An interview with one of Tree of Life’s main characters, David Chandler. If you’d like to read about Hesper or Cole, an herbalist and a lawyer, I’ve interviewed them as well. Oh, and don’t forget the antagonist.
David, I talk about you a lot ’cause, as much as I love all of my characters, you’re special to me. You were the first one to “come alive.” So, I’m curious, when did you first “feel alive?”
- I think I was living long before I felt alive. When you came back to the story because of me, I recognized that I could influence someone beyond the pages. After that, I couldn’t stop myself. If touching someone’s mind and heart isn’t a sign of life, what is?
What kind of work do you do? What is your place in Theocracia?
- I’m a successor. That means my sister is a Reverenced One on the council of the Kyrios, who govern our theocracy, and if she dies, I’ll take the seat and become a Reverenced One. I hope I never have to do that.
I studied history and psychology in university, but I don’t do much with history except think about it. I was told I have a “naturally hypnotic presence,” so I took extra training in psychology and broke off into psychological approaches we use for military purposes. Simply put, I could be someone’s therapist, but I also delve into varying levels of hypnosis and interrogation. I suppose both of those could be useful in therapy, too . . . to some extent. It all mixes together.
Interrogation. Does that mean you do horrible things to people to get information?
- Oh, the Kyrios would like that, I suppose. Makes them look bad when I manage it without their cracked methods. Usually, a friendly face and steady hand win the day. I have to handle Earth People more than anybody else, and they hold up well to almost anything. It’s when you get honest with them that they share information.
Who are the Earth People?
- A rebellion. Gentles or Unified who leave the forest and attempt to fit in in Meros society. I can’t blame them for doing it. If I’d been stuck hiding in a forest for two centuries, I’d want out, too. They usually form their own Gates (communities) and try to act like there’s nothing strange about them. Most of the time, they turn violent. It’s a violent rebellion with a peaceful face.
Why do they need to rebel? Who are they rebelling against?
- Us, the Meros, of course. We’ve been squishing them under our thumbs for two centuries. They’re trapped in those woods while we sit here with our ugly theocracy on land that our ancestors once shared. It’s theirs as much as ours, but our side of the argument won.
I’d like to get my hands on the ringleaders who send young, ignorant kids to do their violent work, but won’t risk their own hide for anything. If someone ever gave one of those bozos to me for a chat, I’d give them a less pleasant interrogation without any interrogating.
You practice polygamy. Why?
- Oh, that’s a complicated question. My first wife was my choice, but she was considered inappropriate. One wife was forced upon me to try to keep me out of trouble. Another wife was given to me as a gift from my sister. Two of them faced terrible fates that I couldn’t bear to allow, so I took them into my own home. You can’t keep them without, technically, marrying them, so . . . that’s how it happened. I don’t think I’d choose it again if I could do it over.
Not that I don’t like women! I do. But this isn’t necessarily the choice I would have made if our society operated differently.
So, if things were different, what would your love life look like?
- Well, I have to assume I’d be married and quite miserable with the first sweet woman that was considered an inappropriate choice.
- We were kids! They were totally right when they said she was an inappropriate choice. Still, I was hooked on her, and I’d have stayed hooked until she murdered me. Imagining that I never met her? I don’t mind more than one wife if they all get along. Things work pretty well as it is. Still, based on my experience, having been rather promiscuous in my youth, I prefer long-term monogamous relationships. When they stop working, they stop working, and I’m okay with moving on. I like freedom.
I’d likely get sucked into marriage, though. If I loved a woman, and she was genuinely grieved by my lack of interest in marriage, I’d probably break. I don’t know. Maybe that’s the best answer. I’d just do what I felt like. Take each situation as it comes and decide then.
You’re a musician. What do you play and what’s your favorite type of music to perform?
- I play the piano and the saw. Though, the saw doesn’t come up in Tree of Life.
Actually, I can play a few instruments, but you don’t tell anyone. I suppose you can’t make me seem too exceptional, can you, ma’am? 😉 Knowledge of one instrument, like the piano, easily leads to other instruments. (Sitar, guitar, and harmonica. *cough cough*)
I most enjoy playing ragtime for fun, but Claude Debussy, Ira Gershwin, and Erik Satie will also be my loves for life.
Thank you to Marsha Adams for help with questions for this interview!