Tag Archives: YA

Author Interview – Bianca Rowena


Author-Interview-Button

 

Bianca

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Mostly it exhausts me, both emotionally and physically. But so does playing the piano and doing art. If I was doing those things to relax, then it would be like a colouring page or writing a diary entry. But when I’m truly working on my art (writing) then I’m exhausted afterwards because it takes a part of my very self, when I’m truly creating.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Constant interruptions.

Book 1 Rowena

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I wanted to publish a mid-grade book, which would be too far separated from my adult romance. I wouldn’t want the mid-graders to pick up the adult romance, so I considered writing the younger genre under a pseudonym.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m part of a writer’s group, where we write together and share our work. My best friend is also a writer, who writes romance and we talk about writing all the time. I am lucky to also have a couple friends who work at the local library and who like to write and read, not to mention writers I’ve met and become friends with through conferences, book fairs and author readings from Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. It really is a big community once you get involved. They help me become a better writer because we share insights and advice and things we’ve learned or discovered, from anything from writing style to book advertising options.

Ryn

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Currently I’m working on a three book series. The first two definitely go together, originally written as one long novel split into two. The third book could be a stand alone and is the prequel to the first two. The series is a Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy based on a fanfiction novel I wrote two years ago. The first book has been published and is called ‘The Gift Stone’, book one of the Gifted Series ( https://www.amazon.ca/Gift-Stone-Bianca-Rowena/dp/0994851332/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 ).

Book two will be released in the summer of 2018, and will be titled ‘Takano Rynn’, the name of the main male character in the series. Book three will hopefully follow soon after that.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was born in Romania and we were Hungarian speaking. So when I came to Canada I was five years old and put into Kindergarten. I remember being forced to go to these English language sessions in the office, where they would hold up a photocard of a boot and say ‘boot’ over and over again. It didn’t take me very long to learn English, and it was WAY before anyone realized I understood it. So I had the power to know what everyone was saying around me and about me, without them knowing that I understood them. Understanding English came quickly at age five, but speaking it back, took a bit longer.

Also, whenever my parents needed to tell us something that they didn’t want anyone else to overhear, they’d tell us in Hungarian. And when they wanted to discuss something that they didn’t want my sister and I to hear, they’d discuss it in Romanian (we were too young to have learned Romanian in school, before coming to Canada). So I recognized at an early age that language held the power of communication, either to make it possible or to close it off and leave you completely clueless, depending on which language was being spoken at the time.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

‘Swim the Fly’ by Don Calame

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The Eagle.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve got five unpublished but completed novels and one half finished novel, as well as 4 full length screenplays and many, many, many stories I started.

Virgin

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

A movie made based on your book.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For my fan-fiction I spend a lot of time researching the details. Otherwise my novels are more character based so I don’t get into details, even in my sci-fi/fantasy novels, of the technicality of things. I sort of avoid too much research. As for character research I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books in the genre I write and observe everyone around me. That too is research!

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

The last three months I’d been writing at least 3-5 hours daily, mostly for posting fanfiction chapters daily ( www.wattpad.com/biancawatson ). But when I’m not deep in my fanfiction I spend most of my time editing. I’ll write a novel in a month or two, non-stop, about 6 hours a day. Then I’ll stop and do edits at a slower pace. I’m not a planner, so when ideas hit me I write them as fast as I can (like my personal Nanowrimo), then I plan and edit and work hard on the rewrites, but at a slower pace, a few hours a day. It’s not a consistent thing for me, writing. It’s on a project by project basis, so the times fluctuate per month.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I like short, simple names. Usually I can just sense that the name is right for the character or if it is wrong.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write YA because everything I write comes out sounding YA, whether I intend it to or not. My first novel, The Virgin Diaries, was a contemporary adult romance. Yet anyone who has read it would tell you it ‘reads’ like a YA. I’m naturally drawn to writing in a more simple, easy to read, style and my understanding of the world around me seems to be naturally very young minded. So I stick with what I write best!

