#FourthWallFriday At Kaitlin’s Diner with @ChristineAmsden
Today is a special Fourth-Wall Friday as I am hosting one of my favorite authors, Christine Amsden with her series tour with Goddess Fish. I am in love with her latest series, the Cassie Scot series, which starts with Cassie Scot,
ParaNormal Detecive (see my review here). I have been honored to be able to interview her last fall on Bewitching Talk Radio. (If you are intersted in the Blog Talk Radio interview, check out my post HERE). She is a rising star, if not already risen *grin* sorry little vampire humor, and this new adult series is really setting her apart. Don’t let the covers fool you, this one packs a punch, the vampires do not sparkle and her protagonist is one of those you will easily be enamored with… but I am rambling! Let’s get to some Fourth-Wall Friday magic, it’s early Friday morning and Diner food sounds delicious, looks like my magical Fourth-Wall machine has put Christine and I in the perfect place for that. I wonder if they give 3 or 4 slices of bacon for each side order *grabbing a menu*. Oh and leave a comment for the author, there is a $50 special commentar giveaway with this!
It’s the warmth of the day that first leads me to believe I’m not in Kansas anymore. (I can honestly say that… I live in Kansas.) Back home it’s cold, with several inches of snow covering the ground. It’s supposed to get up to forty-something this afternoon, which means I’ll get to wade through rivers of slush when I retrieve my kids from school. But under no circumstances should it be a warm, humid day. Nor should it smell of fresh flowers and recent rainfall.
The cobbled walkway beneath my feet is damp, and when I look down I see that however I got here, I came as is – which is to say, without shoes or socks. I avoid footwear indoors. Okay, I sometimes avoid footwear outdoors (especially if I’m just dashing to the mailbox at the end of the driveway), but it feels distinctly odd not to be wearing shoes on a cobbled sidewalk along Main Street in Eagle Rock, Missouri. Almost as odd as the fact that I am standing in the middle of a town I made up in the first place.
There is a real Eagle Rock in Missouri, located exactly where I put the fictionalized version, but it has a population of about fourteen people. If you blink driving through, you’ll miss it. This can’t be the real Eagle Rock, because it is lined with antique shops. Tourists are strolling up and down the street, peering into windows and occasionally slipping inside a store to shop. The antiquing isn’t the big draw – Table Rock Lake is – but the town does a nice trade in relics and knick knacks.
I look up at the sign over the store where I stand: McClellan’s. The sign doesn’t say anything else, but I know they deal in dark and cursed objects. A normal person can’t go in that shop; most of the tourists just avoid it, almost as if they can’t see it. I’m tempted to find out if I could go in or not, but then I spot Jasmine Hewitt through the front window. I wrote her nasty, with a propensity for hurling curses at people. She blinded Cassie once, and since I’ve got enough vision problems with her help, I decide to move on.
Luckily there’s a more welcome sight right next door, the Main Street Cafe. It’s a good source of gossip, and it isn’t even too busy right now. Looks like I managed to miss the lunch rush. I slip inside to the soft jingle of bells and take a seat in one of the booths. There are two rows of booths in here with a line of small tables running between. I never really stopped to look at those too much, but I take the chance now that I’m here, looking at the details I missed. The booths are black and red, the tables off-white, and the walls are lined with pictures of nearby Table Rock Lake. There are people swimming, jet skiing, boating, and laughing on the beach.
I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the booths or the pictures, though. I’m much more interested in seeing some of my characters. I crane my neck, but so far all I see are background figures – a few locals in for lunch and a family of tourists in for some drinks to go.
Kaitlin works here – that’s Cassie’s best friend. Cassie likes to call the place Kaitlin’s Diner because she thinks it has a nicer ring to it than the Main Street Cafe. I agree with Cassie, but I do think she should be a bit more sensitive to the fact that her friend doesn’t want to work in this place forever, or even for long.
There’s another jingle of bells and I catch my breath as Cassie herself walks through the door. I’ve never seen her from the outside, I’m used to writing in her first person point of view. She’s prettier than she thinks she is. Not that she thinks she’s ugly or anything, but she doesn’t have an objective view of herself. Do any of us? She is an attractive young woman, though, with long auburn hair currently pulled back into a ponytail.
So… this is before most of her hair is accidentally burned off. Good to know. But when, exactly, is this?
