Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl.
Today we’re talking with Janowyn, an Elvish bard from The River Kingdom. “Welcome to the show, Janowyn.”
“Guren linna gen cened – in my language, I’m telling you that ‘my heart sings to meet you and your friends!’ I’m very happy to be here, Lisa. Please, call me Jano.”
“Thank you, Jano. Now, we’ve had elves at the writing cabin before. They showed up when Craig wrote The Cock of the South. In fact, the enchanted beer horns were a mistake made by a young elf at one time. I think it’s fascinating that you were raised by humans. What can you tell us about that?”
“Sounds like those elves spent far too much time with the dwarves! Goodness… where do I start with being raised by mortals?! Well – in some ways it’s true that elves and humans have a close connection, but, for most elves, the gulf between mortal men and the elven is huge, even insurmountable.
“How can I put this… mortals are just so… transient! I know that there’s this underlying romantic attraction, especially between mortal males and female elves, but quite frankly the guys just wear out so quickly – get all wrinkly, grumpy and have aches and pains, and then you’ve got at most – eighty years before you’re left on your own? Most Elves mate for life, so it’s reeeeeally devastating to face eternity without your one beloved.
“As for the children…
“Jano, I find it really interesting that your parentage seems to make you a half elf, and yet you are fully elven. Was there something going on with the postman?”
“Erm… well, I’m kind of a one off and there was deep, dark magic involved when I was born that turned me into a full blood elf. Half-blood elves unfortunately aren’t immortal, unless they’re born into a family of destiny that has a special deal with the Shining Ones.
“Even then, I had so much hassle growing up – we take twice as long as mortals to come to bodily maturity. I had three younger brothers and with the two eldest – when they were almost grown men, I looked like this little six-year old pest, with a smart mouth, who could run as fast as them and was much better at climbing trees and stuff.
“With my youngest brother, Jaenald, it was even worse! He was fifteen years younger, so, when he was a young teen all his friends thought I was his cute, slightly younger sister… Can you imagine being thirty years old with spotty great hormone-factories mooning around after you all the time? That was just awful!
“The worst though, was when my brothers grew grizzled and old and I was still looking young – younger than their children, and grandchildren, even. That was just… horrible! Everyone I loved with all my heart, aging in front of me and dying… It got so I used to say I was a distant relative of my ‘uncles’ and cousins – like I was my own daughter, or grandchild. But the people who knew my family well called me a witch, or an evil changeling – in the end I had to leave because it was so painful for them, as well as me…”
“That’s so tragic. Everyone thinks it would be awesome to live forever, but there is a downside that rarely gets explored. When you moved to the River Kingdom things changed for you. Tell our listeners about that.”
“That was a huge step for me – it took me about a hundred years to work up the courage to do it I was so scared, because I was so cut off from any immortal community. I was lucky that my mother told me lots of songs and tales of the old days, when Elves and Mortals were close allies. Anyway… because I loved old songs and stories I was drawn to the Bards Guild and practically lived there, listening to them play instruments and recite the histories. I got a job, cooking and serving in the bards’ tavern and gradually I started to sing some of the mortal songs I knew for them.
“I got into that almost by accident really. Elven songs tend to be quite… high brow. Lots of bell-like, ethereal voices and harpists and such. But one day, Daemen overheard me singing a folksy song my mother used to sing to my brothers when they were little – a riding song, and he started to play along on his lute… He said I ought to sing more for the bards – that they’d be interested in mortal music, because it was more… more, gutsy and earthy than theirs!
“Anyway – turns out that they loved it! Silen ( he’s my true love), says it’s because it’s such a change to hear the emotion all raw and honest – and loud and raucous as well. He loves to wild dance with me, but then, he can’t keep his hands off me half the time!”
“That’s too funny. I would love to see the look on their stodgy old faces when you hit them with something like Pat Benetar. So how did you adapt?”
“When I arrived I felt like this really unsophisticated country bumpkin. My wilderness gal look – the buckskin and pants looked so out of place when everyone else was wearing fine cloth or fancy silks, just for everyday things. Even the men wore long flowing robes some of the time! Their taverns are like palaces really, so people usually dressed even finer when they went out and all the ladies were in these gorgeous, floaty gowns – I had to upgrade my wardrobe pretty fast!
