Beth Wangler, my writer friend and critique partner, is publishing her first full length novel. I am so excited! The Child of the Kaites is a fantasy novel inspired by the story of Moses. I’ve had the opportunity to read it, and it is amazing.
In honor of the big release day on July 28th, I’ve interviewed the main character in Child of the Kaites, Rai, so that we can get to know her better.
(Yes, we writers sometimes consider our characters so real, we feel the need to interview them.)
Me: Rai, I’m so glad you have taken the time to chat with me today. I’ve gotten a chance to know you but for the sake of everyone else, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? For example, I know Rai is a nickname. What is your full name?
Rai: Hi Ashley, it’s great to get to talk with you! My name is a…complicated topic. My birth parents named me “Mailoua,” which means “Cursed” or “Nameless.” My people have been suffering, you see, and my parents felt that suffering very strongly. When I was ten, the kaites gave me a new name, “Raiballeon.” My new name means “Leader of a Revolt.” I like this name more, even if I don’t feel like a leader of anything most of the time. Of course, “Raiballeon” is quite a mouthful, so I go by “Rai” or “Raiba,” depending on who you’re talking to.
Me: Wow that is complicated and both names have a lot of meaning. Can you explain a little bit about who the kaites are and why they gave you a new name?
Rai: Certainly! The kaites are spiritual beings–the good ones. They can dwell in and move created things, like in rocks, water, and air. Kaites dwell in plants, too, but there aren’t many of those around here.
The kaites watch out for humans and give us some direction. Mostly, they protect us from the aivenkaites–the evil kaites–who hate humans and want to destroy us.
When I was a baby, I was floated in a box down the river, like all Maraian babies are. Most Maraian babies wash up on shore and are adopted by Maraian and other slaves. I, however, was rescued by the kaites. They took me into the Blessed Region in the north and raised me until I was ten, because a shooting star foretold at my birth that I’ll be a great leader. The kaites taught me the histories and taught me about Aia, then gave me a new name when they took me back to my family.
Me: Wow. What an experience to be taught and raised by beings like that. How do you feel about the prophecy that you will be a great leader? Have you done anything to prepare for it?
Rai: I’m very thankful for the kaites raising me. They are wonderful, my aunts and uncles.
*sigh* I don’t feel as great about the prophecy. I used to think it was wonderful, that it meant I would free my people from slavery. I had high aspirations when I was younger. Now, though, I’m an exile. If I go back home, my family will be killed. Leading anybody seems very dangerous and even impossible. I’ve decided that I’m simply supposed to lead by reminding my people of who we are. I’m writing down our history to accomplish that.
Me: That’s a lot for one person to deal with. What happened to send you to exile and temper your aspirations?
Rai: I…try not to think about it. Um, well, one day there was a storm. I thought it was a battle of the kaites and aivenkaites, and I missed my aunts and uncles, so I went to see if I could find them. I saw…something I shouldn’t have seen. Really, I shouldn’t be talking about it. I promised I wouldn’t say anything. He threatened to kill my family and my people if I did.
Me: I’m sorry to bring up so many bad memories. Since it seems like you have a lot on your plate, why don’t you tell us what your comfort food is?
Rai: Thank you. I try to make the best of it. As for food, anything fancy is exciting! I mostly lived on fruits and nuts with the kaites, and slave food is mostly hard bread and whatever meat we could catch after working all day. Food on Ira is amazing. I love the sweet barley-cakes we get, and I always find coconut milk refreshing. On special occasions, we import beef and make a delicious cinnamon rice drink.
Me: Great, now I’m hungry!
Can you tell us a little bit more about your world and what it’s like?
Rai: I don’t really know what you mean by my world. You mean the world? Orrock? It’s cylindrical, though the ends used to be gateways to ierah, the heavens. Since the Rending, Orrock is separated from ierah. Now the oceans flow over the edge of the world in south, then flow back out in the north. The center of Orrock, the Void, is where the chief of the aivenkaites lives.
Right now, the most powerful empire on Orrock is Izyphor. They control most of this continent and have influence everywhere. It’s all because they have extensive salt flats; that’s how they were able to gain power, because salt is such an important part of life. Izyphor is a desert land, and Ira, the island where I’m in exile, is also pretty desert-like.
They say that Tion Beriath, Maraiah’s promised homeland, is fertile and full of trees. Can you imagine? Somewhere green as far as the eye can see!
Me: Since I also live in a desert, a green, tree-filled land sounds beautiful.
You mentioned that the kaites taught you the histories and that you are writing them down. Since this seems to be your expertise, is there any particular person from the histories that you identify with and why?
Rai: Hm, I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about if I identify with anyone. I guess I identify with Robiroeh, one of Maraiah’s ancestors. He also received a prophecy that changed his life, though his came from the priest-king of Betha rather than from the kaites.
I’ve always been fascinated by stories of Nhardah the Firstborn, though.
Me: To wrap up our interview, is there anything you can tell us about yourself that not many people know? Do you have any hidden talents?
Rai: Well, it’s not really hidden, but I do crochet. That is one of the few things my birth parents taught me. I’ve been crocheting for a while, so I’m pretty fast at it. My cousin Anik likes to joke that I could crochet a blanket around the island in an hour.
Me: Hmmm, I’m a knitter myself, but I won’t hold crocheting against you. Just kidding. That’s a great talent and it sounds like you are very skilled at it. Thank you, Rai for taking the time to talk with me today.
Rai: Thank you! A knitter sounds like a great person to be a friend with. I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you, Ashley! Peace to you.
I hope you are as excited as I am to read The Child of the Kaites and learn what becomes of Rai. You can enter a give away for an autographed copy of the book here. It will be available to buy on Amazon in five days. Beth also has a new short story available and a fairy tale novella. You can learn more about her and her stories at https://bethwangler.com/