Cassie spares me only a cursory glance as she takes a seat in her usual booth, which is right next to mine. Since we’re both sitting so that we’re facing the door, she can only see the back of my head at the moment, which is just as well. Not that she’d have any reason to recognize me, but still, I’m not sure how much I should interfere with a story I’ve already written. As much as I’m itching to talk to Cassie, I wrote her both clever and perceptive – I won’t be able to slip much by her.
The door to the kitchen bursts open and Kaitlin storms out, eyes sparkling, making a bee-line for Cassie’s table. She doesn’t even notice me as she slides into the booth right behind me.
Unlike Cassie, Kaitlin is someone I’ve only ever seen from the outside, which is actually causing me a bit of a problem right now since she got too big for her subplot and I’m writing a spin-off for her. Madison’s getting one too, but shy Madison is someone I have a lot easier time relating too than flirtatious Kaitlin. I can watch her smile and toss her hair, I can watch her hips sway, and I can hear that throaty voice, but I’ve never been able to do any of it myself. She and I are long overdue for a heart-to-heart, but not just now. Right now, Cassie’s talking, and I risk a peak over my shoulder at the two of them.
“Don’t you have to work?” Cassie asks.
“I’m on break. Lunch rush is over.” Kaitlin tucks a stray lock of red-gold hair behind her ear and leans forward. “So come on, spill.”
“I can’t say much.”
“You never can.”
“What are people saying?” Cassie asks.
“That Belinda Hewitt killed Nancy Hastings.”
Oh. I know exactly when we are now. It’s Monday, June the seventh, and Cassie has just stumbled over her first ever dead body. That kind of thing leaves a mark on a person, or so I would imagine. Luckily, I’ve never done it myself, but it wasn’t difficult to imagine Cassie upset by the encounter.
“We don’t know who killed her,” Cassie says, because Kaitlin had leapt to the conclusion that Belinda Hewitt had killed Nasty Hastings. I know the truth, but I keep my mouth shut.
“But it was magic, wasn’t it?” Kaitlin asks. “People are also saying Evan Blackwood was there, swearing vengeance.”
“She was his cousin.”
“And Belinda is missing?” Kaitlin tries to make this sound very significant. “I wonder if he’s torturing her.”
I wince on Cassie’s behalf. Evan has a bad reputation – worse than he deserves although he brought most of it on himself. He used to get bullied, believe it or not. Then one day he snapped, someone got hurt, and the rest is imprinted in the town’s memory despite the offers Evan got from a local mind mage to make them forget.
And then on cue, the diner bell jingles and the man himself strides inside, angling straight for Cassie. Kaitlin, sitting with her back to the door, doesn’t notice, though I can’t take my eyes off of him. Wow, he’s good looking. I might have gone overboard on that. If only he’d look at me the way he looks at Cassie, but unfortunately I wrote him to be a one-woman man. He’s been in love with Cassie since the first grade, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
“Where do you think he’s been all these years, anyway?” Kaitlin rushes on, not noticing the newcomer. “People are saying he learned black magic, and now that he’s back, he’ll take over the town.”
Evan pauses, close enough to my booth that I could reach out and touch him if I wanted to. Or rather, if I weren’t too sensible to do it. Dratted sensibility. It’s why I write fantasy fiction, but that’s no good to me now because I’m here in person instead of looking through Cassie’s eyes.
“I suppose I could,” Evan says, deliberately drawing out the words, “but what would I do with it?”
“You shouldn’t listen to rumors so much,” Cassie says.
“I’m sorry,” Kaitlin whispers.
“He’s not going to hurt you,” Cassie says. “And he couldn’t take over the town if he wanted to. He was teasing.”
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure he was teasing. I haven’t spent as much time in Evan’s head as I have in Cassie’s, so it’s hard to be sure, but I think Evan is arrogant enough to think he could. He’s wrong, though. The thing Evan doesn’t get about himself is that as powerful as he is, he’s not a leader. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I know every human resource director on the planet is looking for qualified applicants with “leadership skills” but really, we can’t all be leaders. I’m not, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not much of a follower, either. Like Evan, I kind of go my own way.
