Annie Douglass Lima stopped by the lair for a visit to talk about her new book.
I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.
First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1:
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?
What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?
The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).
Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.
“Here comes your brother.”
Ellie opened her eyes as Bensin jogged out of the dimness of the Competitors’ Cave. From across the arena floor, a burly Yellow gladiator was running to meet him.
Ellie reached for Steene’s hand again as the two warriors met with a clash of cavvarachs. “He looks different,” Steene observed as the camera zoomed in close. Bensin’s face didn’t hold the fear it had last time. Steene knew him well enough that he could still detect some in his eyes, but it was much better hidden. In its place was simply a grim determination.
“He looks braver,” Ellie agreed. “I guess he’s learning to be a better gladiator.”
I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. But Steene chided himself for the thought. Of course it was a good thing. Bensin needed to get better, to learn and grow and change and do whatever it took to stay alive in that horrible place.
But what’s it doing to the Bensin we knew? If they ever met him again, Steene was sure Bensin would be a different person. Tougher, definitely. Calloused and unfeeling, though, perhaps. Steene supposed you had to be that way to survive as a warrior.
So yes, the change was a good thing, or at least a necessary one. But as he watched Bensin lash out at his opponent again and again, aim kick after kick, dodge and parry his blows, Steene wondered what the change was doing to him inside. Did he still have a sense of humor? Could he relax and be himself when he wasn’t fighting? Did he joke and laugh with his friends? Did he even have friends at Red Arena? Or was he learning to be cold and hard inside and out, doing only what he had to do to survive?
Watching the young man who should have been his son fighting for his life out there, Steene scowled at the helmeted guards hovering nearby and the audience yelling from the stands and the whole arena system. It’s not right, what they’re doing to him. It’s not fair.
I want Bensin back. The thought stabbed through Steene more strongly than it ever had before. His throat tightened, and he swallowed and cleared it angrily. I want him back, and I’m going to find a way to get him back, whatever it takes.
Interview with Gile Murton
I meet with Gile in the employee lounge of Red Arena, the biggest martial arts stadium in the city of Jarreon. He is wearing a scarlet polo shirt with the words Red Arena emblazoned across the front. Around his neck, a small black tube hangs from a cord, and he is wearing a long, straight whip strapped around one wrist. He looks impatient and slightly irritated.
“Thanks for being willing to meet with me,” I say as we sit down.
“Sure, but let’s make this quick. I’ve got work to do, and the arena won’t run itself.”
I take out my list of questions. “Could you start by telling my readers about your job?”
“All right. I’m the manager here at Red Arena, which, as you may know, has a reputation for being the best in the city. I’m in charge of acquiring new gladiators, and I oversee our personnel: the trainers, assistant trainers, guards, and our enslaved workers, as well as the glads themselves. I work with Riddior, the training manager, to create the plans and schedules for our weekend games.”
“You mentioned acquiring new gladiators. What do you look for in a potential gladiator?”
“He’s got to be not only strong, but tough. Adaptable, able to be pushed hard, able to handle the pressures of arena life. And he needs to already be a fighter. We can train him, of course, and we do, but if he doesn’t start out proficient in at least one martial art, it isn’t usually worth our time. Oh, and it helps if he’s the angry and violent sort. That’s the trouble with buying slaves: a lot of them are so pathetically meek and subservient, they’d never survive a day in the arena even if they’ve got the physical skills. If they’re belligerent or bitter or I see them talking back to their owners, that’s a good sign.”
“So do most of your gladiators start out as slaves?”
“Most of them, yes, in one way or another. We’re not opposed to hiring free men, but it’s pretty rare that anyone would actually choose a life as a gladiator. Of course, we pay very generously in advance, so every now and then someone desperate to pay off their family’s debts or some such thing will sign on with us. But it’s a lifelong commitment, and they can’t ever leave the arena once they’ve joined, so you can imagine it’s not a very popular option. No, our glads tend to start out as enslaved athletes who’ve been competing professionally to earn money for their owners. Or, they were free people who broke the law. As I’m sure you know, the penalty for certain crimes is enslavement. Few owners are comfortable purchasing a new slave who’s just been convicted of armed robbery or assault, so in those cases, the arena is the perfect solution for everyone. Violent offenders do tend to make good gladiators.”
“Next question,” I say. “Would you call yourself a good man, or at least a law-abiding citizen?”
He stares at me. “What in the world does that have to do with anything?”
“I think my readers might be interested to know, that’s all. I’m trying to help them get a picture of who you are.”
Gile scowls in annoyance. “On a personal level, yes, I keep the law. Here at the arena, of course there are certain laws that just don’t work, but since the authorities know and choose to turn their backs, I wouldn’t consider anything we do to be unethical.”
“Could you explain what you mean by that?”
“Well, there’s the law that says slaves have to wear a steel collar round their necks at all times for identification. Neither our gladiators nor our regular enslaved workers wear collars. It would be too dangerous for the glads in combat, and they could get snagged on the workout equipment. And we don’t want our glads grabbing the kitchen crew by the collar, for example, and strangling them when they’re in a bad mood. But considering that none of our slaves ever leave the arena, it doesn’t really matter. Then there’s the law that says owners have to give their slaves a day off every week, but that just doesn’t fit with our exercise and training schedules. The other major area the authorities choose not to look closely at is our use of illegal weapons and substances.” He indicates the whip strapped to his wrist. “Shockwhips are technically against the law, but we’ve found them an extremely effective way to control glads. Regular whips just aren’t enough to stop an angry gladiator. Imagine dealing with powerful and vicious wild beasts, and you’ll have some idea of the dangers our staff face every day.” He taps the tube hanging from his neck. “Dartblowers are illegal, too. Once a dart pierces a person’s skin, it releases a chemical that causes them to lose control of most voluntary muscles for about five minutes. I can’t tell you how many times dartblowers have saved guards’ lives. We couldn’t manage without them.”
“So why don’t the authorities crack down on the arena for breaking all those laws?” I wonder.
Gile smiles humorlessly. “They’d be stupid to do that. The arena games bring more tourists to Jarreon than any other event in the city. They’re smart enough not to want to jeopardize all that tourism income. Besides, we pay taxes on all the money we make, and that’s a hefty sum too. Shutting down the arenas would strike a major blow to the city’s economy.” He pulls a phone out of his pocket and checks the time. “Do you have any more questions, or is that all?”
“One last question. Could you tell my readers about your family? Do you have a wife, kids? And if so, what do they think of what you do for a living?”
Gile looks annoyed again. “I don’t see how that’s any of your readers’ business, but yes, I have a wife. I don’t care for children, so we’ve chosen not to have any. My wife knows what I do, but she never asks for details about my day, and I prefer not to discuss my job when I’m at home anyway. She doesn’t like that I work such long hours or that I have to work every weekend, but there’s no way around that in this business. The weekends are when we have our games, after all. And I make enough money that she has nothing to complain about.”
Gile rises to his feet. “I’m sorry, but you’ll need to excuse me now. I’ve taken enough time for this already. I have things to do.” Before I can even thank him, he strides out of the room.
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.
Connect with the Author Online:
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon
Google Plus: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus
Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!