Character Interview with Kalgan Shigo

Annie Douglass LimaLoving fantasy, not only for writing but also for reading, I am naturally drawn to good clean fantasy books. I love reading them and finding new ones I can enjoy. As I started out in the wide world of publishing, I was welcomed into a group of authors called Clean Indie Fantasy. They have created their own website to help promote each other and to give fans a place to hang out. They even have a giveaway going on for 28 fantasy ebooks and $50 amazon gift card! One of those authors is Annie Douglass Lima. Annie has just released her second book, The Gladiator and the Guard. I have had the opportunity of beginning it during my lunch break on Friday. I was instantly drawn into the story and plot, even though I have yet to read book 1. I am excited to finish reading book 2 and then pick up book 1 and read it. So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to a character interview with Kalgan Shigo from book 1 The Collar and the Cavvarach.

Interview with Kalgan Shigo

I sit down with Officer Kalgan Shigo, a tall, stern-looking black man, in his office at the City Watch Station in Jarreon. “Thanks for being willing to meet with me.”

He regards me from the other side of his desk. “You’re welcome.” His voice is deep and firm. “My shift is over now, and I have a few minutes before I need to head home. What would you like to know?”

“First of all, could you tell me why you chose this job? What was your motivation?”

“I chose to become a Watch officer because I want to help keep Jarreon safe. Security leads to stability and order, which help society function. We all have our part to do, and enforcing the law is mine.”

“So do you agree with all the city’s laws?” I wonder.

“That’s irrelevant. It’s not about my personal views. Any society needs laws in order to keep its citizens safe and make everything work smoothly, but they’re only effective if everyone follows them. So, I enforce them all.”

I glance down at my list of questions. “I understand that you’ve known Bensin for several years now. What were your first impressions of him, and why did you decide to help him?”

Officer Shigo’s stern face softens as he smiles. “Yes, I met Bensin a little over four years ago when I had to arrest him for attempting to help his sister Ellie escape. When I questioned him, it was clear to me that although his actions were illegal, his motives were selfless. Bensin is the same age as my own son, and I have two daughters just a little older than Ellie, so it was easy to picture my children in a similar situation. Of course I couldn’t condone his breaking the law. But as I told him at the time, I hope that in his situation, Nate would demonstrate the same initiative, ingenuity, courage, and sibling loyalty toward Jessa and Carlia. With that in mind, I wanted to help Bensin however I could, within the bounds of the law, of course. He’s not the only slave to whom I’ve given my business card and offered to hire in for housework or yardwork on their days off, but few ever take me up on it. I’m glad Bensin did. It’s been my pleasure to stay in contact with him and Ellie over the years, and with his owner, Steene. Actually, it was through them that Carlia got involved in gymnastics classes at the Center for Sports and Fitness where Steene and Bensin work. She loves it, and my whole family has enjoyed the times we’ve spent with them.” The officer sighs. “Bensin’s current situation is very unfortunate. It’s been especially hard on Steene and Ellie, of course, but my whole family feels for him too.”

“I can understand that,” I sympathize. “Next question: could you tell me how you personally feel about slavery?”

He raises his eyebrows. “Are my personal views really relevant here?”

“I think my readers would like to know,” I assure him. “They want to know who you are as a person, not just as the face of the law.”

“Very well. I believe slavery is unethical. However, the practice has been so deeply ingrained in imperial culture for so long that I shudder to think of what might happen to the Krillonian Empire if it were ever to be abolished. The economy would completely collapse.”

“Didn’t the province of Tarnestra recently outlaw slavery?” I inquire.

“Yes, and it’s the first time in imperial history that such a thing has happened. It will be interesting to see what comes of that. Already Jarreon’s City and Harbor Watch have been kept busy apprehending slaves trying to buy passage or stow away on boats headed to Tarnestra and freedom, and other coastal cities have been facing the same problem. Of course all of Tarnestra’s local slaves were immediately freed when the law took effect, and from what I hear, many of them are now struggling to find paid employment. Not everyone who can afford to keep slaves can afford to hire free labor for the same jobs. As you are probably aware, when slaves are hired out to local businesses, their owners are paid two-thirds the amount that free workers would receive for equivalent labor. The necessity of hiring only free workers now means that prices have gone up, which has made life more difficult for everyone there, especially the poor and unemployed. And despite our best efforts, slaves from elsewhere have been escaping to Tarnestra, where their presence adds to the poverty and unemployment problem.”

“That does sound like a tricky problem,” I agree. “So, one final question: if you believe slavery is unethical, what solution would you propose?”

“I don’t claim to have a solution for the entire problem. I don’t believe any simple solutions exist. But I would say that the first step should be making the practice more humane. To some extent, this is being done, though there is still plenty of room for improvement. As of ten years ago with the implementation of the Slave Rights Act, owners are required to give their slaves at least one whole day off each week, and children can’t be required to work more than eleven hours a day. Now, a group called Citizens for the Ethical Treatment of Slaves has proposed a new set of standards. They are optional, of course, but enough people care about fair treatment for slaves that many businesses in the city are beginning to implement them. No physical punishment, eleven-hour days for adults as well as children, immediate family members can’t be sold away from each other – that sort of thing. If those standards were to become law across the empire, slaves’ lives would vastly improve. Of course, slavery, in and of itself, would still be an unethical practice. But that would be a step in the right direction.”

He rises to his feet. “It was nice talking to you, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself now. My family will be waiting for me for dinner.”

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