Monday, January 12, 2015

Gretchen Ramona, A Witch Who Keeps A Haunted Garden in Star Winds at Dusk

Who or what are you?
(Speaks in thick, Eastern European accent) Merely an elderly beldame and lover of the horticultural practices. A stranger to your Western shores. You will pardon my manner of speech, yes? Your tongue, it is difficult for me. I ‘talk like Dracula’s grandma,’ my writer has said. Why, in his heart he has compared me to the recluse of the confectionary and gingerbread house who gave Hansel and Gretel such poor hospitality.
Yes, yes, my author, he has described me quite uncharitably, but I admit to the germ of truth. I am, you see, a practitioner of the occult arts and knowledgeable of the Aklo letters spoken of so dreadfully by the likes of your Machen and Lovecraft. My author makes much of this, but he is the suspicious sort. He has also said of me: ‘she was the type to chuckle while reading Poe’s Tell Tale Heart…she would chat pleasantly over tea and scones while the gory trophy thumped below.’
Which reminds me, would you care for tea? It is a recipe of my own design.
What is your cause about?
First, would you but indulge an old woman and have a sip of this most excellent tea? Thank you. Now, my ‘cause,’ you ask? I am what is known as a ‘mercenary witch.’ A ‘sellspell’ you might say, in contrast with the ‘sellswords’ of catarans or brigands who do combat for pay. For the moment, I have been contracted to grow certain spell components in my garden. It has been a most involving process, finding forgotten, unhallowed ground where once wrongdoers were interred and that would best embrace the seeds I planted. And procuring the proper sustenance for this flora! It has all been most involving.
How did you become antagonistic?
You flatter me. I am but a very minor antagonist in my writer’s book, though I play a crucial role in the particular wherein I feature. My writer chose me as subject for this interview because to present any other antagonist would mean spoilers of his book. My story, however, it is freely available on Smashwords.
What do you hope nobody ever finds out about you?
Every gardener must have her secrets, Herr. The particular nutrients of my garden, they are precious. Most precious, and most difficult to acquire. Have you finished your cup of tea? Good. Good. Let me pour you another. And let us both venture out to my garden so you might have the closer inspection. Yes, see you how fine it grows? The plants, they have become all the more vibrant in recent days, about the time those young backpackers vanished. They were hiking in this area I do believe. Now sit, sit and take the sun.
What do you like/dislike about the other characters from your book?
It is what my garden likes that I concern myself. Me? I enjoy the vitality that runs through the veins of my fellow characters. Their tenacity, it is also appealing. How they persist in – how do you say? – ‘stupid horror movie decisions’ like napping beside the vampire’s coffin till the sun, it sinks.
In your opinion, what is your best feature?
I am too modest to say, but my author, he has spoken of the particular ambiance I invoke among those I invite into my parlor. The subtle suspense one feels. Oh look! You have pricked your finger on a bramble! See how your blood drips onto the garden. Yes, yes, the garden is rustling, as though excited, but I am sure it is but the wind.
What is the worst thing you ever did to someone?
I merely allowed them their foolishness. Should one wish to trespass in another’s domicile, or attempt to pass through another’s moonlit garden uninvited, they well deserve what they find. And what finds them.
Do you have pets?
Your question strikes a tender spot. Yes, like many of the Wise I once kept a familiar. A fine, glossy stoat. A ‘weasel’ of a kind. My writer, he has said this familiar fit my personality. But alas, my dear pet strayed into the garden one night and…met an accident. I buried his stripped bones when I found them next day.
Do you have a mentor?
I once did, yes. A ‘good’ witch who features in an earlier story in my writer’s book. She sought to use her gifts benevolently for the good of all. A thankless and futile task, I found, and we parted ways after disagreement of the philosophical nature. My own beliefs, they are more pragmatic. Your eyes drop millstones when fool’s eyes drop tears.Shakespeare, Richard III. Simple and to the point. Ebenezer Scrooge offered another valuable observation: The world’s becoming a hard and cruel place. One must steel oneself to survive it and not be crushed under with the weak and infirm. 
What do you think of the other denizens of the world of darkness? Why for each?
They are a most distrustful group, these cults and eldritch abominations, and most dangerous. But their activities, they provide many employment opportunities for a practitioner of the arcane arts who is willing to sell her skills.
If you could change anything in your book, what would it be and why?
I would have needed my own premonition at the end.
But enough of that! Your teacup, it is slipping from your fingers! No, do not get up. You are tired. Your eyes, you can barely keep them open. Sit awhile yet and doze. I will go and leave you in peaceful meditation, while you may become one with the garden. See how the flora, it seems to reach for you as if in embrace? Sleep now, and dream.
Gretchen Ramona, a witch who keeps a haunted garden that turns carnivorous with the rising of the moon. She features in one story of "Star Winds at Dusk," a mosaic novel of interconnected dark fantasy adventures.
The story where is appears, The Moonlit Garden, is also available free of Smashwords.