Rhoda Interview III

“Thanks for you patience, Rhoda. I hadn’t expected to interview for several days and still not be done. Question four: is one sense more highly developed than another?” I ask.

“I think I hear quite well. In crowds I never have trouble hearing voices I focus on. I see some people cup their ears in a market to hear better.” She demonstrates. “I never have to do that. Same with kegshops.”

“I do that in bars all the time.”


“Uh, what you’d call a kegshop. I hear everything fine. I just can’t sort it out.” I check my notes for the next question. Something ought to be good in here…”Here we go. Do you usually notice problems around you?”

She looks at me then cocks her head slightly, so I repeat the question. She interupts, “I heard.” She shifts her weight in the chair to sit straighter. Her finger tip strokes the contour of the dagger’s sheath, but she never looks down. “No. No, not really.” She nods while answering negatively, so I know she’s partly lying.

“That can’t be true.” I call her bluff but lead in with some flattery before she can deny it again, “A smart woman like you can certainly sense how others feel and guess something of their motives or intentions?”

“I want to say yes, but I don’t think I’m good enough at that yet to sure.”

“OK. Fair enough. Would you say you are an optimist or a pessimist?”

“Pessimist for sure. The youngest sees too much coming down not to think it’ll be bad before it gets good. If it gets good.”

“Are you more interested in the past, the future or living in the now?”

She puffes air like she might blow away a fly. “Right now’s fine for me.”

“How do you decide if you can trust someone?”

“We share the same mother.”

I leave the air quiet. I don’t glance to my notes. I pretend she has more to say…and she does.

“I suppose their are other people I trust in different ways. Or maybe should trust more, but for now family will do just fine.”

“OK. That usually works out to be true.”

“You don’t think?”

I shrug. I don’t want to give away that I’m thinking of some authorial way to fuck her over now that she’s said that. “I think everyone has their own agenda. I think that in families that’s usually down the same sort of path, its easy to be trusting. There’s not much conflict, but I also think in families it’s easy to take minor differences of opinion too personally. Actions you might forgive your friends for you won’t family.”

“OK,” she says. She doesn’t believe me. Crap, this’ll be too easy I think.

“Are you a deliberate, careful speaker, or do you talk without thinking first?”

“I say what I feel. Sometimes I temper that. I’m told I should try harder, but can’t understand the point of it.”

506 words on day 594

Interviewing Rhoda II

Crap! Supposed to be writing. You’d laugh if you knew why I’d not gotten to it till late. I think I’ll continue with the interview from the day before.

“When you walk into a party, what do you notice first?”

“Really? That’s one of your questions?”

“It’s on the sheet. Someone must have thought it important along the way.”

“Do you?”

“I’m trying to imagine a character for whom my invented reply wouldn’t trend more towards disdain than excitement. Some one who might say, ‘What the hostess is wearing.’ or ‘If the house is clean.’ or ‘Is the food expensive.'”

“Let me help out a little.” Rhoda spreads her hands like she’s holding a gift box. “I like parties. I like getting dressed up for them. I like showing off my hair or my gown. I like showing up the hostess if she’s bit of a snip or the likely guest of honor if she’s, but in a subtle way…a older broach, a more exotic dress, a Gron-made. But I don’t like it enough to care beyond that day and that night. ”


“Gron was a metaleer. Popularly, he’s famous for the twenty bronze statues in the plaza outside House Hour, but in my circle he made daggers and knives. Good for throwing; great for hiding.”

“Great. I should probably make a note of that.”

235 words on day 592

Interviewing Rhoda I

Several weeks back I wrote something I’ve never written. Something I’ve often found time to scoff. I interviewed one of my characters. You don’t have to look far to find many writing resources which recommend this sort of pre-writing exercise. They argue doing so helps you better understand your character, but to me it smacks of the kind of writer who also turns their dreams into plots—a little out there.

Chargrinned, I found my one attempt generated more words than I’ve written in a while and more character insight than I’d developed so far.

That character has been around for years and has a couple chapters of work to his credit. I know him. Rhoda, the character I intend to interview today, barely has a scene.

“Hello, Miss [Something]. Please take a seat.”

“Rhoda’s fine.” The well-dressed young woman unbuckles her dagger belt and places the weapon across her lap as she drops into the sofa chair. I’m distracted.


“Just call me Rhoda.”

“Oh, OK. Sure.”

“Did you find the place easily enough?”

“I guess. It seemed as if I just appeared in the wings there as you thought up this exercise, so it wasn’t a long walk or anything.”

Rhoda twists her iron black and lavendar hair into a massive bun and stabs it with a pair of viciously elegant pins.

“Sorry. Maybe I should have had a stool instead?”

“I’m fine.”

“I appreciate you taking the time to join me for an interview. I know you’ve been searching for your sister Morgan. I’ll try to get you back to that as soon as I can,” I said. Her lips part to respond, but I figure I don’t want to deal with that barb this early in the interview so I press on. “How do you learn best?”

Rhoda leaves her mouth open for a moment before raising her eyebrows and giving in to the interview. It seems she’s filed away her unspoken thought not lost it. She smiles.

“One of my older brothers tried to teach me to juggle when he was still at home. He wasn’t very good at teaching and I wasn’t any good at learning from him, but the interest in juggling stuck with me. I ended up teaching myself.”

“By watching others?”

“Yes and no. I mean obviously I’d seen others juggle otherwise I’d never have known what it was, but mostly it was just knowing that juggling was a thing. I never really watched to see how they did their tricks. I just concentrated on the end result. Then I spent hours and days practicing. Over and over. Juggling’s mostly about dropping balls until you don’t.”

“So, you’re OK with failure?”

“No. Not at all.” She reaches up with both hands to reset and tighten her hair. I take the moment to glance at her cleavage. The next thing she says sounds like a hint to me, so I make some real obvious eye contact. “I’m OK with dropping balls.”

After I’m certain the amount of eye contact has erased the earlier—and brief—transgression I say, “I’m not sure I understand.”

“Dropping a ball isn’t failure. It’s part of juggling. Good jugglers practice to avoid that part. What I’m saying is that I like to learn by practice.” Her eyes drift upward into a memory I suppose. “Lots.”

“How open are you to new ideas and information?”

“I am as open as the next person I suppose. I’m not locked into one way of thinking like a witch or monk or someone like that, if that’s what you mean.”

“It’s not what I mean, but that’s fine.” I go off the agenda. “What’s wrong with witches and monks?”

“What isn’t?” She laughs to herself and I smile in false conspiracy because she has a dagger and all I have is this notebook and pencil. I stay silent to force her to fill the void with an explanantion. “Well, it’s just that. Witches, for sure, and monks, probably, ony have one way of thinking. Their way. To them the rest of us are tolerable but…confused. I don’t much like being told my opinions are sweet but ultimately misguided.”

“Fair enough. You mentioned an older brother earlier. As I understand, you have seven brothers and one sister. And you’re the youngest. Do you think that’s where you developed your sensibilities?”

“My sensibilities?”

“Your feeling that you opinion matters. I assume as the youngest you fought for your place at the table so to speak.”

“First, I’ve got eight brothers and a sister. There are ten of us. I’m the youngest. Morgan’s in the middle of the boys almost. I suspect I did fight for my parents attention, but with a large family there is plenty of attention to go around when everyone’s older than you. My parents made certain that when they couldn’t be there that someone was.” She pauses. “I think that’s how it was with all of them not just me. Number one watched out for two and three. Three watched out for four and five. Something like that.”

855 words on day 591