“My guard-brother Daemen helped a bit with what I should wear, but my behavior was something else… Elves have much better control over their emotions and can be a bit… aloof. Buttoned up, you know? They’re much better at not being angry, or excited. I was forever embarrassing him by laughing too much, or bursting into tears at the sad songs. He said it was like going around with a six-foot baby. – Silen likes that I’m so demonstrative as he calls it, but sometimes I’m too spontaneous, even for him.”
“I think you should be whatever you are. You shouldn’t have to change to fit some mold they want you in. Humans come in many favors, there are aggressive ones, passive ones, goofy ones. It’s no surprise that you were influenced by your upbringing.”
“Really, the only elf I’ve met who understands about open emotions is my so-called boss, Telly. He’s head honcho with the FWAT squad in the River Kingdom Foo police and they recruited me in a hurry when they saw how I could handle the pesky little fairies and sprites that are always hanging around the Vale, luring unsuspecting elflings into being all silly and giggly. You know the sort – the tricksy, or even malicious little spirits with their magic mushrooms and daft flowery hats. They’re a real problem sometimes, and the Lords hate it when they disrupt festivities and suchlike.”
“It looks like we have a caller. Hello and welcome to Lisa Burton Radio. Do you have a question for Jano?”
“What the fo… Jano? You know we’re not supposed to use seeing stone lines on the mortal coil – dumb, doll troll! Sheesh!”
“Oh… hi, Telly. Don’t get all prickly – you said to make sure I left a forwarding contact.”
“Don’t sidetrack me, you freak! What have you been doing with the My Little Unicorns? They’re all throwing up and off their sugar-oats!”
“Don’t you dare blame me for that! You said last week to let them out down by the pebble ford and have a little frisk…”
“Last week!… Not yesterday! It was a new moon yesterday!!! Some Don’t Care Bears moved in near there and they’re always diggin’ up the shallows that phase…”
“Well, nobody told me, you big lump!”
“Well I’m tellin’ ya now – Froo-Froo head! Get back here soon as ya can – I have puke-stains all over and the big house and kitchen staff’re getting all snotty about the icky smell!”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! Just let the poor little horsies have a lick of your brandysnap and lovage lollipops and they’ll be right as rain in no time! I’ll be back soon… Gotta go, babe! Bad line…”
“And they get on you for being emotional? Hanging out with him probably makes you look stable in comparison.
“Jano, a couple of years ago, I downloaded some guitar lessons and chords. I have an old Fender. Do you think maybe we could tackle some Bonnie Raitt when we get off the air?”
“Oh! I love her singing ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ – that was me when I was trying to get with Daemen… With Silen, it’s more like ‘Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ all the time! I do love that Elf, and he adores me!”
Janowin appears in a new book, coming soon from Sîan Glírdan. A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac is due to hit virtual bookshop shelves in early June 2016.
This is poetry, wrapped in fantasy, within a memoir… Or, to put it another way, it’s a true tale that might well apply to many fantasy fans and gamers, who can’t be bothered with keeping their realities separated from their more lurid imaginings.
In my case, this is a sort of ‘real’ cyberspace profiling, during a phase of my life when roleplay truly did need to be therapy, because what was happening around me for real was not what I wanted to participate in. So, buckle up your swash and prepare to witness a titanic battle played out on the field of sanity – where what happens in your head is the only truth that matters.
Sîan Glírdan is the fusion persona of the elven roleplay character, Janowyn, High Bard of the River Kingdom and her ‘real world’ creator, author, Jan Hawke. Glírdan is the elven word for ‘songsmith’, and Sîan is a Welsh variant of Jan (in case you were wondering!).
When it became obvious to Jan that Jano had a far better handle than she could ever have on writing in the fantasy genres, Sîan was born, fully formed and raring to go. A Freebooter’s Fantasy Almanac, which is basically the manual on how Jano was brought into being and developed, is Sîan and Jano’s first official collaboration. They’re currently working hard on an epic future fantasy series, loosely based on the ancient Celtic world. The first volume should reach the shelves at the end of 2016.
You ca catch up with Jan, and/or Sîan at the following locations:
Twitter – @SianGlirdanBard