An Unusual Sunday Interview, continued

A couple of weeks ago, I began a character interview which can be found here. During the interview, I described undergoing the withershins ritual, leaving the present time following my interview with my main character Michelle Langly and her daughter Kristen, and arriving back in January 1847, shortly after the end of my first story, ‘Withershins‘.

To set up this segment, Owl-Who-Sees-All has been accused of murdering Michelle when she left the Red River area in January, 1847. His grandson, Bear-With-Fire-Paw, asked me to speak to the Governor on Owl’s behalf, which I agreed to do, despite my reservation that I would be interfering with future events:

business office, Big House

entrance to the main office of the Big House at Lower Fort Garry

 * * *

Bear accompanied me to the business office in the Big House. The clerk glanced up, pen in mid-air.

“How may I help you, Mr. Bear?” he asked.

“I beg an audience with the governor, if you please,” Bear replied. “This is Susan Rocan, a reporter covering the trial of my grandfather.”

“Miss Rocan,” the clerk nodded to me and held out his hand. “For which paper do you work?”

“I freelance, but have sold many articles to the Toronto Herald. I was staying at Upper Fort Garry and heard about the unusual circumstances of this trial. I wanted to get the details first-hand.”

“I will inform the governor of your request.” The clerk rose and headed for the door.

“Thank you, Michael,” Bear said.

The clerk paused, a hand on the doorframe, and nodded his acceptance of Bear’s appreciation before continuing to the governor’s quarters across the hall. A moment later, he returned with Governor George Simpson, a balding, slightly paunchy middle-aged man. His expression held a hint of reservation, despite his smile and warm handshake.

Governor George Simpson
(from Wikipedia)

“My dear lady, Michael informs me that you request an interview,” the governor said.

“It’s less an interview and more of a gathering of information,” I replied. “It is my understanding that a young woman went missing from the community and you suspect Mr. Owl of harming her in some way. Is that correct?”

“One of our well-respected residents saw Mr. Owl leave with the woman, but he returned without her. It was very late on a bitterly cold night. Mrs. Wilson claims she saw Mr. Owl in possession of clothing that the young woman was wearing when she left. She suspects he killed her out on the prairie and disposed of the body.”

“Was there any blood evidence, any signs of a struggle, or indications of a burial anywhere?” I asked.

“Everyone in the area has searched their properties, the empty spaces and anywhere else we could think of to locate the woman,” the governor replied.

“What about the Upper Fort? I only heard rumours about the disappearance, but I don’t recall anyone from that area involved in the search. Is it not possible that she is somewhere at the Upper Fort?”

“I suppose it is possible, but when we circulated a sketch of the woman, no one claimed to have seen her.”

“May I see the sketch?”

Governor Simpson nodded to Michael who ruffled through some papers on his desk. He pulled out a piece of parchment with a rough charcoal drawing of a woman with long dark braids, dark eyes, a roundish face and full lips and handed it to me. It vaguely resembled the woman I knew as Michelle, but could easily be mistaken for someone else, if one did not know Michelle well.

“This is the woman you are looking for?” I asked, pretending to study the picture. “Could you tell me a little bit about her?”

“Miss Michelle Langly came to me last October after suffering an accident in which she lost her memory,” Governor Simpson revealed. “Doctor Buchannan, who came with the Sixth Regiment of Foot earlier in the season, examined her and suggested she not travel with her head wound. He requested that she stay here at the fort so she could recover. It was our hope that she would recover her memory and head off towards her home.”

“Is it possible that she suddenly remembered her home and headed off in that direction with Mr. Owl’s assistance?” I asked.

“Why would she remove the clothing she was wearing when it was so cold?”

“Perhaps her clothing got wet and she worried about freezing to death,” I suggested. “They might have brought clothes into which she could change. Is that not possible?”

“That was not evident and Mr. Owl has not said anything to that effect.”

“He may not be aware of all your suspicions, since he is unfamiliar with our language.”

“Mr. Bear has been acting as liaison and translator. I would have thought such questions would have been conveyed to him.” The governor glanced in Bear’s direction, as though accusing him of neglecting his duties.

“Perhaps we are hoping that my grandfather will be formally charged and real evidence presented, not detained and accused of murder with only speculation and innuendo as ‘evidence’,” Bear retorted. “You have completely dismissed the letter that the doctor discovered the morning after Miss Langly disappeared, a letter in Michelle’s hand telling him that she was going to try to go home. One would assume that if she was heading to the Dakotas, where she suspected her family was attacked, that she would have brought the appropriate supplies, including a change of clothing.”

I inwardly smirked at the reference to the story invented by Michelle and Duncan to explain how she happened to be found, injured, near St. Andrew’s Church late one night, something other than the fact that she performed the withershins ritual and travelled to the past. The made-up story was that she and her family had been attacked by bandits travelling to the Dakotas and she wandered, dazed, for miles until stumbling upon the Cochrane’s cottage.

I waved the sketch and frowned, as though I was remembering something.

“Is Michelle about this high,” I raised my hand above my head to about five feet six inches, “with a slim build, approximately 120 pounds?”