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I was working on my Star Wars fanfiction right after the new movie came out, doing a sequel to it. Now I’m focusing on my next novel in the Gifted Series, Takano Rynn, which comes out this Summer. I also want to write some new material for future work, and I’m editing (alongside book two) book three of the Gifted Series, which may need a rewrite for the ending. I also write in a journal when I can.

  1. Share links to your author websites.

www.biancarowena.com

www.facebook.com/biancarowena

https://biancarowena.wordpress.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Bianca-Rowena/e/B0161S8DI0

https://www.instagram.com/biancarowena/

https://twitter.com/biancarowena

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14199529.Bianca_Rowena

 

Clickety Click Excerpt #10 – The End…


monster claw

Alice’s excitement kept her awake until the early hours but she was still wide eyed in anticipation of her new role. The elders welcomed her into their cavern and huddled around her as she explained the cloth storybook. It took many months of carefully note taking to ensure the whole Griffian history was compiled. Another several months were taken to make sure it was in chronological order and then the sewing begun. During this time, Alice’s task became the talk of the underground world. Many Griffian’s would nod to her as she walked the many corridors. Alice increasingly felt at home in the rock caverns and corridors and became accustomed to her new form.

Alice and Totoran would escape into the night sky when the moon was hidden by clouds or was just a sliver of light. She flew over her Aunt and Uncle’s old home on occasion but it was just a forgotten place now. After their rescue her guardians settled into the under ground world in the mountain range and were always pleased when she visited them. The story of her parentage was no longer a secret and Alice knew she was where she belonged for the time being – a Griffian new world would be found eventually and a new chapter written in their history.

I hope you enjoyed my ‘short’ story! It just grew and grew.

With several larger projects requiring my time, I thought it best to end this story.

thank you

Clickety Click – Excerpt #8


monster claw

Too hesitant to ask what the King meant by his remark, Alice nodded and smiled. Totoran took Alice’s hand and led her away, calling back to his parents that they would join them later for supper. Escorting Alice along another passageway he turned into a splendid chamber decorated with several battleaxes, a large cloth covering depicting a battle scene and a long low bench. Alice was amazed at the intricate details in the fabric although the scene was rather gory.

“What is this, Totoran?”

“This tapestry was made by my great, great, great grandmother. It is the final battle on our planet before we escaped. It is a reminder of our home and the courageous Griffian’s who tried to defend it. The weapons you see are the only remaining pieces from that battle. We fashion new weapons in their likeness although we use earthly materials, such as iron and steel.”

“So this room is a war room?”

Totoran smiled and shook his head.

“Not exactly – it is a place of reflection and a reminder of our history.”

“I’m not sure I could be peaceful and reflect with these images, Totoran. The scenes are violent and graphic.”

“Well, yes I can understand that. You are young in your transformation and the collective memoirs have not invaded your mind yet.”

Alice turned from inspecting the tapestry with wide-eyed shock.

“Collective memoirs? What are you saying, Totoran? Will I see this battle somehow?”

“Alice I did not mean to alarm you. I’m so sorry. The images will come gradually just like dreams. You will not be assaulted all at once with the history of our kind. It is a way of passing down our world and accomplishments, generation to generation.”

“Will the dreams be so graphic, horrid? I’m not sure I would call them dreams more like nightmares.”

Totoran rubbed at his chin, deep in thought. When he looked up again, he was smiling.

“I think I know a way of making this history less frightening for you, Alice. Come with me.”

Puzzled at his words but thankful she would have less horrific images to deal with; Alice followed the prince along a corridor which steeply dipped into the mountain. Totoran took her hand as they descended for what felt like a long time, guiding her and ensuring she did not slip on the wet rock surface. Alice guessed after some time that an archway encircled with torches ahead of them was their destination.

“We are now as deep as it is possible to dig, Alice. Here we keep our most precious treasures.”

“Treasurers? How will treasurers help me learn your history with being scared?”

“You will soon see. Come this way.”

