This week at Writing Room 101 I shared a character interview with Aldra Malimore from Doubling Back – A story of Synn by Rose Fisher.
Aldra Malimore’s hope for a career as a sorcery scholar is over. Now, she’s working as waitress in the capital city of Arcanion and trying to resist the strange pull she feels toward Sorrell DeGray. When she stumbles on a thief with advanced technology that mimics the behavior of Synn’s color magic, it’s Sorrell she must turn to. But will trusting Sorrell be a mistake or a new beginning?
Interview with Aldra Malimore (The Foxes of Synn)
Mel: You trained for several years as a sorceress, can you tell us about your experience?
Aldra: In the Northern Realms, you have to apply to one of the schools. There are seven. If you’re wealthy, a teacher or mentor affiliated with one of the schools comes to you, or if you’re poor but really lucky, you can get a scholarship to live at the schools. I was fortunate because two of my parents are already sorcerers, so I had a mentor. He taught me some things and helped me design a personal curriculum taking different classes at various schools. I was also allowed to incorporate classes from Earth. Sorcery is an interdisciplinary field. You study magic and a variety of other things. We know how the weather works, and chemical processes, and geology, and things like that. We can combine that knowledge with Colored magic to do things. Lifespans are longer, especially among people who know magic, and that puts a different perspective on continuing education. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything, including employable trade skills. Magic doesn’t make money, though some well-known magicians have noble patrons. Most sorcerers have more learned skills than innate powers and abilities.
I guess we’re more “the people with special knowledge” than “the people with special powers” although we have powers that others don’t. Witches have inborn powers to manipulate nature, so they don’t always need as much technical knowledge.
Magicians work in groups and there’s more of an academic emphasis than a standard “adventurer” one like your readers would probably expect. The degree I have, called an Intermediate Holdership, typically takes between 8-10 years to acquire. It’s worth about as much career wise as an Associate’s Degree on Earth, and once you get it, you need a research grant and approval from one of the schools to go to the next level.
Mel: That’s quite an educational system. It has me all the more intrigued by the magic in Synn and the commitment to your craft. In Doubling Back you mentioned a few spells and, I’m curious, what’s your favourite?
Aldra: Synn has several different magic systems, so “spell” can mean a lot of different things. The main type of magic that’s really widespread is Color magic. That’s what you saw in Doubling Back. I have a hard time picking favorites, but in Color magic there are styles of spell more than stock phrases or rituals to perform. A spell is like a painting or sculpture. You learn the technical skills and history; you study memorable ones, but when you’re working with magic, you make your own. I do have a few of my father’s spells that he let me modify for practice when I was younger. I still use those because I’m sentimental, I guess. Usually that’s frowned upon, like plagiarism. I like experimenting with combinations and incorporating woodworking. One of my nephews does magic with words and runes. It’s really interesting, older magic than the Color practices.
Mel: It does sound fascinating, but then, mastering Color magic must certainly have its challenges. You shared a little about the different ways to travel across worlds, one being by magic mirror. How does this work exactly, can you share anything about the fairies without giving too much away?
Aldra: Sure. The mirror fairies live in a transitional dimension that exists between Synn and other places. You can go in and out of Mirrorveld through a magic mirror, and once you’re there, you need to pay a guide to lead you to the right exit. They don’t let very many humans in, and even foxes have to be vetted before we’re allowed to come and go freely. My father, Thad, is friends with Nyx and Eos, the Queens of the Skies there, so we’re allowed more leeway, but the queens are not people you’d want to cross, so we’re always careful there.
Mel: In that case, I’d want you at my back if venturing to Mirrorveld! You’ve had various experiences in the past few years. What is the most memorable?
