Today, my guest is Beatrice, the squirrel. She is a familiar of the young witch Darya, the protagonist of my urban fantasy short story collection Squirrel of Magic. Because Beatrice is a squirrel, I changed the format of the interview to accommodate her quirky point of view and her long, bushy tail.
Tell me about yourself, Beatrice.
I’m a squirrel-familiar of my witch Darya. I live with her in Vancouver, Canada. I love Darya, but she’s not terribly bright. What could you expect from a Canadian witch? She buys my food at a pet store! How bright is that? I’m not a pet. I’m her familiar and her friend.
What do you do as a familiar?
I rescue my witch from tight situations. Occasionally, I find her wand or help her with her headaches, if she overuses her magic. Sometimes, I act as her spy—nobody notices a squirrel in Vancouver.
How did you become a familiar?
I remember waking up one day and knowing I had to find my witch. She is beautiful and kind, my Darya. Sometimes, she feeds me treats, like mango and pecans, but she’s always trying to save some dumb human, always getting in trouble for someone else. Instead, she should think about finding a mate and reproducing, making little witches.
Do you think about reproducing?
Of course, but male squirrels in Vancouver are too shallow. No nuts from them, no berries, no flowers. They only want one thing, but I crave adventures and romance.
What is your favorite pastime?
I like it when Darya reads to me about squirrels. She read a poem once by a Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Its main character is a magical squirrel. She sings songs and cracks nuts, and all the nuts have golden shells and emerald fruits. That’s a good story, better than some wimpy boy and girl falling in love and then killing themselves.
What is the greatest challenge for a familiar?
Keeping my witch happy. I can even do tricks, although I hate it.
Is this book about you?
[She swishes her tail.] It’s not. It should’ve been. I perform most heroic deeds in this book. Darya would’ve been lost without me, but of course, the author made Darya the leading character of all the stories. What could you expect from a human writer? I might write a book myself one day, and it would be about us, witches’ familiars. Readers should hear our stories.