“Yes,” the governor responded. “Do you know her?”

“Not personally, but I did see a woman resembling this sketch at the Upper Fort a little less than a week ago. She didn’t appear to be any the worse for wear. As Bear said, if you have no real evidence that there was any foul play, how can you condemn a man simply because of a rumour?”

“Our, err, witness was very convincing,” the governor said rather sheepishly.

“You mentioned Mrs. Wilson. She is well-known for her dislike of the native population and anyone who is friendly with them. I can see her making up a story just to prove her opinion that the Indians in the area are evil. I also overheard her once, at the Upper Fort, telling someone how she disapproved of ‘country wives’ and insinuated that you, sir, had fallen victim to their magic. Is this really a woman you would trust not to bear false witness?”

“She is a God-fearing woman…” the governor began, his face flushed with embarrassment. I noticed he did not deny his involvement with his ‘country wives’.

I issued a snort of derision. “I have seen much cruelty presented at the hands of ‘God-fearing’ citizens. That doesn’t prove anything to me. Are you sure she is trustworthy?”

“Well, I, uh…” The governor cleared his throat. “Perhaps this matter requires further investigation.”

I glanced at Bear. He mouthed the words, ‘Thank you’ to me and I smiled.

“Sir, I am glad you are not prepared to condemn a man because of mere rumours,” I said. “You will feature favourably in my story.”

I reached out to shake his hand. He took it and lightly kissed the back of it.

“You are a gracious and intelligent woman. I look forward to reading your article. Do you know when it will be printed?”

“I will not submit my story until I am certain of Mr. Owl’s fate,” I said. “Do you have any idea when the Council of Assiniboia will be called in to consider the case?”

“It will not, in all likelihood, be decided for a couple of weeks. Since the nature of this case is so unusual, they have been uncomfortable about being asked to make deliberations and refuse to come to any conclusions until they have all the facts. I will mention that you may have seen her, that Miss Langly may still be alive, and that she may have travelled south of here.”

“Thank you for your cooperation, Governor Simpson. Please send a courier to the Upper Fort when deliberations have been completed and I will return for the verdict,” I said.

“I look forward to seeing you again,” the governor said – with a genuine smile, this time.

I returned his smile, happy that I had managed to alleviate his distrust of the media.

Bear and I left his office, at that point, returning to the turret prison to let Owl know what had transpired. Another man was speaking with him in a manner that suggested Owl was trying to teach him his language. When he heard our entrance, he stood and greeted us.

“You must be Susan Rocan,” the man said. “I am Doctor Buchanan, Charles Buchanan. Owl was just telling me you were here to help.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Doctor. Michelle told me all about you. She is very grateful for all you did for her, all you taught her.”

“Miss Langly was a very sweet young woman and reminded me so much of my own departed daughter. I was happy to help her in any way I could.”

* * *


Well, the interviews aren’t exactly typical, more anecdotal, but I hope you are able to glean a little about some of the characters from this little adventure. To learn more about the people mentioned in this ‘Unusual Sunday Interview’, click on the links, or pick up a copy of ‘Withershins’ in order to share the journey back to 1846/47 with Michelle. 🙂


An unusual Sunday Interview


Since I didn’t have an interview of a real-life person this week, I thought I’d interview another couple of integral characters from my books, Withershins and Spirit Quest. The two interviewees I had in mind had a major impact on Michelle Langly, Kristen’s mother. I interviewed the two of them a few months ago.

This won’t be the usual sort of interview, however, because in order to interview Owl-Who-Sees-All and Bear-With-Fire-Paw, I had to perform the withershins ritual and travel back to the past. I asked Michelle if I could borrow her talisman and try it. After some hesitation and a bit of meditation, she finally agreed to let me attempt it.


This is less like an interview and more like an adventure, an adventure that took place during the full moon last Sunday night. I had no way of knowing to what time I would be transported, if in fact I actually succeeded in traveling back in time, or if I would get back in time to post the interview. I only knew I wanted to give it the old college try.

Michelle came along to guide me through the process. She’s become a strong elder in the native community and I believe she possesses some of the magic of her ancestors. I hoped it would be enough.

Before heading to the church, she insisted I go through a cleansing ceremony. We stopped at a friend’s property near St. Andrews where a domed-roof lodge had been erected, similar to those used for sweat ceremonies. Her friend had already started a fire in the pit inside the lodge that was normally used for the heated rocks. Michelle indicated for me to sit beside her while she unloaded her medicine bag, including a long clay pipe adorned with an eagle feather. She tossed a pinch of an herb on the fire, causing the flames to spurt and spike. I recognized the scent as sage.

She held a twist of dried sweetgrass over the flames, igniting the ends for a second and waving the smoke over herself. Then, she passed it to me. I waved the smoke over me, as well. Michelle chanted the appropriate prayers and songs. We cleansed ourselves again with the sweetgrass smoke and then she lit the pipe. She sucked in the smoke, holding it in her mouth for a moment before she released it into the air. In English, she expressed her wishes that the spirits assist me in my task. Michelle passed the pipe to me. I brought smoke into my mouth, thought about the time travel journey of which I was about to embark. Then, I slowly blew out the smoke, with the prayer:

“I hope that by performing the withershins, I will be able to write another chapter of Michelle’s story and provide greater understanding about the ancient culture of the First Nations people.”

