting a circle and all that jazz, but that’s because you summon the elements, god, and goddess. Whenever you summon, it’s best to make sure uninvited parties can’t join in the fun.
Another reader question regards familiars. Do y’all have them?
Nope, at least not unless you count dust bunnies.
Tala is several years older than you, right?
Yeah. Eight, to be precise.
What was it like when y’all were growing up? Did she play with you? Were you friends or did you fight a lot?
She was bossy. We played some, but once she got to be a teen she was pretty busy. To be honest, she was more like a second mom. We love our mom, but she’s battled severe depression since Tala’s dad was killed.
What age did you each start using magic?
I think we were both pretty precocious. A lot of mage-born kids are casting simple spells by ten or twelve. We could both cast by six. We weren’t technically allowed to cast spells outside of practice time, but I remember Tala making my action figures battle to entertain me.
So do you have to be a mage or can you opt out?
People opted out so much that entire family lines have gone mundane. Hundreds of years of witch hunts took their toll. The families that remain, like mine, take the responsibility very seriously. So, while we could technically decide to never practice magic, neither Tala or I got the option as a kid to skip the training. Our mother was a bit ruthless. Of course, she had reason to be. Without our training, we might fall prey to Mordecai. She lost her husband to him. She didn’t want to lose us.
I see. So, magic is serious business.
Were you ever jealous of your sister?
Of course. If any sibling out there claims that they were never, ever jealous, I say they are lying. It’s human nature. She was older and so it seemed like I was always playing catch-up. It didn’t help that I crushed on some of the guys she brought home. She made everything look so effortless and I felt awkward. As I got older and found my own niche, I quit trying to be her and the jealousy faded away.
What made Tala decide to go into law enforcement? Does she ever bring her work home with her?
Short answer, her dad. He was a journalist before he married Mom. He switched to online freelance stuff after they married– lower profile. Tala tells me that he’d tell her stories back from his investigative journalist days. That, combined with the injustice of losing him at such a young age, I think it gave her a bit of a ‘save the world’ complex. Back before Alexander, she’d lug case files home. She lived and breathed work. She’s developed hobbies and stuff, but she’s still pretty dedicated to justice.
Has she ever had a really horrible case, and what did she have to do afterwards to detox?
Yeah, she has. She’s probably had more than I know about. I didn’t really pay much attention early in her career. The ones where kids are the victims– it gets to her. She bottles it all up until she closes the case or the trail goes cold. If she closes the case, she gets shitfaced drunk at home afterward. The ones that grow cold put her in a pissy mood for months. She’ll spend a lot of time beating the crap out of the punching dummy at the gym until she accepts the inevitable. Every once in awhile she pulls the case out, goes over it again, and ends up back at the gym.
Okay while we all know that the police deal with more than their share of ugliness on a day to day basis, we’ve also heard of some really amusing, heart warming encounters. Does Tala have a favorite?
Her mentor, Greg, was a really nice guy. He and his wife came to dinner every once in awhile. They had her over to their place it seems like every other weekend. On cold mornings, at the start of every shift Greg would pick up coffee for himself, Tala, and get four extras. When they went out in the cruiser, he’d stop at Greenly Park and hand out the coffees to some of the homeless. Of course the mayor passed that asinine law not long after Greg died, and they have to lock any indigents up now if they find them in the park. Tala never seems to find any. [Smiles] So, that’s my favorite.
Tala acts like a hardass, but I’ve seen her get all teary when she reads about cops doing stuff, like buying people shoes, or whatnot.
Do you have any other stories you’d like to share?
Well, one of my favorites is the time she cornered Angela in the woods and made her faint, but you’ll have to read the book to find out how that happened.
I’m sure our readers will take you up on that. Thank you, Kevin!