Aragmar the Black Knight, intergalactic man of mystery, convivial weaver of sagacity through tales of anthropomorphic adventure was someone worth tracking down. Though it took me more than a few transfers on many Space Hound transit shuttles, between three star systems and a rather unpleasant encounter with a Scottish biker who threatened me with a shovel I finally find him back on Earth in his native Bulgaria shopping at market.
Wearing his traditional black armor with his helmet hung at his side he was apparently arguing with a vendor vigorously over the price and quality of their potatoes. I didn’t speak the language but after it seemed they were about to attack each other the seller switched his tune and began happily filling a small cheese cloth sack with what looked like 3 root veggies. Money exchanged they part as if they are best friends.
I had spent years trying to get this interview and wasn’t going to let a little thing like a throng of consumers get in my way. Before I could press passed the merchants vying for my attention and the purchasers of wares he was already engaged with a woman wearing a babushka who was attempting to hand him a bindle he was politely refusing. Glancing for a moment my direction I knew he saw me and I waited for the maiden to take her leave after she thanked him for something. The Black Knight then heartily greeted me grabbing my shoulders, pulling me toward him and kissing my left cheek. I was unprepared but not offended by the gesture and as I fought the urge to wipe my face he handed me the bag of potatoes.
Turning away with me holding the bag of tumors he headed toward another kiosk and I had no choice but to follow him resolute to finally break the mystery of the man behind the armor. Approaching a sausage hibachi, I skip the greeting and straight away ask him my first question.
Q: Why did you want to be a writer? Did you wake up one day and think to yourself, ‘If only there was a job with long hours, and no pay where thousands of people are constantly judging me?’
Aragmar says something in what I think is Russian to the grill meister after which the man hands him two beef kababs in exchange for a couple Euros. Contemplating his answer, The Black Knight hands me one of the savory sticks as we continue walking through the bazaar.
BK: “I always liked story telling and wrote a lot of essays back in school. Later in life, my infatuation with adventure, science fiction and detectives, made short work of any and all spare time I could've otherwise had on my hands. For quite a long period of time, my usual method of relaxation became writing drafts for future short stories or novels. You know the rest; I lost my jobs, all three of them and at the same time, then writing became much more than just a simple hobby or way to rewind.”
Before I could awkwardly ask my next query an older woman approached Aragmar holding a bolt of linen proffering it before him as he waved her away. He gave an exclamation of some epiphany as The Black Knight spread his arms palms up in realization. Just before us was a storefront filled with all types of electronics. Everything from flat screens to record players but one item seemed to capture his attention. It was a small crock pot, no, a rice cooker that he held lovingly in his hands. As he set to make his purchase, I distracted him with another question.
Q: How fast did your parents disown you when you told them you were going to write a science fiction epic and what was it like growing up a black knight in a white knight’s world?
Staring at me suspiciously and after handing me the grain hydrator to carry for him amid the other items he answered curtly at first but ending in a wry grin,
BK: “Pretty quick - they are mostly ok with me being an author... now. Back when I told them what my goal was, that I had a lot of drafts and aimed to publish them, they were angry to say the least. Black knights have only one trouble - disposing of the white knight corpses.”
The noise of the square was like a carnival and being a stranger among brothers was a weird feeling as I felt a kinship here but had no idea what anyone was saying. I tried several times to ask my next question while he and the chef attending a seafood grill were having a debate about food preparation, I think. The grill man slams the spatula down making a gesture that maybe Aragmar would like to try his hand to which he coyly accepts.
As he shuffles the prawn and veggies across the griddle adding a cooking sherry that causes the hot plate to erupt into a red-orange flame I am able to shout another question over the loud hurrahs at his flambe.
Q: You call yourself the Black Knight so clearly you already know how to play the bass. What other instruments do you play and what else do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
Putting out the flame with a soy sauce The Black Knight artfully plucks a prawn from the surface of the grittle with a fork and sticks the hot morsel directly into my mouth the hot juice of which both tormenting the skin and overwhelming my pallet with delicious oil.
BK: “I play many instruments but prefer not to boast of my knightly skills. What do you mean by “enjoy things other than writing”? Writing is now all that I do.” He said as he freely fed the crowd until a disgruntled shop owner pushed him out of the way amid cheers from those gathered.
Walking away from the chaos of the shops, he settles himself on a bench overlooking the Black Sea and I sit down beside him, dropping my meat kabab much to the joy of a stray alley cat. With the sapphire blue of the waters lapping their melody I break the calm daring to ask another question.
Q: Many of your readers identify with specific characters. If you got pulled into your creation like Jack Deebs in some kind of Starshatter 'Cool World' which character would you most want to be and why?
Aragmar turned from his revelry of the horizon to face me smiling.
BK: “Oh, this is an easy one – a watermelon farmer. Because all uplifted Terrans love watermelon and besides, who doesn't like watermelon cider? I could've easily said something along the lines of – I want to become a starship captain or a special operator, but I didn't. Watermelon farmers are... importanter.”
