Hello, and welcome once again to our corner of the universe known as Beyond the Words. It's really an observation post from where we can look in on the doings of any world we choose. This time, we're going to open the window called fantasy and peek in on events on our own Earth and a parallel Earth. Both are in danger of being destroyed, as we shall see in the book, GYPSY PIE. Written by African American author Andre West, GYPSY PIE will take us on a quest with two very reluctant heroines, Renee Kenner and Debra Crosby, as they seek to save two worlds. Come on, the action is about to start.
by Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com
Gypsy pie is a term which means "a unique blend of characteristics that sets something or someone apart. Debra Crosby was nothing if not unique. She was tough, streetwise, and sixteen. Her mother and brother were socialite wannabes, but Debbie and her dad were uncomfortable in the upper crust crowd, even though they had the money to be there and Rocksdale would have accepted them. Debbie was happy with her life, because her father let her run wild over her mother's protests. Debbie carried a gun, dated Jeremy, a man who ran an illegal lottery in South Rocksdale, and Debbie sometimes ran the numbers for him.
Hers was a world apart from that of Renee Kenner, a girl who went to the same high school with Debbie. Debbie's blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin were a stark contrast Renee'd ebony skin and hair and her dark brown eyes. Renee's father was a banker and Renee was a part of the social stratus that Debbie eschewed. However, fate would throw them together and send them on a quest neither really wanted to undertake.
It all began the night of Jeremy's party. When Debbie arrived, no one else seemed to be there. By then, the party should have been in full swing. Debbie had a strong feeling something had gone badly wrong. Jeremy had enemies that would be only too happy to see him dead. With that in mind, she got out her trusty .45 and began to cautiously approach the house.
Debbie went through the garage and stopped when she came to the entrances of the kitchen and the basement. Which way should she go? The basement would be a trap, either for her or for her assailant. She decided to go in through the kitchen.
She didn't find anything until she went upstairs. She only caught a glimpse of the things that attacked her. The only thing that registered was ghostly white skin and dark hair. She shot as many of the things as she could and destroyed as many of the pod things they had lying around. Then she raced into Jeremy's bedroom and jumped out the window.
Though the room was upstairs, Debbie didn't have much of a drop. A hill rose directly behind the house, and she landed easily on the grassy knoll. She ran around to the driveway, got back in her dad's car and left.
She didn't want to go back through the woods she'd had to go through to get to Jeremy's house. So, Debbie went in the opposite direction, to an empty housing addition now owned by the bank. She drove around until she saw movement behind a bush at one of the empty houses. She got out of the car and held her gun leveled at the shrub as she walked closer. Finally, she got close enough to touch the shrub. She pulled the branches aside and found Renee Kenner holding her best friend, Liz Runyon, in her lap. Liz's throat had been ripped apart and Liz was dead.
When the two girls got over their shock of finding each other, Debbie asked Renee what she and Liz were doing there. Renee told Debbie that she and Liz had gone to the party at Jeremy's, but when they got there, Jeremy was dead. He'd been hanged from a beam in the basement. Before they could leave, they were attacked by the same things that had gone for Debbie. One of them hurt Liz so, they had driven to the housing addition to find a phone to call for help. But the phones were dead and Liz had died before they could get back to the car.
They left Liz there and drove the Crosby car until Debbie found a place they could spend the night. Neither of them wanted to risk going through those woods in the dark. The next morning, they set out for Rocksdale. But as they drove, the landscape altered, and they found themselves in a world they'd never imagined. They kept driving though, and finally caught a glimpse of the road. Renee gunned the car, but the landscape shattered as they reached the road and the car rolled.
When they regained consciousness, they found themselves in a world similar to Earth, but much more primitive in ways than our world. Much to their surprise, they found they were brought by magic to this world to fulfill a prophecy, by which they could save both worlds from an invasion by vampires.
GYPSY PIE lives up to its title in that it does have a unique blend of fact and fantasy that leaves the plot only partly predictable. The characters are interesting in that they are all unique in their own way. Still, they are ordinary mortals in that they can and do make some horrible mistakes. The end is only partly satisfying.
Andre West: There was no place in particular-the idea of a young woman entering into another world to save it and ours popped into my head one day. It was probably inspired by Stephen King's first Dark Tower novel.
