1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name’s Lainie Banfrey. There’s nothing significant about it; it’s just a plain old name. But it’s my name, and I like it.
2. How old are you?
I’m 19 years old.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
It’s just me and my Pa, Burrett. He owns a big ranch in the Bitterbush Valley. My mama, Vera, died of a fever when I was six, and my older brother Blake got killed in a shootout just a few months ago. It didn’t have nothin’ to do with him, he was just minding his own business and some miners just started shooting things up, pissed off at a ranch hand who said something they didn’t like. I really miss both of them a lot. Blake and I were real close, and it’s hard to believe he’s gone.
I love my Pa and we get along pretty well, running the ranch together, but we don’t agree on everything. He’s real picky about what men I’m allowed to talk to – he’s got his own idea about who I should marry, and that’s just how it’s going to be. And he don’t want me using my magic power. Most Plain folks hate wizards, and he’s no exception, but with him it’s personal, you know? But he won’t tell me why he hates them so much. And I want to be able to use my magic, but I know it’s wrong, and I don’t want to be someone my Pa will hate. So it makes me feel all torn up inside sometimes.
I’ve also got my mare, Mala, and two cattlehounds, Bunky and Snoozer, and then there’s Rat, he’s a fat old orange-striped tabby tom with one ear. The other ear got chewed off by a rat, his first big catch when he was about five ninedays old. We’ve got a whole bunch of barn cats, but Rat’s the one who decided I’d be his special person.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
I’ve never kissed anyone. My Pa is really protective and don’t like me being alone with a man, and I think every man in the Valley knows if they try anything my Pa’ll come after them with a shotgun.
5. What is your occupation?
I’ve been working on our family’s ranch almost since I could walk. I take care of the house and the cooking and cleaning, and also do a lot of the ranch work, mend fences, herd cattle, stuff like that.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I’m a hard worker, and I always try to do the very best I can at whatever I do. I’m a good cook, and everyone says I ride herd on the cattle as good as any man. I also love my Pa and do my best to honor him and be a dutiful, obedient daughter, even when we don’t agree on things.
I guess I’m kind of stubborn sometimes, and sometimes I want to see things the way I want them to be instead of the way they really are. And sometimes I’m not very honest with my Pa. I don’t lie to him outright, but sometimes I don’t tell him everything because I also don’t like arguing with him.
I don’t know if my magic power’s a bad quality. I don’t think it should be, but everyone says magic is wicked and evil, and I don’t know, maybe it would make me bad whether I want it to or not.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
I want a man who’s honest and a hard worker and who treats me good and with respect. If he wants to protect me, that’s good, but I don’t want to be treated like I’m stupid or fragile. It would be nice if he’s nice-looking, though I’m not real picky about that, and if he’s smart and fun to be with and talk to.
And… I guess this is silly, but I’d like a man who makes me feel all tingly and glowy inside, a man like the heroes in the penny-thriller novels. None of the men around here are like that, especially the man my Pa has his eye on for me. He’s a good man, just not very romantic and exciting. So I guess all that’s okay for stories, but real life don’t work that way.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I love riding my horse Mala out on the range, and I like to cook, and read the penny-thrillers. Most of all, I like playing Dragon’s Threes. I always win, too. 😀 Men who’ve never played with me before can’t believe it when they get beat by a girl!
9. What is your greatest fear?
I’m afraid that because I’ve got magic power, that means I’ll turn into a monster with no heart and no soul, like everyone says wizards are. I don’t feel like a heartless monster, and I don’t want to do no one any harm, but maybe using magic just makes you that way whether you want to be or not.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
My horse Mala, and my certificate from the Bitterbush Springs town school – I went for the whole six years, starting when I was 9, and passed all the examinations – and the bird-in-a-cage quilt my mama made for me before she died.
Beneath the Canyons is available at Amazon.