For today’s Evensong interview, I venture down to the lower levels of the Keep into the Haunt, the office space of the House enchantress, Magdalen Stanwell. As soon as I walk through the door, she rushes over to give me a tight squeeze.
Maggie: I’m so happy to meet you! Jasmine told me how you shot down Jayden, so you already have my seal of approval. Come in, sit down.
*She ushers me to a long workbench and then sits across from me, pulling a mortar and pestle towards her*
Maggie: You don’t mind if I work while we chat, do you? Thanks to Mr Powell’s predicament, I’ve fallen behind on everything else.
*She pushes the sleeves of her chemise up to her elbows. Her face is flushed with the exertion, bright pink cheeks contrasting with the blue eyes and blonde curls.*
KW: Not at all. *I scrunch up my nose* What are you working on?
Maggie: Sorry about the smell. That’s not actually related to the work. *She nods to a plate at the end of the table full of questionnable lumps* I tend to forget to eat when I’m down here. I’m actually working on a binding spell. Something to trap that blasted dragon.
KW: How’s it going so far?
*The herbs in the dish begin to smoke, and create a sudden pop*
Maggie: *clears throat* It still needs some work.
KW: You must be pretty proud of yourself, though. The way I hear it, you’re the best enchantress across three borders. Jasmine and Jayden must be glad to have you.
Maggie: *sniff* I’m insulted. Last time I heard, I was the best across five borders. *winks* But I keep trying to get better, learn more spells.
KW: Like the Meratis incantation?
Maggie: Just like that. That one was fun. It took weeks of research, and more than a little practice. And then the debate of whether or not to cast the darned thing. Brady was solidly opposed, and I had some doubts myself, but we were overruled.
KW: How do you feel about the news? Do you believe that you’re in a book?
Maggie: Oh, honey, I’m an enchantress! It’s in my job description to believe anything is possible. But I side with Brady, no matter what Jeff thinks. That poor man is wrong about too many things to have created us. More like he read a bad translation and messed up some details. *She grows a panicked look* Not that I’m saying anything against him. He’s a nice guy. I’d hate to have him think I don’t trust him when we still need his help.
KW: With the dragon?
Maggie: *rolls her eyes* Among the ten million other things going wrong around here. Someone must have tripped over an orange tabby under an iron chandelier or something.
*I smile and nod, assuming she refers to some common Andvellian superstitions*
KW: And what about the other storyline? The one Jeff claims not to have written about the disappearing people.
Maggie: *her face darkens* That I have no ideas about. If I could look into the future … *she trails off and gives her head a shake* but that’s not my brand of magic. I just need to hope we figure it out in time.
*A swirl of blue smoke rises from the dish, creeping out towards my hand before fading away. Maggie’s face lights up*
Maggie: I’m getting closer! That dragon may have met its end yet.
That was the end of the first interview, but Maggie graciously met with me again to answer some of her fan questions. Have more? Send them in! She seems to like the attention.
Maggie: Only because these questions are so fun! What do you have for me?
KW: The first person asks – “If Maggie could choose a familiar from either a Pigmy goat or a Ring-tailed Lemur, which one would she choose and why?” *presents picture of each*
Maggie: *flails hands* The goat! What a cute little guy! The lemur would just make a mess in my workshop, but the goat could carry all sorts of little things. Definitely the goat.
KW: Another fan wants to know what is your favourite spell.
Maggie: Oh, that’s a tricky one. *she taps her finger against her top lip* I think I’ll have to go with the Tidura chant. It puts people to sleep. When you have four young children, it comes in very handy.
KW: And finally a last one for me *sidelong glance at the bubbling cauldron next to the table* What the hell is in that cauldron?
*Maggie gives me a smile, and politely refuses to answer*
EVENSONG Excerpt: Maggie’s introduction
[Jeff] stumbled and caught himself against a long workbench, jars clattering as the table shook.
A woman rushed over and steadied the bench. “Be careful with those. Last thing we want is for some of these potions to spill.”
Jeff stared. Looking much younger than her thirty-six years, she was Magdalen without a doubt. Curly blonde hair fell across bare shoulders, covering her substantial chest. By no means a small woman, her figure was bound under a blue leather corset that emphasised her wide hips and curvy waist. Rosy cheeks gave an air of youth and innocence, but her blue eyes were sharp and evaluated him with interest.
“Why?” Jayden asked, in reply to Magdalen’s concern. He picked up a jar and squinted into the oily green contents, which looked like it came from the bubbling concoction in the cauldron. “Will they eat through the floor?”
“No,” she said, taking the jar and setting it gently on the table. “They’ll stain my carpet. You must be Jeff.”