Meet the Character

*The lovely and talented Jagi Lamplighter tagged me for a “meet the character” blog tour.  Her own can be found here.

So you can either blame her or thank her for what follows:*

Meet His Grace, Seraphim Ainsling, the Duke of Darkwater, main character of Witchfinder.

The duke comes into his study wearily. He’s not at all sure about this strange person who wants to interview him, after all. It’s all very well to say she is the author, but the Duke of Darkwater is a proper Christian, raised as such, and really, he doesn’t believe in this whole thing about the Author being a woman sitting in another parallel world.

It’s not that Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater disbelieves in other worlds. He’s a magic user, after all. What’s more, since his father’s shameful and still unexplained suicide, he’s been reading his father’s diaries.

He has discovered that his father was the King’s Witchfinder, which means the man in charge of a service that traveled to other worlds where magic was forbidden to rescue magic practitioners or, often, shape shifters, most of them children, most of them condemned to death.

And Seraphim, with the help of his half-brother, Gabriel Penn, has been doing the same work.

So he knows without being told that the woman slouching on one of his straight-backed chairs, wearing really quite indecent breeches and a far too molding shirt is from the world he and Gabriel nicknamed The Madhouse. It’s a barbarous place without magic, which, in its place has developed a lot of machinery, most of it bewildering.

The Duke comes in and bows, very correctly, and the wretched woman has the decency to stand, if not to curtsey. On the other hand, he wouldn’t like to see her attempt a curtsey. She looks rather… unbalanced, as is.

“Ah,” he says. “Lady Sarah Hoyt?”

She pushes her spectacles up her nose and tries to frown at him, but really looks like a cat about to cough up a hairball. “Not lady. Mrs. I’m an American. We don’t have titles of nobility, and I rather like it that way.”

He has time to do no more than say “Ah!” in a tone he hopes is interpreted as “Who let you in my study without knowing the most rudimentary mode of interaction between human beings,” before she explains, “Of course, I understand it’s different in your world, Avalon, where the land is bound to people by magic, and magic makes everything different. It’s strange, you know, because on Earth we tend to think of magic as an easy way to get things. But magic is really duty in your case, isn’t it.”

He inclines his head. Duty about covers everything he does, from trying to restore his house’s financial fortunes which his father quite squandered in wine and women and more wine and more women and occasionally even women and wine. There are the younger children – Caroline and Michael – to provide for. And something must be done about Gabriel, who had to leave the university over that unfortunate scandal involving the necromancer.

“So,” Mrs.-not-lady Hoyt says, smiling dementedly at him and waving around a notebook and something that looks like a stylus. “So, what would you say is your personal goal?”

“To try to bring my family through financial ruin and the implications of my father’s dangerous doings unscathed,” he says.

“But what about your illegal rescue missions? Didn’t the king forbid travel to other worlds? And don’t you and your half-brother do just that? What if they discover you?”

“Oh, you know about that?” He sighed. “If they discover us, attainder and perhaps death follow. At least imprisonment.”

“Then why do it?”

“Because we aren’t put in the world – any world – Mrs. Hoyt, to please ourselves and ignore our duty to other human beings.”

“Isn’t that a problem, though, approaching life as nothing but duty?”

The Duke’s green eyes look world-weary, suddenly, “The only thing—”


“The only thing I resent is having to marry Honoria Blythe. But if I understand my father’s notes correctly that was his plan to restore our fortunes. And Blythe’s Blessings is a huge magic house. If only I were sure it wasn’t tied in to the Others.”

“The Others?”

“People who seem to be … ah… involved in shady financial and magical dealings in low magic worlds. We… they’ve attempted against Gabriel and I more than once, including setting traps.”

“I see.”

“Well, Mrs. Hoyt, I’m glad you do because I don’t.” He rustles some papers on his desk, “If you excuse me, Madam, I am extremely busy.” If only he were sure that Gabriel’s half-elf origins weren’t part of the problem.

