For a change, I decided to interview one of my characters from Into Nod, my forthcoming novel from Curiosity Quills. Zane (or Zee as he likes to be known), has a few thoughts he’d like to share, so I gave him a platform in exchange for him not making me make a bunny sound. Here’s Zee:
Jesus, this guy. What are you, an albino tree? Hate to run into you in a dark comic book shop. Anyway – the interview. Not doing it. I’m using this space for something else. Deal with it.
Here’s Zee’s Short Guide to the Underworld:
Holy balls, are there a lot of monsters here. Echoes and Naga, eerie undead children, and spooky triplets who wouldn’t even make the grade for a Doublemint Gum commercial. That doesn’t even count the human monsters. Lunatics and killers, power-mad sorcerers and Sham-Wow vendors. I’ve often thought about second death – no one really knows where you go when that happens – and have pretty much decided to stay as close to Elysium as possible. There are walls, a guard, and a train if I need to run. I’m much less likely to get eaten by a Stalker in the Red Waste than be bored for a short eternity. I’m fine with that. Though, I have considered growing a beard and filling it with bees for defense. People will call me Honey Beard. Children will throw stones at me. All of which is okay, because I will then send the beard bees into their faces.
Pain. Did you know you can still feel it when you’re dead? It’s an interesting and really unfair thing. I think about this a lot. There’s physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, phantom pain. The stuff comes in all flavors and colors, and for the really lucky, one bleeds into another like blood in the water. It’s supposed to be helpful – a signal to the brain that tells you something is wrong. Boy, don’t I know it. Usually, it’s accompanied by the obvious – slam your hand in the car door – yes, there’s something wrong. My hand is now the size of a Mickey Mouse glove and throbbing. Other times, it’s not so obvious. Something in your clockwork has gone all fuckity, and you get to play twenty questions, usually to the glee of hospital administrators who bleed you so dry they’d give vampires a bad name.
The thing about pain is, it has a lot of really unhelpful side effects. Like meth, but without all the benefits. Depression, fucked-up interpersonal relationships, inability to do simple tasks, like wash a dish, or on the worst days, your own ass. Imagine someone asking you a question, and you shit in their Cheerios because you ache so bad you lash out. Pain’s like a fire – intense at first, scorching everything in its path – then, it settles in. Think of going out on a winter day, staying out for a couple hours. The cold gets into your bones. Your fingertips ache, your skin is sensitive. Then you get inside, and though you’re a little numb now, your body starts to prickle as you warm. The pain rushes up for a moment until you’re comfortable. Now imagine you never get warm, and that ache’s always in your bones.
Pain’s a bitch.
Yeah, this hurts too. A funny thing about the underworld. You think “At least when I’m dead, I won’t have to deal with stupid people.” Nope. Stupid people die too. At an almost alarming rate. At least those who aren’t backed by a state-run health and retirement program. Ahem. I’m actually surprised no one’s set up some sort of customs line to slow the influx. Expect to see a good deal of them. Push them into the path of the aforementioned monsters. They make good speed bumps.
The people of Nod trade in memories. Plan accordingly. You never know when that trip to Niagara is going to pay off. I once bought a full copy of Hemingway’s Corrigan’s Dogs. Yeah, never actually written. Except here. All it cost me was…shit. The thing about losing memories is you never remember what you lost. Some people spend so many or find themselves so far in debt, they lose them all. Then they end up Echoes. Not a pleasant experience, and a good way to find yourself in the Queen’s foundries. Worse yet are the demigods. They trade in favors. You really don’t want to owe a divine being a favor. Ask Hercules.
Back to you, Treebeard.