AD: Hi! I’m Anthony Dobranski, author of the modern fantasy novel The Demon in Business Class. Today we’re talking to Zarabeth Battrie, the main character, about her life and her story. Zarabeth, welcome!
ZB: Hi. Thanks for having me. Also, writing me. For the most part. You could have left a few things out.
AD: I wanted the audience to share the whole experience. Before we get into the novel, tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not the main character of a novel? Any interests, any hobbies?
ZB: Causing trouble.
ZB: Seriously! I don’t read, I don’t watch movies. Some TV if I’m bored, but that gets boring fast. A few drinks out, a little clubbing. More weed than I probably should.
I like to work. I like to make things happen. I don’t socialize but I love to collaborate, if that makes sense. I love travel but hate vacations. If there’s nothing to do, I get into trouble. I cause trouble. I’m a trouble magnet.
AD: Which is good in a main character! Did you like being the main character?
ZB: Hmm. Sort of. I’m more a behind-the-scenes person, honestly. Also, it was intense! I’m not complaining. Given that I start out the book pretty sure I’m going to be fired from my job —
ZB: Not a lot of difference, in the job market of 2008.
AD: 2020’s worse, actually.
ZB: Not my problem. Anyway. Given where I start the book, international travel and shady conspiracies was a good outcome. As was, I have to say, being taken seriously again. That mattered a lot to me.
AD: Even if it was by a villain using you to start a war?
ZB: At least I flew business class! OK, fine, I’m being flippant. As people will learn, I didn’t have a lot growing up. My dad died when I was young, and my mom … well, people can read about that. In the book I learn a few new things about my past, as it turns out —
AD: No spoilers!
ZB: Sorry. As I was saying, respect for my abilities isn’t something I’m used to. So it’s compelling when someone finally appreciates me. I think we all want that, and the chance to earn it. Not a free ride, not a participation trophy. Just, a shot. A chance to shine.
ZB: As it happened, my shining time came with a demon that let me speak all languages.
AD: I am jealous of that.
ZB: It’s not all upside. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s amazing! To go all around this big world, and be… well, not at home exactly, but enabled, connected, able to take part. I can speak Italian. Chinese. Russian. Arabic. I can speak sign language. It’s incredible. Especially in your time, with everyone stuck at home — you have to read it. It’s a wild journey. And with me, you’re in the front seat.
AD: Your perspective starts and ends the novel, but you share your story with Gabriel Archer. What can you tell me about him?
ZB: What can I — after all we go through… Wow. I’m not sure. Which is why it works, maybe. If Gabriel were easy, if I could have gamed how it would play out… it would be a very different book, wouldn’t it? On the surface it seems straightforward. Girl meets boy, in a hotel bar. Of course I have a pet demon, but, I don’t need that to interest a guy.
Except Gabriel’s not at all what I expect. He has a story as strange as mine. Repressed psychic powers? Recruited to work for a guy who dreams future events? That’s original. No surprise, he’s got issues.
AD: Is that all right?
ZB: It’s not boring! The trick of it is, neither one of us is perfect. Way far from that. People talk about feeling connected, about completion, about matching. Gabriel and I connect … like Velcro. It shouldn’t work. But it does, stronger than either of us are prepared for. Sometimes it’s enough to be with another person who is also way far from perfect, and knows it. So long as we both respect what we are and what we have. Which is hard for me, and hard for him. When it works … Like I said about my demon: to feel connected, to share, to take part.
AD: The three of you must have been happy together.
ZB: Gabriel and the demon? No. Ha. Sigh. No. That’s the second half of the book, when it gets really complicated. A lot of that was hard to go through. I know people reading and listening will find it one heck of a ride.
AD: Along with Gabriel and your demon, you also have a friend, Missy Devereaux —
ZB: I’m not supposed to talk about her being a witch.
AD: I was going to ask about your friendship.
ZB: Oh! Oops. Yes, we’re friends. She’s very different from me. Wealthy, educated, and she got plenty of that respect thing. She has every advantage. Turns out, despite all that, she still has to prove herself. Or maybe because of it. That’s why Missy and I get along. We’re very different but we both want more. Neither one of us is a sidekick. Maybe you should write a book about her.
AD: Not a bad idea!
ZB: Are you writing a book about her?
ZB: You sure?
AD: You sound jealous.
ZB: I do not.
AD: Moving on. One last question. In the novel, you often take a look ahead, as it were, with a special Tarot deck.
ZB: My deck is really cool! It’s called Business Class Tarot. It’s focused on work and professional issues, and it looks like modern life, with representation for all people. Of course it’s still a Tarot, and totally woo-woo. But it works for me.
So, we done?
AD: Um… yeah, I guess.
ZB: Good. I have problems to cause. Nice chatting. Bye!
AD: Wait! I — OK. Well. I probably should have expected that. Even though she ditched me, you can enjoy more of Zarabeth’s intense adventures in my novel, The Demon in Business Class!