Day Four: Sometimes you just gotta ask

I don’t know everything. Hell, I barely know some things. Life is a busy place full of an infinite amount of information that is constantly changing. Working through a manuscript is no different. I know some things. I’ll never know everything. At times, it’s like I know just enough to work my way through a world and it’s trials. I’m positive the characters laugh at me when they’re off set.

As I noted in the first post on this project, my lead character jumped ship and a feisty teenage girl took his place, altering the entire scope of the story and the genre in which it was to be. This left me a little shy on information when first I sat down to tell Agatha Blume’s tale. I mean, I had all but just met the girl. We hadn’t even had a thorough conversation. Next thing I know we’re starting a chapter with her brushing her hair and having a terse exchange with her mother. And then she drops the Keeper bomb and I stopped writing.

From Chapter Two (one revision, unposted):

It should have been the worst month of her life. All that time, just ticking away into boredom. But Agatha didn’t mind time. She could deal with time. It was the Keepers that bothered her.

Wait. What? Who the hell are the Keepers? Until that moment, I had never heard of them. I mean, I figures I knew who she was talking about, but I had never called them Keepers before. In the first run at Chapter Two, she didn’t mention anything about Keepers. But in a read through, in preparation for completing the chapter, there it was. Keepers. So, I had to stop. I had to find Agatha and ask her what the hell she was talking about.

Thus, I leave for you an interview with Agatha Blume. I get what she’s up to a bit better now. I know who the Keepers are and why she calls them that. Now I can continue.

An Interview with Agatha Blume

(for the purpose of figuring out what her deal is)

Hello, Agatha. I appreciate you taking the time to help me figure exactly who you are and what you’re doing in my story.

Sure.

Tell me a little about yourself.

Um, well, I’m sixteen—seventeen in, like, four months—and I’m a Junior in High School. Please don’t ask about college. I get enough of that from my mom. My best friend is Judy—or at least she was my best friend until I saw her out with Justin at the movies. Now, I don’t know. She knew I liked him. It’s like with my hair, you know? I told her I wanted to dye it blue, to be crazy or something, and then, like, the next day her hair’s blue. It looked good too. Justin texted me after school and was all ooh, it looks hot like I wanted to hear that. I just ignored it. Well, I had a sad emoji ready, but, I mean, what good would that have done, right? He obviously likes her more than me anyway. She’s so pretty. It’s stupid.

Gotcha. So, what about—

Gotcha? That’s your response to that? I tell you my best friend stole the boy I like away from me and you say “gotcha?” Whatever.

It wasn’t meant—

Just forget it, okay? I don’t even want to talk about it.

Fine with me. How about your mom? What’s your relationship like—

Don’t ask.

Technically, I didn’t. You like to interrupt people, don’t you?

(the glare she offers is intense, and yet somewhat humorous. As if it’s taking a great deal of concentration. She might have gas for all I know.)

I do not have gas! That’s gross. Delete that.

I was about to ask about your mother. 

Whatever. She’s fine. I love her. She does mother things, though. Annoying mother things all the time. I mean, she’s a good person, right? It’s not like I don’t realize that. She just … it’s like when I’m in my room, you know? And she just barges in. She’ll knock, of course, but then it’s like she just decides that’s enough for her to come in. I’m not twelve anymore. I need my privacy. And she doesn’t let me do anything. She used to ground me if I didn’t make all A’s.

Used to?

Well, I took care of that. I just make sure I always have A’s. It’s like keeping my room clean and stuff. I just make sure it always is when she comes in my room. If we don’t have anything to fight about…. (she shrugs)

Ah, I see. I get it. You make sure everything is the way she wants it; and if it isn’t, you just … fix it.

Yeah. Something like that.

So you correct it in time. I mean, “in time”. You actually go back and change things. Make sure you know the answers to tests and have homework done and so forth.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. (Clearly her body language says otherwise.)

It’s fine, Agatha. I know what you can do. I’m just trying to understand.

Well, understand quieter. The Keepers are watching.

The Keepers? I don’t have anything about Keepers in my notes.

Oh, well, I guess everything’s all fine then. I mean, if you don’t have them in your notes, they probably aren’t even real. Just some stupid kid with her stupid story. Whatever.

Fine. Tell me who the Keepers are.

(she seems very reluctant to talk about them, shifting in her seat, looking away as if watching someone from afar.)

