My novel, Face Your Fears,will be published in July 2018. In order to introduce my characters to the reader, I’m doing make believe interviews with my 2 main characters and possibly other important persons in the book.
Last week I interviewed Nate McGuire. Today, I interview, Jude Totsian, the other main character. Jude is 10 and a 5thgrader. He is number 6 of 10 children. They live on a small dairy farm five miles from Sigourney, Iowa in Keokuk County. Jude is short, with wide shoulders, blond hair and blue eyes. I catch up with him in their large garden where he’s picking sweet corn.
BM: Hi, Jude. I’m Bill Mathis, the author of a novel with you in it. I’d like to ask you some questions.
Jude: Sticks his hand out and grasps mine firmly, gives it a solid shake and looks me in the eyes. It’s nice to meet you. Why would you want to ask me questions? Why am I in a book?
BM: Well, you kind of popped into my mind when I began writing. In fact, you started out in the book as very interesting and became even more so. Say, how much corn do you have to pick?
Jude: I can’t imagine me being interesting. I’m just a short farm kid on the only dairy farm left in the county. Oh, I’ll probably pick 3 dozen ears. The little kids will eat 1 each, the middle at least 2 and the big ones at least 3. We eat a lot of food. What we don’t eat, Mom will cut off the cobs and freeze for the winter. I’m going to make a cake for dessert.
BM: Really? A cake? What kind?
Jude: It’s no big deal. I make most of the desserts. I like to cook and bake from scratch. We don’t buy mixes. I’m thinking a yellow and chocolate swirl with buttercream frosting and I’ll shave some chocolate across the top to make it fancy.
BM: Wow! What else do you enjoy doing?
Jude: I like to read. I read several grades ahead. We don’t watch much TV ‘cuz Dad never quite gets the antennae fixed. He says with 10 kids we don’t need the noise anyway. I really like fishing over in the river, but can’t go by myself and David, my next oldest brother, hates it and won’t go with me and the big kids don’t want to go and I’m not old enough to take the little ones by myself. He sighs. Guess, that’s why I’m a middle kid. Never old enough to do what the big kids do and too old to do what the little ones do. I like to ride my bike, too.
BM: Bike riding is fun!
Jude: Yeah. Half the fun is keeping our herd of junked bikes fixed up. I’m good at that, too. Hey, I gotta start husking the corn. Can you stay for supper? We like having company.
BM: Well, thank you! Don’t you think you should ask your mother first?
Jude: Nah. She already waved at me when she saw us talking. That meant I was to invite you in. My mom is really cool. Did you know she’s Indian? Native American? And Dad is Armenian. They’re both real tall. Like Mom is 5’11” and Dad is around 6’ 2” and they’re both skinny. He looks at the ground and stops husking the corn a moment. Yeah, I can’t figure out why I’m so short, not tall and skinny like all my brothers and sisters. Or how I’m the only one outta 10 kids that got blond hair and blue eyes. Mom says there must be some Scandinavian blood somewhere. Then she won’t talk about it anymore.
BM: That’s interesting. What’s your dad say?
Jude: Big sigh. He don’t say anything. He never says much to me. When he does, he calls me ‘Boy’ and never by my name. Sometimes I see him watching me with this funny look on his face, only it’s not Ha Ha funny, but kinda confused funny. I don’t get it. He sighs again. Maybe I’m adopted, but I think Mom would tell me if I was and she don’t act any different with me. Just Dad.
BM: I hear clanging and see a small child pulling on the rope handle of a bell near the back porch. What’s the bell mean?
Jude: It’s chore time. Each week we have different chores to do. One kid has to go turn the cows in. A couple gotta go start their feed and washing their udders while Dad and the big kids put the milkers together, then start milking. Today, I’ll run in the house and start the cakes, then go down and clean the milkers and pipes and let the cows back out. Then everyone big enough to handle a shovel, cleans out the stalls and runs the cow shit into the gutters. We used to fight over who got to turn the gutter switch on, now it’s no big deal. The big boys will spread the manure tomorrow. Mom makes up a chore chart each week. She’s real organized. Dad pretty much makes it fun work. As fun as milking cows and doing farm chores can be. He wants some of us kids to stay on after high school and expand the herd.
BM: So, are you interested?
Jude: Heck, no! None of the big kids are either. I think Dad’s kinda sad, but says maybe he’ll go into beef cattle. I hope so, that’s a lot easier than dairy farming. Besides, I don’t think any of us kids want to stay around this Podunk area. C’mon, I gotta hurry.