So, here I am again! This time with a discussion with the main character of my superhero stories. And while I could list questions, I decided to do it more in a narrative format to incorporate body and facial language to really get to know her better. Remember! Come back on May 31st for author Mirriam Neal as she answers all sorts of questions loosely centered around writing. I have her answers back and they are incredible.
A sharp knock echoed through my mental writing chamber- cutting through the crashing of nearby waves and the crackling fire. I rise and pick through the piles of books to open the door revealing my guest.
She’s not tall, like one would expect for a superhero. Instead, she stands just a few inches shorter than me. Dark sandy hair, tied into a braid, drapes across her shoulder and she twirls the end around one finger. It’s her eyes that grab attention. They’re blue and incredibly sharp. Calculating even.
I gesture for her to take a seat on one of my armchairs. She tilts her head towards the stack of books on the arm and I hurry to move them. They end up dropped on a window bench atop an even larger book stack. She sits then, perched on the edge, close to springing up.
“Well,” I say finally, dropping into my own chair and pulling out a recorder.
“No audio recording,” She says, and I try to put a finger on how to describe her voice. It’s deep for a woman- darker with just a hint of a roll. I couldn’t place her accent, but it hinted at a Southern drawl. Familiar, but not recognizable. “Just write it.”
I nod and pull out a notebook, flipping it to an empty page and scrounging around for a pen. She continues to examine the room, discretely, with no more hair-twirling. Now her hands dig into the arm-rest and her jaw clenches. It was time to get started.
“Well, thanks for coming,” I begin, sticking the pen behind my ear. She nods. I pause to think through the interview. “Let’s start simple. What’s your name?”
She slumps back in the chair, bangs draping across her eyes, and snorts.
“You said simple,” She snaps, voice suddenly taught, and tosses her arms up before crossing them. “Lily Bennet!” Her voice rises sharply with the name. “I don’t even know! Jackie Marshall? Kris Martínez?” Her accent changes, sounding perfectly El Salvadoran. She continues, voice rising with each name, “Myriam Moreau? Franziska Acker? Ocèane Abbuhl? Yasmine Alfarsi? I have all their passports! Even have my pictures!”
She stops again, her breath short, ragged, and sharp. I sit frozen and she slowly lifts her head, pushing the hair back out of her face. Her face, earlier so composed, now just looks tired . Lily, the name I choose to use even though I know her birth name, rubs her eyes, wiping away what looked like tears. My heart twists.
“But none fit. I’m just wearing other’s clothes.” She shakes her head and forces her face back to neutral. “The only I know that belongs to me is the Liberator. And it’s not a name! It’s not a person!” Lily snaps the last part as she half-rises and then crumbles back into the chair. “I’m not either.”
I study my question list. That was the first question out of forty written down from a list of a hundred. Maybe that was enough for the moment. She needed some time to process it.
While she seemed small at the door, now she seems smaller. I put the notebook down and magicked up a cup of mint tea. The smell permeates the entire room and I handed the mug to her.
She grabs it and drains it- not even pausing to let it cool. I look down at my own. Steam still rolls off.
I stand and walk to the window overlooking the bay. A storm was brewing. It lingers on the horizon, crackling with lightning. Wind whips up waves and and snapped my garden plants back and forth. The air smelled of salt and fish and something else. Something strange. I frown.
“I don’t know who I am,” Lily (or perhaps Anna in this case) whispers, just loud enough to hear. “No idea where home is or who my family is. Do you know what that’s like? What it does to people?” She raises her head to stare at me. Her gaze froze me where I stood.
“No. Afraid not,” That was all the answer I could muster. She shrank down again. “But-” I stopped there. I had nothing to answer that.
Thunder rumbled in the distance and rolled across the slate-flat waters. I could hear her on the opposite end of the room.
“Let’s wait for the storm to hit,” I said after a moment. “It would be a good time for a beach walk.”
Nothing but silence. Then the door creaks and she was one. A few moments later, she sprinted across the beach. Sand flies up behind her feet and she was almost running faster than I could follow.