“Oh, wow, there are a lot of cobwebs in here.” Ashley Vaandere meanders out onto the Interview Saturday stage and looks around before brushing some dust from the interviewer’s armchair. Though the stage wasn’t visibly moved, the sounds of seawater crashing against the shore can be heard. “This just won’t do at all.” Blinking her blue eyes and shooting the audience a grin, she throws her arm out and spins in a circle.
A swath of flame bursts over the stage, brushing over everything and scorching away the dust and cobwebs, all without burning anything (or anyone). Once the stage is nice and shiny again, the flames vanish, and Ashley rubs her hands together. “Much better! Alrighty – I’m Ashley Vaandere, your host, and here today I’m pleased to welcome Princess Liliavaine Wyle of The Surrogate Sea by Danielle E. Shipley!”
A massive seawater wave crashes onto the stage, its retreat revealing a tall, slender girl, her long flaxen hair and fashionable blue riding coat miraculously non-soaked. She strides to her seat with a smile for the audience and nod for her hostess. “My thanks for the invitation, Ashley. And for moving your studio seaside! Dreadfully considerate of you.”
“Our pleasure!” Ashley drops into a quick curtsy for the princess before sitting down in her seat. “So, Lily – is it okay if I call you that? – I’ve heard that you’re ramping things up in this new addition. In such a way that you become a sea. Is that for real? Is it fun?”
“Entirely real,” Lily laughs. “And far more fun than not! Mind you, it wasn’t my original plan. But practically everyone else in my family has had a magical adventure, and my sister got to marry a king of the Sky, for goodness’ sake. So when the opportunity to take the place of the Great Sea came my way, I was hardly going say ‘no’!”
“Heck yeah, I don’t blame you. Adventure received where adventure is due!” Ashley empathizes. “Y’know, I thought controlling fire was cool, and I’m not a fan of water, but being the ocean would be rad. Now, the book blurb explains that you go to look for love in the most ‘fantastical of places.’ What about your bestie, Chancewaine? Can we give the audience a bit more background on the where and why for that?”
“Oh. Chance. Well.” Lily’s expression vacillates between pleasure and discomfort. “We’ve known each other forever. He’s like the brother-friend Laraspur has in Ionquin – (they’re my elder sister and brother, you know) – but… well, that’s all very wonderful, but it’s not for marrying, is it? So I have to look elsewhere, for something more. Something – someone – to blow me away with their exceptionality. And the natural world seems the place to look for that. I mean, have you met the Sun?”
“That is very true. Someone you see as a best friend and brother isn’t marriage material. Haha, I can’t say I’ve met the sun. I’ve met someone who knows someone who represents the sun, but not a personal meeting. And not your sun, either.” Ashley grins and crosses her legs at her ankles as she leans back. “Your parents couldn’t have been happy with you deciding to, well, become the Sea on them. Were you planning to tell them what happened? What about Ionquin or your sisters?”
“I’m going to tell them,” Lily protests. “…Eventually. But it isn’t as simple as— what is it modern people in your world do? Text and tweet? Not an option in my society. Nor did I have a courier on hand to take down a letter and run it back to my family, first thing. And one of the few limitations on the Great Sea is her inability to travel far beyond her borders. Besides…” She squirms. “If I told them straightaway, and word reached the Moon, he might make me go right back to being human. Where’s the adventure in that?”
“Talk about restrictions,” Ashley comments. “I get where you’re coming from. One person hears the wrong thing, and it’s game over for your journey. Man…it’s so hard to get adventure nowadays!” She thinks about her next question.
“Erring on the serious side here, but being the Sea and all…sorry, I can’t seem to get over that.” Ashley grins sheepishly, scratching the back of her neck. “Is it all fun, or is there more work involved than you’d think? Do you feel it when people are sailing on the water? What about if they’re swimming?” Questions continue to pour out of her mouth without a filter. “Does it tickle? What about all the fish and other ocean life? Do you get to talk to them? Does it get lonely, on that note? Do you still sleep? Eat? Do you-”
Laughing, Liliavaine holds up a hand. “Slow your stream, Ashley! Let me see if I can recall even half of your hundred questions. Can I feel ships upon me and creatures within me? Yes, if I’m paying attention. My waters are so vast, and those things so small, it’s like the touch of a gnat; it might go unnoticed. Talk to fish and such? I could, the same as the air could talk humanity – that is, the living air can; the winds. But they won’t generally bother because, frankly, they see it as beneath them. And in fairness, what isn’t beneath the Sky? As for loneliness,” she snorts lightly, “who even has the chance? The South Wind won’t leave the Sea in peace for more than a day.”
“That is so cool,” Ashley informs her. “Being able to feel everything. Hm, I don’t know; maybe fish would know more than you expect! I guess I understand though.” She laughs quietly. “Ah, a pesky admirer, then. Hm… So what did you think of this Muirigan, who you traded places with?” Ashley queries, leaning back in her chair and folding her arms behind her head. “It’s kind of weird that she’s competing for the love of someone you’re really close to, isn’t it?”