Michelle sang the final prayer and indicated that we should rise. She led the way out of the lodge down the path to her friend’s house.

“I hope this fits,” she said, holding a long garment bag. “I’m a member of the Historical Society, so was able to borrow this dress for you, as well as a suede jacket, winter moccasins, and a fur cloak. There’s also a pair of wool stockings, mittens, and a scarf.”


Once I changed clothes, we got into her car and headed towards the church. About ten minutes later, we arrived. She found an obscure place to park and we walked back towards the short stone fence. My heart raced, knowing what might happen if we got caught trespassing in the churchyard after dark. Now I understood how Michelle must have felt when she was here with her friends, Jason and Kevin.

No Trespassing after dusk

As we crawled over the low wall, the moon’s light reflected off the snow like millions of diamond chips.

Michelle checked her watch and said, “It’s almost midnight.”

The chill air was still. Not a breath of wind stirred the naked tree branches. Michelle gave me the arrowhead necklace and I placed it around my neck.

The area around the church seemed to be fairly well-packed so I had no worries about stumbling through deep snow. I peered through the night towards the rectory across the street, afraid I might see lights appear in the window. All remained dark, except for the orange glow of the street light marking the intersection of River and St. Andrews Roads. Michelle touched my shoulder.

It was time.


I took a deep breath, pulling the scarf up over my mouth and nose. I patted the suede pouch tied to my waist, confirming that I still had the ink, stick pen, extra nibs and a pad of paper wrapped in leather with the questions I wanted to ask Bear and Owl when I met them. I also checked for my asthma inhaler, knowing the running I was about to do would most likely bring on an attack. I only hoped I’d have enough breath to accomplish my task.


A snowy owl hooted from its perch high in the old oak tree.

“The spirit guide!” I whispered, excitedly.

Michelle grinned at me and nodded. I took another deep breath, the frosty air strained through the wool strands of my scarf. My spectacles fogged as the warm air beneath my scarf met with the cold glass. I took them off and placed them in their case and then into my pouch. My distance vision isn’t too bad, so I could still see the slightly fuzzy images of the church and trees around me.

I began to run counterclockwise around the church, quickly completing the first circle. As I started the second, I could feel a slight burn in my lungs. It wasn’t too bad, yet, so I initiated the third circle. Half way around, my legs began to feel like jelly. It had been a long time since I’d had so much strenuous exercise and I am no longer the 18 year-old I was when I did this the first time – and then, I never finished!

I rounded the last corner of the church and saw the glow Michelle had described to me. Although I felt a sudden pang of fear, I carried on, plunging into the bone-chilling cold of the swirling vortex. I felt suspended for what seemed like an hour, but must have only been a few seconds, before the ground met my face. I lay there, stunned for a moment, the wind knocked out of me. Turning on my side, I reached into my pouch and brought out my inhaler. After shaking it vigorously, I pressed it against my teeth. I expelled all my breath, then squeezed the plunger and inhaled the vapours. I repeated the action until I felt my bronchial tubes open up and the burn in my lungs ease. I picked up a handful of fresh snow and rinsed out my mouth. A little of the cold liquid drizzled down my esophagus, further cooling my throat and lungs.

Suddenly, a leather-mittened hand was thrust in my face, offering to help me rise. I took it and stood, staring at the chest of a young man. I had to raise my head to see his face, as he was about a foot taller than me.

“You must be Bear,” I said, my voice sounding hoarse and shaky in the darkness.

“I am,” he replied. “Grandfather is waiting for you.”

Bear led me to one of the two horses waiting patiently by a hitching post. He boosted me onto the back of the smaller one. It had been a long time since I’d ridden a horse and I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t fall off the beast. I was glad the skirt of my dress was full enough for me to straddle the animal without it riding up too much, exposing my stocking-covered legs as it was considerably colder than the time from which I’d left.

Once I was a little more confident with my balance, I glanced around me, curiously. The stone church was almost complete, but the window frames remained empty, the stained glass panes still en route to Red River. The original wooden church stood behind the stone structure, much as I had imagined it. I strained to see the landscape, but there really wasn’t much to see. There was only snow and a few scrubby bushes along the river bank, illuminated by the light of the full moon.

“What year is this?” I asked.

“1847,” Bear said.

“What month?”

“January,” Bear answered. “Michelle has only been gone a week, but her disappearance has caused quite a stir.”

“Yes, she told me about the problems she caused, leaving so abruptly,” I said. “She found a notice about it in an old newspaper.”

“Are you here to help dispel the rumours?”

“I’m sorry, no. I don’t think there is anything I could say that would make a difference. I’m only here to document what happened and talk to you and your grandfather.”

“You are a newspaper reporter?”

“No, but I am a writer and want to tell your story as accurately as possible.”

Bear seemed to ponder this for a long time before he spoke again.