Totoran turned to one side and brushed away a heavy cloth from a hidden wooden door. It’s surface was framed and crisscrossed with heavy metal bars.

“Not much could get through this door!”

“That is why it was made, Alice.”

Totoran took a large key from his belt and turned it in the lock. The heavy mechanism’s clanking echoed along the corridor behind them. As Totoran pushed the door, Alice could see it was over a foot thick and the hinges creaked loudly. She had to blink several times for her eyes to get used to the bright light within the chamber ahead. As her eyes focused she saw several hunched figures sitting around a table lit with dozens of candles and there were even more torches hung on the rock face around them.

“May I introduce you to our most precious treasurers, Alice. These are the elders. They are writing their life stories in intricate detail for future generations.”

Alice was stunned into silence. The Griffians before her were hunched, pale and withered. She whispered.

“How old are they?”

“Well in human terms several hundred years but Griffian’s live a lot longer than humans. Why don’t you sit, Alice? We shall talk a while.”

Alice followed Totoran’s lead and bowed to the elders one after the other, then sat on a nearby bench beside him.

“We ask your help, great elders. Alice is fearful of the history transfer and its images. Can you relate the past for her?”

The elders turned as one to face the two young Griffians, nodding slowly. One Griffian with steel grey tufts along his back spoke in a low gruff voice. It sounded like pebbles rolling down a wall to Alice.

“Young ones, we have many, many stories of our planet before the destruction. Generations of Griffians enjoyed happy times and abundance on our home world. The battle was but a second in time and not to be dwelled upon for long. We must learn from our mistakes and ensure our kind continue far into the future. What did you wish to know?”

Totoran nodded his encouragement to Alice. Her mind froze. What should she ask first? Gripping her hand gently, Totoran spoke.

“Our young guest has recently transformed and is trying to make sense of her new form. Please forgive her.”

The elders smiled and nodded in unison. The grey tufted one, held his claw out towards Alice.

“We have many stories to tell, my young one. We only want to help. Do not be afraid we are old and harmless.”

“I didn’t mean you to think I was afraid of you, I just have no idea what questions to ask. The tapestry so horrified me and when the prince told me I would have dreams of the battle, I was scared.”

“It is understandable, Alice. Why not ask about something other than the battle?”

Alice’s shoulders dropped showing her relief at the elders offer. After a moment she began to talk. Three hours later, with their stomachs grumbling for food, Totoran and Alice left the elder’s chamber, happy and filled with momentous stories to recite at the supper table.

Clickety Click – Excerpt #6


monster claw

“Where is your planet? Can we see it from Earth?”

“Firstly, in essence it is your planet as well, Alice. Secondly, it is further away than any super telescope can view. Unfortunately, our escape required we never return. We have no idea what fate our planet suffered after we left.”

“What happened? Why did you all leave?”

Totoran guided Alice to a stone bench and sat beside her. As he looked into her eyes, she saw a shimmer cross her vision. Images began to appear and a dark sky appeared. Alice shook her head but Totoran held her chin.

“Let the vision come, Alice. I am showing you our last view of the Griffian world.”

Alice let her shoulders relax and watched the vision come into sharp relief. The landscape stretching before her eyes was festooned with hexagonal boulders stacked on top of each other. The dark sky was a dark purple but there were infrequent streaks of blazing aquatic blue across it. In the distance she saw intense blue sparks and flames shooting hundreds of feet upward.

“What you see is the destruction of our capital city, Alice. We have no idea if any Griffian’s, who escaped to the far shores, survived. We have no way of getting back now.”

“Who or what did that? Why can’t you go back?”

“You are so full of questions! The destruction was caused by a break in our atmosphere. A large fissure grew to extraordinary lengths across the whole planet. Without the protection of the atmosphere our planet was at the mercy of bombarding comets. These brought with them not only a kind of radiation but also bacteria. Griffian biology cannot withstand either of these elements and many hundreds of Griffian’s died. In a desperate hope that we could find another planet that would sustain us, we built a craft of mammoth proportions. Many did not live to see it launch.”

