Anne Gallagher interviewed her Lady Olivia the other day, and she's inspired me to seek an audience with one of my characters.
Devran is the hero of Rome, Rhymes and Risk. He's the son of the Grand Vizier, who is the highest official of the Ottoman Court under the Sultan himself. An exalted position, to be sure. Yet Devran's been exiled, for a crime he did not commit, and now he's forced to sail the length of the Mediterranean.
He kinda sorta looks like this:
(snapshot from my Tumblr page)
Devran's also got one secret - but I'll let him explain.
Thank you for joining us, Devran Bey. Please, have some wine.
It is my pleasure. Thank you. [Takes cup]
Many of our readers are not familiar with your story. Can you tell us where you're travelling from and why?
[Frown] I'd rather not discuss the why, actually. I have left the Ottoman Empire and am on my way to Cadíz in the Kingdom of Castile. I'm told the Admiral Columbus will be sailing from there in some months' time, and I propose to join his expedition.
How exciting! This will be the Admiral's second journey, I believe?
So I'm told.
And who are you travelling with?
Ah. [Smile] Some others were exiled along with me, for entirely different reasons. A man named Baha, whom I knew in my childhood. His wife, Rosa, who actually hails from Castile, and her guardian, Brother Arcturus. Her father, Santiago, who is Sailing Master under Admiral Columbus.
Is that all?
Er, no. Rosa has a maid - well, they call her a maid, but she's more of a companion. Her name is Ayten. She has... quite an interesting background.
Is that so? Are you at liberty to tell us about it?
It's not my secret to reveal, exactly. She was kidnapped by slave traders some months ago. I was very pleased to find that Baha and Rosa had rescued her.
And how has the journey been? I hope you've had good weather.
We haven't, as a matter of fact. There was a terrible storm, which cracked the bowsprit, and we've been forced to remain in Rome for many days. They promise to have the ship ready to sail the day after tomorrow.
That doesn't sound so bad! I hear you were guests of the Sultan's brother, Cem.
Hmmph. [Crosses arms]
He is not a gracious host?
Oh, he's gracious, all right. Has a way with the women, that one.
Does he, now?
Yes. He began making love to Ayten almost from the moment we arrived. And I can't say anything because -
[At this point Devran stands up and makes to leave. In his agitation, he knocks over his cup, which shatters and drives a splinter into his palm. He falls back into his chair, sucking the cut.]
Well? What do you want to know?
Nothing you're not willing to tell us, of course. How's your hand?
I'll do. Listen, Cem is a swindler and a cad. He's flattered Ayten no end, and I guess she's swayed by the opulence of his court. She... She likes fine things, Ayten. Pretty dresses and gilt tableware and all that sort of thing. I had enough of that growing up, myself. I can do without it. Still, she deserves the best. And I guess she thought...
Look. I'll tell you. Before Ayten was kidnapped by those slave traders, her father had arranged a marriage for her. All that fell apart when she was kidnapped. Everyone in town spent weeks searching for her, and it was only much later that the truth of the matter was discovered. But by then it was too late.
She never saw the face or knew the name of the man she was betrothed to.
Do you mean -
Yes. It was me. Her father had arranged for her to marry me. But she didn't - doesn't - know that. She came on board my ship having heard all the rumours of the terrible deeds I'd been accused of. She thinks me an exile, a penniless rake. How can I blame her for considering the Sultan's brother? How can I tell her that she's betrothed to me? She thinks I'm a liar, a criminal. She'd never believe me.
I cannot force her. I want her to come to me willingly. How can I prove my worth to her?
[There is a silence. A maid comes in and clears up the spilt wine. Devran stares out the window at the bright winter's day outside. The maid leaves.]
Can you give us an idea where you'll be travelling to next?
We're still bound for Cadíz. I hope we leave Rome soon. I hope I can give Ayten reason enough to forget the awful - and untrue! - rumours about me. Her eyes glow when she's pleased, and I - I want that glow turned to me. Anyway, I've gone on long enough. I'm sure you have other interviews to get through today.
Thank you very much, Devran Bey, for answering our questions so patiently. I do apologise about the blood. [Turning to audience] If anyone has any questions for Devran Bey, I'm sure he'll be pleased to answer them. Send them on through the comments page, please.
Sweet Lovin' Man by the Magnetic Fields