“Grandfather said you would help us. I assumed that meant you would save him from his fate, but I must be wrong. Michelle was always worried about the consequences of disrupting the future by changing the past. Maybe the best thing you could do for us, other than changing the inevitable, is simply to tell people about us and how we lived our lives.”

“I hope that will be enough,” I told him. Something nagged at the back of my mind. “Aren’t you supposed to be up north?”

“I was heading north, but Grandfather talked to me in a dream, so I returned to the fort. I knew I was needed here.”

“That explains it,” I mused.

Studying the man riding beside me, I could definitely understand why Michelle was so enthralled with him. He was not just handsome, with a prominent nose and high cheek bones, but he had a depth of wisdom in his dark eyes that seemed well beyond his age. He also seemed quite sad, probably because he had just lost the love of his life. I wondered how this would affect his future, with Michelle gone.

river gate

Imagine the ground is covered in a foot of snow.

Dawn streaked the sky shades of pink by the time the high stone walls of the fort rose up ahead of us. Before we reached the blacksmith shop just south of the fort, Bear dismounted and assisted me to the ground. We led the horses to a post by the shop and tethered them, then I followed Bear to the west gate. As we entered, I heard a bugle trumpet the tune of Reveille, calling the soldiers to rise with the sun. We followed the shoveled path around the Big House to the southwest corner. Two soldiers stood outside the solid wood door. All the windows of the turret had bars across them.

SW turret

The northwest turret, taken last summer.

Bear leaned over and spoke to one of the guards, tossing his head in my direction. He turned and told me to take the writing utensils out of my pouch. When I did so, the guard ushered us inside. It was strange not to see all the museum pieces and information boards I was used to seeing set up in the divided space. Instead, more bars with heavy metal hinges closed off the room on the right. The left-hand side was set up like a dining room with a bench against one wall and a heavy wooden table in front of it. Dishes with half-eaten food still sat on its surface.

The guard unlocked the barred room and let us enter, but locked the door behind us. It wasn’t much warmer inside the turret than it was outside. The single paned windows were not much protection against the frigid winter air and the wood-burning stove in the centre of the room wasn’t throwing much heat.

An elderly native man sat cross-legged on a fur carpet near the stove, his back to us. A low moaning sound emanated  from his throat, rising and falling in a quiet prayer song. Bear kneeled behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. The older man finished his song, opened his eyes and smiled at his grandson.

“She . . is here?” he said in a voice barely audible.

Bear took my arm, bringing me around to face him. Then he introduced him to me.

“This is my Grandfather. You may call him Owl.”

I took Owl’s right hand in both of mine and said, “It is such a pleasure to meet you, Owl. You may call me Susan.”

“Susan,” he said slowly, saying my name as though trying on a shoe to see if it fit. He smiled and covered my hands with his left one. “That is a good name.”

“Thank-you. Would you mind if I asked you some questions? I have heard Michelle’s story about her time with you and there are some more things I’d like to know about you. Is that acceptable?”

Bear leaned over to Owl and murmured something in his ear. He looked at me and said, “Since Grandfather’s English is not very good, I will translate.”

He glanced at Owl, who spoke softly.

“He wants you to know that he is just a humble teacher and not worthy of such interest,” Bear told me.

“A man who is so attuned to nature is certainly of interest to me,” I told him. “How did you become the medicine man for your tribe?”

“His mother was the medicine woman and he learned everything from her. When she went to meet the Creator, he was asked by the people to replace her.”

Although Bear was translating, I looked at Owl when I asked my questions. “I would have thought you’d automatically become the medicine man. Is this not so?”

“He was the most qualified of all the people, the most revered. Our Chief respected his visions. Our village prospered when he was consulted. That is why he was chosen to be our medicine man.”

“What about you, Bear? What’s your story?”

“When I was about five years old, Grandfather had his first vision about the future. He discussed it most arduously with our Chief Peguis, so when the Reverend Cochrane came to our encampment, Grandfather knew he was the person to help me learn to speak English and teach me the ways of his people.”

“There is a saying about knowing your enemy. Is that why he wanted you to learn about the Europeans?” I asked Bear.

“Grandfather did not consider them his enemies, despite the fact that the dream he had was about the Europeans and how we would have to adjust to the arrival of more from that part of the world. He did fear that our ways might be lost with the influence of so many. He says that is why he brought Michelle here and why he allowed you to come and talk with us. You can bring our messages back with you.”

“What messages would those be, Bear?”

Owl waved me closer. He grabbed my chin and smiled. His dark eyes were bright, intense. They bore into mine as though he was trying to look into my soul. He released my chin and settled back in his chair. He nodded and spoke to Bear, who in turn translated.

“Grandfather believes you are the one best suited to tell Michelle’s story. Michelle carries the messages. The more people you encourage to learn Michelle’s story, the more you will help spread those messages.”

“I have already written her stories and I am trying to spread the word,” I assured them.

“That,” Owl said, then paused searching for the words, “is all we can ask. Thank-you.”

“My pleasure.”

“Will you speak to the Governor on my grandfather’s behalf?” Bear asked, changing the subject.

