Character Interview with Lucius Asper
I’m a member of the Goodreads group Kiss & Tell, who recently held a convention of sorts featuring character panels and other fun stuff. Below you’ll find the moderator’s transcript of her interview with my character, Lucius Sempronius Asper.
A hostess guides me to a table under the Café Du Monde’s distinctive green awning where the scent of freshly made beignets and roasted chicory fills the outdoor seating area. This is my first time in New Orleans, and I chose the iconic coffee stand as the location for my interview with former gladiator Lucius Sempronius Asper.
I’ve known the author, Rachel Chanticleer, my whole life but I’ve never met any of her characters. She does her thing, I do mine, and you could say our paths don’t cross that often. But luckily, at the very last minute she finally agreed to facilitate this meeting with Lucius. Ms. Chanticleer explained Lucius is in town with the dark witch he’s bound to. Power hungry and cruel, she’s held him under a curse for centuries, forcing him to act as her own personal assassin. Her magic and threats of torturing her targets left him no choice; bring her victims in to grant them a quick and painless death, or watch as she allows others to do unspeakable things to them.
He’s back in the Big Easy to finish a job he failed a few years ago. He was tasked to bring his master a woman she saw in a vision while scrying–a young witch who hadn’t yet learned of her abilities but would someday become quite powerful. The dark witch wanted that power for herself and Lucius would bring her this Bethany Hayes so that the draining ritual could be completed. Ms. Chanticleer said Lucius let Beth go the night he first came for her, but now that he’s back in her city, the author fears his master may get what he denied her several years ago…
Just when I think Mr. Asper probably stood me up, I jump as a large hand pulls out the chair from the other side of the table. How I missed his approach is beyond me. Over six feet tall with striking blue eyes and deep brown shoulder length hair, this man should stand out in a crowd. Instead, he managed to sneak up on me in broad daylight, almost like a predator stalking his oblivious prey.
To say that I found it unsettling would be an understatement.
“Mr. Asper,” I say, reaching over my notepad to shake his hand as he sits, “thank you for seeing me today.”
He scans his surroundings, nodding once. “Lucius is fine.”
“Great. Okay, well, I’ll get right to my questions then. What is your occupation?”
Head tilted down, those pale eyes lock onto mine and I contemplate making a run for it.
“You know what I do.” His voice isn’t quite a warning, but I’m certainly not going to push him.
“Right. Okay.” I draw several lines through that particular question and soldier on. “Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?”
“I learned how to kill in the stinking, blood-soaked amphitheaters of Rome, if that’s what you mean. Not that I’d call it a skill,” he adds. “My knowledge of certain things related to magic and the occult, I picked up from the witch who has me bound.”
“I see… What’s the most evil thing you’ve ever done?”
Lucius cants his head just slightly to the side. “This year?”
I take a gulp of the ice water the waitress brought earlier, the combination of NOLA’s humidity and the conversation with the lethal man in front of me giving me a cold sweat. Rehydrated, I straighten my back and continue the interview.
“Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?”
He breaks the intense eye contact and leans back with folded arms. “I’ve been most everywhere by now, so it’s not as much where I wish I could travel, but when.”
“Alright, I’ll bite. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?”
“The past, without a doubt,” he answers quickly. “I’d go back to the day of the Saturnalia Festival when I was rescued from a slave’s death by the woman who would later enslave me for her own purposes. I’d throw the fight in the arena instead of becoming the victor, make sure I was dead before she came for me that night.”
I raise my brows at his candid response. “Do you care what others think of you?”
Lucius considers the question a moment before answering.
Seeing a potential chink in the armor of this hardened assassin, I push for specifics.
“Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?”
The corner of his mouth lifts in amusement and he leans forward. “Next question, please.”
I return his smile. “Fair enough. What do you have in your pockets?”
“Pockets? Not much. But…”
Lucius reaches a hand around to the small of his back for a carved, three-sided dagger. He gives it a flip and offers it to me handle-first. I turn the intricate weapon over in my hand before returning it.
“What kind of metal is it made of?” I ask as he slips it back in the horizontal sheath attached to his belt.
“It wasn’t forged by man,” he explains. “It’s made of meteorite.”
“It’s quite beautiful. Does it… Does it perhaps have any unique properties?”
His silence speaks volumes.
I sigh. “Lemme guess. Next question?”
Smiling, Lucius nods. “Next question.”
“How about… What is your favorite memory?”
That warm smile broadens. “I once owned a home in Calabria, where I lived in between… In between missions. Right off the coast where I could see waves in the distance and walk through fragrant orange groves. Sometimes, if I catch a hint of citrus in the air, I’m taken right back.”
“That sounds lovely Lucius, and it brings me to my final question. What’s the one thing you would do, if you were able to do it?”
Clenching his jaw, a flash of defiant purpose darkens his features. “Something I should have done years ago. Something I plan to do tonight.”
Want to read more about Lucius? Check out the short story The Hunter and the Witch, available free in the US at the eBook retailer links below. It’s also a Smashwords freebie if you’re an international reader. Book 1, a longer follow up, is currently in the works.