He looks up to see if the intruder has left, but his office is quite empty and suddenly he isn’t sure why he thought he was talking to the Author. At any rate, surely if his lifestory were a book, surely it would be written by someone with more aplomb than a middle aged woman with neither style nor manners.

He stands up to ring his bell and summon Gabriel to his study for a discussion.

But pinned to the bellpull is a card. It says Witchfinder – in which Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater discovers there is more to life than duty, and that his family can often rescue itself.

He frowns at the card, then drops it, fluttering, to the floor, and rings the bell.


Being myself, which is a bit of a liability, I got busy writing and herding cats or in this case family members, and forgot to give people I wanted to tag a heads up.

Given all that, I got lucky three had responded by tonight.  If others respond tomorrow, I’ll add them here as the day goes on.

The three that answered are:

Amanda Green –

I’m older than 20 and younger than death and that’s all you’ll get from me about my age. After all, it’s not polite to ask a woman how old she is. I’m a mother, a daughter and was a wife. I’ve spent most of my life in the South and love to travel. The only problem with that is my dog always thinks I’ve abandoned him when I do and it takes weeks to reassure the poor thing and my cat resents the fact I came back before he could figure out a way to kill the dog and hide the body. My house is haunted – it is, really. I swear it. What else explains the table that plays music and the light that comes on by itself? – but it’s mine and I love it. Okay, I’m a little strange. But that makes life interesting.

When it comes to writing, I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. It’s something I can’t not do. Nor, it seems, can I stick with one genre. I have books out that are urban fantasy, romantic suspense, paranormal romance and military science fiction. I will soon be releasing in episodic form an historical fantasy set at the turn of the 20th Century. There never seems to be a dearth of ideas, only a severe lack of time to write them all.

Amanda blogs at Nocturnal Lives.

Dave Freer:

Dave Freer lives on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait, off Australia, being about as far into the remote backwoods as he could put himself or be put (let’s not ask which). There he lives a sort of chaotic experiment in self-sufficiency, involving a lot time at sea in small boats, doing remarkably silly things with spears and nets in water cold enough to freeze an impure though solid. His real talent is the fine art of making one vegetable grow, sort-of, where fifty plants flourished before. He’s the author of a slew of books (19?), a few of which blundered onto bestseller lists, until thrown out by respectable literature. He’s a disgrace, really. You can read of his misadventures at Flinders Freers.

Doug Dandrige:

Doug Dandridge was born in Venice Florida in 1957, the son of a Florida native and a Mother of French Canadian descent. An avid reader from an early age, Doug has read most of the classic novels and shorts of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as multiple hundreds of historical works. Doug has military experience including Marine Corps JROTC, Active Duty Army, and the Florida National Guard. He attended Florida State University, studying Biology, Geology, Physics, and Chemistry, and receiving a BS in Psychology. Doug then studied Clinical Psychology at the University of Alabama, with specific interests in Neuropsychology and Child Psychology, completing a Masters and all course work required for a PhD. He has worked in Psychiatric Hospitals, Mental Health Centers, a Prison, a Juvenile Residential Facility, and for the past five years for the Florida Department of Children and Families. Doug has been writing on and off for fifteen years. He concentrates on intelligent science fiction and fantasy in which there is always hope, no matter how hard the situation. No area of the fantastic is outside his scope, as he has completed works in near and far future Science Fiction, Urban and High Fantasy, Horror, and Alternate History.

You can find him here.

UPDATE: Jody Lynn Nye has also answered in the affirmative:

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as ‘spoiling cats.’ When not engaged upon this worthy occupation, she writes fantasy and science fiction books and short stories.  You can find her here.

36 thoughts on “Meet the Character

  1. I would like to inform Doug (with a severe lack of sleep warping my sense of humor) that for anyone who has a career in Psychology, receiving a BS in Psychology is entirely appropriate.

    1. My mom got a BS in… argh, can’t remember, “raising domestic animals and plants”… and she says that the BS part was definitely fitting. There’s a lot of, er, hand waving in making things make sense, but if you remember that it’s insanely useful. (The less we can directly test, the more you need to remember it!)

