Coming at you with one point twenty-one jigawatts of power, this is Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and with me in the studio is Ashling, a pixie from An Teach Deiridh. “Welcome to the show, Ashling.”
“Thank you for having me and for accommodating my service crow. Say hello, Count.”
“I find it odd that you’re from a fairy castle, but choose to spend the bulk of your time in Seattle. What’s so cool about Seattle?”
“Well, for one thing, there’s the Fremont Troll, and I totally know the guy who was the model for that, true story. Then there’s the football, and the fact that I first met the Count in Olympic National Park, not long before my wings got hurt, but really, one goes where the job leads. So really the main quality of Seattle most related to my spending so much time there these past couple decades is the local music scene and, specifically, a certain beautiful redheaded bass player in the late ‘90s. She and my employer, well, the relationship didn’t really end all that well, but it was fun while it lasted, apparently, and they got Megan out of it. Good kid, Megan. Likes art. Her father never really made it back to Seattle once he left, so she’s kinda been my super top secret charge.”
“Wait a minute. You have a job in Seattle? You mentioned your employer and your charge. Can you tell our listeners a little about that arrangement?”
“You ever try to keep a secret in the Faerie castle of An Teach Deiridh? It is not easy. Not even when the secret’s over in the mortal realm. And it’s not like the mortal realm is super safe anyway. Consider the odds that now that they’ve figured out cockroach mind-control, jewel wasps are clearly planning their next steps in world domination.
“So here I’ve been, flitting back and forth, trying to keep Megan safe and secret. And this is working in an environment where 90% of people look at a pixie and only see a butterfly. Very good for keeping a low profile, although as usual, my disability makes it a little complicated, because even your average human might blink a little at seeing a butterfly perch on the back of a crow to fly. But as usual, we make it work.”
“Now back to Megan, you called her your charge. Who gave you this mission?”
“That would be my employer, the Unseelie King. And the whole mission’s been disrupted ever since he’s gone missing. Ambushed. The kidnapping’s also led to the secret getting out somehow about Megan. Kinda couldn’t wait anymore to start talking to her about her heritage. Barely solved the medication issue – did you know that overdosing on too much ADHD medication can interfere with focusing one’s magical heritage? Little-known fact. I knew, of course. It’s my job to know these things. But anyway, barely dealt with getting her medication back to normal when she’s attacked by a redcap. In broad daylight. In Seattle. That’s An Teach Deiridh politics for you. Seelie, Unseelie—nearly everyone’s working an angle and a weapon. And we’ve got to get the king back. We especially need to get him back by Halloween, when it all gets even more complicated, and Megan’s so new at this, she literally had to ask if her dad was ‘80s David Bowie… I’m telling you, Lisa, my plate is pretty full at the moment … Count, when did I last eat?”
“Of course that counts as a meal. ‘Pixie’ was right there in the name, so it must be good for me…”
“Stay with me here Ashling, don’t crash just yet. Have some M & Ms, lots of sugar there. So the drama over at An Teach Deiridh is getting in the way of your mission with Megan? Who’s left defending the palace?”
“Oh, plenty of people say they’re defending An Teach Deiridh. Sidhe, bane sidhe, trolls, redcaps, pixies, sprites. Of course, even though the castle is primarily associated with Irish and British faeries, we’ve actually got Fairy Folk from origin-cultures around the world. Scandinavia, for instance, or Greece. We’re very cosmopolitan.
“Megan’s BFF is one of the menehune, the Hawaiian engineering faeries, and let me tell you, it’s nice to have it clear a few people are definitely on your side in all this politics. She’s also got an in on some arrangements to keep an eye on Megan’s mother through all this mess. I can’t do everything myself.”
“So what has to happen to get the king back home and set everything back to normal?”
“Well, word is, there’s an artifact that may help get him out of the mess. The Claiomh Solais, the Sword of Light. Thing is, nobody just hands you the Sword of Light. It’s always on the other side of a quest. Very quest-oriented, that sword. Some of the An Teach Deiridh politicians tried sending someone else, and that guy never made it back, so it’s going to be the new princess. And Megan’s just a kid. She’s managing to learn a little bit of bardic magic—you know, where you do the spell with music—due to my fabulous on-the-road explanations, but she certainly can’t handle this all alone.”
“Oh come on. We all know who’s going to take up the quest. Load your backpack with M & Ms and Pixie Stix and get on with it. What kind of risks will you face?”
“You ever hear of the Wild Hunt? The deadly annual Faerie sporting event? Well, in their down time, some of those things are going to be in our way. And so will unfordable rivers with occasionally migratory whirlpools, and that’s before we get to the lost city of Findias –“
“I don’t want to talk about that part, Count. I wouldn’t want you to get all emotional. And anyway, Lisa, this is all on a time crunch. If the king isn’t back by the ritual deadline, it will throw off the entire mystic balance of the seasons that will slowly destroy nearly all the art and music in the world. I think that’s giving poor Megan a bit of pressure. Luckily, I’m there to keep a level head. Quiet, stoical support; I’m very good at that.”
“Ashling, I wish you and Megan the best of luck. The obstacles are formidable, but I have faith in you. Any last ideas you want to leave with our listeners?”
“We’re almost done already? But I have so much I need to tell your listeners about. I mean, I bet they’d like to know where faeries come from. And why Count is named Count. And what everything has to do with the price of tea in China. And why dragons hate bridges. I’m full of useful knowledge. That’s why the King keeps me around, and entrusts me with keeping an eye on his daughter.
“Okay, fine. Last ideas. Everyone should have a crow for a best friend. Oh, and brownies make the best cookies. If a brownie ever offers to make cookies, YES is the only correct answer.
“Any last thoughts, Count?”
“Well yes, Count. I think that goes without saying. Thanks for having us on the show, Lisa.”
“Listeners can find out what happens with Ashling and Megan in the book Foul is Fair. I’ll put all of the purchase links on the website.
“Don’t forget to use those sharing links on the way out. I’m sure Ashling would appreciate it, and she’d do the same for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”
Lots of girls play Fairy Princess when they’re little. Megan O’Reilly had no idea the real thing was like playing chess, guitar, and hockey all at once. Megan had known for a long time that she wasn’t an entirely typical girl. But living with ADHD—and her mother’s obsessions—was a very different thing from finding out she wasn’t entirely human. Somewhere out there, in a completely different world, her father needs help. There’s a conflict, revolving around Faerie seasonal rituals, that could have consequences for humanity—and if Megan’s getting the terminology straight, it sounds like her family aren’t even supposed to be the good guys. As she’s further and further swept up in trying to save her father, Megan may be getting too good at not being human.
Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s the author of the Dawn of Steam trilogy of alternate-history/emergent Steampunk epistolary novels and the YA contemporary fantasy series the Fair Folk Chronicles. He’s a founding contributing author of Writerpunk Press and affiliate of the Clockwork Dragon author’s conglomerate. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football. Katherine Perkins lives in Ontario, Ohio, with her husband and one extremely skittish cat. She was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and will defend its cuisine on any field of honor. She is the series editor of the Dawn of Steam series and co-author of both the Fair Folk Chronicles and various short stories, including those for the charity anthologies of Writerpunk Press. When not reading, researching, writing, or editing, she tries to remember what she was supposed to be doing.
Connect with Jeffrey and Katherine at the following places: