Frolic, our clockwork boy from Boots for the Gentleman and now the sequel, A Grimoire for the Baron, is here for an interview today. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him a little better! Also, please leave a comment to win a copy of either ebook!
So Frolic, tell us a little bit about yourself. That’s an interesting hair color. Where are you from?
Frolic: Well, I guess I’m from Halcyon. That’s where I was made, as far as I know. My silver hair is unusual, isn’t it? Sometimes Reg wants me to cover it up so I don’t attract too much attention. And sometimes it makes people think I’m a faerie, even though I’m not.
Do you have any special talents or skills?
Frolic: I’m pretty fair with clockwork and machinery. I guess I can understand how it works since I’m a clockwork myself. I really like making clockwork animals, especially cats. They’re my favorite. I’m stronger and much more durable than a human. It takes a lot more to hurt me. And…um. Well. I’m not sure if I should say this.
Frolic: Well, Querry taught me everything he knows about, um, infiltration. I’ve become a pretty fair thief.
How did you meet Querry?
Frolic: Querry found me in a hidden room in the basement of the doll maker who made me. I waited there for a long, long time, and I was lonely, so I was so happy when Querry agreed to take me with him. He protected me from the beginning, since I didn’t know much about the world. We’ve had so much fun since then. We’ve had bad times too, but we got through them together. I really like making love with Querry and Reg. Oh, I shouldn’t have said that, should I? I’m still learning how much to say and how much to keep to myself. I’m sorry.
Frolic: Reg has been Querry’s best friend since they were children. He helped us when we were in trouble, when the Grand Chancellor wanted to find me and use me as a weapon. Now I’m happy to say he’s my best friend too, along with Querry. Reg is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. I know he’ll always take care of me.
That’s an interesting necklace. Why a metal feather?
Frolic: This is all that’s left of the clockwork angels I was designed to oversee. They were destroyed, and now I’m the last of my kind. I… I don’t really want to talk about this anymore.
How did the tragic events in Halcyon affect your relationship?
Frolic: Well, it was hard and we all lost many things we cared about. We can never go back to Halcyon. I think Reggie misses it most. But we still have each other, and I know we can face anything as long as we stay together.
Your name is very whimsical, who named you and why did they pick it?
Frolic: I chose it myself! My creator never got to naming me, as far as I know. I liked the sound of that word right away and felt like it fit me.
So you have a connection to the fey. Has that been difficult?
Frolic: It’s been very confusing since Querry’s gentleman used his magic to repair my heart. I’ve always been a combination of magic and clockwork, but now I understand how magic works, and I can understand the fey language. I see and hear strange things, like the voices of the rain and the wind. I don’t really know what to make of it all. I wish I had someone to talk to about this, someone who knew about magic.
What’s the faerie gentleman like?
Frolic: I’m afraid of him. Querry isn’t, but then Querry isn’t afraid of anything. I think Reggie hates him. He’s very beautiful, though.
What’s next for you and your companions? What do we have to look forward to?
Frolic: We’ll be setting off for uncharted lands with Baron Starling soon. I’m not sure if I like Baron Starling yet. He keeps a lot of secrets. Reg is afraid it will be very dangerous, but Querry is as confident as ever. I don’t know. I worry about Reg and Querry getting hurt. I’m looking forward to something to take my mind off wondering why I was created, and I’m looking forward to talking to the baron’s faerie steward, Tom Teezle. Maybe he can help me make some sense of all the new things I see and hear. I just want the people I love to make it home safely.
You can read all about Frolic, Reg, and Querry’s next adventure in A Grimoire for the Baron, available here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3283
The trio’s first adventure, Boots for the Gentleman, is available here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2483
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!
When Querry and Frolic get caught breaking into Baron Starling’s villa, all three men are bamboozled into accompanying the baron on a quest for arcane knowledge. But their jungle destination holds more danger than anyone on the expedition expects.
Reg knows their crew is made up of criminals—the kind who can’t be trusted—which puts a strain on the trio. He’s certain the baron and the mercenary Jean-Andre are hiding something that puts them all in danger. Querry and the baron grow close, leaving Reg and Frolic feeling alienated. Frolic’s friendship with a fey servant just strains the trio’s dynamic further. Even if Reg, Querry, and Frolic survive the quest, their relationship will never be the same.
