My friend Gillian St. Kevern and I realised that we both had books on pre-order coming out today! So as part of our release celebrations we decided it would be fun for our characters to interview each other.
Ben Leyton from Shades of Sepia interviews Julian Westaway from The Collector. You can read Pip’s interview with Simon Hawthorne on here.
An Interview with a Werewolf
Ben, a dark haired man in his late twenties, answers the front door of Boggs Castle. Although the outside grounds are overgrown, the inside is well cared for and restored to its original glory. Despite sharing the house with his partner, and their friends, they’re all at work so he’s alone. Even the original owner, Mr Boggs, has made himself scarce.
“Hi, Julian. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.” Ben shows his guest into the living room, waits until he’s seated and clears his throat. He thought about taking notes, but isn’t sure that’s something Julian would appreciate.
Julian is plainly taken by the living room furnishings, staring in particular at the television screen. He’s dressed up for the occasion, wearing a light grey suit, with a cornflower blue handkerchief in his pocket. His moustache is on point.
He appears momentarily disconcerted by Ben’s greeting, but, after a moment, smiles. The colonials are inclined to be rather casual, after all. “No thanks necessary, Mr Leyton, or at least, not for me. My father was very insistent this conversation take place.” His tone is wry.
“Mr Leighton? Or Lord Cross?” Ben asks, then wonders if he should have been so direct. “You were raised by him and Lord Cross, yeah? What are some of your favourite memories of them?”
Long practice keeping a straight face during his father’s seances stands Julian in good stead. He manages to mask his surprise. “You are remarkably well informed about my family.” What motive did Pip have setting up this interview? “It was my adopted father, Mr Leighton’s, wish that we speak, though I’m sure that my guardian, Lord Cross, would not disapprove.”
He tugs the end of his moustache, considering his response. “I have many fond memories of both of them. Lord Cross was not exactly what you’d consider demonstrative, but he never failed to suggest we go for a walk together, no matter how cold the weather. Mr Leighton spent an awful lot of time coming up with amusements for me and taking me places—excursions, museums, galleries, gardens, children’s parties—but for all his effort, my fondest memories are of us at Foxwood, him and Lord Cross reading by the fire of an evening, and me just listening, or him teaching me how to read, or hold a fork. He really was, when you think about it, remarkably patient.” He looks up, gaze thoughtful as it rests on Ben. “Are families such as ours more common now?”
“That sounds like a perfect way to spend an evening.” Ben smiles. “And, yes, very much so. My partner, Simon, is a lot older than I am. He talks about how much more …difficult it was too. I’m so sorry you guys couldn’t be open about your family. That totally sucks.” He pauses for a moment, thinking that he should move the conversation on. “So what was it like being a werewolf in a family of humans?” He stops suddenly. “If I’m not supposed to know that, we can delete this part of the interview.”
Julian’s smile is immediate. The realisation that Ben is also uncertain gives him a lot more confidence. “Given my father’s interests and his insistence that I talk to you, I assumed that you knew. Judging from the lingering scents in this room, I am not the first werewolf you’ve met.”
He leans back against his armchair, much more comfortable despite the turn in the conversation. “Do you know, I haven’t ever thought of my upbringing in that light, but now you mention it, I did find it rather a challenge. There were so many unspoken rules. Hold your fork in your left hand. Do not lick your plate. Sleep under the blankets, not on top of them. Keep your clothes on when there is company. None of that really makes sense to a wolf–and then there’s the way humans communicate.” He raises a hand, trying to fish the words he wants from the air. “Body language and tone, that makes sense. But then there’s the words, which sometimes contradict what someone’s body is saying. Do you listen to their words or their posture? And do not talk to me about subtext or omissions. Or even sarcasm–I really believe that was invented on purpose to confuse me.”
“One of the guys who lives here is a werewolf. It’s his scent you can smell.” Ben studies Julian for a moment, figuring he’s probably picked up on the whole vampire thing too, but not about to mention it. “That sounds very confusing, and frustrating. People aren’t always as straightforward as they should be.” He pulls out his phone and runs through the questions he’d planned to ask, and mentally deletes those he figures he shouldn’t. “From the little you’ve seen of the future, what’s something you’d like to take back to your time if you could? It doesn’t have to be an object. It could be an idea, or anything really.”
“Your irons,” Julian says immediately. “They are such a marked improvement over ours. No need to place it in the fire or fill it with coals, and the steam setting—genius. Or perhaps I should choose the washing machine? It reduces laundry to a one day chore, rather than several days.”