Alice saw the sadness in Totoran’s eyes but she was puzzled as to how a young Griffian could be so moved by an event that happened generations before. Unable to voice her thoughts she placed a hand gently on Totoran’s own. They remained silent for a while, both lost in their thoughts. Wrightsen’s croaky voice broke their peaceful contemplation.

“Prince Totoran, please you must come. The watchers have a report.”

Alice nearly toppled backwards off the bench with the speed in which Totoran stood up. He ran and soon disappeared down a corridor, shouting behind him for Wrightsen to take care of Alice.

“Oh goodness, what has happened, Wrightsen?”

“I think it might be human machines approaching, but sincerely hope that is not the case.”

“Can I do anything to help? What should we do?”

“We are at the mercy of fate, my young Griffian. I only hope we survive this conflict.”

Before Alice could stop her thought escaping her mouth, she blurted out.

“Did you see your world burn, Wrightsen?”

Alice clasped a hand to her mouth and shook her head vigorously while laying a hand on Wrightsen’s shoulder.

“I’m so sorry, don’t answer anything, I shouldn’t said that. I apologize.”

“Totoran told you then of our escape?”

He begun to but then could not continue. The sadness in his eyes was intense. How can he feel such pain? He could not have been there.”

“It is not for me to disclose the Prince’s secrets, Alice but we all feel the loss of our world. Tales are passed down generation to generation.”

“I understand that but to see how intensely Totoran felt at a distance event, stunned me.”

“As I said, I am not at liberty to discuss the Prince, my young Alice. Come now we should make our way further into the mountain.”

Alice followed the older Griffian, keeping close to the rock walls as other Griffian’s hurried this way and that in a determined manner. Wrightsen glanced back repeatedly to ensure Alice did not stray from their path. As they traveled further into the mountain fortress the air grew colder. Alice shivered, wishing she had some sort of cloak to wrap around her misshaped figure. As if reading her mind, Wrightsen pulled her sideways into a small room. With a click of her talons, Wrightsen produced a spark and lit a torch held in place by a bracket on the wall. The yellow flame illuminated the room. Alice saw large boxes piled high one side of the room and folded garments to the other.

“Take a couple, Alice, it will get colder the further we go.”
“Thank you, I was shivering with the cold and damp air.”

Once they were both wrapped in warm woolen garments, Wrightsen took Alice’s claw and guided her into the corridor again.

“Stay close, Alice, these passages are not frequented by the majority of the Griffian’s. There may be rock falls and slimy surfaces to deal with as the maintenance crews have enough to monitor and repair higher up.”

With care the two Griffian’s trod the narrow passage lit only by the torch flame held up by Wrightsen. A sudden gust of wind battered the flame, producing grotesque shadows all around them. Aware that Wrightsen had stopped, Alice stayed behind the older Griffian waiting for instructions.

“That’s not good. There are only a couple of reasons there would be such a gust like that. We must hurry, Alice and get to the sanctuary.”

“Sanctuary?”

“I have no time to explain, just follow me, Alice, we have little time.”

Alice heard the fear in Wrightsen’s voice and saw it cross the elder’s eyes. With her heart racing, Alice followed in silence through several passages, which gradually reduced in size. They were both hunched over when her guide held up a claw and stood still. Alice narrowed her eyes trying to glimpse what was ahead. The torch’s flame flickered casing shadows over the wet rock walls. A talon went up to Wrightsen’s lips and Alice compiled to remain silent. Claw in claw they moved forward one step at a time listening intently. A booming noise echoed along the rock walls, halting their progress for several minutes. Alice saw Wrightsen sniff the air then motioned to move forward again. After some time they came to a dead end, surrounded by a clawed rock face. Alice looked at her guide in puzzlement and pointed at the impenetrable barrier ahead.