QUERRILOUS KNOTTE had never been anything but a thief. He’d been a thief since he’d come to understand certain objects could be traded for food, for clothing, for weapons to defend himself, or for a night of safety behind a sturdy door. Early on, Querry had realized no one in the world would give him the things he needed to survive. If he wanted to live, he had to take them, and so he had. Over time, he’d become quite good at it and had grown to like it. It felt good to show the privileged minority their wealth and station didn’t keep them as secure as they deluded themselves into thinking.
Querry smirked as he leaned against the wall of The Mermaid’s Tail, the local tavern. He watched Frolic pack his steamer trunk with the clockwork toys that hadn’t sold throughout the day. Querry pushed off the wall and strode across the street to help his friend with his burden. Frolic’s pale face lit up when he turned his golden eyes on Querry.
“Need a hand?” Querry asked.
Frolic shook his head. “I can manage. I’m stronger than I look,” Frolic responded with a wink. Although Frolic looked like a young man in his late teens, he was actually a highly sophisticated clockwork himself. Querry had seen him best men twice his size with ease.
“Is it time?” Frolic asked with obvious glee.
Querry lifted his hand to shield his eyes as he looked out over the ocean. The sun was just beginning to set, and the throngs of dockworkers, sailors, and fishermen started home for the
night alongside the more well-to-do of the village, who’d been shopping at the markets and fishmongers or just enjoying the beach. Querry smiled and nodded. “It certainly is.” Crowds made a wonderful place to do some light thievery, with all those bodies jostling about, tired from the day’s labor, thinking about dinner, distracted.
Frolic skipped into position a few feet ahead of Querry, making a colossal show of pretending his trunk was just a little too heavy for him. He tripped, knocking a gentleman into Querry, who caught the man, then expertly slipped his hand into the man’s coat, relieving him of his coin purse.
“Pardon me, sir,” Frolic simpered, fixing the man with a puppy dog expression. The whole scene appeared genuinely accidental. The slightly rumpled gentleman only huffed as he hurried away.
Frolic and Querry exchanged glances as they moved on to their next mark. Querry smiled. He loved that Frolic shared his taste for adventure and danger. Lately it seemed that Frolic liked it even more than before his accident. Perhaps the faerie magic used to repair him had made him reckless and wilder than before. Perhaps his brush with his mortality had made him eager to squeeze every drop of experience and excitement out of life. Either way, he clearly enjoyed the game as much as Querry. They played out the Bump and Snatch on a well-dressed lady, who was obviously from out of town. Querry knew they couldn’t go overboard. They only did this once or twice a month, just to keep their skills sharp. Any more than that, and people might start to get suspicious. But it was just too much fun, and after the trouble they’d managed to survive in Halcyon, Querry felt like there wasn’t anything they couldn’t accomplish together.
Frolic bumped, Querry snatched, and the target was none the wiser. The crowd gradually thinned, and Querry sighed. “Looks like we’re done here,” Querry lamented.
Frolic nodded and fell into step next to him. As they walked, Querry noticed a perfect mark. The man emerged from a brothel with a vacant smirk, still holding his billfold. Querry elbowed Frolic, and they shared a silent communication. Frolic smiled and meandered over toward the target. The smaller man slipped, tossing his trunk into the air. It landed just in front of the big man and burst open, spilling its contents. “Oh no!” Frolic exclaimed in his best helpless youth voice. Unaccustomed to deception, Frolic almost always went too far, but it usually worked for him.
“Here now, don’t worry, little fella,” the larger gentleman said as he absently stuffed his billfold into his back pocket. “Let me help you.”
Querry sidled up behind the man, plucked the billfold from his pocket, and emptied it. He replaced it just as Frolic secured his trunk.
“Oy,” the man exclaimed, spinning on Querry. “What’re you doing there?”
“Sorry, sir. Just thought I could help you and the young fellow,” Querry crooned, hoping he could diffuse the man’s sudden suspicion. Frolic moved off as they’d always practiced, but his gaze locked with Querry’s. Then Querry noticed the man reaching into his back pocket, and he knew the situation was about to explode. He gave Frolic the signal to run, and Frolic obeyed, hefting the trunk onto his back as he went. Querry dashed off in the opposite direction, the angry man in hot pursuit.