I don’t know who they are. I just know they watch time. It’s, like, I don’t know. I saw one once, one of the first times I moved through time. I went back two days to try to find a, well, I had lost a ring of mom’s that belonged to her mom and she got super pissed and then cried all night about it. I thought if I went back to when I last had it I could make sure it didn’t get lost. When I got there—I was in the living room—I saw some shadowy person. Like he was there, but not entirely. Some tall looking guy, really pale, you know? Like vampire pale. He was talking to another Keeper somewhere. I never saw that one. He walked past me, almost through me really. It was like he didn’t even see me. He kept talking about an infringement in time–I think that was the word–but he couldn’t place the source. He definitely wasn’t friendly. He had some gun thing. Silver. Kinda big. I don’t know. But it scared me. I just stayed and lived the next two days again rather than risk it. I didn’t move through time again for a while.

When did you first move through time?

(she laughs) My thirteenth birthday. We had a dog named Rufus. He went on a rampage through the kitchen after Judy popped a balloon. Knocked into the kitchen table and the cake went splat all over the floor. I was inconsolable. It was a Minion cake. I love those guys. It was my first non-Princess cake, and I felt pretty adult about it. Stupid, I know. I’m still not even sure how it happened. I just had this idea later that if I could have stopped Judy from popping that balloon, Rufus would have been fine and my cake would have survived.

And what happened then?

I don’t know. It was, like, one minute I was in my bed crying, thinking about that moment, the next I was just there. Judy had the balloon, but hadn’t squeezed it yet, so I just knocked it out of her hand.

And your cake was saved?

Well, no, not exactly. I actually popped the balloon when I hit it, and, well, it all just happened anyway. Splat. Minion doom.

Did you try again?

No. I mean, I thought about it, but suddenly the cake didn’t seem such a big deal. I had moved through time, you know? Cake seemed kinda silly in comparison. The Keeper thing happened a few months later. I had done it a few times in between. I was always afraid of it, actually, so I never went far. Just enough to change simple things that seemed to matter at the time A few minutes the day I missed the bus. An hour the day I threw up in Justin’s pool. The most I ever went was twelve hours or so. It was when I went back two days that the Keeper showed up. Sort of.

So you don’t really know who they are. You just call them Keepers because of time?

Something like that. I don’t know.

You haven’t seen one since?

Maybe. I sometimes think so. A reflection here or there. In a car. In my dreams. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just seeing things. Maybe they don’t even exist, but I don’t want to take a chance. I figure if I keep it under twelve hours, forward or back, I’ll be okay. I think it’s like ripples, you know?

Ripples?

Yeah. Like, imagine you’re blind and standing about five feet into a pool. And someone gets in and the ripples on the water hit you. You can’t see so you probably have a good sense of feeling where it came from, or something. If someone jumps in, yeah, definitely. If they go in like halfway or something, probably. But, like, a toe dipped in and you’d never be able to tell. So, I don’t know, I just dip a toe in here or there.

That’s actually pretty damn clever, Agatha.

Thanks. (Her cheeks are red, she’s watching her feet sway. I don’t think she gets complimented all that often.)

So, just one more question: You said the Keeper you encountered wasn’t friendly. What do you think would happen if one of them were to find you, or discover what you can do?

(She ponders this one. I think she already has an answer, but she isn’t sure if she wants to say it.)

I don’t know. It won’t be good. That I know for sure.

How so?

Because. I mean, how many people do you know who can move through time? Imagine what would happen if a bunch of people could? Other than me, right? People would be moving through time all over the place to fix everything. And, you know, like the cake, it doesn’t always work out. Might even make it worse. Some things are just supposed to happen, right? So, the Keepers have to protect time. They won’t want me doing what I do, even as small as it is.

Oh, I see. You believe they are specifically interested in protecting time and nothing else? Almost angels of time, in a way.

Right. Right. Yeah, if angels carried weird gun things and hunted little girls who just wanted to keep their moms happy. That sounds logical. Good call.

Fair point. I guess we’ll stop there. I think I understand things better now. Somewhat, anyway.

How lovely for you. I’ll go see if I can sleep and not dream horrible dreams, thanks.

Thanks for your time, Agatha. See you soon.

Whatever soon is.

Here’s the latest revision of Chapter Two:

Chapter Two (Revised)

Forgetting the Wheel

Sometimes you forget how the car moves.  That’s when it helps to look at the wheel and remember that it spins.  Naturally, you then wonder how the wheel spins, and that’s when you look under the car and freak out.  I mean, there’s something keeping the wheels attached together, and then there’s all these little spinny things, and all of that goes somewhere up front, and that’s all attached to the mountainous nonsense under the hood, and, well, sometimes I get religion.  It must be a whole let better to just say, “Oh, hey the wheel spins,” and then let the rest fall into the hands of a suddenly all-knowing (and mechanically divine) God.