“Like I said before, Bear, I don’t know what I could say. No one knows me from Adam. Why would they take my word that he’s innocent of killing Michelle?”

“You could say you have seen her since she left that night with Grandfather.”

“I could do that,” I agree. “If you think it will help, I will talk to the Governor.”


Since this post is already long enough and it is so late in the day, I will post the rest of this story/interview another day. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far. 🙂

Interview with Emily from Last Winter Red (Make Believe)

Hi, Everyone! We have another Make Believe interview for you. Our writer today is Jennifer M. Eaton. She wrote Last Winter Red, but this interview is not about her. If you’ve been following the tour, you’ll have read lots about Jennifer, already, and a bit about her story. Today, we’ll be digging into the back story of her character Emily.

Please welcome Emily from Terra.


Hi, Emily! Would you please tell my readers a little about yourself?

Well, as you said, my name is Emily and I live in the high quadrant in the beautiful city of Terra. 

What’s it like living in Terra?

Oh, Terra is wonderful.  My days are planned out for me and filled with wonderful activities engineered to broaden my mind and strengthen my body.  I never have to worry about where to go or what to do, because the wonderful council prepares my days for me and my doctors check me regularly to make sure I remain strong enough to bear children. There is nothing else a young Red could ask for.

What do you do to entertain yourself?

Entertain myself? I’m not sure I understand.  We learn.  We broaden our minds.

I mean, what do you do for fun, when you are not in school?

Oh, my apologies.  Once in a while I am graced with a visit from my mother, and we play mancala together.  It is a game passed down from pre-time played with glass stones on a wooden board.  Most nights though, after supper, I read until I fall asleep.

What is your favorite drink?

Drink? I’m not sure I understand the question.  Water, of course.  What else is there to drink?

Do you participate in any sports? If so, which one(s) do you most like to do?

Are you feeling okay? You are asking such odd questions.  What are sports? If it is a type of learning experience, maybe I have participated in it, but we may call it something else in Terra.

I was sorry to hear about your husband. As a Red, what does this mean for you, now?

Thank you for your concern.  Yes, the loss of my husband was quite a shock.  It happened so suddenly.  I will be fine, though.  The council will appoint me another husband.  After all, I have not had the opportunity to validate myself yet with a child.  It is their duty to make sure I reproduce. One cannot reproduce without a man, obviously.  [Her eyes lower to the table]

Are you okay?  You look sad.

Honestly, I am a bit concerned that they have not appointed me another husband.  It has been quite some time. Every other Red of my age has already validated themselves several times over. I feel somewhat lost, not fulfilling my responsibility to add to our population.

I overheard your mother talking about how worried she was about you. Why would she be so worried?

My mother needs to keep to her own business.  She doesn’t understand.  You see, I bring medicine to the people on The Outside.  They are hurting and need help.  It just seems right to do whatever I can to ease their miserable existences.

Why do the people in the Barrier Woods live away from the city? Were they exiled because they were infected?

Exiled!  Gracious no!

We would never exile anyone.  You see, there is no sickness in Terra. The city is engineered to keep the sickness out. Terra was constructed by the ancients to protect us from the terrible disease that ravages The Outside. Without Terra, we would all suffer their horrible fate.  The people in the Barrier Woods keep away from the city because it is the proper thing to do. If the disease were to get inside our walls, it could mean the end of mankind!

I think it’s wonderful of you to want to help the sick people there, but I sense an ulterior motive. What other reasons could you have for bringing them medicine?

[She shifts her weight uncomfortably]  Honestly, there is a doctor in the Barrier Woods that is helping the infected without the approval of the council.  He is a Red, and a good man. [She smiles] Someday, I hope to bring him home to Terra, where he belongs. He would make a wonderful mate.

Is there anything you’d like to add before we say goodbye?

None that I can think of, and I must be going anyway—  I am late for my lesson on childhood skin care, and that will be so important once I finally have the opportunity to pass on my genes to another.

Well, Emily, I wish you all the best in the future. Thanks for talking with me.

You are most welcome, Miss Susan.  I have enjoyed our conversation, as odd as some of your questions were.


Jennifer Eaton

Jennifer Eaton lives on the East Coast USA with her husband, three boys, and a pepped up poodle.  She hosts an interactive website aimed at making all writers the best they can be.

Her Dystopian novelette “Last Winter Red” is available as part of the “Make Believe” Anthology from J.Taylor Publishing.  Her Christmas Romance “Connect the Dots” is available as part of Still Moments publishing’s “For the Love of Christmas” Anthology.  Both are available in ebook format from and and Smashwords

Last Winter Red:  In search of a husband, Emily leaves the safety of the city and risks her life stepping into the outside world.  What she finds there will question the foundations of everything she believes in.

Connect the Dots:   Jill has no idea what she wants for Christmas, but when it looks like her best friend Jack is going to get exactly what he asks for, Jill makes a Christmas wish that will change both of their lives forever.

If you’d like to find Jennifer elsewhere, here are a few links:

Twitter:  @jennifermeaton





Make Believe Blog Tour – Interview with Lynda R. Young’s character

Make Believe

Today I would love to introduce you to the character from Lynda Young’s story Birthright, from the Make Believe anthology. Please welcome Christa.

