CHARACTER NAME: Gwyn Blaidd
- Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Heroka of the wolf totem. The Heroka are a race of shapeshifters. We are linked to our totem species, drawing our vitality from them, with the power to control those animals and to take their form.
I’m over 100 years old and have been living a life of a recluse in my wilderness retreat, surrounded only by my wolf brothers. I’m not big on humans. I have my reasons. Probably something to do with them killing anyone I ever loved.
- Tell us why you’re embarking on this adventure?
Didn’t have a lot of choice, did I? First an old friend, Ed Three Rivers, emails me. His granddaughter, Mary, has been killed. Maybe a wild animal. Maybe a Heroka. He wants my help.
Then Mitch Ducharmes, head of the Circle of the Heroka, shows up with a teenage girl, Caz, in tow. Her parents have been killed by the Tainchel (keep reading—I’ll get to them) but Caz escaped. Mitch has the bright idea that I’d be the perfect person to protect her. Yeah, right.
I tell Mitch no. I tell Ed no.
That changes when the Tainchel attack my home. They kill Mitch, almost kill me. I kill them instead. My secret retreat is secret no longer, and the Tainchel are hunting Heroka again. I need to find and face them, but the problem with finding a covert organization is, well, yeah—the covert part.
So I head to Thunder Lake, where Ed lives, with a reluctant teenage girl tagging along because she’s safer with me than alone. Why Thunder Lake? Because a killing with Heroka signs will attract the Tainchel to the town.
And that works for me.
- Would you kill for those you love?
Been there. Done that. Told that story in “Spirit Dance” but it comes up again in this one, too. I didn’t think I had anyone left in the world to love, but I have lessons to learn on this journey.
- Would you die for those you love?
I tried. She wouldn’t let me. I still wish…I still wish it had been me, not her.
- What is your world like? How does it differ to mine?
You not been paying attention? The Heroka? A race of shapeshifters who are linked to the animals of their totem? Oh wait. That’s actually not different from yours. You just don’t know we exist. And we’d like to keep it that way.
- Who is your greatest friend?
Ed Two Rivers, an Ojibwe and a human. Runs a store with his white wife, Vera, in Thunder Lake. He knows of the Heroka. He keeps our secrets. Now he needs my help to find out who—or what—killed his granddaughter, Mary. I knew Mary. Taught her to track, to hunt. Great kid. Now she’s dead. Dead like all the other friends I’ve had in my life. Ed’s the last.
No, that’s not true. There’s Gelert, the great Irish wolfhound (I like the irony) who is my pawakan, my animal companion of my totem who is bound to me as I am to him.
- Who is your greatest enemy
The Tainchel, a covert operation of the Canadian intelligence agency CSIS, formed with the single goal of tracking down and capturing the Heroka. For scientific testing. Testing that we, the Heroka, generally don’t survive.
Tainchel. Old Scottish term: armed men advancing in a line through a forest to flush out and kill wolves.
The Tainchel developed specialized scanners from tests on early victims. Subtle differences in alpha wave patterns, infrared readings, and metabolic rates give us away, even in crowded cities.
- What is your greatest weakness (we won’t tell).
I’m told I have a bit of a temper. Likely something to do with humans trying to kill my people all the time.
- Do you believe in god(s)?
I’ve always been pretty ambivalent on the topic. My general response to anyone talking of gods and an afterlife has been a shrug and a “maybe.”
But after you’ve met the wolf spirit, Mahigan, and fought an indestructible supernatural flesh-eating monster, and walked in the Spirit World…
Well, let’s just say I’m more open to the idea now.
- Within your culture what is the political structure.
The Heroka are all pretty independent. Yeah, some of us are herd or pack creatures, but we’re not big on being told what to do. The Circle of the Heroka is as close to a political structure we have. It’s elected. Reps from each of the totems, with one of them serving as the head. I headed security in the northeast once, under Mitch. That was before the ambush (keep reading).
- What is your greatest fear?
The vitality of the Heroka is tied to the vitality of our totem animals. Human greed for land, for power, for resources, is destroying our wilderness, destroying the habitats of our totem species. As the animals dwindle, so does the strength of the Heroka. That’s why so many of us are environment activists. Sometimes the activism gets violent. Before you judge, remember—we’re fighting for our survival as a species.
- Tell us about your greatest achievement
The ambush. My greatest claim to fame—or infamy. Depends who you ask.
It happened while I still ran security in the northeast. Once we finally realized the Tainchel existed and were hunting us, we set a trap. I leaked word about a gathering of Heroka planned for an isolated spot. At a full moon—figured they’d expect that touch.
About twenty Tainchel walked into the ambush. They were focused on capturing subjects, so they only had trank rifles.
They walked in. They didn’t walk out. We were all predator totems. Wolves, bears, the big cats, birds of prey. We didn’t take prisoners.
Like I said, we were fighting for our lives.
For the author
Books in which this character appears:
Gwyn Blaidd is the main character in Doug’s urban fantasy novel, THE WOLF AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He also appears in Doug’s award winning novelette, “Spirit Dance,” which is the prequel story to THE WOLF novel.
Links, short author bio…
Douglas Smith is an award-winning Canadian author described by Library Journal as “one of Canada’s most original writers of speculative fiction.” His fiction has been published in twenty-six languages and thirty-two countries. His work includes the urban fantasy novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, and the collections Chimerascope, Impossibilia, and La Danse des Esprits. His non-fiction guide for writers, Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction, is a must read for any short story writer.
Doug is a three-time winner of Canada’s Aurora Award, and has been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, CBC’s Bookies Award, Canada’s juried Sunburst Award, and France’s juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane. A short film based on Doug’s story “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” won several awards at film festivals around the world.
This book features in:
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2u33Tfd