Character Interview–Zephryn Nightstalker from “Lawless” (by Janeen Ippolito)

I’m doing something a little different this month. Instead of an Indie Author Interview, this is going to be an Indie Character Interview! Though “Indie” in this context is not meant to imply that the character himself is independent; just the book. An autonomous, independent character could be scary. Than again, so can indie authors.

My interviewee today is Zephryn Nightstalker, the secondary protagonist of Lawless by Janeen Ippolito.

Here’s the synopsis:

The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.

Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate–and are sentenced to death.

Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what–and who–blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.

But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper–secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of quirky romance and snark.

Be sure to check out my (very positive) review of Lawless! And in the unlikely event that you’re not sold on it yet, here are a couple more endorsements:

Lawless is a tightly woven tale of dragons, political intrigue, and romance, with two sexy male leads, a competent but vulnerable heroine, and all the steampunk and dragons you could desire. The story starts off with a literal explosion and never stops moving. On the way we’re introduced to an intriguing world and a story that satisfies but hints at more to come. Definitely recommended. 
H.L. Burke, award-winning author of the Nyssa Glass steampunk series and The Dragon and the Scholar series

Steampunk with dragon-human shifters–that concept was all it took for me to fall in love with Lawless in the first chapter. What made me stay in love were the characters, each with an intriguing history, and the rich story world, filled with original magic and mechanics. Looking forward to experiencing more of this series! 
Kat Heckenbach, author of paranormal romance Relent and magical adventure The Toch Island Chronicles

On to the interview! Unless you’re not done geeking out about the dragons yet. If not, we’ll wait. Though I can’t speak for how patient Zephryn will be.

Hello, Zephryn! Could you introduce yourself in your own words?

Zephryn Nightstalker. Tactical partner to Kesia Ironfire, who is not an evil killer no matter what she thinks. And I’m forsaken royalty, although that hardly matters. Titles are useless with no support and no freedom.

*sigh* I can relate. Anyway. What does being a dragonshifter mean, exactly? How do your shapeshifting powers work?

Dragonshifter? Ah, yes. The word we allow humans to use because it enables their minds to understand us better. I supposed it is more or less accurate. Dragons can take a few different forms.

1.) Scale form. What you would think of as a customary dragon. Very large. Fire-breathing. All of the other attributes.

2.) Skin form. We can shift to fully imitate the human form, but note: we are still dragons. We are not humans. A few signs of our dragon nature shift with us, such as breathing fire from our mouths (and shooting it from our hands), increased strength, and increased endurance.

3.) Half-shifted forms. While a dragon in skin form can imitate human forms, we often prefer to still manifest some scales along our foreheads, cheekbones, and other select parts of our bodies. Our eyes can also be slit-pupiled. And we can manifest wings in skin form, although this doesn’t make much sense. Flying is far easier in scale form. Manifesting wings in skin form is what originated that foolish myth that dragons seek to lure airship sailors off their vessels with our irresistible attractiveness and haunting voices. It sounds like a made-up tale that drunk, lonely sailors created because they had to blame someone when they accidentally walked off their own airships.

Although Kesia insists a few dalliances did occur, which is partly why some humans do have strains of dragon blood in their lines.

Yes, well, these things do happen. *ahem* In addition to the shapeshifting abilities that come with being a dragon, you and the other characters in Lawless each have unique magical abilities called “Talents.” Could you tell us more about your own Talent?

I can Cloak myself and others in close proximity. That is, I can bend light around us. And it has other uses as well, but you don’t need to know those.

Oh come on, just a little hint? … Okay, never mind. Describe your role in your world. What do you do for the Pinnacle (the government of dragons in the world of Lawless)?

The Pinnacle overthrew my kingdom. I allow them to hold me hostage in exchange for the safety of Kesia Ironfire. Although where else would I go? As I mentioned: there is little point in asserting leadership when there is no support and no one to lead.

Still, I hate the Pinnacle and want them to burn. But that is a separate matter.

Best of luck with that. What is your general opinion of humans?

Useless. In general. But tolerable and worthy of trying to keep out of trouble. Although these opinions are largely due to Kesia. She has more patience with them and hope for them than I do.

And considering how far dragons have fallen, who am I to judge?

Oh, I still judge. But I am aware it’s biased.

How would you describe your relationship with Kesia Nightstalker, your tactical partner?

Kesia is essential to everything. That is all you need to know.

Awwwww. You two are adorable. … What? Don’t glare at me like that. What about Shance Windkeeper, the human captain you and Kesia are forced to work with in this story? What do you think of him?

Shance is alive. I find that amazing considering his disposition, and his dislike of violence during wartime. And I think he is fascinatingly unconcerned with sounding like an idiot. Which is why he often sounds like an idiot. Yet…there is something relaxing about it. I don’t want to eat him.

*thumbs up* Friendship goals. Tell us one thing about yourself that isn’t revealed in Lawless.

I dislike pistols. They lack elegance. Even the ones that are meant to be elegant. I will still use them if necessary, but I don’t like them.

What’s your opinion of your author?

She is reasonably competent, although she gets very mouthy when she claims I am “being a self-centered unreasonable butt who keeps things from her.” Funny. A fair amount of people accuse me of keeping important information from them. I don’t try to. I just don’t think they need to know.

YES! Did we just become best friends? … Okay, fine, forget that question. Man, you do a lot of glaring. Here’s what the public really wants to know–what’s your favorite thing about being a dragon?

Eating. Sleeping. Existing. What a foolish question. What’s your favorite thing about being a human?

Uhhhh…you got me there. *clap clap* Well-played. Anyhoo, thanks for the interview! You can just go out through that–no, wait, heh heh, sorry, you have go outside before shifting into dragon form. Sorry. House rule. Please don’t kill me.

*mops sweat off brow* Well, that was fun! If slightly terrifying. Be sure to get your own copy of Lawless for more of Zephryn, Kesia, and Shance! Here are some links to where you can find the book:

Amazon

Goodreads

Apple

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Also, here’s a link to the Facebook launch party for Lawless, happening tomorrow!

Read on for more info about Janeen Ippolito, the author of Lawless.

Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She’s also an experienced author coach, editor, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, geeky TV, and brownie batter. A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her two websites: janeenippolito.com and writeinsideout.com.

You can also find Janeen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

And finally, the next clue in the Lawless Scavenger Hunt!

Thanks for reading, everybody! You may now go back to geeking out about dragons. Feel free to do so publicly in the comments, if you wish.

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