Thursday, August 29, 2013

SUSAN: CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Vin Vanbly of "King Mai" by Edmond Manning

Adopted from Thailand and never one to fit in with the local bubbas, life has been rough around the edges for Mai Kearns, even before he came out of the closet. Now, almost ten years past the torture of high school, Mai still can't catch a break: he and his parents stand to lose their beloved farm.

How will a “King Weekend” help change Mai’s fate? What has narrator Vin Vanbly been up to for the four weeks he’s been sneaking around Mai’s hometown? At the urging of a ransom note from ‘The Lost Kings,’ Mai embarks on an impossible treasure hunt chasing mystic poetry, Fibonacci Hopscotch, ancient prophecy, the letter ‘x,’ and a confounding, penguin-marching army.

The stakes are high: if Mai fails, the Lost Kings will permanently claim him as their own. Finding the treasure may unlock the secret to saving his family farm. But can this angry farmer risk opening his broken heart before the weekend is over? Mai Kearns has 40 hours to get very, very curious in this second installment of The Lost and Founds.

Today we welcome Vin Vanbly, lead in the King Perry and King Mai books. 

Interviewer:  Today I’m interviewing the confounding and absurd narrator from the series, The Lost and Founds, Vin Vanbly. We’re sitting in a--

Vin: Don’t say that. Don’t say where we’re sitting.

Interviewer: Why not? It’s just a sandwich shop. A national chain.

Vin (squirming): Yeah, but I don’t really...I don’t like people knowing things about me. Where I am. What I’m doing. It makes me nervous.

Interviewer: You’re kidding. You don’t mind being called confounding and absurd, but you don’t want anyone to know we’re sitting in a Panera Bread?

Vin (looking down): I’m just private is all.

Interviewer: We’re sitting in a Panera Bread, people. He’s eating the broccoli soup from a bread bowl. He opted for the apple over the chips.

Vin: Aw, c’mon. What did that accomplish?

Interviewer: Here’s my first real question. Why are you so damn cagey? So creepy and controlling about information and details from your life?

Vin: I’m not controlling.

Interviewer:  Oh, please.

Vin: I like my privacy is all. It’s not controlling.

Interviewer:  Answer the question, please. Why are you so exacting on who knows what about you?

Vin: Well, for the record, I don’t think I am controlling. But privacy is a thing you don’t think about until you don’t have it. I didn’t get much privacy growing up. Everyone’s stuff was communal, food, the books for school, clothes, I even shared a toothbrush with another kid. Privacy is a luxury, a luxury I now enjoy. I don’t take it for granted.

Interviewer: You shared a toothbrush?

Vin: See, this is why I don’t like to talk about my past. People get fixated on all the wrong details. My childhood was probably like most other peoples’ in the world and now it’s over, so, let’s just be over discussing it.

Interviewer: You grew up in foster care, right? I don’t think that was everyone else’s experience.

Vin: Yeah, I did foster care. Well, sometimes.

Interviewer: Sometimes?

Vin: I wasn’t exactly an easy kid to place in a family. I didn’t talk much. Sulked a lot. Once, I went with this nice couple once for a month. Her name was Talia and his name was Malik. Their last name was Shepardson and I wanted them to adopt me so my last name would be Shepardson. They were afraid I was going to burn their home to the ground. They kept finding these burned rags dropped out of our second story bedroom window. But they didn’t know I stayed up at night keeping an eye on the kid who hoarded matches. His name was Doug and he kept trying to start pigeons on fire by throwing burning rags out the window. They sent me back because I creeped them out. I never blamed them. I was a creepy kid, I guess.

Interviewer: But you were adopted eventually, right?

Vin: Yes.

Interviewer: How old were you?

Vin: I was twenty-one.

Interviewer: Twenty-one? That…that doesn’t count as adoption. You were an adult.

Vin: Yes it does. I was adopted. We’re family now.

Interviewer: Can you describe what happened, how you…got adopted?

Vin: No.

Interviewer: No?

Vin: No, thank you. I am not going to talk about my family in this interview. It would be rude. And not respecting their privacy.

Interviewer: Ooookay. How about something else, like hobbies. Do you have hobbies?

