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I did a character interview for one of the leads in Haunt of the Wilds (gay romance/adventure fantasy novel) yesterday, so it’s only fitting I do one for the second lead. It’s a coincidence that their names happen to land next to each other in the alphabet, but useful in this case. Haunt of the Wilds is on pre-order for only .99 right now.

De’vii – Character Interview

Eleven dogs—twelve if I count the houndmaster—sprawl across my office. Huge, beautiful creatures. Muscled. Intelligence shining from their eyes and their teeth baring dangerously whenever I shift too close to one or other of them.

“Protective, aren’t they?” I say to the houndmaster.

He shrugs, a feral grin spreading on his face. “Only natural. That’s Kat’s pup you keep almost hitting with your chair.”

“Oh!” I quickly readjust, moving away from the nearby smaller dog. I wouldn’t have called him a pup, but he was definitely still growing given the size of the others. Then I clear my throat and check my notebook. “So, De’vii…”

He scowls and points down by my feet where my boots have come quite close to the sole gray wolf among his pack. She growls but doesn’t move. I immediately tuck my feet under my chair and hold down a return glare, deciding not to mention the fact that I could barely breathe in my own office without almost touching one of his dogs.

“Right,” I say. “Why don’t you tell me about what makes your dogs special?”

De’vii snorts, then slouches on the bench seat, his hand absently rubbing the hound beside him. A salt and pepper dog with probably the gentlest disposition of them all. “You mean what makes them different than the puny creatures you live with?”

“I guess,” I hedge.

“For starters, they are smarter. More than most humanoids as well.” He laughs a little mockingly. “Though that’s not as hard as most think. And, of course, we can communicate within our combined consciousness, making us a perfect fighting unit.” He lifts his lip in a slight challenging snarl.

“I would imagine. From what I’ve heard, people—meaning other houndmasters—greatly prefer you on their side in a fight.” As De’vii’s grin returns, I add, “But they also balk when I ask whether they enjoy working with you. Why is that? I would have thought you’d have plenty of houndmasters wanting to work with you.”

De’vii releases a quiet growl, the sound echoed by his pack. “Because they’re biased cowards. Afraid I’ll go wild on them.”

“Would you?”

His response is nothing but a self-satisfied smirk.

“What is the difference between wild and civilized anyway?” I ask.

“Now that’s a loaded question.” He shrugs. “Mostly territory divisions, but also the fact the wilds share…and the civilized think they don’t.”

“Share?”

“Dogs. Minds. Control. Everything really. Everything important. It’s unheard of for a civilized dog to switch houndmasters, but it happens plenty in the wilds. Civilized city dogs pride themselves on their control whereas wild dogs couldn’t care less.” He bares his teeth again in a suggestive expression. “Makes the wilds more fun.”

I chuckle softly at him. “Do you have anyone specific you have fun with?”

“Do I…” De’vii pauses, then laughs in realization of my meaning. Then he shakes his head and scrubs his gray and black dog between her ears. “I tend to avoid anything more than a fling with civilized dogs—houndmasters that is. But I’ve a few friends in the wilds I’ve run with plenty.”

“Anyone special?”

De’vii raises an eyebrow at the question then waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Not like you mean. My closest relationship”—he put an awkward emphasize on the word—“is with a friend. A female friend. Mi’saa. We bonded over being different.”

“Different how?” I ask.

“She is only half houndmaster—one of her parents are from another plane—though she doesn’t identify with her dam at all.”

“And you?”

“My sire and dam were from two different sides of the Braken. I grew up with a family in the wilds and another in Ay’ril Woods, who are, shall we say, slightly less civilized among the civilized. Didn’t start getting called a city dog until I left Ay’ril Woods and went north to find work that would challenge my pack.”

“So would it be safe to say the two sides of your families don’t get along?”

De’vii remains silent for a moment, his hand continuing to move over his dog’s back. Then he nods tightly. “That might be putting it mildly.”

“What of your parents? Obviously they must not have shared that view. Wait—this wasn’t a situation of…rape, was it?”

Surprisingly, De’vii bursts out laughing, this time freely, without any of the mocking from before. As his dark blue eyes light up, he shakes his head in good humor. “The foolish dog who tried to touch my dam without her permission would have ended up with his cock bitten off.” He releases another guffaw before continuing. “And my sire, he was smart, so it would have been difficult for him to get into a situation he didn’t want. No, they were both very willing. It just wasn’t received well.” His face shadows. “My dam handled the disgust better than my sire.”

“You keep using the past tense. Am I to assume they are—”

“Running with the ancestral bitch now.” His voice goes dead, warning me off further questions.

I nod and glance down as one of the dogs rolls and whines. “What have you been up to recently?” I ask in an attempt to shift the conversation into one more positive.

“We were down below the Braken with Kat’s two pups, getting them accustomed to the fight. They’ve been enjoying themselves, but I think it’s about time to head into the city to find something useful to do, get them some real experience.”

“Which city is that?”

“Crafton most likely. Has some of the best doghouses around and it’s more of a hub than either Ca’ryl or Luirton. Plus, Mi’saa makes her home there and I haven’t seen her in a while. We should be going actually. Pups are getting stir-crazy and I’d like to stop at the hostel for some of Di’uum’s cooking before we head up.”

“I won’t keep you then,” I say. I stand, carefully, so I won’t accidently step on one of his dogs.

His pack comes alive around us, some of them practically bounding for the door. Their barks echo in my ears for a moment, then the sound of the more anxious of them fades into the forest.

As De’vii passes by me, I say, “Have a good trip. Don’t forget your shades.”

He scowls over his shoulder. “It’s pitch black in Nebrae during skyward.”

I shrug and smile. “Just don’t forget them.”

He shakes his head at me and jogs off into the darkness toward the howling of his dogs. I listen for a moment, head cocked, then wave as one of the younger dogs dart past, the pup sprinting to catch up to his pack.

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