Hey! I took a short break from the authors interview segment to catch up on my reading. Now I’m back! But I’ll be gone again next month as I visit some family overseas. But for now, enjoy!
Aden: Hello everybody, welcome back to our Author of the Month series. We took a break last month but we’re back with a bang. This month, we have Ryan Watt, author of the Flocked series and a high scorer on JukePop Serial’s top 30 list. With him are Taree and the mysterious Soldier. How are you guys? Would you do a quick introduction of yourselves?
Ryan: Thanks for having us. I am Ryan, writer of the various stories in the Fabled Age world: Flocked, The Soldier (and the Travelling Companion) and…, and Heroes of the Fabled Age, an anthology series.
Taree: Where am I?
Ryan: You’re at an Interview.
Taree: You can understand me?
Ryan: Yes, we all can. That’s… um… the magic of the interview. Now introduce yourself.
Taree: I’m Taree! Oh, um, you probably want a little more. Well, I’m a bird. But I’m also sometimes a bow, when needed. Oh, and I sometimes am human, but I don’t really understand how.
Soldier: And I’m known as the Soldier.
Ryan: That’s it, nothing else?
Soldier: I’m not really good at this sort of thing.
Soldier: Ah, yes. I should have said that. Sorry.
Taree: I do that too! I’m in the Guild of the Feathers. We’re a team that helps people with curses, and witches, and kidnappings!
Aden: Well, Soldier and Taree, you two are sounding to be a bunch of heroes it seems. That’s cool. Anyway, here’s the first question for you, Ryan. The Fabled Age world is obviously heavily based on fairy tales. While some of them are more well known, others are relatively obscure in the modern age. What made you interested in writing a series based on these tales?
Ryan: It’s been decades of little things that led me to it, but reading “My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me“, an anthology of modern authors retelling fairy tales, edited by Kate Bernheimer, inspired me to look for fairy tales I wanted to retell, to adapt. That led me to reading the complete Brothers Grimm and being fascinated by three stories about boys being turned into birds. That is what inspired Flocked, where this all started.
Aden: That seems to be a fascinating book. Now, in the stories, there is this, shall we say, loose organization of heroes, the Order of Champions. What are all your individual thoughts on this? I’m sure everyone has a different concept and idea of what the Order does.
Soldier: True, very true. Not everyone likes the Order. Many monarchs refuse to allow Champions within their borders, or only when it best suits their own needs. But there really is nothing to fear. Champions don’t act for our own interests, but always in the interests of helping people with extraordinary circumstances.
Taree: People are strange about guilds too. They’re newer, or so Oleg told me, and so people trust us less. Also, we’re not Champions. Well, Cyril is. All guilds have one Champion, so I guess that makes us part of the Order?
Soldier: Loosely, yes. Guilds are a new idea. Teams of people working together to take jobs the Order might not be able to take. One guild might have people who specialize in a variety of skills.
Taree: I’m good at scouting places, and surr, um, sur-vail-ants?
Taree: Right, that. Thanks. But my team usually just uses me to deliver messages between them. I’m hoping they let me do more someday.
Aden: Ryan, here’s an interesting question. Boxers or briefs? No, sorry, just kidding. Are all characters in the Fabled Age world based on a fairy tale? Would it be a little spoiler-ish for us to know what tales Taree and the Soldier is based off on?
Ryan: Virtually all characters beyond really minor ones (dock workers, servants, etc) come from fairy tales, yes. The Soldier is a bit of a hybrid of a lot of stories that feature a nameless wandering man who has left a life of soldiering behind and clashes with devils, demons, and ghosts.
Soldier: Hmmm, that does sound like me.
Ryan: And Taree is from a very short Japanese fairy tale. I have actually already adapted all of her story in Flocked chapters 18 and 19. But Taree’s origin story is full of questions unanswered, that haunted me after I read it. So I went looking for answers and discovered… well, I can’t say it right now…
Taree: What? You know where I come from? What I really am? Tell me, tell me.
Ryan: I’m sorry, Taree. I hate keeping it from you, but I promise you’ll learn one day.
Aden *Taree’s so cute!* *Clears throat*. Right. Soldier, I know you’re not much of a talker, so I’m going to purposely prod a deep question at you. You’re someone who is considerably famous for dealing with some of the tougher curses seen in the Fabled Age universe, but you’re not particularly ‘special’ in the same way most of the Guilds and Champions are. What do you think makes you so capable at what you do?
Soldier: … …. …. I have never really thought about it like that. I don’t think I am all that capable. Or rather, any more capable than any other Champion. I’ve just been at this a long, long time. Most Champions retire sometime between thirty and forty. I think I am really the only one in the Order’s history that has been at this so long. If anything makes me more capable, it is that experience.
Ryan: Even still, you’ve earned the honorific ‘Legendary’. You’re the only Champion to receive that title while still alive.