Hi, Christa! Would you please tell my readers a little about yourself.

Thank you for having me, Susan. Let me see … I grew up in New York and I love photography. It’s just a hobby though. My sister used to push me to do something with my photography. You know, exhibitions and all that, but I could never do something like that. Besides, who would want to see my silly photos?

What made you decide to spend your holiday in Florida?

After my parents and sister passed away I don’t think I can stay in New York for the Christmas holidays. Too many painful memories. This will be my first Christmas without them. Florida is a last minute decision. I’ve never been there before, and from what I hear, it’s completely different to New York.

I’m sorry to hear about your parents and sister. Sometimes it helps to talk about them. What were they like?

They were such a wonderful family. Unlike me, every venture they started became successful. My mom and sister in particular had the Midas touch with every dream they set their minds on. They always wanted the best for me and although they pushed for me to do more with my life, they were always supportive and loving. I miss them so much.

If I went to Florida, I’d probably hit one of the more touristy spots. What made you choose Grifton?

*Smiles* I chose Grifton precisely because it’s quiet. There’s no hurrying in small towns and I hope to spend my Christmas either reading in my cabin, or taking photos of the region. I might even take a trip into the Everglades. I don’t know. I haven’t made up my mind.

I hear there’s a great bakery/café in Grifton. What’s your favorite type of pastry?

I don’t often indulge in pastries, but if I did, then I’d probably pick something frivolous and pink. A cupcake perhaps.

In the romance department, are you more inclined to ogle a clean-shaven man dressed in a suit or a handyman-type in tight jeans with a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow?

My sister always went for the suit, but I have to admit I have a thing for the handyman-type. There’s something luscious about a strong man who isn’t afraid of getting a little dirt under his nails.

You seem like an avid reader, Christa. If you had your choice, would you prefer a paranormal romance, a fantasy story or a science fiction adventure?

That’s easy. Paranormal romance every time! I often dream of one of those stories coming true for me. You know, finding that tall dark and handsome man who’d accept me for who I am, sweep me off my feet, and carry me away into a magical lasting relationship. A girl can dream.

Do you believe in the power of dreams?

Both my mother and sister believed in the power of dreams, but unfortunately I don’t. As much as I love reading paranormal romance, I have to remind myself that they are just make believe. That’s not how things happen in real life. I have to remind myself of that. I could never be so lucky … could I?

You just never know, do you? Before we say goodbye, is there anything you’d like to add?

You’ve been so kind, Susan. You remind me a lot of my sister. Well, I’d better finish packing and head to Florida. Thanks again for your time.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Christa. I hope you have a great vacation, whatever you decide to do. 🙂

Hope you all enjoyed meeting Christa. To find out what happens on her vacation, check out her story, Birthright (by Lynda R. Young), in the Make Believe anthology. 🙂

To learn more about the Make Believe anthology, click on the book cover above to take you to the publisher’s website.

Scary October #28 – Sunday Interview

Hello readers! Today, I thought I’d do something completely different. Instead of an author interview I thought I’d do a character one, so it is with extreme pleasure that I introduce Michelle, the main character of my two YA novels, Withershins and Spirit Quest. It’s been 25 years since the end of ‘Spirit Quest’ and, upon the suggestion of one of my readers (thank-you, Diane), we are joined by her daughter, Kristen. 🙂

Me: Ladies, would you please tell my readers a little about yourselves.

Michelle: Certainly! I am . . . uh . . . 40-something. (Smirk!) I live in a small neighbourhood near the centre of Winnipeg, a community known as St. Boniface. I teach Aboriginal Studies at the University of Manitoba. I’m married with three lovely children (glances at her eldest daughter).

Kristen: (squirms uncomfortably) Mom, are you sure you want all this out in the open? (eyes flick to her mother’s face and sighs) Fine! Hi, I’m Kristen. I’m 16 and go to River East Collegiate. My friends and I like going to school football games because the quarterback is really cute. (blushes)

Me: Michelle, would you mind describing your adventures when you were Kristen’s age? What made you decide to go to the St. Andrew’s Graveyard with Kevin & Jason?

St. Andrews Church on the Red River, Manitoba

Michelle: (chuckles) Wow! That was such a long time ago! You probably won’t believe any of this. Goodness knows, Kristen has her doubts about the stories I’ve told her. (She clears her throat) Well, we had a high school history project to do. We thought, or at least, I thought it would be a good idea to go to the oldest church in the area and check out some of the names on the gravestones to inspire my research. I convinced the boys it would be a fun way to do the research. Jason was able to borrow his Dad’s car, so he offered to drive us. We wandered around the graveyard until it closed, then went to eat. Despite the warnings, we went back and waited until midnight, then Jason suggested we do the withershins.

Kristen: (leans forward, insistent) Mom, you said it yourself, you hit your head! You must have blacked out for awhile. You just had a very complicated dream. (She turns to me)Why are you’re encouraging her?

