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Q: Hi McKenzie! For those who don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself?A: Sure! I’m McKenzie Lewis, a human who used to be a shadow-reader for the king of the fae. Shadow-reading is extremely rare. About 2% of the population can see fae, but only a handful see the shadows they leave behind when they fissure from place to place. I draw these shadows out, and when I show my maps to a fae and name the location, the fae can fissure to that place. Other than that, I’m your average human college student. Well, except for the fact that I’ve been attending classes for eight years and still don’t have a degree. Not my fault. The fae continuously interrupt my real life.Q: Can you describe your first encounter with the fae? Was the meeting with Kyol or someone else?A: I wish my first encounter was with Kyol! It would have been a much gentler introduction to the fae than what actually happened. I was in high school when I first saw a lightning covered man dressed in a strange, dark armor walking down the hall. At first, I thought it was some kind of prank because no one else noticed him. Then I thought I was crazy. I tried to convince myself I was seeing things, but then, the fae noticed I could see him. He waited until I was alone, then he abducted me. That was the first time I was captured by a fae. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time. Because my shadow-reading ability is rare and useful to the fae, someone’s always trying to get their hands on me.Q: Do you think you'd make the same choices now that you did when you were a teenager?A: I didn’t have a choice about coming to the Realm for the first time. Thrain - that’s the fae who abducted me - was not nice. He would have killed me if the king’s fae hadn’t found me first. The king explained the situation in the Realm to me. He told me a little about his people, and he asked me to help him hunt down Thrain. I had to help him. Thrain knew where I went to school, and I couldn’t just stop showing up for class. I needed the king to capture him so that I could get back to my normal life.Then, of course, there was Kyol. I fell in love with him. That wasn’t something I decided to do; it just happened. I tried to convince myself it was just a crush, but over the years, I couldn’t deny that it had developed into something so much deeper than that. But even if I didn’t love him, I still would have shadow-read for the king. The king wasn’t perfect, especially not toward the end, but he did do good things. My problem is I tend to believe that people are basically good. I didn’t question things I should have questioned, and because I fell in love with Kyol, I trusted that he’d tell me if something was wrong.I know I put up with more than I should have, but I’d sometimes go weeks without seeing a fae. Life would be semi-normal, and all the small annoyances like being forbidden to learn the fae language, just didn’t seem all that important. I had trouble trying to pass my required Spanish classes, and I was on academic probation more than half the time I was in college. It’s not that I was content with how things were, but the weeks slid past and turned into months, and the months turned into years. Then, everything just blew up at once. Do I regret some of my choices now? Definitely. But at the time, I didn’t see them as choices. It was just the way things were, and I had other things on my mind.Q: Aren and Kyol are two very different men. Describe what you like/love about each one of them.A: Yes, they’re extremely different. Kyol is the strong and silent type. It’s so hard to break through his steely facade, but when he does relax, he’s gentle. You can see how much he loves the Realm, how much he wants to help the fae and stop all the violence. I think he’d like to retire to a remote province and live a simple life, but he won’t do that while he’s still needed. He’s incredibly loyal, and he’s the most honorable man I’ve ever met. I love that about him, but I also hate it. His honor kept us from being together. He always put the Realm and his king’s wishes before me. But what kind of person would I be if I asked him to put me before all of that? I’m just one person, and if I’d forced him to compromise his honor, I would have been changing him for the worse.Aren loves the Realm as much as Kyol does, but he’s not so serious about it. He has a sense of humor. I love how he can make me laugh, and while he can be infuriating at times, I know exactly how he feels about me. He’s much more spontaneous than Kyol, and much less calculating. He comes up with crazy schemes, and somehow makes them work. He’s charismatic and selfless in his own way. He believes in his cause, and he’s sacrificed a lot to put the right person on the throne. He might be full of shrugs and haphazard smiles, but behind them all is a man who truly cares.Q: Are you going to take up weapons training so that you can protect yourself better during the fae war?A: I’m not sure that would be a good idea. I mean, the fae have trained with swords all their lives. I could spend every moment of the rest of my life training and I’d never match their skill. That said, I’ve heard rumors about my future.Q: How do you feel about all you have sacrificed for the fae and their world?A: I wish I didn’t have to make sacrifices, but I’m not the kind of person who can sit back and let my friends die when I have a skill that can help them.Q: You waited a very long time for Kyol, and we know how that worked out. Do you have any regrets? Would you do it all over again?A: I honestly don’t know how ten years passed. I know it seems like I spent that time waiting for Kyol, but it didn’t feel like that until the very end. I always had feelings for him, yes, but I was open to meeting someone else. I let a friend of mine set me up on a few dates. I had a life separate from Kyol; I didn’t exactly pine over him. Sometimes, I was even able to convince myself that I just had a crush on him. But every time I saw him again, I knew I was lying to myself. I loved him, and no one I met came close to supplanting his place in my heart.Q: What made you decide that Aren was worthy of your affection?A: I started to see the person behind all the haphazard grins and half-smiles. Like I said, he cares about the Realm. He cares about Lena and the other rebels, and he wants the violence in the Realm to end just as much as Kyol does. He’s a good man, even though he tries to pretend to be a bad guy. Anyone who knows him knows he’s not. At least, not anymore. He has a shady past, but he’s turned it around. It takes a strong man to do that. But more importantly, he’s honest and passionate. He deserved my respect, and as crazy as it is, I’ve fallen for him.Q: How is your relationship with Lena developing? Do you trust her?A: We aren’t BFFs, but we’re not enemies anymore, either. I think we both see where each other has come from, and we’re both beginning to respect each other.Q: Do you see yourself ever living without the fae? Do you think you will ever be free of them?A: As much as I think it would be a good thing if the fae weren’t in my life, I don’t think I can live without them now. Sure, I could finally get my degree, get a job, and it would be nice not to have to worry about someone abducting or killing me, but I would worry too much about Kyol, Aren, and the rest of the fae I’ve become friends with. I don’t want to be free of them. That said, it would be nice if my Sight and shadow-reading skills weren’t needed. The Realm is a beautiful place. I’d like to see more of it, and I’d like to do normal things with the fae, like enjoy a peaceful dinner or go to a movie. Well, not a movie, I guess, since the tech would bother them, but we could do something simple.Q: What do you want most out of your life?A: Peace, really. I’m so tired of all the blood and violence. I want to relax with my friends and I want a long and happy future with the fae I love.
Sandy Williams graduated from Texas A&M University with degrees in political science and history. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. Now, she’s back in Texas, writing full time and moonlighting as a librarian. Visit her on the web at www.sandy-williams.com.
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