I missed a few lines of conversation. Kaitlin is dashing back to the kitchen, looking far more worried than she needs to be. Underneath the reputation, the incredibly good looks, and the lethal magic thing (he could seriously disintegrate you with a thought), Evan is a genuinely nice person. Oh, he’ll kill the person who killed his cousin, but I can’t really fault him for that.
I hesitate for only another few seconds before following Kaitlin back to the kitchen, leaving Cassie and Evan to the rest of their conversation.
No one notices me as I walk barefoot through the kitchens to the break room in the back, where Kaitlin is sitting in shock. She’s got red-gold hair today. It isn’t always that color. I decided a long time ago that she was the kind of person who would color her hair to fit her mood; it’s probably blonde underneath.
“Kaitlin?” I say.
She doesn’t look up. She doesn’t even seem to see me. I frown, because I really would like to have that talk with her, but then it strikes me that no one has been interacting with me. The cooks in the kitchen, the busboy, the customers in the restaurant… they all looked through me as if I were invisible. No one had actually taken my order, which hadn’t bothered me at the time because I hadn’t brought any money with me when I’d been transported here.
“Who are you?”
I whirl around to see Cassie standing at the door to the break room, her arms folded across her chest. She can see me, even if Kaitlin can’t. How… strange.
“Fate?” I say.
“Are you asking me or telling me?” Cassie asks.
I glance back over my shoulder to see that Kaitlin hasn’t moved. This is the part of the story where Cassie is supposed to be comforting Kaitlin. I never scripted this scene, figuring the details weren’t that interesting, but I can’t imagine Kaitlin being so shocked that she woudln’t even acknowledge Cassie’s presence. That’s a bit over the top.
No, it’s not that she’s not moving. She’s frozen in place. It’s as if Cassie and I have stepped out of time to have a little chat with one another. I turn back to my main character, my heroine, my muse, and try to decide what to say to her.
“We’re inside a book I wrote,” I say.
She shakes her head.
“Then where are we?” I ask.
“Are we? Then maybe you should tell me who I am.” This isn’t what I expected to happen, and I find myself a little nervous at her response.
“Fate will work. But I do have some questions for you, if that’s the case.”
“Go ahead,” I say. Something just occurred to me, a little detail I wrote into my books that makes me feel more confident – Cassie can’t remember her dreams. So whatever I tell her now won’t have an impact on the plot. I can pretty much tell her anything.
“Am I ever going to discover some hidden magical talent?”
Somehow, I knew that would be her first question. I shake my had, but not sadly. I’m trying to tell her without words that it doesn’t matter, that she’s got other talents besides magical ones.
Judging from the way her face falls, I doubt she got the message. Well, it does take her a few books to figure it out. It’s not the sort of thing you can learn in a pep talk, is it?
“Is that the only thing you wanted to know?” I ask.
“Is Evan interested in me?” she asks.
“Oh yes.” That’s an obvious one, but I can see the self-doubt in her eyes. I wrote it there. “Don’t you want to know who killed Nancy Hastings?”
Cassie shrugs. “I’ll figure it out. I’m guessing it was Belinda Hewitt, I just don’t know why or how.”
Hearing that makes me feel like a proud mother.
“Why does my dad hate Evan?” Cassie asks.
“Because Evan represents your father’s greatest failure.”
“You know,” I say, “it’s really time I get back home so I can get my kids from school. Since this is your dream, I don’t suppose you can sort of… wake up?”
“I won’t remember any of this, will I?” Cassie asks.
“Then tell it to me straight. How does it all end?”
I hesitate but figure, why not? The ending isn’t nearly as important as the journey anyway. “Happily ever after.”
Cassie Scot Series
Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.
Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them. To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness.
Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot camp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.
Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.
The author will also be awarding a $50 Amazon or BN GC to one randomly selected commenter.
Fourth-Wall Friday – January – June 2014 Signups now open
Ever wonder what happens if you were to break into your world build and sit down and have a beer with your main characters? I think I would love to have tea with Jane Eyre, or discuss the best way to take care of vampires with Jane Yellowstone…maybe having Susie Shotgun take me out for some Angels Tears…
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Allow yourself as an author to open up a new avenue of sharing your AUTHOR PERSONA & WORLD BUILD in a unique and creative fashion.. Just take a chance, write fluidly and from within that “place” you hangout at with your muse. Or perhaps walk in the door, tuck into a corner & watch your characters get into trouble before you take a chance and talk to them…