Michelle: Honey, I thought the same thing, at first – that it was all just a dream. After everything I experienced, it could not simply have been a dream.

Me: Michelle, would you please explain what ‘withershins’ means?

Michelle: According to Jason, it was a ritual where a person runs around a church three times at midnight. He claimed we’d meet the Devil or be transported to the Netherworld. I’ve since discovered, it simply means traveling counter-clockwise or ‘contrary to the sun’, and when you do it with all the right elements, you can travel back in time.

Kristen gives a snort of derision.

Me: Why would you participate in a ritual like that, Michelle?

Michelle: For one thing, I didn’t think anything would really happen. For another, when Jason begged me with those puppy dog eyes, I couldn’t say no. I had such a crush on him back then! I’m just glad I didn’t meet the Devil or go to the Netherworld, although there were times I thought I really was in H-E-double hockey sticks, if you know what I mean. 🙂

Kristen: (rolls her eyes) There’s no need to protect me from bad words, Mom. I’ve heard a lot worse at school, you know!

Me: Michelle, what was your first clue that you’d been transported back in time?

Michelle: Once the swirling portal thing stopped and the fog disappeared, everything was so different. There was absolutely nothing around me – no trees, no buildings, no power lines anywhere. In the back of my mind, I knew I hadn’t run that far from the church, but I really couldn’t believe I had actually time-travelled. Would you?

Me: (Chuckle!) No, I suppose not. What finally convinced you it wasn’t a dream?

Michelle: I’ve had vivid dreams before, but nothing compared to the sights and smells of being back in the mid-eighteen hundreds. When I stepped in that horse poo and tried to get it off my runner, I knew there was something all too real about that place! What really convinced me was when Bear brought me to his grandfather and he started talking about everything that had happened leading up to that spinning vortex. That’s when I knew for sure. After all, no one else in that place could possibly have known, unless it was all some huge practical joke, but I didn’t think Lower Fort Garry would have gone to all the trouble and expense of removing a building and replacing it with a log cabin, all for the sake of a joke.

Kristen: Mom, you’d been doing research. All that stuff must have been in your mind when you hit your head, so you simply dreamed it all. It just seemed real.

Me: (ignoring Kristen’s outburst) It must have been hard to live in a time without all our modern conveniences. How did you manage?

Michelle: (with a rueful smile) Faking amnesia helped a little. Anytime someone questioned me about not being able to do things, I just chalked it up to forgetting. I was also a Brownie and a Girl Guide, so I had been camping before. I knew some basic survival skills and when I first arrived at the Lower Fort, I was thrust into a maid’s position. It didn’t take long to learn how to cook over a fire, how to mend clothing and a whole bunch of other stuff. Bear’s mom, Swift Doe, knew where I was from and taught me all kinds of things native women learned when they were young. Also, Owl, Bear’s grandfather, taught me some spiritual stuff and Bear taught me how to hunt.

Me: Kristen, does your mom do any of those things now or when you were younger?

Kristen: Well, she used to make moccasins for us when we were little. We used to go to Pow Wows. I was given a native name when I was 12. Last year, Mom and Dad prepared me for a sweat lodge ceremony.

Me: How do you think your mom knew about all of these ceremonies if she didn’t learn them from the past?

Kristen: Mom knows a lot of elders. Perhaps one of them taught her all that stuff.

Michelle: Sweetie, I didn’t meet those elders until after I returned from the past. Your Auntie Sherry introduced me to them after I told her what had happened to me.

Kristen: (folds her arms across her chest and scowls)

Me: (turning to Michelle) Tell us about some of the people you met in the past.

Lower Fort Garry, NW turret used for baking ‘hard tack’, a bread used by voyageurs and hunting parties

Michelle: Well, I first met the Reverend Cochrane and his wife, Annie. They lived in the original rectory at St. Andrews. They helped me a lot. I was scared and I’d bumped my head and sprained my wrist falling out of the time tunnel thingy, so the reverend took me to the Lower Fort where there was a doctor. Doctor Buchanan had just come to Red River with the 6th Regiment of Foot and had a little office inside the fort beside the trade store, about where the museum is now. He fixed me up and asked Governor Simpson if I could stay at the fort until my head healed.

Oh, yeah, before meeting the doctor, I was feeling a little light-headed because of the bump on my head and I fell into the arms of a rather handsome Scottish stonemason, Duncan MacRae. He was in charge of the St. Andrews Church construction. There were also a couple of girls I became friends with, the Sinclair sisters, Harriet and Maria. Margaret was sort of a friend, but hung around too much with Elizabeth, who hated me the moment she set eyes on me. I think it had a lot to do with her father being with the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was friends with the Chief Factor and his wife, Mrs. Wilson – and a more spiteful woman you’d never hope to meet! There were quite a few others, like Doctor Buchanan’s patients that I helped and Bear’s sister, Fawn, and the store clerk, Ian McNally, but we don’t have time to get into all that, right now.

Me: Now, you went through the withershins ritual not once but twice, is that right? Why would you put yourself through that again?

