Friday, November 28, 2014

One Night at the Rose & Crown: A Time-Travelling Introduction to Upcoming Character Interviews

Southwark Fair. Hogarth, 1733
When I was given the task of interviewing the characters of Tyburn ahead of its December release, I was both excited and daunted. Excited because I would get to talk to some of my favorite people, or course, and daunted because I would have to find a way to get myself back to London in 1671.

Although I’m sure that you are aware that authors have magical powers capable of transcending both time and space, this one had me stumped. Restoration London was hopelessly confusing to seventeenth-century tourists, not to mention visitors from the twenty-first. Nevertheless, the temptation to meet Sally, Nick, and --dare I hope?-- Mark, has outweighed my terror of falling into the Fleet or being flung into Bedlam, and after calling in a favor from an old friend with a TARDIS, I find myself on Love Lane in Southwark peering into the wide open entrance of the Rose and Crown.

To my modern eyes, the Rose is terrifying. Four or five rickety stories high with a top floor overhanging the street by some feet, this relic looks like it could topple at any moment, and yet it’s one of the best buildings on this street. The noise is deafening and bar is so full of smoke that I can’t see how far back it goes. It could be five feet deep or fifty. A pair of dockworkers pass me talking in incomprehensible cant, and the smell of salt water and sweat nearly knocks me over.

Still, many of the stars of Tyburn have been known to drink here, and the man in the blue box has arranged a meeting for us this very night. It would be rude of me not to go in. 

Besides, maybe I’ll finally get a good look at this Mark Virtue everyone’s so mad about. Could anyone really be that handsome? 

My phone tells me it’s somewhere around eight o’clock, but I’m not altogether sure if that’s the local time or my time back in 2014. I shove the phone into my admittedly out of place neon pink purse and make a mental note to try to dress closer to the part next time. 

I plunge headlong into the crowd, looking for a table. The first thing I notice is that the people here aren’t as short as I’ve heard. The men here are as varied as they are today, tall, short, slim, or broad;  some are handsome and some aren’t. It’s just like walking into a bar in 2014, and if it wasn’t for the clothes and smoke indoors, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Rose and a few pubs I worked in during Uni. 

A Harlot's Progress (detail). Hogarth, 1732
There are maybe a dozen tiny tables between the people, and all of these that I can see are covered in cards and beer. There is so much spilled drink adhering the thick rubber soles of my Converse to the floor that it takes real effort to walk without losing my shoes.The walls are ringing with voices and laughter. Half a dozen men crowded around one of these little tables look at me curiously -- and I must be an unusual sight in a pair of jeans and a sweater -- but a barmaid walks in front of me and their attention is immediately diverted. This must be one of the famous Henshawe sisters, but which one?

I feel a tug on my sweater and spin around, expecting a pickpocket. Instead, I find a girl. She is no more than five feet tall, and has a small, perfect face with enormous eyes the color of a storm at sea. Her pale brown hair is gathered into a messy bun at the back of her head.

“You must be Alice,” I say with a smile, trying to make her feel at ease.

I need not have worried. She leads me through the crowd without a sound up a short flight of stairs and to a table in the back corner of the bar. I take the seat she offers, and she sets a cup of coffee in front of me.

Funny, I don’t remember mentioning that I like coffee. 

To my considerable surprise, Alice takes the stool across from me. We regard each other for a moment, and I am struck again just by how pretty she is. She should be about thirteen years old. Her skin is clear and milky white, and she has strangely ageless eyes. In 2014, she would still be in school for a few more years, but here in Restoration England, she’s working around the clock as a barmaid. She’s quiet and serious, and I can tell that she’s sharp. 

Finally, she leans in and asks, “Did you get my letter?”

I feel like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy all rolled into one. I can barely contain my joy. “Is he here?”

Alice looks at me with suspicion, before she nods to the next table over. Not five feet away is a boy of fifteen of sixteen, short with a sweet face. His most distinctive feature is his hair -- it’s dark, curly, and there’s tons of it.

“He’s cute,” I say to her.

She blushes and covers her eyes with her hand. “Could you have said that a bit louder?”

I laugh to myself, relieved that thirteen-year-old girls are the same regardless of the century. “I got your letter,” I reassure her. “I think you’ll like how things turn out.”

She leans in, deadly serious. “When?”

I wink at her. “Spoilers.”

***

This week I have the honor of participating in a blog hop with some of my fellow Liquid Silver authors and, as part of this, Denise Agnew will be posting a special interview with Nick Virtue tomorrow. I can hardly wait for you to meet him! In return, I get to spend a little bit of time with Adam from her upcoming post-apocalyptic romance, Ashfall. Eeee!!

In the coming days until Tyburn is released on December 8th, interviews with Mark and Sally will also be popping up, so be sure to check back to meet them! 

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