Soldier: *clears throat* Yes, well. That has more to do with- well I don’t know why they did that.
Aden: A humble and modest man. Heroic qualities, even if you don’t think so yourself. Now, Taree, you can turn from a bird, to a bow, and a human girl. Tell me, which form do you like most?
Taree: I guess bird? I don’t really remember anything when I am bow. It’s peaceful though. I like to sleep that way. But I think I want to be a human more. It’s just that… bad things always happen when I become human.
Aden: Well, I hope everything turns out well for you, Taree. You’re nice. Everyone else I’ve interviewed so far is either weird, angry, or a stickler. Moving on, the Guild of Feathers are the centre of the main Flocked stories. Can I get all your thoughts on them?
Taree: I love the Guild! There’s Cyril, he’s our leader. He’s always trying to do the right thing and to help us all fix our problems. But he’s sad though, a lot. Then there’s Torias, he’s so funny. He’s a thief. Oh, but maybe I shouldn’t have said that. But, well, he is. And I want him to teach me some of that. Satu is really secretive, but very kind, and she can get out of any situation. And there’s Oleg. He spends almost as much time as a bird as I do and can do magic! He’s the one who found me and brought me to the guild. He’s my best friend!
Soldier: Champions are in high demand, but short supply. The Guild’s are helping to fill that gap… but I don’t like the idea of helping people in exchange for gain.
Ryan: The Feathers aren’t really about trying to earn a living from it. They want to help people because people need help and they also hope to help themselves.
Soldier: True. The Feathers is different from Maison du Chat or the Knights of the Fish. From those I’ve met. They have something else about them that makes them different. Better maybe. They empathize with their clients.
Ryan: It helps that they’ve all been there themselves. They’ve had the kind of lives their clients are hoping to avoid or stop.
Taree: That’s us!
Aden: Well, here’s a pretty questions I think everyone can have a little fun in answering. What are your thoughts on the people with you? Basically, what do you think of each other?
Taree: Oh gosh! The Soldier. Well, I mean. I don’t know him at all. We’ve never met. But I hear a lot of stories about him. He sounds strong, impressive, a little scary, but also a little sad.
Taree: Yeah. I don’t know why. Oh, and Ryan. Well, I don’t think I like him. He knows things about me, but wont share.
Soldier: Taree’s right, we haven’t met, but I have seen her before. I tried to help free her from her curse once, when it grew really strong. She was fighting with everything she had, and she inspired the same type of fight within everyone around her.
Taree: That was you? Thank you!
Soldier: Just part of the job. As for Ryan. Well, I don’t really know him. But he reminds me of another story teller I once knew, and if they are any more similar, then I am sure I would like him.
Ryan: I do love a good story! As for me, I think the Soldier is fascinating. He is someone I’d want to meet, but not someone I’d ever want to cross. He has the best heart, and the best intentions, and I want to know everything about his life. And Taree? She is a wonderful being. She may be cursed, but she has been a blessing to me. I think she is the favorite character I have ever discovered in a lifetime of writing stories. She is constantly surprising me in new and wonderful ways. I’d say more, but I might reveal something!
Taree: How can you say such nice things, and then such a cruel thing?
Aden: Yeah! Ryan, you are terrible! Don’t do that to poor Taree! (clears throat) Let’s move this on, before you make the poor girl cry. Ryan, what fairy tales have you adapted for your series that you find is your favourite, and what have you not yet done which you would like to try?
Ryan: There is a character named Kess, who the group met in an arc called ‘The Bird of Truth’, and he is actually based on two fairy tales. The second one, which I can’t reveal yet, is one of my favourites and the adaptation is coming in volume 2. And what do I want to adapt? I recently read the recently discovered Bavarian fairy tales of Franz Xaver von Schonwerth, and I really want to adapt some of those. They were lost for over a hundred years and some of them are twisted and great!
Aden: I’m looking forward to that! I have a little sweet tooth for the macabre of the original fairy tales. With that though, we’ve come to the end of our interview. So, our last question is really more of a formality, do the three of you have any final thoughts or things you’d wish the readers to know?
Taree: I’m still not really sure what’s going on, but I guess I should be a good guest and say thank you to whoever you all are! And if you ever need help with a curse, or a kidnapping, or whatever, come see the Guild of the Feathers in Port Lyr.
Soldier: As Taree said, thank you for having me, thank you to all of the readers.. I assume this is some sort of news publication you work for…
Ryan: Sheesh, I picked two people who are not good at impromptu responses, didn’t I. Well, on behalf of my two friends here, I want to say: Never stop reading. Never forget those stories that inspired you as a child. Go back and reread them once in a while, and look deeper.
(Ryan is afraid his awesome beard will destroy Twitter, so his profile @GuildofFeathers is of a feather.)