To celebrate the release of the new novella (THE ASYLUM INTERVIEWS: BRONX) and the new series (THE ASYLUM TALES), I popped over to Low Town to interview Gage and some of his friends who appear in his stories. Let’s just say it was an adventure. This somewhat long interview will be posted in five parts over the next week, introducing you to Gage’s world and friends.
Seeking Asylum: Jocelynn Drake’s Adventure in Low Town
Parker’s smile never wavers as he shakes my hand instead of trying to kiss it. “He’s a lucky man.” Without another word, the incubus leaves the apartment and I close my eyes on a sigh of relief. The room suddenly seems less crowded and much cooler without him present. I am still planning on throwing something large at Gage’s head for springing Parker on me.
I walk into the kitchen and turn on the faucet, running my hands under the cold water. The chill helps to clear my head. Closing my eyes, I blot some cold water on my face before turning the faucet off. Shaking the excess water from my hands, I grab a paper towel off the roll near the sink and dry my face. The front door opens and carefully closes. I step out of the kitchen to find Bronx standing near the couch. The last of the tension slips away at the sight of the troll and I find a smile returning to my lips. I know that it doesn’t make any sense, but I find something very relaxing about being in Bronx’s presence. I know it’s not magic. He just seems to exude an inner peace that touches the people around him.
“Are you well?” he asks, his brow furrowing slightly.
“Yes, of course.”
“Your face is flushed.”
“Oh.” My hand flies to my cheek and my smile falls. “I had an unexpected interview with Parker.”
“He behaved himself?”
“For the most part. Gage coerced him into teasing me a bit, but everything is fine.”
“That’s good. Parker is a good guy, but even Gage gets a little nervous when he’s left alone with Trixie.”
“I’ve heard that love can be an irrational thing.”
Bronx chuckles softly, but says nothing.
I quickly throw my paper towel in the garbage and join him in the living room. I notice as I approach that he takes a step backward, giving me more room. I know that I should be afraid of Bronx. He’s well over six foot compared to my average 5’7” and he’s easily triple my weight. He is also somewhat frightening to look at, but there’s just something about his eyes that keeps me from being afraid of him. That and maybe the things that Gage has told me about the troll.
“She had a consultation roll in before Parker came down. She’s not expecting it to last too long, but she suggested that we talk next so your time isn’t wasted. Is that a problem?”
“Not at all. Why don’t you have a seat?”
Bronx walks around the coffee table and sits on the far end of the couch. Instead of lounging like Gage and Parker, the troll sits near the edge with his forearms resting on his thighs, his hands folded in front of him. His gaze is very intent and focused, as if he is actually interested in what I’m doing.
Drake: How long have you been a tattoo artist?
Bronx: It’s going on about ten years now, including my apprenticeship.
Drake: Did you apprentice here in Low Town?
Bronx: Yes, under the owner of a shop on the west side called Bitter Ink. She is quite talented and a good friend. I then moved over to Tattered Edge for a couple years before joining Gage at Asylum.
Drake: From Gage’s description, many people are surprised that you’re a tattoo artist. I’m under the impression that it’s because you’re a troll.
Bronx: (smiles) As I’m sure you can guess, trolls aren’t known for the art or delicate work. In general, trolls aren’t meticulous or patient, which is something that is required of a tattoo artist. Trolls are used for their muscle. They are common in construction, heavy physical labor, and as bodyguards.
Drake: Do you enjoy being a tattoo artist?
Bronx: Yes, very much. It’s peaceful and gives me a chance to do some beautiful work while meeting and helping different people. But that’s not what you want to ask me.
Drake: (frowning) No, I guess it’s not.
Bronx: Go ahead. You have nothing to fear.
Drake: I know. Before you were a tattoo artist, you worked as muscle for Reave and the Low Town mafia, correct?
Drake: Why? Why would you work for the dark elf when it seems so counter to your personality?
Bronx: (His smile seems a little sad) Because I needed a job. I had moved from New York because I didn’t want to work in construction or be someone’s bodyguard. But when I got here, I couldn’t find anyone who would hire me. Reave found me and offered me a job. I didn’t want to take it, but I was out of money, I was going to be homeless in a matter of days, and was nearly starving. I told myself it was only until I found something else, but once you’re in, it can be very hard to get out again. I wasn’t proud of the things I did for Reave, but I told myself I had no choice if I wanted to survive.
Drake: How did you get out?
Bronx: After several years, I finally decided that I’d rather die than work for Reave. I told him as much. He tried to convince me otherwise, but he finally gave up and let me go. I was lucky in that the owner of Bitter Ink tripped over me and took me in. Sometimes, the world works in strange ways and you just have to trust in it.