Ben blinks. “Okay,” he says slowly, “not quite the answer I expected. I can’t remember the last time I ironed something to be honest. But I can see your point. But going back to washing clothes by hand? No thanks.” He looks at his list of questions again. “We all have stuff we can’t freely admit to in public for various reasons, supernatuals in particular. What if there was one secret that was okay to tell? What would you choose, and why?”
Julian eyes Ben speculatively, weighing his response. This is a different time, a very different place. There is no way what he is about to say will reach the ears of anyone who knows him. And yet, it is still strangely hard to answer the question. “There is someone who is—special to me.” His amber eyes rest on Ben. “Indispensable. I cannot acknowledge what he means to me without serious consequences for us both. It would mean much to be able to stop being circumspect, and just be.”
Ben nods slowly. “I’m sorry you have to keep so many secrets. The future does improve in that way, at least, for the most part.” His anger flares at how people have been treated in the past— and still in some places now—for only wanting the same rights everyone else takes for granted. He doesn’t want to finish this conversation on a downer, and he’s enjoyed meeting and speaking to Julian. “One final question, okay? I’ve grown up in a time much later than yours. If I was able to visit yours, what’s something you’d recommend I do or see?”
“I would recommend visiting us at Foxwood Court—or any of the big country houses. I understand they are a thing of the past now, but one should definitely partake of the experience while one can. Father would no doubt second the invitation, but I can promise you that you need not spend the whole weekend talking shop.” Julian is on solid ground here. “We do a rather nice line in tennis and garden parties in the summer, sledding and ice-skating in the winter. Our library is above par, and our cook first class.”
He stands, holding out his hand. “That is a genuine invitation, Mr Leyton. For you and Professor Hawthorne, should you happen to be in the neighbourhood.”
Ben shakes Julian’s hand, and grins. “That sounds great, thank you. And it’s Ben.” He isn’t sure how they’d make it work, but they’ll find a way if they can. “Simon’s from the UK, and a return trip there is long overdue.” He shows Julian to the door. “It’s been great meeting you. I’ve enjoyed it. Thanks again for coming.””
Julian’s mouth flickers into a smile. It isn’t as though his father gave him a choice in coming. Still, there are far worse ordeals, and as long as Pip enjoyed his interview with a vampire, all the better. “Charmed. I have to say, I would not object to a return visit to Boggs Castle should the chance arise.” He gives Ben a brief bow and strolls down the path.
Ben watches Julian until he disappears from sight. With everything that’s happened lately interviewing someone from the past isn’t that out there.
“Mr. Westaway is an interesting gentleman, indeed. I look forward to meeting him when he visits again.” Mr. Boggs, the castle ghost, appeared by Ben’s side.
“I figured you weren’t too far away,” Ben says. “You could have joined in, you know. Julian’s a werewolf. He would have been able to see you.”
“Possibly.” Boggs smiles, then vanishes.
Ben rolls his eyes. He glances at his watch. Not long until everyone is home. He wanders into the kitchen to make a cuppa, before settling on the sofa to finish the latest Nightwing graphic novel.
No one escapes the Collector.
All Gideon Lawes has left is his scrupulous honesty. Employed to investigate a supposedly haunted house, Gideon vows to uncover the secrets of 32 Belcairn Road. But he gets more than he bargains for in the form of the Collector, a spirit relentlessly pursuing an unpaid debt.
Drawn by chance into the lives of cheerfully generous Fairweather and darkly ironic Holford, Gideon discovers things about himself he never imagined. With the Collector closing in, Gideon must choose between destroying the friendship he values most or sacrificing his self-respect for a lie. Whatever Gideon chooses, the Collector will claim another victim.
The Collector is book nine in the Read by Candlelight series of gothic novellas wearing paranormal suspense and mystery around an evolving ensemble cast. Pour yourself a strong cup of tea and pick up The Collector today.
I realised I wanted to be an author when, as a teenager, I found myself getting annoyed that the characters in the books I read weren’t doing what I wanted them to do. Now that I’m a writer, they still don’t.
I write a variety of genres, ranging from short and silly contemporary romances to urban fantasy and mystery. My current project is the Read by Candlelight series of gothic romances inspired by the works of M R James, J S Le Fanu and the Brontë sisters.
In my non-writing life, I live in my native New Zealand, where I enjoy flat whites, playing pretend with my niece and nephew and trying to keep up with my ever increasing to be read pile. I’m the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers.