Today we are joined by Blake Ryan: doctor, immortal, former soul sucker. Such a man hardly needs an introduction, so I will let him speak for himself. Meet Blake Ryan:
Being alive for a thousand years has to be incredibly wonderful, trying, humbling and possibly painful. What is the biggest challenge to living such a long lifespan?
*Long sigh as he thinks about his answer* The hardest thing for me is to keep my humanity. It’s easy to lose myself in my addiction and power.
In your thousand year life, what’s the best moment(s) you’ve witnessed, and, if it’s not too painful, what are the worst?
The worst moments were in the trenches in WWI. To see what mortals did to each other… But the best moments came from the good people do even in those circumstances.
How did you discover you could control your inner monster with morphine?
Actually, someone once noticed that smoking opium unfocused our power. It was my brother who realized that it could be used to purposefully limit our power in a way that slows down our cravings.
It also has the added bonus that we can’t be detected when our powers are unfocused.
Do you think having killed immortals has given you unique skills to now save lives as a doctor?
No, but it gave me an incentive to do as much good as possible to make up for it.
Where were you during the second world war? What was your role in that monumental moment in history?
I was a pilot for Britain and… some other things. *Grimaces* Part of our duty at the Firm is to guide humans behind the scenes.
We fall in love for a myriad of reasons. What is it about Aleria that you find irresistible, besides her incredible life force?
*Smiles, but sadness still tinges his ocean-green eyes* Her kindness.
Have you traveled to exotic places over the past thousand years? How do you feel about the change in transportation and the relative time it takes to travel now?
I don’t think there are a lot of places left that I haven’t been to at least once. Its wonderful that traveling is so much faster now, although I miss the Concorde.
What do you most miss about the “old days” – in your case, you can pick any time period you’ve lived in?
*Runs his fingers through his dark hair. Sad smile* Songs and stories around the fire with my mother.
Can you feel your inner monster raging inside you? Is the feeling physical or emotional?
Both. If I let my true nature take over, any other emotion becomes secondary to my lust for power. It can take a physical manifestation too. Muscles tensing… Stomach clenching. Heart racing… That sort of thing.
How do you separate Blake Ryan-doctor from the monster within?
I try not to think about my hunting days too much. It just reminds me that I haven’t hunted, which only tempts me. But the morphine helps.
Do souls have a taste?
No… It’s more like a… sensation. A rush.
If you could pick one century or decade to live in again, which would it be?
When I was a child and my immortality hadn’t been certain. I guess… *Crosses his arms* I guess my eighteenth birthday was the last time I truly felt free.
What’s your favorite type of music?
Jazz. *Expression eases back into a smile* I suppose my music tastes got stuck in the previous century.
Do you really think you can keep from hurting Aleria?
*Smile drops away* I have no idea. I hope so.
Well, Blake, you have a lot going on. I wish you well!
About the Book:
“First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.
Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.
Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.
Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.
About the Author
Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.
If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:
This had to be what dying felt like. Floating outside my body, waiting for that final link to my life to be severed, only vaguely aware of indescribable pain. More screams than I could count rose up around me. Hundreds of footsteps beat against tiles. I couldn’t open my eyes if I wanted to. Not when it was easier to listen and wait. People shouted for a doctor or an IV, or a thousand other things that made no sense. I listened to all the chaos, trying to untangle it in my thoughts.
Soon, I could go. The peace around me was so relaxing, completely out of place in the clamor I heard. I wanted it. To rest forever in that peace. Why not? There was a very good reason, but I couldn’t call it to mind.
A numb buzz shot through my body and shattered my serenity.
It happened again. Only this time was more of a sharp pulse. The third time jolted like lightning. The fourth…Hell. Suddenly, the screams were coming from me. My heart’s relentless thundering added to my torment.
My chest burned like fire. It hurt to breathe. Cold air drove down my throat and into my lungs, amplifying the inferno in my chest. My skin felt scorched. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t right.
I had to see. I had to understand why pain dominated my existence like this. My eyes were fused shut. My breaths grew shallow, trying to draw air when there was none. I tried to clench my teeth. I bit hard plastic. A pipe. Cold air suddenly forced back into my lungs, out of time with my own breathing. This was wrong. It wasn’t safe. I had to see. The best I got was a little fluttering of my lashes.
A high-pitched beep shot through my head. It repeated again and again. I wanted to reach over and slam my fist into its source. My arm wouldn’t lift. Something kept it trapped. A scream rose up from the depths of my soul, but the pipe jammed inside my throat stifled the sound. I only managed a whimper, trying my best not to gag. More air blasted into my lungs against my will. What was going on? I was trapped in my own body, but why?
I needed to move. I had to move. Now. Before… Even… Even though… Panic gripped me. The beeps increased at a frenetic pace. I needed to move. To be gone. Didn’t matter where. Just not here. Not defenseless. Not trapped.
The air sucked out of my lungs. I gasped, choking on nothing, strangled by invisible fingers. I tried to convulse my body. To twist myself free of what’s holding me.
The air rushed back in a cold flood. Seconds later it left, only to return in the same amount of time.
There was a rhythm to the air. In… out… in… out… The breaths were slow—sleep-like. I concentrated on this rhythm, striving to clear my head. If I wanted out, I needed to think. Calmly. Clearly. Eventually, those irritating beeps slowed. I tried to focus past the sound.
Voices buzzed about me, adding to my need to see, to do something to protect myself. No one seemed to pay attention to me. Good. I could use that to my advantage.
I centered my every thought on moving my little finger. It finally jerked, but collided against something solid. So the thing trapping my arm was physical and too heavy for me to lift. It was better to be trapped than paralyzed. With luck I could escape my restraints. I tried my other hand, but it was cemented stuck as well. Right leg. Left leg. Damn it! Both trapped. I had to move!
No, I needed to stay calm. I tried to make larger movements, biting the pipe in my mouth against the urge to scream in pain. There was no wiggle room.
Fearing that I might be blindfolded, I focused on blinking. It worked. My eyes opened and the blur faded, revealing ceiling tiles. Why would there be tiles? Where was the canvas of hospital tents? The distant sounds of bombs dropping? The power of their explosions rushing through my blood?
No. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t there.
Where was I, then?