Tell us about Bandits of Basswood and how the story came to be.
Celeste stiffened her posture. “Here is the plan; one of you needs to help me free myself from this tie before the hatch opens again. I will take on my bird form and fly out of here. They won’t even know what happened. Once I tell my dad, the guards will come to save you.” Her tongue hovered over her upper lip as she strained to free her hands.
“Why can’t you turn to a bird with your hands tied? Then you could free yourself and unfasten my ties.” John William wiggled around on the bench.
“I could break a wing or something worse. I’m not willing to risk it.” Celeste replied.
“A lot of good having your hands free will do when you are locked in a cabin surrounded by bandits and river rats!” Ferdinand huffed.
The boat jolted suddenly, throwing the three of them off their seats. Celeste’s eyes lit up. She waved her hands around. “I did it!” she shrieked.
The drunken slur of a bandit came from the other side of the hatch. “I don’t want any foolery in there!” The hatch shifted and wiggled.
“Don’t worry,” Celeste whispered and smiled at John William. Within seconds, she was a beautiful red robin flying around the cabin. The hatch swung open and out she flew, nearly hitting the bandit in the face.
“Oh, great,” Ferdinand grumbled.
The bandit swung his arm. “What the – how did a bird get in here? Hey, you lazy lumps! Catch that bird; let’s boil it for dinner!” He laughed belligerently. The bandit reeked. He must have been saturated from head to toe with rum.
John William and Ferdinand exchanged nervous glances.
The bandit poked his head in and looked around. “Hey! Where’s the girl?” He stumbled inside, knocking ship tools and other small objects around with his tail.
John William and Ferdinand remained quiet, looking like they both swallowed the same canary. The bandit stood over John William, swaying with his hands on his hips.
“Well, where is the princess, wart? Did you help her escape?”
John William cleared his throat. “I, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Is that so?” The bandit pulled a knife from his belt with a taunting smile.
“She escaped,” Ferdinand blurted. “We tried to stop her, but she refused to listen. She went out the hatch and jumped overboard.”
“Impossible.” The bandit rubbed his fingers over his oily fur.
“Wait a minute… who are you?”
“Um, I believe I am Captain Vic’s supper.” The hopper stuck out his pudgy belly.
“It’s true! I heard the splash, myself,” declared John William, trying to take the focus off Ferdinand. The bandit examined their faces.
“Plunk – it sounded just like that,” said Ferdinand with a shaky laugh.
“Plunk?” The bandit’s soggy, rum-soaked face crinkled in confusion.
“Yes, yes, that’s right… plunk,” Ferdinand squeaked.
The bandit stormed out of the cabin. “The princess escaped! Get up, you twits!” He ran around the boat, banging his blade on an iron pot, making as much racket as one drunken bandit possibly could. The other bandits stirred.
Ferdinand shook his head with terror in his eyes. “We’re in for it now, boy….”
How do you go about researching for your stories?
A healthy amount of my own wild imagination and watching my kiddos play gives me all the inspiration I can handle. The setting was inspired from a childhood of wandering through the woods around my grandmother’s house and bicycling to the creek to catch frogs. After reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I was forever in search of portals to magical worlds.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have written five additional books in the Azra’s Pith Series. After a wild publishing ride they are all waiting in line to be revised and re-released. Quest for Copia will be the next book to be released (again). It is the sequel to Bandits of Basswood. A lot of questions are answered in this book and the story takes a heavy turn, so I’m taking my time on this one.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I want to have the entire Azra’s pith series out by the end of 2022. That is my main focus at the moment.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Persevere, have the patience of a Jedi, grow a thick skin, and learn from constructive criticism... did I mention persevere? I'm sure this goes without saying, but read and write as often as you can... even when you’re struggling and the writing looks like rotten bologna on a computer screen. If you hope to buy a latte or two with your royalties, the work begins when the writing is done... so be ready! Did I mention persevere?
Anything else you want readers to know?
I just want to say a huge thank you and send out a virtual hug to everyone. Thanks so much for having me here! I hope to see you all in Azra’s Pith!
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