Michelle: I probably wouldn’t have considered it, as much as I missed Bear – and I missed him A LOT! Missing him, though, was the reason I went to the Manitoba Archives to learn what might have happened to him and my other friends. I came across an old article that talked about a trial that took place after I came home. The article said Owl had been hanged because they thought he had murdered me. You see, when I suddenly disappeared from the past to come home, the nosy Mrs. Wilson claimed she’d seen Owl and I leave the fort late at night, but only Owl returned – with my olden days clothes. She made such a fuss, that the courts decided Owl had killed me. I couldn’t let them hang Owl, so I used the arrowhead talisman that Owl’s spirit guide had given me and went to the church on the night of a full moon. I went back to try and stop them from killing Owl. I had no idea if it would work or not, but I had to try.

Me: Wow! Who would have thought your sudden disappearance would have caused such a tragic event! Did you manage to save Owl?

Michelle: (winks) I wouldn’t want to spoil the story! If you want to find out, you’ll have to read the book!

Me: Oh, you are a sneaky one, aren’t you? From the title, I imagine you learned a lot more spiritual stuff in your second adventure. Care to tell us about it?

Michelle: Well, let’s just say, I found it quite life-changing. There were moments I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the challenges and many times I doubted my resolve would last. If it wasn’t for the faith that Bear and Owl had in me, I don’t know where I would be today or if I’d even be here to talk to you. I owe them my life, body and soul.

Kristen: Mom, don’t you think you’re being a little melodramatic?

Me: They sound like the sort of friends everyone should have. (I turn to Michelle) Do you have any parting thoughts you’d like to share with my readers?

Michelle: Only that my appreciation for history has grown immensely because of my adventures. I still don’t like having to memorize dates, but I have a greater love for the people who made up our history, those who influenced changes in our society and helped to make our future better. These are things I hope Kristen will come to appreciate, one day (fondly casts her eyes to her daughter and smiles).

I’m also grateful for some of the progress that’s been made since then, like indoor plumbing, but I have to wonder whether the cost of some of our modern conveniences has been worth the price to our environment. When I consider all the plant and animal species that have become extinct over the past hundred and fifty years, it makes me cry. When I think of all the polluted rivers and landfills that mar the land, these days, I shake my head and wonder whether it’s all been worth it. I see the greed of huge corporations who are responsible for our disposable society and want to shake some sense into them for not finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint and I blame the current governments for not taking a stand and creating a bill to protect the environment from those corporate piranhas. My long talks with Owl and Bear, and all the time I spent in the past, have made me more aware of our shrinking landscapes (shrugs her shoulders and smiles, briefly). Sorry for the rant. I guess I’ll stop now. 🙂

Me: I can’t help but agree with you. Progress does seem to be getting out of hand. What do you think about what your mother said, Kristen?

Kristen: I suppose she has a point regarding the environment. I still don’t see the need to study history, though. A bunch of old dead people – what can studying what they did make a difference to what happened?

Michelle: Sweetie, you don’t get it, do you? There are people in the past who fought for the rights and freedoms you enjoy today. If they had not done what they did, our lives would be very different and much more difficult.

Kristen: People like who?

Michelle: If Chief Peguis hadn’t helped the early Scottish settlers by bringing them down to Pembina before the snow came, your great-great-great-great-grandfather would not have survived the winter and you probably wouldn’t be here. If Louis Riel hadn’t stood up for the rights of the Métis people, you’d still be considered a second class citizen, treated badly just like your great-great grandmother was at the residential school.

Kristen: (sinks lower in her chair and pouts) If you say so, Mom.

Me: (to Kristen) Then you don’t think you’d ever want to go on an adventure, like your mother?

Kristen: Are you kidding me? You believe what happened to Mom was real?

Me: You mother’s adventures were well documented in both ‘Withershins’ and ‘Spirit Quest’. You still don’t think they were real?

Kristen: Haven’t you ever heard of FICTION? That’s all it is, you know.

Me: Then, if you had the chance to do the withershins thing you wouldn’t do it?

Kristen: I may try it, but I certainly don’t expect anything to happen.

Michelle: (smirks) That’s what I thought, Honey.

Me: (I notice something around Kristen’s neck) Is that what I think it is?

Kristen: (touches her chest and groans, then pulls out the arrowhead necklace) Mom gave it to me for my birthday, a few days ago.

Me: That is very cool! 🙂 (I catch Michelle’s eye and she winks at me) Well, I want to thank you both for joining us, today, Michelle and Kristen.

Michelle: Thanks for having me, Susan. 🙂

Kristen: Yeah. Whatever.

Me: Michelle’s adventures can be found in both books mentioned above. Maybe one day you’ll be able to read an adventure about Kristen, too! 🙂

Kristen: Or NOT!

Some of the settings in which Michelle was known to have traveled can be found on my Withershins Facebook page, here. I will also be posting more pictures of St. Andrews Church, the graveyard and Lower Fort Garry on this blog, once I have gone through the hundreds of photos and video clips I took out there this past summer. I can also be found, occasionally, on Twitter and Goodreads.

Hope you enjoyed this whimsical interview, inspired by other bloggers like J. Keller Ford, who have done similar interviews with their characters. 🙂