“What would happen if…” That is the essential question that Miki Starr Martin lives and writes by. The granddaughter of poet Mai Taj Penovich, Miki first showed an appreciation for the written word at the age of 5 when she wrote a poem [later published by her grandmother] titled "Black & White." Since, she has taken every opportunity to explore the written word and creative process in new and unique ways. To date, Starr has completed 6 novels, co-authored 1 book of poetry, and compiled 1 book of short stories. She is a married mother of one and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota where she does freelance web and graphic design.
Dr. Nicollet Madison Fairway is a fictional psychotherapist straight out the mind of authoress Miki Starr Martin. Problem is - she doesn’t realize it. In a loft located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, Dr. Fairway has created a very lucrative business counseling fictitious characters through a celebrated system that has been dubbed, The Fairway Method and has been greatly successful in her treatment of many very notable fictitious characters. From Eric Jerome Dickey’s Arizona, to the late Alex Haley’s Ruthana, with many other authors’ characters in between.
Now, Dr. Fairway has decided to take on a new adventure in her practice by serving a group of characters all from a single mind. In this case, it is her very own creator, Miki Starr. Unfortunately this is a much greater undertaking than the good doctor could have ever suspected. Between the troubles with her own relatives, a family filled with arrogant, self-serving doctors, her bickering clients, and her quest for true love - Dr. Fairway is doing all that she can to hold on to her sanity while trying to help her clients find a piece of their own.
For decades, the children of the planet Marieux were told tales of the birth of a savior that would free their world from the clutches of the heartless organization that controlled it for years. Military rule, unjust laws, and recruitment of women for the purpose of serving the needs of their oppressor, exemplified the society into which they were born. But with each passing year, as civilization was further plunged into the depths of despair, it became even less conceivable that the prophecy of the Anointed Daughter of the Marinites was true.
Seventeen-year-old Olivia Kalaath, has heard this story since childhood and rejected it for just as long, despite at times being accused of being this prophecy come reality. After all, she has the golden skin tone and the extraordinary instincts synonymous with the mythical figure. Either way, being different has its price. In order to keep herself and her mother below the Shadow Realm Allegiance’s radar, she practices the age-old art of concealing, a survival technique she learned as a child. But when her best friend goes missing, Olivia must decide what she believes in once and for all.
What is your definition of a "good book"?
I find a book most intriguing when it has depth, strong characters, landscape, and realistic dialogue. If I can visualize it as though it were a movie on a screen before me rather than text on a page. If I can hear the character's voice [not create it myself]. If even after I’ve walked away from the story and come back to it, the voice is still the same. When characters have a consistent personality, idiosyncrasies, their own unique sense of humor and relatable connections to other characters in the book. When I cannot for the life of me predict what the outcome will be. And even if I can, the path there is not at all what I expected. I consider a book to be “good” when there are multiple plots so delicately woven together that you hardly even notice. Though drama is a necessary element, it needs to be purposeful. I appreciate when an author takes care with every element of bringing their tale to life, including names. There is a distinctive difference between a story that was written and a world that was created especially for me to escape to.
How does your latest literary offerings qualify as that “good book”?
There is no formula involved in my creations. No ‘short story writing 101’. No rules. Anything goes. My literary offerings are not orchestrated. I write strictly from the heart and I think that is what brings the stories to life. I get lost in their worlds, lost in their experiences. I become each and every character. I breathe them from beginning to end. If I don’t believe them, how do I expect anyone else to? For me, the characters are real. I don’t make up a story and dictate how it will turn out. They come to me and dictate to me exactly what they want me to know and share with the world. My job is never to actually author their story, but rather breathe life into it so that it is real to more than just them and to me but the reading world et al.
I’m only late this morning because Giada felt the urge to take advantage of me as her big sister and as a therapist – as usual. One o’clock in the morning finds my sister and her hubby parked at my door. I’d only just gone to bed myself about twenty minutes earlier. I’d been up late reading FLOSS, a book by an author named Monica Marie Jones. I don’t know much about the author yet but apparently one of her characters, Dionysus, has heard of me and I need some background to know what I’d be getting myself into should I take her on as a client.
I hadn’t realized there were unwanted guests in my home until Joseph crept back to the bed, tired and irritated with sleep tugging at his eyelids, shaking me into consciousness and directing me to go and deal with them.
“Gigi? Claude? What are you doing here? What time is it?”
“I guess Christian was right, you are sleeping with the man. Tsk, tsk. Giving up the milk, huh? Mom’s going to love this.” Giada is wide-awake and filled to the brim with her usual “charm.”
“I’m not giving anything up,” I say defensively in a voice that sounded more like it should have come from a toad than a human.
“Liar,” she replied with a devilish smile on her face.
“I am not sleeping…oh, what’s the use? What do you want, Giada? It’s the middle of the night.”
She took a seat on my sofa, inviting herself to stay and making herself more comfortable. Claude looked quite uncomfortable, even embarrassed by intruding in my home during these wee hours of the night but what would he have done, tell my sister ‘no’? I only wish that were possible.
“Claude has a problem. I told him that you could help him fix it.”
Claude’s brown face turned two shades darker. “Honey, please. I do not have a problem.”
“You do, Sweetie.”
“I don’t, and if I did I don’t think I’d want your sister knowing about it.”
“She’s a doctor.”
“Well, see, that’s your first problem. Don’t think of her as Nic right now, think of her as Dr. Fairway, psychiatrist or…or psychoanalyst-”
“Psychotherapist,” I say.
“Whatever. My point is darling, you have a psychological problem and Nic can help you solve it.”