“Come back here, you filthy cutpurse!”
Querry easily outdistanced the larger, slower man, ducking into an alley so he could slow down, so he appeared less conspicuous. He pulled a hat from his pocket and plopped it over his distinctive black curls. He slipped off his red vest and turned it inside out, making it a black vest. The tiny flat he and Frolic shared with Reg was just ahead now. He skipped happily across the street, and a hurtling form crashed into him. Querry almost fell, but managed to stay on his feet. When he looked up, his eyes grew wide with surprise. The big, bald man from the brothel stood in front of him, heaving great gulps of the fishy air.
“Sorry, mate. Chasin’ a thief,” he gasped. “Red vest. Seen him?” Querry only nodded and pointed up the street. “Thanks, mate,” the man said, giving Querry a friendly clap on the shoulder before running off. Querry laughed heartily as he ascended the stairs to their flat.
He was a thief, had always been a thief, and a bloody brilliant one, at that. Now Querry’s beloved partner wanted him to be something else. He could see it on Reg’s face the moment he
closed the door. Querry was still laughing, but when he saw the looks on Reg’s and Frolic’s faces, he stopped abruptly.
“You seem pretty pleased with yourself,” Reg fumed.
“Is it wrong for me to be proud of my talents?” Querry stamped his foot and raked his black curls out of his eyes, pushing the hat off and letting it fall to the floor. He paced the length of their tiny, seaside hovel in a Thalacean port, resisting his desire to kick the rickety table or the iron frame of the bed. He spun on the ball of his foot and crossed the little room again. It smelled of the flowers Reg had bought fresh earlier in the day but underneath lurked the scent of rancid fish and sea water polluted by steamships. “I’m good at what I do, and I’m not ashamed. Are you ashamed of me, Reg?”
Reg collapsed on the edge of their wrought iron bed, all the tensions dropping from his slight form and his anger deflating in a drawn-out sigh. He leaned his elbows on his knees, and his gaze dropped to the chipped, blue tile floor. At Reg’s despair, more disturbing than his passionate arguments, Querry swallowed his annoyance and affront and took a step toward him. Reg looked up and pushed his long fringe out of his hazel eyes. The half a year they’d spent under the strong sun of the Thalacean beach had lightened Reg’s hair to the color of sunlit wheat and brought a healthy, bronze tint to his face. With his darker coloring, Querry easily passed for a native. No amount of heat or sun could alter Frolic’s complexion, and he remained a flawless ivory, kissed with traces of pastel rose. His large golden eyes widened with concern as he watched Querry and Reg, and he rested his delicate hand on the hilt of his enchanted sword.
“I’m not ashamed, Querry, I’m worried,” Reg said in a voice left scratchy by his previous tirade. “The three of us are wanted criminals. We barely managed to escape Halcyon with our lives. I just don’t think it’s prudent to tempt fate. What if you get caught?”
“I won’t,” Querry said, crossing his arms over his chest and lifting his chin. He couldn’t quite suppress the smug smile pulling at the corners of his lips. “Never do.”
“You are not invulnerable!” Reg’s voice raised as a scrap of his former anger returned.
“I never said I was invulnerable. Only that I’m good.”
“Damn it!” Reg stood and smacked the white, plaster wall. Frolic flinched, and Querry recoiled. Reg never lost his temper. He won his debates through reason, calm, and cool, and Querry usually relented just because what Reg said made sense. But Querry had been reluctantly treading the cautious path for months now, and he itched for the night air on a rooftop, the way his senses fine-tuned to everything as he worked. He needed to feel that thrill, to remind himself how much more talented he was than the privileged he robbed. He couldn’t help longing for excitement and the challenge his illicit activities provided him. Though he’d never tell Reg, the chance of getting caught made it all the more delicious.
“I’m going crazy here,” he said as gently as he could, hoping to make his partner understand. “I have to stretch my legs, test my tools.”
It didn’t work. Reg stood a few inches from Querry’s chest, his fists balled beside his hips and his full lips trembling. “Try thinking about someone other than yourself for a change! What do you think would happen to me and Frolic if you got caught? What if Frolic is with you? Do you think it’ll take long before they realize he isn’t human? What do you suppose they’ll do to him?”