Wrightsen placed her claws on the wall in front of her and pressed. A glimmer of light appeared to her left and Alice realized it was a door. Stone scraped against stone as they both pushed the rock door open. Once the gap was large enough to accommodate them, Alice and Wrightsen passed through. Before Alice could take a look around, the elder grabbed her shoulder and motioned for her to help close the portal. Once satisfied it was secure, Wrightsen turned to Alice.

“Now we can speak, we will be safe here.”

“Where are we exactly?”

“In the deepest part of the mountain, a place none of us ever wished to use.”

“Can other Griffian’s come here to safety? We should have brought others with us.”

“There are other entrances just as well hidden, do not fret, Alice. We need to continue for a while yet but there is no fear of being followed now.”

Alice took the torch from Wrightsen as she lit another. The rock walls were not as well maintained or as smooth so as they walked they took care not to bump into pieces of rock jutting out into the passage. After a while, Alice heard running water.

“Is that water I hear, Wrightsen? All the way down here?”

“It is an underground river and the reason we dug these passages so deep. We have supplies stockpiled but water is vital for a siege.”

“A siege? I don’t understand.”

“The humans will try to eradicate us, Alice. We must hide until they feel their invasion has been successful.”

Alice’s eyes grew wide with fear. She tried to make sense of what the older Griffian was saying.

“How long do we have to stay here?”

“Last time it was about ten years.”

“What! No…Wrightsen that’s not happening. I can’t be here that long. We have to go now, get out of here and fly far away.”

“Alice calm down, we can not risk going to the surface. We must stay and hope many other Griffian’s have made it down safely. Including the King and Prince.”

With her body shaking uncontrollably, Alice fell to the floor sobbing. The elder Griffian embraced her and made soothing noises to comfort her. A grinding sound made them hold still and quiet until Wrightsen heard a huffing sound and replied in a similar manner. Large shapes approached and gradually formed into Griffian’s.

“Wrightsen, what a welcome sight you are? How many are here?”

“My Prince we have not ventured further as yet. Alice is upset.”

Tortoran knelt beside Alice and pulled her head upward to face him. With great care he wiped tears from her skin.

“You are safe here, Alice, do not fear. I will try to be near at all times but cannot promise. The humans are blasting the upper rock face in an attempt to break through. We must be diligent and secure this sanctuary. “

Alice looked up her fear increasing at his words.

“They are blasting the mountain? Surely we must leave?”

“We have constructed numerous safety measures and escape routes throughout the mountain range, Alice. There is no way they can penetrate this far down. We are safe. Would you feel more comfortable changed to human form?”

Alice looked into Tortoran’s eyes seeing his sincerity and care. She felt easier having him near.

“Would the other Griffian’s not be offended if I changed, Tortoran?”

“No, of course not! Whatever helps you is fine. Wrightsen will be with you at all times and Marduke here will protect you too.”

Tortoran pointed to a large Griffian standing behind him, who nodded in agreement at his Prince’s order.

“Thank you, Tortoran for your understanding and for the extra protection but do you not need every available Griffian to fight?”

“We are many, Alice, it is not a problem. I would feel better knowing you are kept safe. Come, we can rest in the sanctuary.”

Alice wrestled with herself on whether to transform or not and decided her Griffian form would serve her better if the humans did penetrate the fortified sanctuary.

“I will retain my form, Tortoran, if we are attacked I will be better equipped to help. Thank you.”

Tortoran smiled at her and held his claw out to direct her forward.

“I would hope that situation does not occur, Alice. There are many Griffian soldiers between you and the surface.”

In single file the group walked steadily downward again along a narrow passage. There was a glow ahead of them and the torches bright flames diminished as they approached. The passage way ceased abruptly into an enormous cavern. Alice saw stockpiles of food and equipment on all sides. The cavern was teeming with Griffian’s carrying more supplies and others directing their placement. The low buzz of grunts and murmurings lessened as Tortoran entered the space. Griffian’s turned to face him and bowed.

Tortoran held up his claws and spoke loudly so the assembly would hear him.

“Griffian’s we will overcome as we stand together. We have endured before and we will again. Together we are strong. Continue with your assignments, I thank you all for your loyalty.”