Drake: I have to say that the description of your first meeting of Gage is interesting. Was there any point during those first couple days that you thought that you needed to get away from this guy?
Bronx: (chuckling) It would have been the smart thing, wouldn’t it? No, actually I didn’t. There’s just something about Gage. I’m sure you’ve seen it as well. He’s rough, crude, and probably a little crazy, but it’s like there’s a light burning out from inside of him.
Bronx: (shakes head) No, but you almost wish it was. It’s not quite charisma. More like passion. He’s so animated about everything that he does and yet he seems so relaxed. I watch him, a part of me just waiting to see what he’s going to do next.
Drake: Sort of like watching a train wreck.
Bronx: (laughs again) Not quite so negative, at least not always. He’s got this energy about him that makes you feel like he’s destined to do something big and great in this world. I don’t know about your world, but moments like that don’t happen often here, and I want to be there when it happens if only so I can help him.
Drake: I understand.
Mixed emotions swirl in my stomach. I did understand what he was saying because I was starting to feel the same way when I was near Gage. At first, I had agreed to write his stories because I simply thought they were interesting. But the longer I’m around him, the more I find myself waiting, anticipating something … big.
Bronx: But I have no regrets when it comes to joining Asylum or befriending Gage and Trixie. Sure, things can be chaotic and a little dangerous at times, but most of the time it’s not. Most of the time, the shop is quiet and we spend our nights arguing about music, movies, and the effectiveness of certain potion ingredients. We hang out, drink, and laugh. Life isn’t what I expected. It’s a lot better.
Drake: I am afraid that this is going to sound bad, but are you … very different from the rest of your people?
Bronx: What do you mean?
Drake: I guess I had a stereotype in my mind of what or who a troll was. Just from the stories I read in my world, trolls were big, frightening, bad-tempered, and simple of thought. While you are big, you’re also calm, collected, well-spoken, and your thoughts seem ordered like a library.
Bronx: Sometimes there’s a kernel of truth to a stereotype that some of us are lucky to outgrow. Many of the trolls I have known in my life fit your idea. In general, trolls are a solitary people. We don’t like associated with others and we don’t like associating with our own kind – it makes us grumpy.
Drake: But you’re different.
Bronx: No, being around other trolls makes me grumpy. (A wide grin splits his face)
Drake: (I smile back at him) Gage is lucky to have you.
Bronx: Thank you. I’m glad that he’s taking the time to tell his story. I know that your world doesn’t believe in any of this, but I’m glad there’s a record of what’s happening here. This world will change because of him and I feel better knowing that there’s a record of it.
Drake: Gage doesn’t seem to think he’s destined to change things.
Bronx: (shrugs) He may only change things in Low Town, but even that small change is a good start.
I cling to my smile and nod at the troll, inwardly praying that he’s right. There are events that Gage has told me in the second book that Bronx doesn’t know about. I pray he’s right about Gage changing things for the better.
“Well, I think that’s all I need from you. I don’t want to take up any more of your time.” I stand and extend my hand to Bronx. The troll rises as well and gently shakes my hand as if he’s afraid of breaking me. He could, but I’m not worried about Bronx. I’m sure he’d happily use his strength to protect a dear friend, but never carelessly.
“It was a pleasure to meet you,” he says as he follows me to the door. “I hope the writing goes well.”
“Thanks. As long as Gage keeps getting into trouble, I think I’ll have plenty to write about.”
“I’ll send Trixie up.” He waves as he walks through the open door and descends the wooden staircase with heavy footsteps.
To catch the first part of this five-part series and my meeting with Gage, go to Literary Escapism, while the second part can be found at All Things Urban Fantasy. The fourth part of this five-part series will be on A Great Read on Thursday.
HE ASYLUM INTERVIEWS: BRONX
The first of two prequel stories to Jocelynn Drake's Angel's Ink. It's not easy being a tattoo artist and a warlock, especially when you're in hiding. Or when a botched tattoo has amplified an incubus's existing sex appeal into one that could wreck the whole town. And your only help is a troll.
Love comes in many varied forms. There is the love of family, love of country, and love of chocolate. But for Jocelynn Drake, one truly treasured love is the love of a good story. This Midwestern native spends the majority of her time lost in the strong embrace of a good book, whether she writing it or reading it doesn’t really matter. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard, frowning at her monitor, or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cats, Harley and Demona, walking her dog Max, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game. Outside of books, cats, and video games, she is completely enamored of Bruce Wayne, Ezio Auditore, travel, explosions, fast cars, tattoos, and Anthony Bourdain (but only when he’s feeling really cranky).