Interview With Sionnach Wintergreen
An Interview with Thomas Carillon (When the story starts)
Host: Joining us now is Thomas Carillon from the Western Paranormal Romance, Carillon’s Curse.
(A tall, slender man using a silver-tipped, ebony cane walks carefully onto the stage and sits in the chair beside the host’s desk. He’s wearing a black top hat and a black evening dress coat with a black silk vest (waistcoat in the UK) and black trousers. His left black boot is boxy. On his shoulder is a smallish black and white cat.)
Host: Thank you for joining us. What’s with the cat? I wasn’t expecting that.
Thomas: This is Gracie. She senses ghost—sees them before I do. She goes everywhere with me. (Gracie moves to Thomas’s lap. She turns in a circle three times, then curls up like a croissant.) She helps me stay calm.
Host: Oh. She’s your emotional support animal.
Thomas cocks his head: I’m not familiar with that term. She’s my friend—my only living one.
Host: I see. Tell me about this gift of yours—talking to ghosts.
Thomas, stroking Gracie: It’s more of a curse, truly. That and my clubfoot—they make me seem strange, I think. It doesn’t help, I suppose, that I’m independently wealthy and that the townspeople insist my father was a carpetbagger. He was a shrewd businessman, and a kind, loving father. The Civil War casts a long shadow here in Texas. (He sighs.) But you wanted to know about the ghosts.
They usually come to me. They’re so lost. No one else sees them. I help them cross over to the Great Beyond. Sometimes I perform seances, but my clients’ loved ones have often crossed over already. My ghost friends pretend to be their loved ones. The performance helps the living move on.
Host: I saw somewhere that the child ghost you saw when this book begins is rare. I don’t understand that. I thought children died a lot in your time.
Thomas: Children do die frequently in Texas, in 1888, but they cross over with ease. They don’t seem to have the same ties that bind some adults to the living world. I think their innocence helps them. The child ghost I saw that starts this novel had been brutally murdered. She bore the marks of her savage death until I helped her regain the appearance of her old body. She told me her killer also has a little boy. I have to help him before he’s murdered like Rebecca.
Host: So, ghosts seek you out? Do ghosts have many problems?
Thomas: I help them cross over to the Great Beyond. Unless they want to remain here. Some of the whores prefer to stay and haunt the men who hurt them in life. My best friend, Mary, is a ghost whore.
Host: Um, calling sex workers whores is not something we do here.
Thomas: Oh, I’m quite sorry. I’m from 1888 in Austin, Texas. It’s perfectly acceptable there. To mention sex seems rather scandalous. Your words here are so different. Like gay. (He smiles broadly and waves at the audience.) I’m gay! That’s a wonderful word for it. We don’t have it in my time. We call ourselves men of the shadows. We can’t tell anyone. It’s illegal. In Texas, you can go to prison for ten years.
Host: That’s barbaric!
Thomas: The people there aren’t very tolerant of anyone who’s not white, heterosexual, and able-bodied. It’s a difficult time to be different.
Host: Sounds like.
Thomas: I’m actually quite—what’s your word? Woke. I’m quite woke for my time in Texas. I believe Black people are the equals of white people. And I think women should have the right to vote.
Host: Um…I guess that is progressive for Texas in 1888. Maybe even in modern Texas. Women’s rights seem under fire there, and the treatment of people of color there is often disgusting.
Thomas: Truly? That’s a tragedy. I hope people who care stand up and let their voices be heard.
Host: Tell me about this Texas Ranger. Hadrian Burton.
Thomas: Hadrian—my chest feels tight—I have asthma. Do you mind if I take some of my medicine?
Host: Of course not. Please do.
Thomas removes a pipe and pouch from his coat. He loads the pipe and strikes a match on the desk. He puffs his pipe.
Host: Um…you can’t smoke weed in here.
Thomas: This is my asthma medicine.
Host: Guess they don’t have inhalers in 1888.
Thomas: No. (Puts the pipe away and takes a deep breath.) Hadrian is the handsomest man I’ve ever seen. He’s a vision of masculine beauty. (Looks down at his cane.) I’m sure he finds me pathetic.
Host: Don’t sell yourself short, Thomas. You’re quite attractive.
Thomas ducks his head: Thank you. You didn’t have to say that.
Host: It’s the truth.
Thomas: Hadrian doesn’t believe I talk to ghosts. The way he acts—I’m sure he thinks I’m ridiculous. He has agreed to help me, however—to help me find the killer. He’s so different from me. He’s athletic and skeptical. I catch him leering at me sometimes, but I don’t believe he likes me. Not in any way I want to be liked.
Host: And how’s that?
Thomas: I want to be seen for who I am—not a cripple, not a freak. (He strokes Gracie.) And I want to be loved. Everyone must want that—but I’m not sure Hadrian cares about that sort of thing. He seems so distant sometimes. He’s full of secrets. And maybe guilt? I get this feeling he’s beset by a vast amount of guilt, but he won’t talk about it.
Host: Hey, you can go smoke your medicine back in the green room. Thomas Carillon, everybody!