Interview With “Z”

It isn’t often an author has the opportunity to have a sit-down with one of his or her main characters. After all, these people are pretty busy chasing down bad guys, and getting in and out of trouble. However, I managed to corner one of my main characters in Legacy 627, and the main character in my upcoming novel, Z’s Legacy, for a little chat.

RLM Cooper: Z, tell us a bit about CIMA and the CIB here in Cascadia.

Z: The CIB is rather like the United States’ CIA, FBI, and NSA all rolled into one. Cascadia, as you know, is a small country compared to the larger USA and it was felt we didn’t need so many different organizations. CIMA, pronounced SEE-ma, is the mission wing of the CIB as opposed to the research and information-gathering divisions.

RLM Cooper: Doesn’t it feel odd that your mother, your home, is still in the United States?

Z: Not really. The secession of Oregon, California, Washington, and Hawaii from the U.S. to form our current country of Cascadia happened a long time before I was even born. I always knew I would come here. At least I knew it since I was a teenager.

RLM Cooper: How’s that? Why here when everything you knew was back in Alabama?

Z: Well, it was attached to the United States, you know? Like Mexico and Canada. So I worked my way west until I was at the Cascadian border where my sister Alex’s father noticed me and took me into the country and under his care. He even adopted me even though I was already 18 years old by then.

RLM Cooper: But why leave your home in the first place?

Z: I’d rather not get into that. Things happened. Things I’m not comfortable talking about.

RLM Cooper: I see. We will skip that, then. Did you feel strange being a young Black woman in a white family?

Z: Not really. Alex, my sister, and I couldn’t be closer if we had been twins.

RLM Cooper: You and Alex are both in the #2 division of CIMA, right?

Z: Yes. Along with several other team members. When Alex’s–and my–father was killed, the CIB retired the CIMA-1 designation and CIMA-2 became the number one team.

RLM Cooper: Ah yes! That was a great loss to the CIB and to the country. Tell me about CIMA-2 today. Tell me about your team members. What are they like?

Z: Sorry for laughing, but no one has ever asked that before. Not sure where to start.

RLM Cooper: Well, just start with Alex.

Z: Alex. The beautiful, blonde, spiky-haired Alex. Even the scar on the left side of her face couldn’t mar her. She’s perfect. To look at her you would think she’s just a girlie girl. All soft and pink. But she’s made of some really tough stuff. She’s someone you want on your side playing ball or doing battle. She’s kind. Loving. Strong-willed and very, very smart. She’s our puzzle solver. Why are you smiling?

RLM Cooper: You seem to love her very much and it makes me happy, somehow, just hearing you describe her. Tell me about her partner, Parker West.

Z: Parker! He’s a real character. Good-natured. Always joking around. He comes from a very wealthy family. Two brothers. One, a lawyer. The other in the medical field. Doing research, I believe. Parker was never interested in anything like that. He was the the adventurous type. Always doing risky stuff. Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, climbing mountains, that kind of thing. Just looking for the thrill. He joined the military and was so good at it, they groomed him to be a sniper. He and Alex make good partners.

RLM Cooper: How about your own partner. I believe his name is Gray Hawk?

Z: Yes. Gray. He was orphaned in Arizona and brought to this country by the couple who found him and took him in as their own. I think I can safely say I have never in my entire life seen a more gorgeous man than Gray. He’s stealthy quiet and deadly calm in every situation. He reads people better than anyone I’ve ever met, too. You know how people always say that if a dog doesn’t like someone, you need to think twice about trusting that person? Gray is like that. He has an instinct about people that is uncanny. And, of course, he thinks Alex hung the moon. Do people still say that? Hung the moon? Anyway, I think he loved her the first time he saw her.

RLM Cooper: How about your team leader. He’s called Viking, I believe.

Z: Viking. His name is Erik Larsen, but everyone calls him Viking. What can I tell you about him? He’s huge. Piercing blue eyes and wild beard and hair. He makes you feel like a little girl standing beside the biggest football player you’ve ever seen. He’s someone you trust absolutely. Everything he does, he does for the good of the team. He’s our weapons expert and knows more than I ever will. He’s our alpha-wolf, always bringing up the rear where he can keep an eye on us all. I would trust my life to him in a heartbeat.

RLM Cooper: He sounds like someone I would love to know. You mentioned football. Are you a fan of the sport?

Z: Yes. I have to own up to it. You can, to borrow a saying, take the girl out of Alabama, but you can’t take Alabama out of the girl. I have always loved football. It’s unlike any other sport I know. It’s ordered chaos. It’s chess on a hundred-yard field. Yes. You could say I’m a fan.

RLM Cooper: I seem to recall there is another member of the CIMA-2 team. Tell me a bit about him.

Z: Budgie. He’s on the edge of autistic. He’s our information systems guy. He can find out nearly anything you want to know. The problem with Budgie is getting the information out of him once he has it. It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell you, it’s just that he can’t really find the immediate words to tell you. Alex is best for getting the information because he has a crush on her. She teases him and loves him like a brother. I think he would do anything for her.

RLM Cooper: I understand that when Alex turned thirty, she claimed a legacy and that legacy took your team on a wild ride through the American south a couple of years ago. You were wounded on that mission, weren’t you?

Z: Yes. It was really nothing. I’m fine.

RLM Cooper: I also understand you just recently passed your own thirtieth birthday and also claimed a legacy. Can you tell us what it was?

Z: It was a blue stone in a brooch. I don’t wear much jewelry so I gave it to my mother.

RLM Cooper: You just returned from that trip, is that right? Want to tell me about it?

Z: It turned out to be more than a visit, but no. I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

RLM Cooper: Well, let me know when you are ready. I’d love to hear all about it. Meanwhile, I have to say you have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. What do you do to keep it looking like this?

Z: Soap and water and aloe vera gel. Not very glamorous, I’m afraid.

RLM Cooper: Whatever it is, I’m trying it. Thank you so much, Z. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Z: My pleasure, as well.

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