      1. It changes depending on who’s trying to make farming and ranching sound glamorous or at least sophisticated-to-intellectuals. Last I checked it was ‘agribussiness’. That’s probably changed.

  2. Very nice. LOL How charming. (Alas, I don’t think I could interview Rachel…she is secretive and would lie to an outsider. Which makes me a tad sad, being as I spent so long being her and suffering upon her behalf.)

    My son loved: wine and women and more wine and more women and occasionally women and wine.

      1. THAT’S IT!!! Set it up like a classic spy interrogation. Hit her over the head and kidnap her. When she wakes up, she’s tied to a table/chair with the proverbial light shining in her eyes. Then, from the darkness comes a voice asking the questions. When she refuses to answer, the voice provides the answer, like you’re trying to drag more info out of her. When the interview is over, you walk into the light with a syringe, thanking her for the interview…and mention that the syringe is to give you a chance to get away after you untie her.

        Or maybe I just need more coffee.

        1. Problem is if they are prepared for a hostile interrogation, and can deliver false information beyond one’s ability to penetrate.

          “I really am Robert Peel.” she said. “I was an infantryman in Iraq.”

    1. All my heroes and heroines would give me the eye and start sidling for the door. . .

      Except for one character who’s nothing but an Mongol raider type whose response to “Why do you raid like that?” is “What a womanish question.”

  3. What’s to stop an ambitious and uppity guttersnipe of an author from importunately chiming in uninvited?

    1. Well, a few of my characters would start tossing things — knives, small explosive devices, thermonuclear weapons. NOT a good idea. 8^)

  4. Not gonna get in a room with my characters. Wouldn’t be prudent. They would have a LOT of questions for ME. Mostly along the lines of “Why did you do that to me? I mean, seriously, wildebeests and duct tape? Is that a *thing* in this ‘real world’ you prattle about?”
    And I would pathetically bleat “…but you got what you wanted in the end, didn’t you?”
    “Yeah. Sure. I just barely survived long enough to enjoy it!”

    1. S. M. Stirling had a character who wrote “sword & sorcery” novels and had bad dreams about his “sword & sorcery” characters finding him in a dark alley. [Very Big Grin]

      1. We did a short roleplay thread once where the characters of our game broke through the fourth wall. Most of the characters went after their authors. A few of them sat down and had tea while watching the chaos unfold. A very small number joined forces with their author to make things more ‘interesting’ in the Chinese curse fashion.

        1. John Byrne’s _Next Men_ comic book had a plot arc wherein fictitious superheroes (and villains) were appearing the comic book’s “reality”. One of the villains, Dr. Trogg, discovered the nature of his existence and kidnapped the writer in an effort to force a retcon that would make *him* the hero:-).

  5. Amanda just tapped me. “What fun” I naively thought, and dove right in. It’s not going well; my writing habits are being criticized by the character and he’s grabbed the microphone. I think this method of getting in touch with your characters needs to come with a warning label.

  6. Doug,
    I have fond memories of your hometown library’s SF/F selection, having spent the winters of 1967 & 1968 there as an inmate of (what was then known as) KMI. You can thank me for not swiping their signed & numbered first editions of Doc Smith’s Lensmen … assuming you had the good fortune to find them still there when you reached an age for them.

    Then again, mayhap it was the Naples Library. It isn’t as if I left any public source of SF untapped.

  7. RES, wow. KMI. I remember seeing you all standing and marching in parade when I was really young, then took over from you after you left with Venice High Marine JROTC. And, since I went to Epiphany, we spend a spring in the KMI classrooms while they put the second floor on the Catholic School, at the same time they were digging the big ditch. I never read Doc Smith in Venice. I read all of their Heinlein and Asimov, as well as every anthology they had. And the books of Howard and Moorcock that my brother left lying around the house. And every comic, Marvel or DC, that I could get my hands on. As for the BS in Psychology, I didn’t quite reach the Piled Higher and Deeper degree.

  8. It takes a true writer to turn a bit of fluff into a real scene, complete with story arc, theme, and a touch of the eerie. Well done indeed.

Comments are closed.