“I see Muirigan and I as being much the same, in some respects,” Lily muses. “We both know what we want, and we’re willing to go after it, never mind the lines drawn around us at our births. Her romantic interests may not make perfect sense to me, but when you’ve spent your whole life in the world of water, maybe a human prince ends up looking pretty exotic.”
“Wow, not to mention the fact you two had similar circumstances in the first place. Like you said, bound by lines drawn at birth, but once you met you could break them. That’s awesome.” Ashley nods in understanding. “Right, I can see the uniqueness of a human prince in that scenario. And what do you think about Austeryn, the Wind you end up associating with?”
Lily’s lips screw sideways. “I believe your world categorizes his kind as ‘creepers’. The other three winds come across as so straightforward, but him? He’s a snake of a storm. And… complicated. Though if nothing else, I suppose one could admire his persistence. He’s determined to make me trust him.” She crosses her arms. “Best of luck with that.”
Ashley has to take a minute to laugh at Lily’s expression, as well as the reference to creepers. “Oh, man! That’s gotta be something.” She snickers once more before calming down. “Yeah… And I wish the best of luck to you to persist those advances. How about some more casual questions?” Ashley looks around thoughtfully and back to Liliavaine. “What kind of hobbies do you have? What are some of your likes and dislikes?”
“Well, Father got me into horsemanship early; I do love a good gallop o’er the hills. Used to enjoy going to balls more, too, before it all started to go a bit same-old, same-old. And anytime Chanewaine would visit my kingdom, or vice versa, we could do any old thing and have fun. Anything but sitting around, doing nothing. That’s no way to live a life.”
“So. True,” Ashley agrees wholeheartedly. “You and I need to go on an adventure together. I had once been intended to own a horse, but then that idea changed down the road.” She shrugs. “Especially when some of your balls don’t get the magical intrigue some others get, I bet it would get boring! How about some self-perceived strengths and weaknesses?”
“As the Great Sea,” she says, grinning, “the strengths are beyond measure. Simply as myself, though… boldness. Audacity. A proactive spirit. These traits may have gotten me into an awkward spot, a time or two, but I’d rather that than wait around, bored, for what I want to come to me. Because there’s no guarantee that it will, is there? It’s either risk having things happen to you, or risk having them not. I’ll take my chances with the former, thank you.”
“Totally. Those who seek activity shall receive!” Ashley responds. “No point in being passive. Life is too short.” She motions around the stage. “Now, I had a light show just a bit ago. This stage is pretty durable. If you’ve got the power, would you want to give a little show of what you’re capable of?” She stands up and backs away from the main area of the stage. “Although, being a bit of a fire-inclined person, maybe try not to drench me, heh… Otherwise, have at it!”
Lily’s fingertips tap her chin. “My entrance wave may be tough to top, this far onto the shore. Oh!” Her face lights up. “But I can do this.” With a smile, she closes her eyes and dissolves, her from gone in an instant from solid and girl-shaped into clear water running down from her seat and off the stage. After a few beats, she runs back in from the wings and stikes a pose. “Ta-da! Sorry for the short delay,” she says, sitting again. “I had to rejoin with my greater waters before I could resolidify my core. Elemental law. You know how it is.”
Ashley rises from her seat in surprise as the princess suddenly turns to liquid, and gasps as the water runs off the stage. “H-hey, we’re not done,” she protests, just as Lily runs back in. “Oh! That was awesome!!” she exclaims, a huge grin on her face. “Elemental law—yes, I definitely know how it is.” She settles back into her seat as well.
“Final question, then! It was a bit of a coincidence that you got to become the Sea. If you could turn into any being, however – yourself, a different person, or Wilderhark, or the Sun or Moon… If you had your choice, what would it be, and why?
“Ooh, anyone at all? High Goodness, how to choose? I think… I might go with a wind. After all, they can take on any shape they wish, so in a way it would be like being one person and a million! If there’s no room for a fifth wind, in addition to North, South, East, and West, I’d take the East.” She flashes a grin. “He’s lord of the lightning.”
“Lord of the lightning—that would be fun,” Ashley muses, looking thoughtful and nodding in agreement. “Well-thought answer!” She gets to her feet again and smiles.
“That’s all the time we have for today.” Ashley steps forward and bows to the audience once, and then to Princess Liliavaine. “It was an honor to meet you, milady! And now, in the tradition of past interviews, we’re gonna go have some lunch, on me. How about seafood?” Ashley can’t help a snicker at her own ‘clever’ joke, and insists, “I was totally kidding.” Taking Liliavaine’s hand, she waves farewell to the audience.
“Until next time on Interview Saturday! Liliavaine’s journey can be read in The Surrogate Sea, available for purchase on Amazon, Createspace, and Barnes&Noble. Also, the links for the other stops on the blog tour today are just below. C’mon, Lily – let’s go talk dancing with our powers!” Grinning, Ashley leaves the stage with the Surrogate Sea.