Character Spotlights were a weekly Wednesday series where I used to talk about characters from the novels I was working on or had already completed, but they kind of fell by the wayside, as these things do sometimes. I’m not actually bringing them back weekly, but I’d like to bring them back semi-regularly because they were a ton of fun, so here we are! These will just be little snippets of their lives so that you can get to know them a little, and hopefully one day read about them in a published book!
For our first trip back down memory lane, we’re chatting about Mason, and wow, I seem to just like to throw him into all of my most dramatic moments. I talked a lot about Mason & our journey together here, but the tl;dr of it is that I nearly gave up writing after a close friend tore apart his story (and, subsequently, my confidence). I also wrote a Thursday Thousand short story for him back in October (“wrote” a “short story” like what I posted wasn’t just the first chapter). There’s a whole lot of everything wrapped up in Mason, and I’m excited to officially introduce him to you.
Oh, my fire boy. For twelve years, I wrote the same series of novels over and over and over again. It had a lot of dragons, was set in a secondary fantasy world, had its own language occasionally, was all about kings and queens
and guillotines, and, honestly, at this point, I’m not sure I’m ever going to come back to it. In September of 2016(?), I finally called it quits after another unsuccessful attempt at writing it and set my sights on something new.
Enter Mason. My friend and I were exchanging short fiction & poetry at the time, publishing them on a WordPress (hell yeah, I’m linking it), and then commenting on each other’s with feedback. I first wrote a story about a girl trapped inside of a house, terrified of the ocean because it was whispering terrible things to her. Eventually, she gives into the call and surrenders to her true nature as a selkie-type creature. It was fun, and I thought nothing more of it until a couple weeks later when I started writing about another girl, this one being whispered to by the circle of birch trees in the forest near her house. She had a few new additions to her story, though. There was this dude that she called her Undying that was trying to help her understand her magic and connection to the earth via these birch trees. She was also estranged from a group of friends that were like her, and without warning, the water being’s name crept up. Suddenly, it was not just Miriam, but Leila and Lukas and Mason, too.
Okay, I thought. Let’s see where this takes us. I drew on Lukas next, pulling apart the layers of his story. He lived in a city that housed magical creatures like them, and he was trying to figure out how to get Leila and Miriam to join him there. He controlled the element of air, and, at the end of his story, a face that was becoming familiar to me showed up. I knew whose story was next, and his would be the beginning of something different entirely.
Mason’s breath was smoke, his eyes liquid molten as he said, “We’re not in the business of dying, but do your worst.”
As Dhaval says, 400 years is a long time to wait. No matter where you look, magic is intricately interwoven with the elements. Whether people are creating small fires in their hands, choking the air from someone’s lungs, throwing them bodily at the earth, or commanding the high seas, magic and the elements come hand in hand. But how do they remain stable? How do the elements coexist?
My answer became faeries. It made sense to me, that these beings born of magic and in love with the earth, would also be responsible for the magic all around them. There would always be four elementals, and should one of the elements ever be without a corresponding faery, the world would be unbalanced.
When you think about it, though, one stands out from the rest. Earth is easy. You have to learn to root down, to find steadiness, to pay homage to this beautiful world that allows us to live on it. Air is a little trickier because it can steal your breath, can create whirlwinds with a simple huffed exhale, but that, too, is about control and careful attention. Water is about being fluid, learning to let go of control and expectations, and respecting this incredible thing that gives us life every day.
Fire is volatile. There is no controlling it, but if you relinquish control, it destroys. It can’t survive if any of the other elements are thrown at it, but it’ll also devour them whole. Fire is the worst. And so, I knew that whoever rose as the fire elemental would have a damn hard time of it. When we meet our characters, Leila has assumed control of her element, Miriam is wavering somewhere in between, and Lukas is beginning his struggle.
Mason is dying.
