Substitute for Silk’s Post # 30 — Interview conducted in National Public Radio studios, KPLU Seattle-Tacoma.
Interviewer: Good morning and welcome to Book Talk: New Voices, a weekly exploration of emerging writers, and today we’re taking an interesting departure from our usual format. Instead of talking to a new writer, I have with me in the studio a new protagonist. Welcome, Sunny Laine.
Sunny: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
Interviewer: Sunny, you are a creation of new writer Silk Questo, and I understand you haven’t been published as yet, correct?
Sunny: That’s right. In fact, I haven’t even been finished. I’ve been harassing Silk about that, but there’s only so much I can do. I try to get into her head just as she’s about to drift off to sleep and keep her awake. Sometimes it works.
Interviewer: And then what happens?
Sunny: She gets up in the middle of the night and writes some more. It’s not always her best work, though.
Interviewer: Sunny, it sounds like you have some issues with your author. Can you tell us about that?
Sunny: Well, don’t get me wrong. Silk and I are close. I’d have to say that no one in my life has really cared about me more than Silk, certainly not Zinnia.
Interviewer: And Zinnia is …
Sunny: My mother, the hippy dippy Pottery Queen. Actually, I shouldn’t have said that, it’s not fair. Zinnia’s got her strengths, it’s just that we see the world through different eyes and we had a little set-to last night. Can you edit that out before you air this? I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Interviewer: I’ll check with my producer. On another topic, though, I see that you’re a law student at the University of Washington.
Sunny: That’s right. First year. The killer year.
Sunny: They keep us super busy. And then, with this book thing on the go, it’s almost too much …
Interviewer: Speaking of killers, I understand you’re starring in a mystery-suspense story. What can you tell us about the book?
Sunny: Are you kidding? I can’t tell you anything about the book. You want me to lose my job?
Interviewer: Perfectly understandable [laughs] but, of course, I had to try. Let’s talk a little about your background, then. How did you get your interesting name – “Sunshine Laine”?
Sunny: [groans] That’s a bit of a sore point. I mean, “Sunshine Laine”? It makes me sound like something out of a Shirley Temple movie. Lightweight. Feather weight. Believe me, I have enough problems without having to explain my name. The “Sunshine” part is bad enough, but combined with “Laine” … well, it’s just a burden, you know?
Interviewer: You think it sounds, uh, not like real life?
Sunny: I’ve had that conversation with Silk and she says real life is boring and that’s why people read books. Hard to argue with that, I guess.
Interviewer: So this one of the issues you have with your author?
Sunny: Well, yes and no. It was Zinnia who decided to give us all names “from Mother Nature,” as she puts it. Me, my brother Wolf and my sister Ocean. But I plan to argue the case with Silk. I’m hoping to win on appeal.
Interviewer: And what about your last name, “Laine”? Do you see this as a literary reference to Lois Lane, perhaps? Something to attract young people to your book?
Sunny: God, no! See, this is the problem with my name. I’m not a YA character. Actually, “Laine” is quite realistic. It’s Finnish. My great-grandparents immigrated from Finland and settled in Astoria, Oregon. I just wish Silk had picked something else. Why couldn’t she have used one of the great hockey player names? Tikkanen, maybe.
Interviewer: That’s very interesting. So you grew up in Oregon?
Sunny: No. I grew up on Whidbey Island, and before that … [mumbled words].
Interviewer: Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Where did you live before Whidbey Island?
Sunny: Northern California. Uh, Humboldt County, actually. It was a bit off the beaten track and … oh, hell, you’re gonna find out anyway so I might as well be frank. I spent my first six years growing up on a commune.
Interviewer: My goodness! Are there still communes out there?
Sunny: A few, yeah. On the fringes.
Interviewer: Is your story … about alternative lifestyles, then?
Sunny: Nice try, but no. Unless you consider murder an alternative lifestyle.
Interviewer: So we’ve clarified that this is a murder mystery. And do you solve the mystery all by yourself?
Sunny: That remains to be seen, doesn’t it? I don’t even know yet whether I’m a victim, see? It’s not easy being a protagonist in an unfinished book. That’s why I’ve been bugging Silk to get writing. For all I know at this point, I might not even end up being the protagonist.
Interviewer: Really? That is a lot of doubt to have to live with. Are you worried?
Sunny: Of course I’m worried! I could become a hapless corpse. An inanimate footnote to someone else’s story. Or a frivolous secondary character, some cop’s love interest, maybe. Don’t you understand? At this point I could be written out of existence! No glory. No series. No nothing.
Interviewer: It sounds to me like you’re fighting back. You’re obviously a determined young woman, Sunny. You could be hard to kill off.
Sunny: I’m tougher than I look, but I’m at Silk’s mercy at this point. I’m not panicked. Not yet. But right now, my big goal is to keep her at the keyboard. She has a deadline to hit, and if there’s any worse fate than being demoted to a secondary character, it’s being a protagonist in a book that never gets finished.
Interviewer: Well, that sounds like a challenge that will keep you very busy this spring, and we all wish you the best of luck in fulfilling your heroic role, Sunny.
Sunny: Thanks. If you want to help, maybe you could put in a good word for me when you talk to Silk.
Interviewer: Ah, the perfect segue to a preview of what’s coming up. We will bring you our interview with Silk Questo in a future broadcast, but meantime this is NPR’s Book Talk: New Voices, reminding you to read someone new this week!
Sunny: Yeah, my life depends on it.