Today, we’re doing something a little different. I know it’s been a while since we did one of these. If you remember, we interviewed Amber Daulton’s character back on June 7th, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Blackbird, the author of Blessed, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Darryl Keejik, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Maggie in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Darryl!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Darryl. Please have a seat.
Character Darryl Keejik: Thank you for having me, Marie.
Marie: Of course! It’s my pleasure!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Darryl: I’m the self-governance coordinator for the reserve. I’d say I’m very good at what I do. I’ve been in this field since I graduated university. I’ve worked for two other aboriginal organizations in Winnipeg before I returned home to Ottertail Lake to help my Ojibway community work towards developing their own model for governing the band.
Marie: All right.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Darryl: There’s only my aunt and I. I’ll leave it at that.
Marie: Okay…I sense there’s a story here, but I won’t push.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Darryl: It’s one of the first homes built on the reserve, made from logs and constructed by my great-grandfather. My grandfather installed the hardwood floors. It’s nothing elaborate. A simple two-bedroom home with a wood-burning stove for heat.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies, Darryl? What do you enjoy doing?
Darryl: I enjoy fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking, and camping. I’m an outdoorsman at heart.
So, what is your greatest dream?
Darryl: For the Anishinaabe Nation to become a sovereign nation as we once were before.
Marie: (Nods.) I see…
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Darryl: I wish I could be more forgiving, but after what my people experienced at the hands of the government and religious institutions, it’s a little hard to be that person.
Marie: That makes sense.
Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Darryl: Emery Matawapit.
Marie: Aww. I love romance. ♥
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Darryl: Losing my whole family in a boating accident. My parents were drunk, going for supplies. I was at home with my aunt, only four, and too young to go.
Marie: Oh, no! I’m so sorry! 😥
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Darryl: As I said, my dream was to help my people become a sovereign nation. I’m still working on that dream. It’s a little hard to achieve when band members at our reserve practice different…spiritual ways and have differing beliefs, such as the Matawapit family.
Marie: I understand.
So, who is your role model, Darryl?
Darryl: Basil Skunk. He’s the elder for the Traditionalists Society.
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Darryl: I tolerate Deacon Matawapit. We play our little game of politeness.
Marie: Let’s try another question.
What is your deepest desire?
Darryl: A family of my own.
Marie: Oh, yes, I think a lot of people want that…
So, tell me something, Darryl. What is your greatest fear?
Darryl: That I’ll never have a family of my own.
Marie: I have that fear as well. Having kids would be almost impossible for me medically, unless I decide to adopt.
I’m so fortunate you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Darryl. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Maggie Blackbird on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Maggie!
Author Maggie Blackbird: Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀
So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story, Darryl Keejik. Quite an interesting character. He’s a little tight-lipped and stoic. Can you tell us more about him?
Maggie: Well, as you can see, your interview hit a few nerves with Darryl. He’s having some problems reconciling the past with the present. He’s an inter-generational survivor of the Indian Residential Schools. But I’m rooting for him. Darryl’s a fighter. He won’t give up.
Marie: Admirable, of course!
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Maggie: His ability to lead. Although Darryl’s stubborn and opinionated, he has a great ability to listen, once he gets past his anger.
Marie: Oh, we could definitely use better listening skills in the world. Everyone is all ready to jump at the next person for each little thing.
And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?
Maggie: His inability to forgive. Darryl holds on to past hurts. He’s all about the grudge.
Marie: Ah. Well, I’m sure some of our readers can relate. It’s not always easy to let go.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are some of Darryl’s favorite foods?
Maggie: Darryl loves his aunt’s homemade moose stew and bannock. He also enjoys a good shore lunch of walleye, pan-fried potatoes, and corn when he’s out on the lake.
Marie: Sounds delicious!
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Maggie: Darryl doesn’t realize how much love he has to offer others. His resentments stop him from becoming a great leader, because he sincerely loves his people and wants to see them succeed.
Marie: All right.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Maggie: It’s a little hard to say. Some enjoy Darryl, others find him a bit of a jerk at the beginning of the book. Darryl’s an emotional and passionate man with a big chip on his shoulder. His childhood wasn’t the greatest, growing up without a family and raised by his alcoholic aunt who’s an extremely bitter woman. I’d say she passed on a lot of her bitterness to Darryl.
Marie: Okay, that makes sense…
Now that we have a real taste of Darryl, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Blessed?
Maggie: I come up with ideas based on the problems the Indigenous People of Canada face. Then I put a spin of “what if” on it.
Marie: Awesome! Isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? 😉
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Maggie: I call myself a planster – part panster and part planner. I always have a logline and blurb, my GMC, character arc, and sketches done. But I’m no BIG planner down to the details of chapter goals, scene goals, et cetera. The characters determine those.
