(Taken from Eliza by way of Joelle Anthony.)

Calamity Jane
Ten things Sally Din wants

1.) Her own way. Though this particular facet to her personality, in her youth, made her appear selfish and rather stubborn, it’s proved helpful as she’s aged. She likes to think of it as tenacity. Being a woman, she’s got to prove herself daily to her men (or so she feels) and this unwavering sense of what needs to be done is central to that success.

2.) Sir Renmen. Sally has known Lee Renmen for the last twenty years; though he’s about a decade her junior, the two have had a long, sometimes perilous relationship. Since they are both knights, neither can marry; Din has been proven sterile (though there is some argument as to whether or not this is, in actuality, true). Renmen is a knight and a priest, and Din is notoriously neutral to religion (“If it works, fine. But I’m not holding my breath.”)  As of the time of The Aldersgate they are in a rocky period, and, as any of the Knights of the Asp would tell you, that doesn’t make Sally fun to be around.

3.) Recognition. Though she’s humble on the outside in many ways, always giving good spoils to her knights and praising their good work, Sally likes nothing better than to see her name in print. Except, that is, when she’s being accused of slaughtering 300 innocent townsfolk.

4.) To be obeyed. As the Captain of the Asp, Din does not like to be crossed. Her favorite method to get folks to pay attention and obey her when they’re not is a round of public humilation. Nothing like being screamed at and called a “leech” in front of thirty-odd knights and pages.

5.) To survive. Sally is as tough as the Territories that created her and sharp as a whip. If it comes down to survival, she knows how to do it and to do it right. At all costs, she could survive in the wilderness, if needs be, most likely undetected, for years. She’d had to do it before, and she could do it again.

6.) To see her pages succeed. It’s been a tough go the last few months for the Order of the Asp; they’ve lost two of their men, including Sir Gawen’s–the most famed knight of the bunch–page. As such, Sally’s felt a bit of a failure; losing men is never a matter she takes lightly. Her newest recruits, a blacksmith’s kid named Brick and a skinny oddball named Mesmer. She realizes she might be a little tougher on them than she’s been on previous pages, but she does it to make them stronger.

7.) To turn a profit. It’s not to say the the Order of the Asp isn’t innocent of all charges against them. Retrieving wares from smugglers and from thieves is a sticky business, and the crown doesn’t exactly pay the best wages. So, in order to keep her knights happy and to keep them well provided for, she is known for augmenting the retrieval lists after a run in her favor.

8.) To get revenge. Over the years, Sally’s accumulated a rather lengthy list of people she’d like to seek out revenge upon. Whether or not this revenge comes in the way of physical, mental, or financial injury is dependent upon the original crime. But members in this list include people as high up as Queen Maelys herself, to a barkeep who once made a comment about her rear end.

9.) Guns. If there’s one thing she loves more than Lee Renmen, it’s her own steel. She’s ever in the quest for better, more accurate guns, and owns close to a half dozen herself.

10.) To kill. There’s a thrill about it, to Sally, something dark and forbidden. The first time it happened she was horrified at the excitement that had run through her, the knowledge that she’d held a man’s life in her hands and extinguished it. The man had deserved it, but whether the 40 or 50 odd souls she’s taken in her time on the earth have, she can’t say. “Justice depends on how you look at it,” she’d say. “So it depends whose orders I was following at the time.”

I’ve been letting Sylvan do the talking this week for Villain Month, as you might have noticed. The truth is, writing Sylvan is less like creating and a whole lot more like channeling. And I honestly didn’t even realize he was a villain, per se, until I sat down to contemplate villainy in my novel as a whole.

Characters are weird in a thousand ways. What gets me most of all is how at times, certain characters can literally take the reins of my writing and run with it. An hour or so later, I’ll sit back, wrists tired, and look at what’s gone on while I was in the zone. Of all the PoVs in the novel (which include Brick, Cora, Emry, Denna, and Kaythra to name a few) Sylvan is the loudest. I see him so clearly–heck, I even hear his voice at times (think Heath Ledger crossed with James Callis, and you’re close).

Anyway, villainy is subjective. I guess I just want to say that just because Sylvan is a villain doesn’t mean I love him any less. It is all quite a matter of perspective, as he might say.

Not to mention… he’s SO much fun to write!

Charles Barbaroux - SylvanWell, it all depends on how you look at it, doesn’t it?

I suppose if you want to call me a villain, you’d be well within your rights, of course. You can call me whatever you want, I assure you, I’ve been called worse. Being a bastard seems to attract a rather high concentration of name-calling and taunting, you see, especially when your father happens to be the favored brother of the Queen, hmm?

So yes, my father is Lord Lucas, the beloved prince who stood by his sister Maelys until he died rather uneventfully of a heart-attack some years back. I don’t remember him much as, well you might imagine, seeing my likeness wasn’t particularly something he enjoyed–especially considering I look so much like him. I’m a memory of a bad choice, the decisive factor in destroying his marriage (although I would argue the woman was plotting against him well in advance of my appearance on the scene; it isn’t my fault she couldn’t bear children, after all).

So you might say that I’ve been set up for villainy my whole life. Yes, I’m terribly arrogant and self-serving. But truly, I do this as a matter of survival. I inherited all of the characteristics of the Vezinas and the royal line: cleverness, good looks, patience, confidence, tenacity; yet I cannot enjoy any of the benefits, like land, titles, and the like.

Maelys has always had a soft spot for me, and I have done whatever she has asked. Why not? The old crone knows what she’s doing, even if I don’t always agree with it. So is it villainy to follow directions? Maelys’s trust in me has helped me achieve ranks higher than I ever imagined–I am a Knight of the Rose, and for the most part, I do as I please. It’s a significantly better alternative than wasting away in a brothel like my mother.

I’ve been called a bringer of death.

So yes, I kill people. It’s a talent I have. But in my defense, I do it well. There’s little pain involved, unless they resist. And, suffice it to say, I’ve not yet failed an assassination, or I wouldn’t be here to answer your petty questions, now would I?

That’s right. I’m the Queen’s Assassin. We all have our dark secrets, and I’m hers.

Conscience? You ask if it bothers me? Well, I wouldn’t be human, would I, if I went about my tasks unfeeling? No, there are difficult days, difficult assignments. Men with families, acquaintances I’ve known. There’s no shame in my job, to be sure; I’m proud to do it. But remorse? It does visit me on occasion. Usually, I forget it after a glass of wine, or a visit to one of the maid’s quarters.

A man must get by, after all.