INTERVIEW WITH A SKYSTEED
I’m excited to have this opportunity to chat with N’Rah, one of the heroes of Polly Holyoke’s new fantasy novel Skyriders. I should mention in passing that N’Rah happens to be a flying horse, or skysteed, as his breed is known in the Empire of Prekalt. I also happened to know that this particular skysteed has a real fondness for honey and apples.
So, N’Rah, can you tell us a little bit about you and your human’s exciting work as sky couriers?
My human and I are very proud of the work we do flying the mail across the vast lands of Prekalt. Because I am mountain born and bred, I am happy to fly courier routes through the high peaks. I grew up dealing with the kind of strong winds and thunderstorms that can frighten other couriers, but not my skyrider. Kie trusts my judgement and my flying abilities when it comes to extreme weather.
Please tell us about the human you are bound to, Kiesandra Torsun.
My human is very brave, kind, and stubborn. I think she spends too much time by herself, caring for her family’s apple orchard. Her father died a year ago, and her mother left her when Kie was only six. Her Uncle Dugs lives with us, but he is so frail now, she looks after him more than he looks after her. The other students were awful to her at school because she was so shy and had problems learning to read. It is hard for her to trust others, but I am proud that she is gradually gaining good friends and a herd of her own.
I hear her Uncle Dugs was always pestering you two to practice skyfighting.
That is true, and now it appears to be a very good thing that he did! We would spend hours learning how to shoot targets that represented the three hearts of the chimerae, a terrible three-headed monster that once almost destroyed all of Prekalt. We also learned how to use triwires, a weapon made up of three razor-sharp wires that are four feet long, weighted with metal balls at the ends and joined at the center with a small wooden handle. Skyriders throw triwires at a chimerae hoping to damage its wings or bind its wings to its legs.
How do you feel about the chimerae?
At first, I hated them, and I was shocked when they reappeared. Now I understand they were created from a terrible, dark binding magic that forced three separate creatures-- sand dragons, blood goats and lions-- into the same body. Mostly I feel sorry for the Foul Ones, but I will not let them harm my skyrider, or our world.
How did you come to have such an important role in saving Pedarth, the capital city of Prekalt?
Kie’s uncle and his skysteed were terribly hurt fighting chimerae after the monsters returned. He made Kie promise that we would take his great grandfather’s manual on ancient skyfighting tactics to the capital and persuade people in power there to read it. That was such a difficult mission for a shy thirteen-year-old girl from the fringes of the Empire. But with my help and the help of new friends she made in Pedarth, I am proud to say my human was successful.
What do you think is next for you and your brave skyrider?
We desperately need more help in fighting the chimerae, so I think someday we may have to ask the wild skysteeds to join us in this struggle. Someday, too, someone will have to discover who is creating chimerae in this time and causing so much pain and suffering. That human needs to be stopped!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
My pleasure. Now, about those apples and honey cookies you mentioned?