Character being interviewed: Imraldera/Starflower
Welcome Imraldera! Thanks for making this very special appearance today here. I'm really excited to learn more about you. Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I dream of traveling home. I do not know when I will be able to return to the Hidden Land behind the mountains. I have been called to a great service in realms far away, and I am eager to pursue the tasks given me. But I know my thoughts will ever return to my sister, Fairbird, waiting at home, wondering when she will see me again.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story is in the teller. Two different storytellers may take the same tale, and yet one will move me to tears, while the other moves me to laughter. Tales are old, and they have all been told before. That is the beauty of stories, how they circle and return, bringing round the themes we know and love and cherish. But a truly gifted storyteller will take those familiar themes and make them seem like new, thrilling our hearts so that we believe we have just heard the story for the first time and know the truth of it better.
Tell us about your family.
There are not many of us left now. My mother died when I was but ten years of age, giving birth to my baby sister. She had no children otherwise, and it was considered a shame upon my father to have sired two daughters and no sons. And yet my father, Eldest of the tribe, did not suffer the villagers to turn me or my sister away.
Not until the high priest of the Beast, our god, demanded one of us in tribute.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
The moment I believed the high priest would take my sister and deliver her to the Beast. I knew then that I would rather die myself.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a man. How sorry, how pathetic is that? I wanted a voice of my own in a culture where women were made silent and considered as nothing more than slaves. How I longed to be a man, to have a voice, to be given a dog of my own, and a spear with which to fight! Instead, I knew I would have to fight my battles weak, weaponless, and in silence, even as my mother did.
What is your favorite meal?
When I was small, my mother would prepare a dish of fish cooked over a stone with fresh mangoes, broiled until the juices ran and flavored the fish. She would then grind up dried peppers and add that spice as well. It would make my mouth burn, but I loved it!
What are you passionate about these days?
I am now learning to read and to write in the language of Faerie. I never dreamed such a thing would be possible! I intend to fill an entire library with volumes I will write, telling the histories of the worlds and recording prophecies of times to come.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
I would apologize to my father. I never knew what he felt in his heart, and I never realized what he must have suffered . . . until it was too late.
What makes you happy?
I love working with dogs. As a woman in my tribe, I was not allowed to have a dog of my own. But I rescued a young female dog from a boy who abused her. And I trained her to be my own loyal companion. Frostbite was her name. She is far away now, back in the Hidden Land with my sister. But I still think of her still, and I hope to someday be able to work with dogs again.
What is the next big thing?
I have to record a series of sonnets by my comrade-in-arms, Bard Eanrin of Rudiobus. He cannot be bothered to write them down properly himself, so he brings them to me, scribbled on bits of scrap, and expects me to put them down in ink on parchment. I will have to learn more of reading and writing first, however.
I confess, I do not think Bard Eanrin is a very skilled poet, so I do not relish the thought of recording his verses.
What one word best describes you?
Do you have any special routines or rituals?
I was brought up with the tribal rituals of my people. Many of them I have forsaken now, for I realize that they were intended to further subjugate me as a woman beneath the heels of the men. But some I still hold to, such as the silent songs my mother taught me, which I sing with my hands to welcome the new day or to beckon in the evening.
I do not perform this ritual when Eanrin is watching, however. He always asks me if I am trying to make "shadow puppets" (whatever that means!) and tries to show me how he can "make a rabbit." Sometimes, I wonder if he is teasing me . . .
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I was mute from the time I was a newborn until very recently. It is the practice of my people to poison baby girls so that they lose their voices. But I was healed by my master, the Prince of the Farthest Shore, and I now may speak and sing as well or better than any man!
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
My mother always urged me to try to see the "true names" of those around me. She told me that people want to be known by their "true names," for only then can they be whole.
And Eanrin has told me never to take advice from the old man at the crossing. I think this might be sound advice, though I am not certain why.
Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, and STARFLOWER, with DRAGONWITCH due to release in 2013. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?