Loud huffing sounds echoed around the cavern as Tortoran’s speech ended. Alice looked at him in awe. They all love and respect him.

           Tortoran turned to her and guided her down a ramp into the center of the cavern. She was aware of questioning looks, as she passed, at her presence with the Prince. A corridor ahead was their destination. The walls were smoothed and there were torches cradled in holders along its length. Alice saw an elaborating decorated door before them and puzzled why such decoration was needed so deep within the mountain.

“Your majesty, I will await your orders.”

Alice turned at Marduke’s words and saw him stand to one side of the door. Wrightsen bowed toward Tortoran and then sat on a small ledge in the rock face.

“Come, Alice, it is time you met my father, the King.”

“Are you sure? I can stay with Wrightsen and Marduke.”

“Yes, I am certain. Please bow and remain silent unless my father questions you directly. He is not as fierce as he appears but insists on proper protocol.”

Excerpt # 5 Clickety Click…


monster claw

Before Alice could ask their destination, Totoran began transitioning, she follow suit, shrugging and stretching into her Griffian form. Leaping from the bedroom window both winged forms soared into the early evening sky. Alice flew to one side of Totoran making note of their route over the forest and towards the mountains. The air began to cool the closer they got to the snowcapped peaks. Totoran turned to face her regularly encouraging her with a smile but she could see his concern. Flight was a nighttime activity normally to prevent discovery by low flying aircraft or hikers with binoculars. Alice viewed the terrain below as the trees gave way to rocky outcrops. She looked up just in time to see Totoran deftly change direction and dive sharply to the right. In her haste, Alice swiveled too quickly and plunged a few hundred feet before regaining her flight. Totoran was far ahead of her and she called out.

“Totoran, please, wait for me!”

With expert ease, he swung around and hovered in place, smiling at her plea. Alice caught up to him and thanked him for waiting.

“We have another thirty minutes flight, are you okay? Do you need to rest?”

“No let’s keep flying, I’m all right.”

Alice was tired and her wings ached deep into her shoulders but she knew if she stopped now it would be harder to start flying again. She flapped hard then glided to ease the pain as it continued to radiate through her back. She wondered if she should ask to stop but Totoran signaled and pointed to a massive rock formation projecting from the side of a grey, mist covered mountain. Alice followed Totoran’s movements exactly as he twisted and turned through overhangs and narrow fissures in the rocks.

“We need to hover and descend slowly, Alice. You have done well mimicking my movements until now. Stay focused and copy me.”

Alice spread her wings fully and hovered to one side of her guide. Gradually, a formation of carved rock faces came into view. Alice saw balconies, windows and doorways. Cloaked figures walked narrow paths carved into the rock faces. Totoran landed on a ledge and waited for Alice. She landed beside him.

“We are home, our ancestral home and the place you and all of our kind are safe.”

Totoran turned and walked toward a large entranceway. Alice noticed passing Griffian’s bowed their heads at him but dismissed her without a second glance. The doors at the entrance opened slowly as they approached by two menacing Griffians holding long jagged edged swords. Alice quickened her pace to walk in Totoran’s shadow and kept her head low. The interior was a vast cavern with thousands of tool marks on the stone from the floor to ceiling. There were tables fashioned from solid blocks of rock and ornate chairs carved from quartz. With no natural light the cavern’s gloom was illuminated with hundreds of candles. Wax dripped into containers set below them. They must reuse it, Alice thought. She turned to Totoran to ask how long he had lived in the cavern but while she’d inspected the rock room, he’d walked out of sight.

Unsure what to do and afraid to approach the large guards at the door, she stood still hoping Totoran returned quickly.

“May I help you?”

A small voice made Alice jump. An old woman with black eyes and teeth grinned at Alice. Alice kept her manners and did not grimace at the rotting teeth but answered as sweetly as she could.

“I seem to have lost my guide. His name is Totoran. Have you seen him? Do you know which way he went?”

