A CHARACTER INTERVIEW
with Conall Mackay
Conall, once a proud member of the British Special Air Service, now tends the graveyard in the small village of Whitetail Knoll. He’s never been superstitious, and has little patience for whispers of ghost stories or hauntings on the ground. He couldn’t be more different from his young daughter Shyla, who delights in making up fantastical stories about the residents of their cemetery. The one imaginative and artistic endeavor Conall has ever embarked upon is the Angel Maya: a statue carved from the stones of the grounds themselves, who now stands sentinel over the graves.
When Shyla wakes Conall up one night to tell him a strange woman waits outside in the graveyard, of course his first thought is that his daughter’s had a nightmare. But as her visions become more frequent—and Con’s own mind starts playing tricks on him—he starts to think the lady in the graveyard may be real after all…and she may need him.
Perhaps as much as he needs her.
Describe yourself. What is your worst and best quality?
I’m not a very patient man and I can get riled up quite easily. One thing about this, though, I don’t put up with bullying or threats, especially to my daughter.
As for my best quality? Fierce loyalty to my family. I would die to protect my girl.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
I’m an injured soldier and I don’t care for religion. I’d like others to know I’m perfectly happy as I am, and I don’t need “well-intentioned” neighbors trying to fix me.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
I’ve told everyone Shyla is my sister’s daughter, and came to me when my sister passed away. The truth is, I found Shyla abandoned in my cemetery. Somehow, though, I couldn’t bring myself to give her up. She belongs here.
What are you most afraid of?
Until just recently, I’d have told you there’s no point in being afraid of the things of this world. But my world is turning upside down. There’s some strange creature haunting us…and I have no idea what it wants with me.
What do you want more than anything?
I want things to go back to the way they were before this doll came to us. I want peace in my house, no more strange creatures wandering my graveyard. I want her—this impossible apparition of a woman—to tell me what she wants from me, or simply leave me and my daughter be.
What is your relationship status?
I haven’t had much of a mind for relationships, since I came home from the war. I was happy with my work, and being a father filled my heart perhaps more than any woman ever could. But since she came…
How much of a rebel are you?
I wouldn’t call myself much of a rebel. I’m a soldier, and served my country loyally. As I don’t ascribe to any faith, though, some of the folks around me consider me something of a godless heretic.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
Being a father.
What is your idea of happiness?
Quietude. A warm afternoon by the river, undisturbed.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m at a loss! I’ve never believed in ghosts or spirits, but now I’m faced with a creature I can’t explain and can barely even describe! She fascinates me…and she terrifies me.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Most people would say I’m a grump.
What is it that you most dislike?
In general? Nosiness, busy-bodies, and folks thinking they know what’s best for me and my household.
Which living person do you most despise?
I may be a grump but despising others is a bit harsh. I might not get along with most folks but I don’t despise them…
What is your greatest regret?
I regret not knowing who it was that left Shyla in my graveyard, and that I couldn’t help them, because I’m sure they needed help. Perhaps this ghost is my punishment for that…
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I like a proud woman, and a daring one. In Whitetail Knoll they’re all manners and pretty etiquette and happy housewives letting their husbands tell them what to do. I find them utterly boring and frankly, dull. I met a great many brilliant and bold girls during the war, and that’s the sort of lady for me.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I sometimes think if I hadn’t been injured , I might be…well, at least less cynical than I am now. Who knows what sort of life I’d have without this bad leg?
What is your motto?
Who dares wins. (Motto of the British Special Air Service)