30 November 2011

Please Welcome...

Michael Vaughan, lead character of Agent of Artifice by S. Evan Townsend.

We're meeting Michael by a pool in Miami Beach. White capped waves rolling onto glistening beaches, and is that a cabana or two in the distance? Perhaps the cabana boys will come out to play, too.

Here comes Michael now. Would you look at that swagger.

Hi, Michael Vaughan! Glad to have you on board. Let’s begin, shall we?

Where are you from?

I'd rather not answer that question.  You see, "Michael Vaughan" is not my real name.  Like all adepts (humans with powers beyond that of lesser mortals) I have to use a pseudonym because if someone knows my real name, they would have power over me.  And in order to keep my identity secret, I don't talk about my past and certainly not where I'm originally from.  I did do my apprenticeship with an adept in Salt Lake City.

How did you meet Maria?

I first met Maria in the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba.  It was Thanksgiving weekend, 1958 (the Thanksgiving before Castro's revolution took over the island nation).  She was having lunch with Vinnie Scarpelli, the mob boss of the hotel's casino.  I needed to talk to him about setting up a poker game because I was running low on funds.

And what did you think of her when you first met?

I didn't like her.  She was rude, dismissive, and pretended not to speak English.  Later, in late 1959, I met her in West Berlin and she was a completely different woman: friendly, gregarious, and she spoke English perfectly.  Claimed to be an actress but I'm still wondering if that meeting was a coincidence and who she really works for.  Either the KGB or Cuba's equivalent, the DGI, I suspect.  Which means she was in Havana in 1958 helping Castro's revolution.

Why the beef between you and Houser?

It's complicated.  Houser thought I was loyal to Kader in the battle between them for primacy in the guild.  I wasn't exactly loyal to Kader but I didn't like Houser at all.  But Houser keeps trying to kill me because he thinks I'm a threat.  I'm really not.  I don't care who runs the guild.  Houser's multiple assassination attempts caused me to have to join the CIA.  That at least gives me the money and mobility to avoid Houser and his minions. 

What’s your favorite:


Eagles.  I envy their ease in flying: the power, speed, and grace they exhibit.  Just don't know if I want to eat raw fish and rodents.


I miss my mother's home cooking.  It was plain but hearty stuff.  But I can never go home again lest someone trace me back to my real name.  I tend to eat in a lot of restaurants and I like Italian food the best.  This came in handy when I worked for the mob in Chicago for a couple of weeks.

Type of music

Growing up all I heard was church music or what my mother would play on our piano (a huge extravagance for our dirt-poor farm family).  My master whom I apprenticed with in Salt Lake City preferred classical and had lovingly preserved 78s with his favorite pieces.   But I like the Jazz and Swing of the late 1950s.  It's the stuff I listened to and danced with lovely ladies to in the night clubs of Havana before the revolution.

Place (to visit or otherwise)

Havana before the revolution.  The sunlight there is a wonderful, magical thing, a bright, happy, golden light.  And the nightlife was amazing.  The entertainment was great and the companionship warm.  I'd hang around the Casino Parisien or the Tropicana and watch the shows, hobnob with movie stars, captains of industry, politicians, who were all so pleased to have an adept to introduce to their friends and bring a little intrigue and mystery to their meaningless little lives.  Almost every night I could find a starlet—or a girl wishing to be a starlet—to share my hotel room, as they all wanted bragging rights about having slept with an adept.  I don't think I disappointed too many of them.  And when that didn't work out, there were always the warm, brown local girls.


I don't read a lot, other than guild documents on how to do certain spells.  I guess I'm too busy with my own adventures.  However, growing up I read a lot.  My father said I read too much but he wanted me working on the farm, not with my nose in book.  A book was a treasure, hard to come by and to be hoarded when found.  My favorite authors were Mark Twain and Jules Verne.  The local library had pitifully few books by either, however.

That concludes this interview. I hope you enjoyed the charming wit and mystery surrounding Michael as much as I did. Here's a little info on Agent of Artifice:

They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit?  And what if they started mucking around with the affairs of "lessers" (that is, those humans not able to match their powers)? 

During the height of the Cold War, Michael Vaughan is a rogue without a guild.  He survives by working for the CIA as NOC (Non-Official Cover).  Shortly after the funeral of President Joe Kennedy, Jr., he is sent to Cuba to assassinate Castro.  There he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with adepts working for Fidel.

And some tidbits on the author himself:

S. Evan Townsend is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 20, and has a 22-year old son attending the University of Washington in biology. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.

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