“I taught Frolic! He knows what to do. Besides, I’m not forcing him to come with me. I’ve kept Frolic safe since I found him!”
“Stop it.” Frolic interrupted them and positioned his small body between them, looking from Querry’s face to Reg’s. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not in the room. Please, just stop fighting.”
His obvious distress neutralized Querry’s anger, and Reg’s tight expression softened with sympathy. Both of them went to Frolic’s side and took up one of his hands. They apologized in unison, but Frolic still looked miserable. Reg stroked Frolic’s smooth cheek with the back of his hand, and Frolic’s white eyelashes fluttered with momentary contentment. Querry took his hand and led him to the large table that occupied over half of their living space. The three of them sat down, and Querry poured some strong, local wine for Reg and himself, wishing Frolic could partake of the simple comfort a potent drink offered. With Frolic, everything was much more complex.
“Let’s try to talk like people who love each other.” Sometimes, naïve little Frolic astounded Querry with his insight. Querry and Reg both nodded and looked at the rough, wooden surface of the table, ashamed at their behavior.
Querry reached across the table to take each of their hands in one of his. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply to calm himself and just savoring the connection they shared. “I’m sorry,” he said softly, squeezing their fingers and delighting in the warmth and slight dampness of their skin. Here by the southern sea, even Frolic seemed to don a perpetual sheen of moisture, though Querry knew he couldn’t sweat. Even so, his white, ringlet curls wound tighter and springier than ever, curlicuing out from his face in every direction. Querry found the disorder enchanting. Frolic always looked as if he’d just tumbled out of bed after a bout of lovemaking.
“I’m not sorry.”
Reg’s statement surprised Querry. “What?”
“I think you’re being foolish, Querry, and I can’t begin to imagine why you want to take this risk. We aren’t desperate for money.”
Querry glanced around their single-room dwelling, with the bed in the corner, the table at the center, some cracked crockery on a shelf on the wall, and a small, iron stove barely large enough to heat a kettle. When they tried to cook on it, suffocating smoke filled the space. Other than that, little filled the room beyond the bits of scrap Frolic used to make clockwork toys to sell to tourists or entrepreneurial sailors. A half-completed cat, with a jointed neck, hips, spine, and legs that would move as if alive when complete, waited on the board resting across two stone blocks that Frolic used as a workbench. Its green eyes, indistinguishable from life, would move and roll about when Frolic wound the toy. Bits of other, more fantastical creatures lay strewn across the floor nearby. Unlike other toymakers, Frolic made no effort to hide the elaborate, clockwork joints of his creations. Instead, he integrated them into his designs, making the functional aspects part of the aesthetic appeal. He flaunted his mechanical artistry rather than hiding it, to devastating effect. In Halcyon, such amazing items, far superior to anything else available, would have sold in fine boutiques for high prices. Here, Frolic barely managed to trade his wondrous creations for enough coin to buy a meal.
Being poor didn’t bother Querry. He’d always been poor, had never had more to his name than a simple room such as this. The idea of submitting to another’s authority grated on him, though. He didn’t mind having little in the way of material possessions, so long as he could say no one owned him. After being an indentured laborer as a child, being beholden to no one was very important to Querry.
As if he read Querry’s mind, Reg said, “You could find legitimate work, you know.”
Querry bristled and sat up straighter in his wooden chair. “You really want me to spend my days gutting fish or hauling crates? Why should I?”
Reg rubbed his forehead. “It’s an honest living, and it’s good enough for most people. It wouldn’t put us in danger.”
Reg didn’t understand. Querry had no intention of spending his life shoveling shit for a domineering employer. He possessed talents that said he didn’t need to. Querry had never been indebted to anyone, and he wasn’t about to change that. He didn’t need wealth, but he needed his freedom more than his next breath. After their childhood of virtual slavery in Halcyon’s factories, why couldn’t Reg appreciate that?
“Why do you have to make it sound as if I’m choosing between my love for you and Frolic and giving up my ideals?” Querry asked.
“Because, in a way, you are,” Reg answered, his gaze steady. “Which one will you sacrifice, Querry?”
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