Consumed by ash and brimstone, he is slowly withering away beneath the weight of the fire in his bones. His blood has become lava. His breaths have become smoke. He’s burning from the inside out, and, for 400 years, Dhaval has watched every single fire elemental succumb to it. It’s impossible to weather, impossible to survive, and so, the world has been unbalanced for centuries. When he’s called north, to Maine, of all places, he has no hope. He’s simply doing his duty, following the call of a new elemental coming into their power. This is going to be more of the same. Trying to help a young faery fight through the unhinged power of fire, and watching them die when they cannot.
Oh, ye of little faith.
Dhaval was wrong in his hopelessness. It was easy to settle into that vein, to come to Maine with nothing but pain in his heart, but when he stood out in the cold, watching a boy with a shaved head, a scowl, and fury in every movement, something else began to unfold. Faeries were full of hope. Light. Magic. Brilliance. They were cruel, yes, and inflicted pain as easy as smiling, but they were very rarely outright angry.
They were mean, yes, but not mad.
And Mason? Well, Mason wanted to burn the whole fucking world down. He’d just broken up with his boyfriend, who he’d known since he was a child on the playground, left the only home he’d ever known, and purchased an abandoned, dilapidated building. It would be cathartic in the end, tearing apart this place of sagging floors and rotten wood, but, right now, Mason just wanted to light a fuse and watch it blow to pieces.
Still, he’d spent a fair amount of money, and there was a dream that kept niggling through his nights, so Mason got to work. He pulled up the floors, repainted the walls, started leaving candles on every available surface, begrudgingly accepted help from another business owner down the street who sold coffee, of all things, and didn’t think twice when a tall, dark man walked through his broken doorway and asked for a job.
Though they began under pretense, Mason quickly figured out who Dhaval was, told him he had no interest in figuring out the fire in his blood right now, and instructed him to go install a new door. Dhaval smiled. This might work. He’d never met someone quite like Mason, so furious at everything that the fire burning inside of him just fueled that fury more, and Dhaval started to feel something dangerous.
Fire cannot be beat into submission, and so, eventually, Mason had to face his destiny, though he laughed in the face of it every time Dhaval called it that. The element gave Mason its worst, too, but as violent and terrible as fire is, nothing could diminish Mason’s anger. Even as it ate away at him from the inside out, even as smoke and ash poured from his mouth, even as his veins went molten with flame, Mason yanked at every ember in his spine and spat it back out with vengeance.
“I have shit to do,” he growled, “So let’s get on with it.”
Consciously, he meant that he wanted to finally get his teashop up and running, that he actually wanted to form a friendship with the stupid coffee guy, that he wanted to move on from Lukas, that he wanted a life that was his own again.
But fire cannot be lied to, and it heard the undercurrent in Mason’s words. “I have an empire to build,” was what he really said, “And you will not steal that from me.”
Dhaval prepared to lose another faery. He started to look for the signs of where the element would resurface, who it might resurrect itself in. He began the arduous journey of giving up just in time for Mason to swallow all of that brimstone, rise to his feet, and reach out his hand.
“What are you waiting for?” Dhaval asked.
“My fucking crown,” Mason said, and, for the first time in 400 years, the realm had a king.
He looked taller than he should, and darkness was growing at his feet. There was gold in his eyes, and the pupils had swallowed the brown whole. A crown of wild, twisting branches was spiraling up from his head. Moss dripped out of one ear, and a fire caught at the edge of his sleeve.
Oh, hell yeah. It’s been a long ass time since I got to write about Mason, and he’s finally coming back into my world, bit by bit. Currently, I’m wrapping up the third, and final, book in the sister witches series. Mason gets introduced toward the end, and his first book is one of my projects this year. I’ll be writing both his & my vampire detective, and seriously, someday, I’m going to have to at least write a short story about the fact that Mason, Andrew (vampire), and Theodore (demon) all become best friends and have regular boys’ nights out.
So, what do you think? Would you follow this pissed off fire elemental into battle?