Fantasy Careers: Keeper of the Tale
Fantasy Careers is a blog series where I interview characters from fantasy books about their interesting jobs and unusual careers. Interested in taking part? Drop me a line through my contact form.
Elise: Today, I’d like to welcome Mr Kephisto to Magic Writer. Please, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Kephisto: Greetings! I am known by my surname of Kephisto. In the present day, as a mark of respect, I am called Mr Kephisto. I haven’t used my first name, Aiken, for many a long year and it seems everyone I know has forgotten it. I reside in a small town in East Devon, UK, called Abbotts Cromleigh. It’s approximately ten miles or so from the coast and surrounded by forest on all sides. It is pretty, but if you attune your senses, my dear, you’ll recognise that evil lurks in the shadows.
Elise: Ah, a beautiful part of the country. I live in the West Country myself, but I often choose the south-west for my holidays. I had the privilege of viewing Tintagel last year, where King Arthur was born. So, what do you do for a living?
Kephisto: I am the proprietor of a bookshop, The Storykeeper. The shop is located in an Elizabethan building, with a black-and-white exterior jutting over the narrow street, and uneven floors, and rooms and ceilings of various heights and widths inside. It is a little higgledy-piggledy, I must admit. The shop takes up two levels and I have my living accommodation above those. I also house my ‘collection’ on the very top floor, underneath the thatched eaves.
You see, ostensibly, I appear to be a bookseller, but my real job is as ‘keeper of the tale’. For nearly 2000 years, I have collected together tales – at first anecdotal, tales that were told to me, and then parchments and letters. More recently, since taking over the building in the 1500s, I have books of magic and nature, of animals and insects, books that tell of mysterious happenings and books relating to the existence and experiences of witches, wizards, warlocks, and conjurors as well as those that would do harm to our kind.
Elise: That sounds absolutely fascinating. It must be quite a collection. Are there any particular books you focus on seeking out?
Kephisto: As the great magicians die out, I have taken to collecting any Book of Shadows I can locate, wherever possible. I am searching for ways to destroy the demon witches that break through to the fabric of this time, intent on murder and causing misery. The answers to my quest lie within these precious tomes, and I guard them, and the knowledge held therein, with my life.
I keep the tales, and I search for the answers, and I disseminate my knowledge to all in need of it.
Elise: That sounds like a dangerous and important quest. What do you do in the shop on a daily basis?
Kephisto: The locals of Abbotts Cromleigh believe I sell books and chat cheerily to all and sundry. They take a great deal of my time, popping in as they do for their frivolous bestsellers and novelties, and they assume I am there for their every whim. In reality, I entertain mystical visitors from the world over who come to me searching for snippets of information relating to spells, and potions, and to good and evil doings. They also bring me books and letters to add to my secret collection.
Elise: I have to confess a love for bookshops myself … it’s quite possible I’ve been one of your more mundane customers in the past! Does anyone help you in your quest, or is it a solo venture?
Kephisto: I am part of an honourable group of fellow witches, wizards and wise men and women, known locally as The Guardians. We are a tiny army, united against Aefre, the Crone, who returns again and again to her old hunting grounds in Abbotts Cromleigh to pick off the local residents. We all have a role to play in the fight for her final destruction, but I alone am charged with keeping the tale.
Elise: Your quest sounds very intense. What’s your favourite part of your job?
Kephisto: I am partial to a little story telling on a Saturday morning and entertaining the local youngsters. The Gruffalo is a particular favourite. In contrast, stumbling upon some ancient symbols carved into cured goat skin has been known to make me dance with glee.
I am an avid reader and researcher. The answers we need that will ensure the eradication of Aefre and her sisters lie within the works and recordings in my collection.
Elise: It’s nice to hear you get some light relief from time to time. It must be a difficult job to enjoy.
Kephisto: Ah, well.
“You are old, Father William,” the young man said, “And your hair has become very white.”
Lewis Carroll told it true. I have lived for two millennia and I am tired, my dear, so very tired, but my job is not done. Aefre still walks, and the band of Guardians grow few. I cannot rest, I must continue. I was chosen for the Guardians. I will not let them down. It is an honour to work with them, and it is my duty to see our quest through. It is not a matter for enjoyment.
Elise: Your attitude is admirable–I’m sure you will see it through to the end. Did you have to undergo any training to become a Guardian?
Kephisto: No training. I was chosen to be a Guardian at a young age, and granted an extraordinarily long life. I learned all I needed ‘on the job’ – I believe the modern expression is.
Elise: So how did you become involved with the Guardians? Would you have preferred another job?
Kephisto: This is a necessary job. As a young man I was destined to work the land with my father and brothers, but I was always good with creatures and my mother nurtured my spiritual side. She recognised the magic within me, for she carried it herself. Looking back, it was no surprise that I became involved with the Guardians.
In another time, with another set of circumstances, perhaps I would have liked to be an animal doctor. I have a deep fondness for ponies, and I have my own crow, Caius, who has been the best, and most intelligent, of companions.
Elise: It certainly sounds like this job is your true vocation. One final question, if I were to stop by your bookshop, what could you do for me?
Kephisto: I would banish the wart on the end of your nose, my dear, and sell you a copy of Crone by Jeannie Wycherley!
Elise: *laughs* Well, keep an eye out for me. Thanks for stopping by, Mr Kephisto, it’s been great.
To find out more about Kephisto, check out Crone by Jeannie Wycherley.
Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.
No one is safe.
When Heather delves into a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?
When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon. Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.
I was never meant to be anything other than a writer. I did try though! After leaving school I was a stage manager (read The Fly Man by Betty Gabriel and you’ll understand), and then I worked as a library assistant (shelving books for hours was my idea of heaven), but eventually I went back into education, worked for my PhD, and then taught or worked in management until 2012.
Redundancy gave me a new lease of life and I began to write as Betty Gabriel, and had a little success. I have a string of horror and dark fantasy short stories to my credit. I love working in these genres, especially as a woman. There’s so much that hasn’t been done, so many unexplored possibilities, so the options are endless! I love playing with words and twisting situations and finding a truth in a dark place.
My inspiration comes from everywhere, a word here, a look there. But mainly for me, it’s the landscape. I’m fortunate to live in a glorious part of Devon, UK where I have it all: rocky coast, pebble and sand beaches, winding lanes and picture perfect cottages, cliffs and forest. A good day for me means a blustery wind, racing waves and salty rain. I live here with my husband and three dogs, make a lot of soup and play a lot of Runescape.
I have an anthology of short stories due out later this months (July 2017) called Deadly Encounters, but CRONE is my debut novel.