Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Bones of the Earth by Scott Bury: Character Interview

The Dark Age. The Earth has turned on humanity with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and a new plague that kills the Roman Emperor himself. Barbarian invasions shatter civilizations.

In this chaos, Javor comes of age in a poor, remote village. Try as he might, though, he never fits in with his own people. There is just something about him that keeps him apart from the others.

When barbarian raiders kidnap the girl he loves, he takes a mysterious dagger handed down from his great-grandfather and tries to rescue her. But while he's away, a horror that Javor could never believe existed murders his parents and devastates his village.

Javor begins his quest for revenge, not realizing that he is entering a war against forces bent on eliminating humanity.

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CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Javor from the North

Today’s guest is Javor, the young warrior from The Bones of the Earth.

Javor hails from a little village north of the Alps, in the territory now controlled by the marauding Avars. Javor’s adventures include killing several monsters and a dragon. They’ve also caused controversy, as several people were killed in the process, while Javor himself got through with barely a scratch.

He’s graciously come to talk to us today so we can get to know more about this fascinating—and fabulous—young hero. Thank you for coming, Javor.

You’re welcome.

Tell us, Javor, do you dream of traveling?

Sometimes I dream that I’m flying high over a wide, dark plain. Most nights, I can’t remember the dream, but when I can, I wish I couldn’t.

Sometimes, I dream of being back at home. My mother is baking bread and my father is coming back from the forest with honey. I can almost put it in my mouth, but then I wake up.

And sometimes, I dream of Danisa — I mean, Ingund. The girl in the story. I dream of … you know … well, at least kissing her.

But most often, something horrible happens then. Like a huge serpent, or a monster, or Avar raiders come out of nowhere.

I meant, is there a place you would really like to go to?

Hmmm. Oh, I see — not dream, as in sleeping, but dream, as in day-dream. Right. Oh, sometimes I think I’d like to go back to my village, but then I think that I just wouldn’t fit in anymore. Actually, I never did fit in there. Still, it would be nice to check on my people again.

And the Caucasus! I’d like to go there, I think. I love mountains! And I’d like to see where my great-grandfather went, and where he found my … um …

It’s okay. We already know about his dagger and amulet.

Oh. Well, yes. Maybe there, I could find out more about them, too.

Tell us about your family.

Well, my great-grandfather was in the Emperor’s army against the Persians. He went on a campaign to the east …

I meant your immediate family.

My mother was small and perfect. She made the best loaves and, when she could get all the ingredients, cakes. She had tiny little hands that made perfect little rolls. I miss her terribly.

My father was not a big man. He was smaller than me. He never stopped working. At the end of the day, after he made me help in the fields, or fix the chicken coop, he would go into the forest. He had secret places where he knew the bees made honey, and he knew how to make friends with the bees and take their honey without getting stung. All the other villagers would pester him about the source of the honey, but he never told. But he would give away the whole village honey!

He had the worst singing voice you ever heard. Gods, it was awful. Birds would stop chirping. Once, the neighbour’s cow heard him sing, and wouldn’t give milk for almost a half-moon. It’s true!

I used to have a brother and a sister, Swat and Alla. There were other children, too, older than me, but they died before I was born.

Swat looked just like our father. He was the same size, had the same hair, eyes, everything. He was quick, and strong and funny. Alla was like our mother, except she had long black hair. Mama’s hair was short. And Alla was taller than Mama, even though she was quite young. Alla was very good at knitting. She made me toys from wool. But she was not as gentle as Mama. She yelled at the other kids, even boys bigger than her, when they teased me, sometimes. Actually, quite a lot. Once, Mean Mrost—he’s the worst bully in our village—pushed me down, and Alla came out of nowhere and pulled his hair until he cried!

You talk about them in the past tense. What happened to them?

They all died. Alla and Swat died of a pestilence in their lungs. And my mother and father … well, it’s hard to talk about, still.

They were murdered by the monster, Ghastog, weren’t they? It’s all right, you don’t have to answer. I can see you nodding. Do you want a tissue? Take a moment. I’ll get some water.

[Musical interlude.]

We’re back with Javor of the North.

Javor, what was the scariest moment of your life?

For me, it was the moment when I realized that Danisa, or Ingund or whoever she really is, was missing. It was at the Roman fort in Dacia. The last time I saw her, she was walking toward the dragon with my great-grandfather’s magical dagger. I did not know, at the time, what she intended to do with it. Now, of course, I know she was going to use it to control the dragon and take it to her mother. But all I knew at the time was that she was walking into danger. I thought she was going to try to kill the dragon! And she was holding it all wrong. Girls. They have no idea, do they?

And then later, I realized she was gone. After the dragon flew off, I mean. I looked all over the fort for her, and could not find her anywhere. I thought the dragon took her, along with that silly village girl, Veca. You can imagine how I felt!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought I’d be a farmer, like my father. I had no idea there was any other kind of life.

What is your favorite meal?

Wild boar with mushrooms, and fresh bread. And good wine from Italy.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

It would be Photius, for doubting him. He told me so many stories. I never listened. I thought they were boring! But now I realize how he was trying to warn me, warn all of us, about the many things that are changing the world.

Who should play you in a film?

What’s a “film”?

Morning person? Or night person? How do you know?

Morning. I like to sleep at night. In the day, I can climb trees and see far.
What would we find under your bed?

Mostly useless stuff that I don’t need. Or maybe some dirty socks.

Tell us about your favorite restaurant.


I like Yosef’s mother’s place in the Hebraica in Constantinople. That’s the Jewish district. The food there is wonderful. They have the best bread! Better than the Romans’. And they know how to use spices well. Not too hot, but great combinations of flavours.
Yosef’s mother is the best of them all. That’s why I love to visit. That, and the place next door makes beer. I like it much better than the sour wine they drink in Constantinople.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy bear, unless you have something good to eat!

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

They think I live in my own world. But I think they don’t live in the real world. So many people refuse to see what’s plain in front of them! In my village, people talk about spirits that make the grain grow. But if you ask, no one has ever seen a spirit!

Here in Constantinople, people go to Church and argue about things that happened hundreds of years ago as if they were there! Or they riot about the difference between the nature of God. But they, too, have never actually seen God, or an angel. And then they’ll tell me that the things that I’ve seen and felt are not real. So who’s the introvert, and who’s in the real world?

I say, if you want to convince me about something that sounds incredible, show me some concrete evidence!

Do you have any special routines or rituals?

I don’t like rituals. I like to do things that make sense. A ritual means you do something over and over, no matter what the circumstances, even if following the ritual would be dangerous. I don’t do that.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I can usually tell what the weather will be the next day. For example, in the evening, if the wind is from the east, you know the weather’s going to change by the morning. Usually for the worse.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

People are always giving me advice, and I don’t pay much attention. But my father once said I should always think for myself. So I guess that’s one bit of advice I’ve followed.

So, what’s next for Javor from the North?

I don’t know. I cannot predict the future. And you know what? No matter what all those mystics say, I don’t think anyone really can.

Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. He has written for magazines and newspapers in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen,the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, Workplace and others.

In his blog, Written Words, he writes book reviews, writing tips and opinions on anything related to communication.

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