Presenting Caleb Fox, the author of Zadayi Red. Here, he discusses the publication of Zadayi Red, and has an unexpected conversation with one of his characters. Enjoy!
How ZADAYI RED Came to be Born
by caleb fox
Okay, you caught me—I’m not really a fantasy writer. I might have been, but you see, I lost track of the difference between fantasy and reality.
Here’s how it happened. My ancestors were Arkansas rednecks whose ancestors were redskins. Somehow I went to a good university and ended up as the movie critic of a big Los Angeles newspaper.
Now pay attention: At a party in posh Beverly Hills I was trading stories about mountain men and Indians with my buddy, who was a super-famous screenwriter (and here we are in true fantasyland). A publisher overheard us and said to me, “Are there enough of these stories for a book?”
Since he handed me that contract, I’ve done nothing but write—stories, movies, TV, everything. I’m married to the best woman in the world, Sarita, and live in the other-worldly Canyonlands, populated entirely by Navajos and Mormons. From landscape to inhabitants, this is all the way into fantasy. Reality is a good place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
Last week I was out walking and celebrating publication day of Zadayi Red, which the publisher Tor calls a fantasy. A buzzard landed on my shoulder (there’s a stomach churner). When he spoke my name, I knew he was no ordinary vulture.
“Why did you treat me that way?”
No question what he meant—why did I turn him into a spirit animal in the novel? One day he was soaring happily around the Land Beyond the Sky Arch and the next he was bound to an Indian woman of centuries ago.
“She needed a guide.”
“Cut the baloney. Why me?”
He pecked my ear—ouch! Then he said, “You know what I mean. I’m an Immortal. I hate death. And you…”
So now we were down to it. I’d re-created him on Earth as a buzzard, and buzzards eat carrion. Talk about having death shoved down your throat.
I debated telling the truth. Though I lie for a living, I decided to risk it. “I though it would interesting—“
He made a threatening a-a-awk.
“—to see what would happen if an Immortal really, truly had an experience of mortality. Actually lived with mortals and went through their struggles along with them. Started rooting for them. Maybe even—“
I dared not say it.
His tone was indescribable. “Started liking a mortal? Sure, why not? Loving a mortal? Well, maybe a very special mortal, just a little bit.” He shrugged those glossy brown-black shoulders and cocked his red head. The interrogation wasn’t over.
I decided to go for it. “I meant, to find something beautiful in mortality. To fall in love with the whole process that governs it all, life on Earth.”
“Disgusting,” he said, and flew off.
This time he was the liar.
Characters like Buzzard are the fun. I’m writing book three of the series. Yes, fantasy. I don’t know where reality is anyway.