This is a very special day. I am introducing you, Wrenlings, to a couple of my favorite people. One is real. The other is less so.
[Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash]
Every now and then in life you encounter someone who you know instantly will be a kindred spirit and soul-friend. Schuyler McConkey is one of those delightful people. She also happens to be a writer who just published her debut novel War of Loyalties exactly one week ago.
(in which the 11th doctor has the perfect reactions always)
Jaeryn Graham happens to be a Highly Important Character in said novel and also a precious gingersnap that I fell head-over-heels for the moment I met him. For me, Jaeryn is right up there with all the other infuriating, lovable, swoon-worthy men of literature, e.g. John Thornton, Dustfinger, Mr. Rochester, Holmes, etc. Today I have the privilege of featuring this enigmatic doctor + secret agent here on Curious Wren and I am OVER THE MOON ABOUT IT WITH DELIGHT.
deep breaths, Annie. deep breaths.
First, here’s a bit about War of Loyalties.
April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.
In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham’s British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after encountering death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn’t as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.
About the Author: Schuyler McConkey is a writing teacher, book reviewer, and ministry leader living half of her life in happy fellowship with her family and spending the other half in angst-filled fictional worlds. She is passionate about classic, Dickensian stories and characters who encounter deep struggles touched by grace. Irish music, British movies, and chai lattes provide the fuel for her dreams.
interrogation interview begin!
Annie: Welcome to Curious Wren, Jaeryn; I’m so pleased to have this chat with you today. *pours cup of tea and scoots chocolate cake closer* Tell us about yourself, if you please.
Jaeryn: Thank you, Miss Hawthorne. I have references available, if you would like me to add you to my patient roster. I’ve been living in Folkestone for the last few months starting my first practice. Before that, I was finishing school and completing various residencies.
Annie: Thank you for your thoughtful concern for my health. I’m quite touched, but at the present, I don’t need any medical care. Speaking of which, what led you to pursue medicine as a career?
Jaeryn: I am glad to hear you are in good health, Miss Hawthorne. Please don’t hesitate to call if you ever find yourself ill. I decided to be a doctor when I was around fifteen. I like to use my skills to keep illness from harming families and to oversee the wellbeing of a town. I have the capability to make quick and precise decisions, and I enjoy the sense of power that this work brings.
Annie: Your reasons are admirably noble, if I may say so, but I’m fascinated by your statement that you enjoy the sense of power that being a doctor gives you. What do you think that means regarding your personality, and does such a feeling ever concern you in any way?
Jaeryn: Some men are born to be leaders, and I have sensed from a very young age that I was one of them. I can’t say that it does concern me, Miss Hawthorne. Without sounding conceited, I feel confident in my ability to control my controlling tendencies. They haven’t run away with me yet, and as long as I exercise some common sense, I don’t think they will.
Annie: I’m glad to hear that you exercise such fine self-control. If you consider yourself as having been born to be a leader then how does that translate into the life of a doctor? You could have pursued politics or perhaps the clergy or even espionage.
Jaeryn: The clergy was not something I ever considered pursuing. Politics can be powerful, but one is at the mercy of elections and the cooperation of other men. In this field, I can work alone and set my own course for the things I consider important in life. While it doesn’t happen in every case, a doctor can control the course of illness and sometimes death, and enjoys a position of influence in society for causes that are important to him.
Annie: Without intending to flatter you, I will say my respect of you has deepened due to this conversation. But, I’m curious, since you’re a doctor and frequently come in contact with illness and death and all the difficult emotions related to that, is it a struggle to distance yourself from your patients or do you find yourself becoming too empathetic? Do you tend to keep your emotions bottled up or do you have a companion you can vent your thoughts to?
Jaeryn: I can control many things, but there are occasions when illness and death get the best of me—or treating them is draining seeing the impact that it has on the patient that it is hard to watch them suffer. I feel grief. On many occasions I feel grief mixed with anger in the face of pain I cannot cure. I am strong, and not debilitated by what I see, but I am also not untouched by it.
When I am thinking about occasions like that, a friend of mine seems to have a sixth sense on what evenings he needs to stop by. He has an uncanny ability to listen in the midst of all his chatter.
Annie: You seem to have all the right abilities to make an excellent doctor, and I’m pleased to hear that you have friends who can give you a listening ear when you need it. That’s so important. On that note, and not all intending to be impertinent, have you ever been married or wanted to be?
Jaeryn: I do not wish to be married. A wife would want to read over my shoulder and go out to social engagements, and both of those things would be distressing. I prefer to stay home as much as possible unless it’s connected to my work, and I do not allow anyone to read my papers.
Annie: What if the woman was blind and preferred a good cup of tea and knitting by the fireside to social gatherings?
Jaeryn: In that case she may have difficulty knitting, Miss Hawthorne. Neither could she make tea. While I would try to take good care of her, this sounds more like a patient than a wife. Perhaps I should cut this interview short, if we are going to delve into deeply personal questions.
Annie: My apologies. Have another cup of tea. I just have two more questions for you, and I’ll do my best not to pry. What is one of your fondest childhood memories? Vice versa, what was something that you struggled with as a child?
Jaeryn: My fondest memory is lying out on the grass, in the fresh air, on a Sunday afternoon. I had company I loved, in a place that I loved, and I knew that as soon as I went home there would be supper on the stove.
I struggled with loss.
Annie: One last question: when you picture your future, how do you see yourself in it and are you pleased with what you expect the reminder of your life to be?
Jaeryn: I picture the future as struggle and secrets, calculation and power, victory and life. And if what I see comes to pass, then I will die pleased, however long or short that life may be.
Annie: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I had a wonderful time, and let me just take this opportunity to FLAIL BECAUSE YOU ARE QUITE POSSIBLY ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARRIES EVER I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM TALKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW YOU’RE AMAZING AND INFURIATING AND I THINK I NEED A FANGIRL MOMENT AND MAY POSSIBLY START HYPERVENTILATING HaLp
*Jaeryn sympathetically lays a hand on your arm*
My dear Miss Hawthorne, you have been a very inquisitive but kind companion, and I am happy to have done you a good service. Allow me to suggest a cup of tea and perhaps a quiet nap this evening. It does a great deal to calm the nerves when one wishes to regain tranquility.
*writes you a prescription which you may keep as an autograph if you wish*
(don’t forget to enter the book giveaway!)