Aldra: Ummmmmmm…Honestly, the most memorable was getting mugged, because I didn’t even know I was being mugged until I was halfway on the ground. But that’s probably not what you’re asking about. I lived with a merchant family in the city for a while and learned their trade. Worked on a riverboat. I’ll go back to that someday. Semi-dated a princess, memorable because it was horrid…
Mel: I get the feeling the less said about that the better! I’m sure those experiences influenced you, and it’s clear you feel a great deal of responsibility – especially when it comes to protecting people. Did your fathers influence this desire to make the world a better place?
Aldra: *laughs* The less said the better, though I’m sure someone will decide to write that story eventually. Did my fathers influence my social concerns? Indirectly, maybe. My fathers are thousands of years old. They were all victims of exploitation when they were younger, and I think they feel like they’ve paid their dues and done their time getting involved in world affairs. For most of my life, we just lived on our mountain, visited the city once in a while, went shopping on Earth, and didn’t get involved in causes, because that’s how my parents want to live. Micah used to be involved in the world-literacy movement in the more recent past, but he retired from it to build their magic greenhouse and help manage the Rangers who keep the family forests safe. Diana represents us in the Royal court during the summer and fall months, but that’s just a game to her. The only goal is to keep the family in a position where we have leverage with minimum involvement in any conflicts. It’s all about maintaining equilibrium so we can be as non-involved as possible, and I think it’s boring. Everybody else says “it’s not important as long as the family’s safe.” I can accept it from my parents. They’ve all lost their families before. Their priorities are different. From my sisters, it’s harder to relate to. Anyway, that’s not how I feel about it. I don’t want anybody to suffer the way my parents suffered. I want to be involved. I grew up with all these priveliges. If I can help somebody, why shouldn’t I? I want to contribue something meaningful to the world.
Mel: You’re right. Why shouldn’t you. I agree with that philosophy, and admire your commitment. The ability to absorb energy is a wonderful gift. I know you battle against the draw of shadow magic – is this a unqiue gift within the family?
Aldra: Thank you. Yes and no. Foxes are… Well, the only way I can think of to explain it is “energy vampires,” but that’s an oversimplification. We gain sustenance from intimate relationships and contact. The energy most foxes need isn’t just the color magic you saw me absorb; it has to be personal energy from another being. Young kits get what they need from cuddling with their parents, but as we get older, most of us can only get it from sex. Micah is part of a plant species that absorbs ambient energy of all kinds. Sunlight, colors, whatever’s there. Its autonomic, similar to photosynthesis; he can’t pick and choose. On Thad’s side, there’s a family gift for being able to draw shadow magic out of people who’ve been possessed, or release ghosts, but I’m the only one who can ingest the shadows or pick what magic I take in.
Mel: That sounds like a great deal of responsibility, and dangerous too. You’re all unique, which is a good thing, but it must be difficult not being able to change into a fox as your father and some of your siblings do. Do you gain support from your family?
Aldra: Some foxes can change and some can’t. Some only have two forms; some have three. Some have the upper body of a werefox and a fish tail like mermaids. I shouldn’t let it upset me as much as I do. It’s really not a big deal if I’m thinking clearly. The problem is, once I get upset, I’m upset about everything, and I think the reason it bothers me is that I have so little in common with my family. That is one of the most obvious things, but it’s a lot more about how we think differently and have different interests and values. I feel like an alien speaking some strange dialect that only has minor similarities to whatever language they’re speaking. They’re wonderful people and great about practical help if you want to learn something or there’s a problem. There’s always someone to spy for your back you up in an emergency, but for anything emotional, I’m more likely to go to my wife — I mean, my girlfriend — I mean…okay, spoiler. Sorry. >.<
Mel: Oops, let’s skip over that part! I can relate to those feelings, even if I’m not a fox; all families are challenging! But I’m glad to hear you have someone to rely on for emotional support.
Next week on WR101 Geoff Le Pard will be guest posting – a stop he kindly agreed to make on his two week tour – My Father and Other Liars. Below you will find details of his schedule, and I highly recommend visiting.
Thanks for stopping by.