JR: What is the story behind the term, gypsy pie?
AW: It was the original name of King's Thinner and means what it means in that book-a person given a curse or piece of bad luck by gypsies and thus eaten by them. The title always struck me as a good name for a novel.
JR: From where did you draw your characters? Do you know people like Debbie and Renee?
AW: I draw my characters from a variety of places-real life and literature. I know no one like these particular characters, but they have pieces of real people I know which may or may not please those people!
JR: What about the character of Liteur? Does he have a real-life prototype?
AW: No. He comes from the figure of the wise, mischievous wizard one sees in literature from ancient times to the present. His individual characteristics are purely my invention.
JR: What inspired the character of Kernos? I will assume no one is acquainted with a real person that bad.
AW: Kernos was inspired by the Celtic myth of Halloween. He was the god (or devil) whose druid priests in ancient Ireland required the original trick or treat on All Hallow's Eve - payment of some sort-- the lives of a household's daughter-or a visitation that night of demons which would take someone's life anyway. He was represented by a goat head in front of a pentagram. Kernos was really his name, by the way. Originally it was Mephistopheles, but he was more of a trickster devil and is only mistakenly thought to be Satan (an altogether different personage).
JR: Your story has one element of science fiction, the parallel universe. Do you feel these parallel worlds exist in reality?
AW: Not these particular worlds - the fun of fantasy, for me, lies in making up wild, outrageous things - but physicists maintain that parallel universes may exist, so who can say?
JR: Why would time stand still in one parallel universe and not in the other? Do you believe time moves differently in different places?
AW: It does in our world, according to Einstein, so why not in other worlds? Anyway, the idea of time moving differently in different worlds is a time-honored device in books from the great Narnia series to God knows how many other fantasies. It's an idea I like a lot.
JR: Why does Debbie's father allow her to date a man like Jeremy? Doesn't he know what kind of guy he is?
AW: Debbie's father is somewhat neglectful of her. In his own indulgent fashion he is as bad as her mother. Jeremy is much like Debbie's father in that they're both fairly amoral man, though of course Jeremy is much farther down the line than Mr. Crosby. Like many somewhat amoral men, Mr. Crosby is rather insensitive to the badness in other people.
JR: Brian Crosby allows Debbie this wildness in spite of her mother's protests. Why would he do that? Doesn't he respect his wife enough to allow her some say in how their daughter is raised?
AW: Mr. and Mrs. Crosby have differing views on life in general and these differences intensify in their view on raising their daughter. Seeing a lot of himself in Debbie, Mr. Crosby takes a laissez-faire attitude toward her progression into the type of person he is. She is a basically good person (in his eyes) and is very much like him as an adolescent. The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Crosby is considerably strained-a sort of silent, more or less benign truce.
JR: When I was growing up, my parents had to know where I was at all times. Why are the parents so lax here? Is that considered normal now?
AW: In many circles, yes. My mother was also concerned about my whereabouts, but you'd be surprised (I am, considerably) by how hands-off many parents can be. For example, look at all the kids who do the things they do-go to R films, have sex, and worse things-with their parents' tacit approval by negligence or giving up. I do not believe parents are totally unaware of some these things, though I do not blame all parents for what their children do.
JR: What happened to the child Debbie shot when they first drove into the new world?
AW: He was a zoophagus - a vampire. He simply died.
JR: The cover of your book says you are working on your second book. Is it fantasy as well?
AW: Actually that cover was done a few months before the second novel came out. It is called Blue Nightmares and it is a crime novel-about a character, Nicole Red, who is certainly similar to Debbie Crosby. My next novel, Eidolon will be a quest fantasy on a much larger scale, also with science fiction elements.
JR: Do you believe people are fated to do certain things, and that they will have to face things they do not want to do?
AW: People are fated to do certain things, but the relationship between fate and choosing is so complex I could not say that fate rules all or that choice does. Of course, everyone faces things they do not want to do-probably everyday. Even in my late twenties, this fact continually interests me, and in my adolescence it astonished me. The idealist in me, I guess.
JR: Thank you for taking the time to visit with us. We look forward to your next book.
AW: Thank you
Note: GYPSY PIE will soon be up on Ms. Dione Dover's bookshop online at bookpublicity.co.uk