While balancing the potatoes, the rice cooker and writing my notes I pull my arms and legs close together fighting the chill coming from the wind and the water. Aragmar slaps me on the back and invites me to follow him nearly knocking everything from my lap. Collecting myself and his things together, he leads me down a narrow rock road with hip gable houses lining either side. The contrasting colors of the paint from orange sherbet to robin’s egg blue gave every home its' own personality though every one of them looked the same. Now walking at a steady pace uphill I press on with the interview.
Q: The world is currently under attack by commie-nazi-anarcho-feminist-right wing-liberal-misogynist-black panther-white supremacist-fascist-libertarians. Do you ever worry you won’t be able to finish your story before you are sent to Camp Reeducation and what is your take on the state of things?
BK: "I don't care what any of them will do to me, when they eventually pinpoint my location. It is only a matter of time and, instead of lamenting our impending deaths in some rotting reeducation camp barracks, I'd rather write another book..."
Coming up to a white home with black trim Aragmar walks to the back of the residence where a stairway leads down into a cellar. Unlocking the door he vanishes inside as I follow behind. It was a cozy studio apartment tastefully appointed the warm glow of an overhead bulb illuminating the floor covered with many Persian rugs. A blue plush couch and chair separated by a glass coffee table where I set his things made a comfortable sitting area where Aragmar motioned I sit. He turned to the kitchenette grabbing a kettle from atop the stove and a bottle from the cabinet. Pouring a generous amount into the kettle, he set it on the gas stove turning the burner to medium.
Q: Many artists will credit their success to the influence of other artists and the guidance of a mentor like the Beatles did with Aleister Crowley and satan. Who is your favorite author and was there anyone in your life that helped you create the Starshatter universe?
BK: “I created it because one day, after consuming yet another post-apocalyptic Hollywood trashy “entertainment” product, I told myself – no more. Seeing the edges of the burning pit our civilization is relentlessly sliding into, I decided to rebuke the hollow pseudo-modernity. Deny the degenerate progressivism and go back to our roots, embrace tradition, employ what actually works to enact a positive change. As for authors, they are way too many to list here and I will mention only a few: Jules Verne, Emilio Salgari, Alexander Belyaev, Timothy Zahn.”
The contents of the kettle become excited enough to give off steam as he removes the copper pot to fill two coffee mugs with it’s hot brew. Handing me one while sipping his own I come to find out it is a special grape brandy called rakia that is out of this world good especially when warmed and very strong. Now a man in his forties he told me that it was different for him growing up in a world where the government forced you to vote and told you who you had to vote for.
It was not so long ago that Bulgaria was under communist rule and friends were the most valuable things to have. He claimed he was always an old soul and though Aragmar had mates his own age he confessed to me there was only one older woman that really understood him and helped him become the man he is today. He lost her some many years ago but I like to think she lives on in his books so long as we continue to read them.
Q: There are many aspiring authors out there looking to write the next Son of Hope or Mein Kamp. To everyone else who aren’t homicidal madmen looking to craft a story, what would be the best advice you could give them and what helps you to stay motivated to keep writing?
BK: "Always have a plan, because no matter what happens, you will need all the notes, charts, tables, and drafts. Believe me, I tried writing without prep once, long, long ago, before I donned the black armor. As for motivation, I can't help you there - everyone draws inspiration from different mediums. Just pick your poison and stick with it – either you will live long enough to write something or said substance will end you."
Time for Bigby’s Big 3, the same 3 questions I ask every one with the good sense or lack thereof to appear on this channel. These questions were created by top scientitions to uncover every hidden aspect of a person’s personality.
1.) What is your secret guilty pleasure?
2.) If you could kill one person, present or historic, without consequences who would it be?
3.) If a frigate needed to execute a recall order under fire from a Stanford Tarus without FTL what would be the SOP to CM without getting FUBAR?
BK: "SOP would be to immediately engage your best evasive maneuver under maximum sublight, overcharge the shields to soak up any incoming shots which might hit the frigate... Wait just a star-second! How could a civilian Tarus colony, which is nothing more than a glorified space donut, threaten a frigate from the Starshatter universe?! The standard vessel of this class is between 1.5 and 2 km long, armored to her bulkheads and bristling with cannon! Surely you jest sir..."
Starshatter: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079K62S78
Good Reads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38334754-starshatter
Twin Sons of Carrola: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HFCQC7C
Good Reads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42178827-twin-suns-of-carrola
Treads of Vengeance: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MKS8PB9
Good Reads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45452130-von-braun-s-gambit
Von Braun’s Gambit: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R5R31NC
Good Reads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45452130-von-braun-s-gambit
Secrets of Lothoria: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XWP668M
Good Reads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51565863-secrets-of-lothoria
Final Liberation: Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088BH43HQ
The Star Shatterers Group: https://www.minds.com/groups/profile/822116150767644672/feed
Merch Store: https://teespring.com/stores/applecrate
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