Vin: Playing pool, throwing darts, baking, knitting, orienteering, survivalist skills, urban foraging, tracking deer, camping, art, getting into buildings that are locked, travel, origami, juggling, bird watching, controlling the weather with my brain, kayaking, reading, mycology, tai chi, historical role play, mythology, collecting rocks, making candles, psychology, archeology, billiards, ping pong, and I tried paintball but I kept throwing up, so I had to quit. I have other hobbies, too.

Interviewer: I’m beginning to understand why you creep people out. That’s quite a random list.

Vin: There. That was very open and free-flowing of me, wasn’t it? Not at all controlling.

Interviewer: You mentioned reading. What are you currently reading?

Vin: I don’t want to tell you. You’ll make it into a thing.

Interviewer: Wow. Now that is controlling.

Vin: Next question.

Interviewer: You also just said you try to control the weather with your brain?

Vin: I just threw that in there to see if you were paying attention.

Interviewer: Tell me about your King Weekends.

Vin: No.

Interviewer:  No? Perhaps you don’t grasp the concept of an interview.

Vin: They’re private. Too private.

Interviewer: According to some reports, you’re quite public. I have some information that once in New York City, you --

Vin: No. Stop. Asking me to talk about King Weekends and then men that I loved is asking me to dishonor the best weekend of my life. I don’t fall in love easily. I can’t. And I’m not an easy person to love. I’m prickly. I have been blessed to be loved by some of the finest men on the planet. You want me to betray those loves by sharing details from when I was in love, when I was complete and beautiful and loving. When I had purpose in life. I can’t talk about those men and what we have gone through together.

Interviewer: Alright. I will respect that. You’re a car mechanic, right? Tell us about that.

Vin: Cars are boring. Let’s talk about something else.

Interviewer: Okay, well, hmm. You said you liked to travel. Where do you like to travel?

Vin: Oooh, this is fun. Okay. Santa Fe, Baltimore, New York, Florence Italy, Little Rock, San Francisco of course, Yokoham, Japan, Brighton in England, Atlanta is cool. I like Savannah, Georgia as well. Oh, and small towns all over the Midwest. I particularly love this one that has a yearly festival called Corn Fest. I myself have only attended Corn Fest twice. The first time was crazy fun. The second time, I went alone and it wasn’t the same without…without my friend.

Interviewer: With all those cities listed, I couldn’t help but notice that Chicago wasn’t on that list. Didn’t you grow up in Chicago?

Vin: I don’t want to talk about Chicago.

Interviewer: I’m running out of interview options. Would it be okay to ask you about the weather?

Vin: I love clouds when they are chubby and rolly, cheeks puffed up ready to bawl out their many woes. I want to tell them, ‘Go ahead and cry chubby clouds. We’re listening.’ But I also love it when they are spent and exhausted, curled fetal and drifting peacefully away and the cooling tenderness of post-rain unfurls, like forgiveness, smelling like periwinkle. The tinge of newness in the air is delicate like an eggshell after the baby hatched, the sheepish sky opening up to us again, almost a promise that it will never be inclement again, which is a lie, but the promise is beautiful, the hope for transparency, so you believe in the lie because it smells so good and you want to love the sky again.
Interviewer: Oh good. At last we’ve found a topic you’ll discuss. The weather.

Vin: I’m also willing to discuss the capital letter R. I don’t like it. Thinks it’s so damn hot. Look at me, I’m Regal and Royalty, but don’t forget I’m Ravenous, too, and I will devour you because I control Reality.

Interviewer: What about Raindrops? You just said--

Vin: No, raindrops are definitely lowercase. You can tell.

Interviewer: And you have no problem with lowercase r?

Vin: Of course not. It’s not lowercase r’s fault that it was raised in a household with Rigidity and Raging Reprobates. Capital R is a shitty father.

Interviewer: Speaking of fathers, you—

Vin: Nope, I don’t want to talk about that.

Interviewer: Shocker. Okay, one last question. If you answer this truthfully, I won’t ask you anything else. What are you reading right now?

Vin: Promise?

Interviewer:  Promise.

Vin: I’m reading a book about trying to control the weather with your brain.


Edmond Manning is a Minneapolis resident, owner of a rarely-used gym membership, maker of raspberry jam, and the author of King Perry and King Mai. Edmond Manning is the reason it’s sunny outside right now.