Claude paused as though he was considering this for a moment, then looked at me with a horrified expression before turning back to his wife. “But it’s Nic.”
Giada’s eyes rolled to the ceiling. “Nicci, please. Will you excuse us for a moment?”
“Sure thing, it’s only my house,” I moaned to myself, turning away and disappearing into my kitchen to fix myself up a warm cup of vanilla soy milk while they figured out who I was to be on this night.
I leaned against the counter, sipping from my favorite mug, trying my best to tune the couple out while mentally willing them away.
“Oh, Dr. Fairway, we’re ready for you,” Giada called out.
I fought the urge to scream and reminded myself that, like it or not, Gigi is family and not just that but my baby sister. It is my God-given burden from birth to be there for her…even at one in the morning on a weeknight. I dragged my tired body back into my living room. I stopped…stood with my back to the wall, arms folded, savoring my drink and dreading what was to come.
The room was silent as I looked between the couple, Giada looking to Claude and Claude looking everywhere but at me.
“Well,” Gigi said. “Tell her.”
“Baby, please. This is embarrassing.”
“Tell her or I will.” I guess the season of compromise in this marriage was done for the night.
For a fleeting moment I thought I saw Claude’s manhood returning to him. There was a look in his eyes that almost made me believe he was going to turn to my sister and demand she hand over the key to the safe she locked his testosterone in. But, he exhaled and it all blew away. “I can’t…I can’t…” He was struggling to find the words to express to me his “problem”.
“He can’t get it up.”
Now let’s pause here and reflect. Because, see, this is the exact moment when my life flashed before my eyes. Clearly the Lord was coming for me, had to be. There was no other explanation for this. The milk that I was about to happily swallow…gone. Across the room, all on my floor. Okay, you can hit play now.
“Legatus Dupec. Come in, Lega. Dupec.” The scratchy voice came through loudly from the *Com Device on his waist.
Dupec groaned and took a step back. He snatched the device from his uniform pants and pressed the button on the side. “What?” he growled.
“Orders have come down from headquarters. Your immediate presence is required.”
Dupec scratched the side of his neck. Even in the dark I could see the anguish on his face. “I am busy right now.”
“My apologies but Commander Dupec has specifically requested your immediate presence.”
He stepped close to me and grazed the tips of his phalanges across my cheek as he licked his lips. “Ready the transport. Over.”
I remained poised, ready to attack...ready to defend my honor no matter the consequence. Dupec stepped back to adjust his uniform but halted. He stepped forward, firmly grasping my neck, lifting me slightly and forcing me to look into his face. I fidgeted with the glass, my mind reeling, trying hard to make the right choice while my toes strained to touch ground and I struggled to hold onto what remained of my oxygen supply.
“Do not worry. I will back for you, beautiful.”
His lips pressed to mine and my arm swung forward, the sharp glass aimed directly at his most vital internal organs. I tried hard to make contact but could not. I had not noticed her move but she had. Diana had stepped forward right on time, catching my arm and holding me back with all that was in her.
Dupec lowered me. He moved away looking suspiciously from me to Diana. My arm relaxed and her hand discreetly moved to mine, taking the shard away and placing it into the sink. Dupec smirked. He charged by her and into the hallway, his hurried steps fading in the distance.
“I am sorry,” she managed to utter once we were certain he was gone.
I angrily pushed away from the sink and walked to my clothes. I stepped into my pants as she begged for my forgiveness.
“Don’t,” I said.
“Olivia, please. You have to understand-”
“Don’t,” I cried out.
She opened her mouth to speak but paused as the sound of doors opening reached us. We listened to the stampeding sound of soldiers from various floors, exiting rooms at once throughout the building. We were quiet, watching as two rushed past. My curiosity piqued. When it seemed as though our floor was clear, I gathered what remained of my belongings and charged past Diana.
“Olivia, listen to me,” she pleaded, tears thick in her throat. “I could not stop him. Even if I said no, you think it would have stopped him?”
I turned to face her. “I can deal with him coming for me if that was his will but you gave me to him, Diana. You delivered me into his arms.”
I continued forward into the flat with Diana close on my trail.
“You were already recruited; you just did not know it.”
“What is your point?”
“I was doing you a favor.”
“Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare!” I walked to the window, looking down into the lanes as I wrapped my bodyrag tightly around my sliced open hand. I carefully pulled my shirt over my head. I wondered what was happening. Soldiers were loading into transport cars and departing their posts.
“Olivia, listen. He was going to take you away. It was either SOTA compound or stay here with me...take my place.”
I turned. “This was not done for me. Maybe I could forgive you if it were. You did not want to lose the money. You did it so that you would not lose money. No dashii’s, no obi red, no blackberries!”
She opened her mouth to speak but no words formed. I dressed quickly. I gathered my meager belongings, what I could fit into my bag. I tossed it on my shoulder and rushed across the room. I knelt forward, prying the floorboard free with my good hand and removed the dashii’s hidden beneath.
“Olivia, *lil'eail.” Her voice was soft, innocent but I was beyond making amends.
I counted out two months of my portion of the tax fee and extended it to her. She shook her head no.
“I cannot. I do not want it.”
“You do, that is the problem.” I passed her and tossed it onto her bed. “I will suggest you find someplace safe to hide before Dupec returns.”
I pulled my hat down firm on my head and adjusted the bag on my shoulder as I headed to the door. The sound of Diana’s sorrow filled the room. I paused, my hand on the knob. I swallowed my emotions and moved ahead, exiting the door and leaving her selfish despair behind.