Author Interview with Lady Altarn (from The War Queen)
Lady Altarn (Interviewee)
JM Robison (Interviewer)
JM ROBISON: What is your name?
ALTARN: Altarn Lilleith Shadheing
JM ROBISON: Where do you work?
ALTARN: I’m the Lady of Blindvar.
JM ROBISON: What sort of duties does that entail?
ALTARN: It’s the highest political position one can achieve. I govern the entire state of Blindvar with considerations toward infrastructure, employment in critical places, and such. I’m also in charge of Blindvar’s army.
JM ROBISON: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
ALTARN: *sighs* I don’t know. Haven’t had a lot of time to think about it.
JM ROBISON: I hear you are the first woman to govern the State of Blindvar. Do you receive any sort of bias because of it?
ALTARN: I do. I don’t think it has anything to do with how I govern, but people have these preconceived biases that women are subservient and incompetent. I was in such a mood eleven years ago to break those notions apart, so I joined the Blindvarn army and went to law school to become qualified to run this state. What hurts the most is that I had the lowest votes out of the three of us running against each other, the other two were men. One of them dropped out because his criminal conviction background surfaced which immediately disqualified him. The other individual was born in Luthsinia and tried to hide his birth because only Blindvarn-born can run for the State Head. So that left me, fully qualified but unwanted. I’m just keeping my head down until my session is over.
JM ROBISON: What is your greatest fear?
ALTARN: Realizing the Blindvarn citizens are right about me being incompetent.
JM ROBISON: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
ALTARN: My lack of conviction to sway people to do my bidding, such as in a militaristic situation where I might have to tell people to charge to their deaths. I’m fine charging into that situation myself, but feel guilty being the one to tell other people to do it.
JM ROBISON: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
ALTARN: Judging before they get to know someone, or believing rumors without verifying the facts themselves.
JM ROBISON: Which living person do you most admire?
ALTARN: Ratavia. We’ve been friends for a while, and she always manages to cheer me up, no matter the situation. I wish I could do that for myself.
JM ROBISON: What is your greatest extravagance?
ALTARN: I don’t believe I have any. So I’m not looked at any harder than I already am by those who think I can’t do this job, I don’t spend money on myself unless it’s strictly for my job. Don’t want to create rumors that I’m spending peoples’ taxes on fine wine and gilded bathing tubs.
JM ROBISON: What is your current state of mind?
ALTARN: Stretched and weary. I just received threats from Lord Kaelin because I caught him in a ploy to sneak Blindvar out from under me. He’s not happy. War between us, I fear is eminent.
JM ROBISON: What do you think of Lord Kaelin?
ALTARN: A biased ass who thinks I’m dumb enough to not catch on to his plans to take Blindvar for himself.
JM ROBISON: On what occasion do you lie?
ALTARN: I don’t recall having done so in a while. I suppose if I did, it would be to protect myself or another person.
JM ROBISON: What do you most dislike about your appearance?
ALTARN: I don’t have self-worth issues. I’m fine just the way I am.
JM ROBISON: Which living person do you most despise?
ALTARN: Currently? Lord Kaelin.
JM ROBISON: What is the quality you most like in a man?
ALTARN: I couldn’t tell you right now. I could, however, tell you what I don’t like in a man, because I’ve been courted by a few of them already. I suppose it’s going to be one of those things you don’t know what you like until you try it.
JM ROBISON: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
ALTARN: Didn’t you ask a similar question to this?
JM ROBISON: When and where were you happiest?
ALTARN: During my service to the army. Women are treated without bias there, likely because we’re better fighters with the shorns, and that’s respectable.
JM ROBISON: Which talent would you most like to have?
ALTARN: Sneak around unseen. I guess, maybe, invisible?
JM ROBISON: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
ALTARN: Achieving the Lady of Blindvar. Though it’s hard most days, I AM proud I’m in this position. Maybe I’ll make a difference before my session is up and Blindvarns will respect women in positions of power better.
JM ROBISON: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
ALTARN: A large, powerful beast that can fly. I have this restless energy inside me that feels the only way to dispel it is to tear down mountains and soar to the sun.
JM ROBISON: Where would you most like to live?
ALTARN: A small town uninfluenced by bad traditions. A hermit. That sounds great.
JM ROBISON: What is your most treasured possession?
ALTARN: My cotton-stuffed horse. It’s small, and purple, and I’ve had it forever. A childish comfort, but it holds meaning.
JM ROBISON: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
ALTARN: I’m not sure. I’d be happy as a hermit, living alone, hunting my food, building shelter. Some people would call that misery. But then, I believe happiness is a choice, no matter your situation.
JM ROBISON: What do you most value in your friends?
ALTARN: Not chased away because of bad days.
JM ROBISON: Who are your favorite writers?
ALTARN: I like Belsara. She writes poetry.
JM ROBISON: Which historical figure do you most identify with?
ALTARN: Forgive me on the name, for I can’t recall it right now, but a girl in her teenage years started the war in Blindvar to dethrone our kings. She’s the one that discovered lithalium in what they had originally believed to be copper. We use lithalium to make our shorns. It’s because of the shorns we won the war. She helps me believe women can do amazing things as long as we continue to try.
JM ROBISON: So you are a fighter for women to become equal with men?
ALTARN: Being equal implies men and women can do all the exact same jobs. Women are not equal to men. Men are not equal to women. We each have our own gender roles the other cannot fulfill. Sure, sometimes we can do the same job just as well, but the jobs females cannot do, they should not nag to get men to let them do it. Likewise there are jobs men cannot do, that only women can do, but you don’t see the men nagging the women to let them do it. I’m not trying to make women equal to men, I’m trying to show men those jobs that women CAN do just as well as them, such as run a state. There’s nothing specific about that job that requires a certain gender. Men are just used to holding it to themselves, is all.
JM ROBISON: How would you like to die?
ALTARN: I don’t much care, so long as I’m not around people when it happens. I have this fear of people staring at my body after I’m dead.
JM ROBISON: Is there anything more you’d like to add to this interview?
JM ROBISON: Thank you for your time. This concludes our interview.