It’s Phantom Friday, ya’ll! And this will be the last installment of this feature, as next week I’ll shift over to Skyhound Saturday in anticipation of the upcoming release of the 2nd book in the Andul Guardians series!

Today for Phantom Friday, I have with me Xanthe and Sicarah from the airship Carpathia.

Welcome to my blog, and thank you both for taking time away from your rescue missions to speak with me and my readers today.

X: It’s certainly our pleasure.

S: I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I got dressed up specially for the occasion.

Oh dear. I’m afraid this is a written blog, Sicarah, so those reading can’t actually see your outfit.

S: Seriously? I went to all this trouble for nothing?

X: Now, don’t fret, love. I, for one, certainly appreciate your flamboyant efforts.

If you like, Sicarah, I can try to describe your outfit for the readers.

S: Well, it won’t have nearly the same effect, but go ahead.

Sicarah is wearing a dress with loops of cascading cream fabric and a wine-colored bustle. Her green bodice fits snug against the waist with herring-bone lines and brass buttons up the front. It’s open at the throat to reveal a white lacy shirt and a wine-colored cravat. There’s a petite top hat perched jauntily to the side on her dark curls with a cream-colored band and feathers.

S: Don’t forget the gloves.

Oh, yeah. She’s also wearing a pair of cream-colored kid gloves with lace at the cuffs.

S: (smoothing down her skirts) That will do, I suppose.

Well, I should hope so. I’ve been describing your outfits for a year and a half, now.

X: And we’re all very grateful to you for your efforts to properly convey Sicarah’s obsession with fashion.

S: Excuse me?

X: (clears his throat) Ms. Black, I believe you have some reader questions you’d like to ask us?

Yes. Thanks for getting me back on track. I have a couple of questions here from Sharon, who is one of your biggest fans, Xanthe.

S: Everybody is your fan, Captain.

X: Well, thank you, Sicarah. Does this mean you forgive me for my quip about your fashion sense?

S: No. I’m just buttering you up so you’ll have that much farther to fall when I give you an earful later.

X: I suppose I deserve that.

Can we continue with the interview?

X: By all means! Forgive me.

So, Sharon wants to know how you learned to use your power so well, Xanthe. I assume she’s referring to your ability to slip.

X: Excellent question, Sharon. Thank you. Well, I learned almost everything I know from my Nanna Weiss, my grandmother and the woman who raised me. She was very wise, with a vast store of knowledge about the Andul’s ability to slip. I did not grow up in the Tyrian Empire, but in a village just beyond the border in the Confederacy. When I was younger, slipping wasn’t forbidden like it is today, so I had much occasion to practice with Nanna Weiss’s sure guidance.

That’s great that you had such a strong mentor. Sharon also wants to know what your vision is for the future of your crew.

S: Maybe if we had five minutes to just breathe, he might be able to figure that out. (Gives the author a hard look.)

(Putting up hands defensively) Now, now, don’t go blaming me. You’ve gotten yourselves into all those messes.

S: Says the woman who writes the stories! You’re kind-of in control here, so you could decide to give us a day off once in awhile, if you really wanted to.

Honestly, Sicarah: do you think anybody wants to read about you lounging peacefully on the deck, sipping sarsaparilla and watching the clouds roll lazily by, without a care in the world? It would be kind-of boring, don’t you think?

X: She does have a point, Sicarah. You must admit our lives are anything but dull. Though the sarsaparilla sounds refreshing. I could use a glassfull, myself.

S: Oh, come on! If I have to put up with breakneck adventure just to get readers, then maybe I don’t want anybody reading about my life, after all.

X: Now, really. You can’t actually mean that, Sicarah. You love the spotlight. Admit it!

S: Wasn’t there a question you’re supposed to answer, Captain?

X: Oh, yes. I’m sorry. What was the question again?

What’s your vision for the future of your crew?

X: My vision. Well, I suppose I really just want them to be the best crew they can be. I start them young, as you’ve probably noticed, so that I can train them properly in flying and maintaining an airship. In fact, some people would say I’m foolish to put my trust in these youth the way I do.

S: (snorts) Only those who don’t see your crew in action.

X: Precisely, Sicarah. I believe young people are capable of doing powerful things once they know there’s someone who loves them and believes without a doubt that they’ll succeed. Knowing that, they start to believe it, themselves. As for the future, well, I’ve built up a small family here among the members of my crew, and of course I hope that they’ll stay with me as long as possible as we do our small part to right the injustices of the world. But once the time comes for us to go our separate ways, I hope that I’ve given them a sure foundation and skill set they can use to succeed in whatever endeavors they next attempt.

Well said. I can see why your crew, and my readers, admire you so much. Before we close, I do have one question for you, Sicarah.

S: How many vacation days do I want? That’s easy. Three hundred and sixty-five!

No. I’m afraid I’ll have to keep you hopping a bit longer, at least until the third book comes out.

S: I’d settle for one day off. Just one?

Well, I guess I can give you some time to relax in Pembrook while the Carpathia winters over. But as soon as book 2 starts on March 31, you need to get right back into the swing of things.

S: I guess I’ll take whatever I can get, though Pembrook is a mess this time of year. Was that really your question?

(Laughs) No! I’m very curious, and I think my readers are too, about whether you actually have a magical trunk in your cabin, like Brayde says? You’re always pulling out the most outlandish getups, and you seldom wear the same thing twice.

S: (quirks an eyebrow) Outlandish?

X: I think the word she’s searching for is chic.

Yes, that’s the word I meant. Chic. Very suave and—

S: Obviously, not everyone understands the subtle nuances of current fashion. Take Brayde, for instance. He can’t tell a hair tie from a boot lace, but we all love him anyway.

X: Brayde is the best of men. I’d certainly be lost without him.

So … do you have a magic trunk, Sicarah?

S: If I did, would I tell you about it? Pearls before swine, and all that.

Should I take offense to that?

S: Well, this has been educational, but I think we’d better be on our way. The Carpathia won’t fly itself!

X: Thank you, Ms. Black for a lovely interview. I hope we can do it again soon.

Me too. Xanthe, Sicarah, I appreciate your time today, and I wish you all the best in your fight against the Tyrian Empire.