“You mean the Prince?”

“Oh no, not a prince. I mean Totoran. He guided me here.”

“My young one, you are quite innocent. Totoran is the Prince of the Griffians and one day he will become King. He probably went into the Staterooms to speak with his father. Best you sit here for a while. I can bring you refreshments.”

“Totoran is really the prince? Oh my, how stupid of me. I will stay here and wait for him. I am quite thirsty and hungry, if I may have something. Thank you.”

The old woman shuffled away. When she was out of sight, Alice wondered what she would bring back. She didn’t have to wait long. With her arrival heralded by soft scuffing on the stone floor, the withered faced woman brought back a wooden dish full of thinly sliced raw meat.

“This will satisfy your hunger.”

When Alice’s nose creased and her mouth grimaced, the woman chuckled softly.

“Not fully developed then, are we? No matter I have something you will find more palatable.”

Alice sighed in relief as the dish was discarded on the table. The replacement dish was indeed more to Alice’s liking, cooked meat paddy and a large juicy tomato.

“Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name. I’m Alice.”

“I am called Wrightsen, if you need anything else just call. I have duties to see to.”

“Will I be allowed to stay here?”

“Of course but do not wander along the corridors unless escorted. Parts of the caverns are not for novices.”

Alice watched fascinated by the many Griffians walking through the grand hall. She could tell the ages of the ones in human form, but the others in full transition were less obvious in their age. She gradually realized she was a curiosity in the community as an increasing number of visitors either walked from one side of the hall to the other or merely peered at her from numerous vantage points. Alice began to feel self-conscious but had no option but to sit and wait.

“Alice, come we will find you quarters.”

Totoran’s voice was a welcome one. Alice let out a sigh and turned to face him but could not help let out a gasp at his magnificent robes.

“Please do not let my appearance intimidate you, Alice. My father expects me to dress properly when at home.”

Totoran leaned towards her and whispered.

“I’d rather be out flying and free of these heavy robes to be honest. Come I will show you to your room. Then we can explore.”

“Alice stayed close to Totoran as they walked along several corridors. Eyes glanced at her from the many bowed heads as they passed Griffians going about their daily tasks. She was amazed at the scale of the palace.

“How long did it take to dig all of this out of the mountain, Totoran? We seem to have walked for a long time.”

“The first visitors manipulated an original cave in the mountain but it has taken a thousand generations to carve out the palace and surrounding dwellings to today’s magnificent state. We still carve out new areas every year to accommodate newcomers, repair damaged areas or clear rock falls.”

“You must have some powerful machinery to do all this.”

Alice was surprised at Totoran’s laughter. What did I say that was funny?

             “I apologize, Alice the thought of any machinery being capable of this kind of endeavor is funny.”

“Well, I know they use explosives and massive rock crushing machines to drive through railway tunnels. I thought you would have something similar.”

“Well, yes that is true but the human’s methods are crude and more destructive than need be. Their explosions cause stress to the integrity of the rock and cracks inevitably result leaving unstable areas. We do not endanger lives with such methods.”

“So what do you use then?”

“We have miners who did the rock.”

“Well I gathered that but what tools do they use?”

Totoran turned to her as if to speak but instead took hold of her arm and guided her into a less imposing corridor. The light was dim and Alice was glad of Totoran’s hand. As they turned a corner the previous dull sound of pounding became deafening. Alice covered her ears. Totoran pointed ahead and downward. Alice followed the direction of his finger. Before her in a large cavern were huge beasts with large crab-like claws digging into the rock as though it was butter. Huge wooden carts on tracks stood behind them gradually filling up as the mining creatures threw boulders over their shoulders into them. Alice stood wide-eyed until Totoran tapped her on the shoulder and motioned for them to leave the way they had come. Once they were far enough away Alice uncovered her ears and spoke to Totoran in awe.

“They made slicing the rock look so easy. That is incredible. Are they Griffian’s like us?”

“Not exactly. They are a mutation of a creature from our own planet especially bred for mining.