How about another question?
Now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Blessed or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Maggie: Finding a publisher was hard because Blessed doesn’t fit a specific niche, and publishers do have their niches. It’s heavy on religion and spirituality, but doesn’t fit inspirational or Christian fiction because there are some very explicit adult sexual scenes, and profanity. As for doing anything differently, it is what it is. Darryl and Emery wrote their story, and I typed what they had to say. I’m not a writer. I take dictation for my characters. LOL!
Marie: (Smiles.) Yeah…sometimes I think the characters are directing the story more than I am.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Blessed appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this sexy MM multicultural romance with a slight inspirational angle by Maggie Blackbird, a very talented author!
A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling: the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.
It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.
Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon, and he intends on using his newfound power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and the church.
Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.
An erotic spiritual journey…
Maggie is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
“You see what?” Darryl slapped his thigh. “Dammit, I’m trying to figure out why Basil asked me to talk to you first, instead of Clayton and the kids, ‘cause I knew we’d end up argu—”
“Basil asked you to speak to me?” Great, Darryl hadn’t phoned on his own accord. The elder had forced him to meet Emery.
A coward slunk away. A man of courage fought for what he wanted. Emery stood tall. “I appreciate your consideration. Why’d you listen to Basil?”
Darryl continued to glare.
Emery forced a chuckle. Maybe teasing would relieve the tension between them. “I’ve never known you to listen to anyone.”
“I always listen to Basil.” Darryl’s tone could cut rocks.
The anger permeating the air had nothing to do with Clayton, the protest, or Annie. Emery sucked in a breath. “What do you want me to do? Take off my clothes? Is that what I have to do to make you happy?”
“Sarcasm isn’t what I expected from you.” Darryl cocked his brow. “Fine. Take them off. Take them all off. If you need help, I got two willing hands.”
Ripe heat kissed the flesh buried beneath Emery’s underwear. His skin shimmered hot and cold. “I guess… guess I was right.”
As Darryl continued to glare, an irritating prickle sprang up at the nape of Emery’s neck. He scratched the mosquito bite.
Darryl turned and stomped around the four-wheeler, his breaths huffing and puffing. “I promised myself I wouldn’t behave like Saint Kateri’s father did. The thing is—I am.”
His face reddened. He kicked the rear wheel of the machine. “You make me so goddamned mad. Fine. I’ll let the youth down. I’ll let Clayton and the Traditionalists Society call me a traitor. And I’ll most likely lose the next election ‘cause I tossed my integrity out the door. Bottom line. I’ll do anything to make you happy. You come before anything that means everything to me.”
Darryl dug out his keys. “And even though I put your feelings first, I don’t expect you to do the same. Go ahead and love your god till the end of time.”
Had a tornado torn through the powwow grounds? This wasn’t how they were supposed to resolve the problem. Emery forced out the words caught in his throat. “Wh-what are you talking about?”
Darryl slid onto the four-wheeler. He jammed the key into the ignition. The engine roared to life. His eyes matched the snarl of the machine. “I’m voting in favor of paying the church’s hydro bill.”
When he revved the throttle, Emery leapt forward. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re not leaving me to eat dust again.” He clamped his hand over Darryl’s.
“You said you’re voting for the church to make me happy.” Emery kept his hand put or he might get run over. “As much as I appreciate what you’re doing, I won’t let you compromise your beliefs. My savior wouldn’t approve. Neither do I. I can’t be happy at another’s expense. At your expense.”
“And what about the people you spoke about earlier?” Darryl’s hand tensed beneath Emery’s. “Your parents? The others who go to church? If you let me vote, they’ll be happy. Don’t they count?”
“The Lord is their savior. They wouldn’t want you to compromise your beliefs, either.” Emery squeezed Darryl’s fingers. “Please, listen to me.”
Jaw clenched, Darryl scowled at the sky.
A few seconds passed. Emery’s heart ceased to beat for a moment. Now what was going through the head of the most stubborn person in the world?
“You got a million mosquitoes swarming you.” The fire in Darryl’s eyes vanished. “We can finish talking at my place.”
Emery’s heart swelled. His happiness did come first. Wait a second. He couldn’t go to the house. People would talk—especially the protesters. For sure they’d call Darryl a traitor.
The word no sat on the tip of Emery’s tongue. He swallowed. If he objected, he’d offend Darryl again. “‘Sure.”
Intriguing! Love the tension. ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/4AYy8o
Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40722164-blessed
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this great MM romance! ♥
About Maggie Blackbird
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Maggie Blackbird, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2CJUAEs
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Darryl, a male character from Blessed, and Maggie Blackbird, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