So, the present spins the future into the past, is something of what I’m getting at here, albeit in a disassociated car-to-God-analogy kind of way.

You are distracted from the bad analogy...

So, I was feeling nostalgic today, as I wrote a new bio for my publisher’s website, and I dug up an interview that the irreplaceable Russ Marshalek conducted, on behalf of the fantasmic book blog, Baby Got Books, when Anointed first came out. Here it is, in its grammatically correct entirety:

A completely non-biased and properly-punctuated interview with Zachary Steele, author-type person of Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO

Baby Got Books: Describe in 5 words the plot of Anointed. In another 5 words, tell me why i should read it again. Then, in 5 more words, tell someone who hasn’t read it why I should read it again.

Zach Steele:Reluctant man becomes corporate Christ.
Because it’s freakin’ funny, man.
You won’t get it anyway.

BGB: Who all would you say you ripped off in writing Anointed? And by ripped off I mean in terms of both intellectual content and money.

ZS:I ripped off a lot from God, you know. He’s pretty much the author of the Bible, right? So, I have to include him. Aside from the that, it was pretty easy pickings with Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, Kyle Watson (though you wouldn’t have heard of him) and some finely-detailed intellectual hotness from Marisha Pessl. As far as money, that’s pretty easy. I ripped off my publisher, but she won’t figure that out for a while, and likely all of my readers (once they’ve read it and realize what dreadful crap it is).

BGB: On a scale of 9 through 10, how awesome is Anointed?

ZS:All of my scales go to 11, so that’s pretty much where I’d put it. It completely redefines “awesome”. In fact, the use of “awesome” is now outdated and has been replaced by “Anointed”. As in, “Man, that sure was an Anointed movie, wasn’t it?” I would wager that, when I am old and fading away–or perhaps even dead already–people will still be discussing how Anointed completely altered the methodology of writing and saved the publishing industry. But I’m pretty modest about it all, actually. I’d rather not discuss it any further.

BGB: If you end up on Bill O’Reilly, and he’s all screaming in your face and cutting your microphone’s signal and stuff without listening to you at all, what will you have for dinner after?

ZS:After? How about during? I’ll be sidestepping his questions while waving a fork in the air and taking my time dining while he rants about stuff I surely won’t be listening to anyway. Steak au Poivre with Dijon Cream Sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, a nice Chardonnay, and a bowl of cheese to throw at him when he stops talking. No wait. I wouldn’t do that to cheese. Maybe I could get a soufflé or something instead. After, I might go for an Icee.

BGB: In terms of your writing style, what books would you say influenced your second novel? oh wait you haven’t written it yet.

ZS: Ha! Good one coming from the man who hasn’t even written his first book yet! Look out David Sedaris! This guy’s a riot!

BGB: You solicited quotes about the book, aka “blurbs”, from your Facebook friends. Are you just too lazy to actually hunt down famous people?

ZS:”Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~Winnie the Pooh~ There’s a famous quote for you. Happy?

BGB:Your press materials all begin with “Satan and the Antichrist walk into a bar”. Tell me a good joke about a pope and a rabbi. Or a pope and a rabbit.

ZS:The Pope (not ‘a’, you idiot) walks into a bookstore to look for a book about Catholicism, because he doesn’t understand any of his followers, but before he can make it to the section oddly marked “religion”, he is distracted by a sharp sound from the back of the store. When he goes to investigate, he finds a large cage with a fluffy, bouncy rabbit inside, and a sign atop the cage that reads, “Cadbury Rabbit, Bookstore Bunny”. The Pope smiles and leans to the cage and says to the rabbit, “Hello there, little rabbit. I am the Pope. How are you today?” To which, the rabbit bounds in a quick circle, stomps a foot in a loud thump, stares at the Pope, and says, “Nom, nom.” The end, joke over. A POPE AND A RABBIT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Do you get paid to come up with these questions or did you pawn it off on an 8-year old?

BGB: How freakin’ awesome is your publicist?

ZS:Question #7 may answer that better than I can. It’s very difficult to answer this question though, now that Anointed has completely redefined what is understood to be “awesome” and taken over its use entirely. I suppose I can say that my publicist is less than Anointed, more Anointed than “awesome” (in its former form), but not as Anointed as my book minus me. Hope that helps.