I’m delighted to welcome Coral Russell to the blog today. Coral is in the midst of a tour for her latest book, Sacrifice, which has nothing to do with that nineties song by Elton John incidentally though Beard Face is convinced otherwise. I was going to take on interview duties for this stop and had in mind a discussion with Coral over a glass of wine for me and a caipirinha for her but was appalled to find that Charlie had beaten me to it. He wasn’t interested in talking to Coral but did manage to grab a few minutes with Duke, one of the more menacing characters in Sacrifice. Here’s how things went:-
Charlie’s Character Interview with Duke from Coral Russell’s novel, Sacrifice
A cat wearing a balaclava with one eye hole escorts the imposing figure of Duke down the stairs and deep into the feline bunker. The scene is set for a tense walk down the corridor but it loses some of the impact when Duke’s escort has to stop and remove his balaclava because the air is warm and he is struggling to breathe. There is further incredulity when Duke is taken to a steel door and his escort, now unhooded as the hapless Buggles, cannot figure out how to open it! Duke obliges by turning the remarkable contraption known as a door knob and the door opens inwards. Inside the room they find Charlie, self-proclaimed leader of the Feline Revolution, who is sitting in a leather chair and jamming needles into a voodoo doll of his owner, Beard Face. Buggles prepares to excuse himself but he is dismissed by Charlie who is now grinning at Duke. He beseeches his guest to take a seat and the interview begins.
Charlie: Welcome to my bunker, Duke. Can I call you Duke? Good. Make yourself comfortable. I know you were expecting to be interviewed by Mr Kain but you sounded like such an interesting guy that I wanted to talk to you instead. So, let’s begin with a simple introduction. I’m Charlie: dictator, megalomaniac, genius, ruthless feline, the whole works. And you?
Duke: Hmmm, the same, except for the gato part. It’s great to be here talking with someone who understands me.
Charlie: You’re often misunderstood? I get that too. What can you tell me about El Paso? Why are your headquarters based there?
Duke: It’s the biggest US city on the border with Mexico. Even though I was born in the US I still have plenty of cousins in Mexico and this is the perfect place to do business.
Charlie: I like it. Shrewd and subtle. This drug cartel business, what’s it really all about?
Duke: Power, control, money. Es la vida loca! The cartel in the interior of Mexico has made a move to take over business along the border. Now is a perfect time to show I’m made of el jefe material.
Charlie: I’m not clear on everything you just said then but it sounded impressive so I’ll go with it. Say I wanted to set up a catnip drug trade, what advice would you give on getting started?
Duke: It’s just like any other business, gato, only if someone doesn’t do their job, they don’t get fired. They get killed. You need to control the resources, manufacturing and distribution. You need to look at horizontal and vertical growth.
Charlie: I see. As easy as that. You’re power-hungry. I like that in a person just so long as they don’t encroach on my territory. What is it that truly motivates you?
Duke: Our motto is Live for God, Live for your mother, Die for your gang. I think you got that going on too. I checked you out and you’ve got a mother, Frizzy Hair, and a gato gang. Isn’t that Grumpy Gato your God? I see him all over the place.
Charlie: Grumpy Gato? You mean Beard Face? A God? Nah! He’s just a twerp that annoys us. I think of myself as God really. All powerful and all. Do you think it’s possible to have too much power? I don’t personally, but what do you think? How do you plan to stay in control?
Duke: You’re right, ese. Joo notice that people at the top usually stay on top? That’s because they’re willing to do anything to stay in power.
Charlie: I’m hearing ya. How much trust do you put in others? Personally, I like absolute control of what I’m doing. What about you? How far does your faith in family and friends stretch?
Duke: It’s everything, ese. If you don’t have family, the gang is your family. But to have both, that is mejor. You need people you can trust with your life.
Charlie: Too true. Who in history has ever inspired you? I like Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte personally. You strike me as more of a Vito Corleone kind of guy. Am I right?
Duke: The head of the Cartel. He came from nowhere. Dirt farmer. Poorer than poor and he ducked the Federales and anyone else that tried to stop him. He’s listed in Forbe’s Magazine’s Top 50 Rich and Powerful People. It’s an inspiration to vatos everywhere.
Charlie: I’ll take his email from you at the end of the interview. I feel we can help one another. Speaking of help, a little advice, Duke. I have this owner, Beard Face, and I’m struggling to get rid of him. Any tips on silencing the old boy forever?
Duke: Just jump him, gato. He doesn’t stand a chance if you have the high ground and cats are pretty good climbers, no?
Charlie: We have been known to carry those credentials, yes. I like your style, Duke, I really do. I look at you and I think this guy is what my army needs. If anyone is going to turn those bunch of half wits into soldiers then it’s Duke. How would you feel about joining the Feline Revolution? I realise you’re not a cat but I’m quite flexible.
Duke: Hahaha! You’re funny gato. I like cool cats. (Duke holds out his fist to do a fist/paw bump) Joo don’t got no fingers or I’d teach you how to do the Chaneco gang sign.
Charlie: This is one of those rare moments where I feel evolution has let me down. Anything else you’d like to add?
Duke: Nah, ese. Leaders don’t need to talk too much.
Charlie: A man of few words but lots of action. You’re one of a kind, Duke. It’s been a pleasure having you here. I hope readers enjoy getting to know you as I have. You’re made of the right stuff, Duke. You talk the talk, take no crap from anyone and people are afraid of you. It’s guys like you that I wish to surround myself with as trusted friends or minions as I like to call them.
I hope you enjoyed the interview. Apologies from myself and Coral for not bringing you the interview you were expecting. Clearly Charlie and Duke were not to be denied on this occasion. I will of course have Coral back here when her next book is released. Touch wood there’ll be no characters in the next one that Charlie admires.
About Sacrifice (2013)
When Mexican drug cartels fight for control along the border, Juarez becomes the murder capital of the world. In El Paso, Texas it’s drug business as usual: a grifter sets out to buy her freedom, a car salesman runs drugs to make his fortune, a gang leader battles to rise among the ranks of the cartel, and a detective and his wife are ripped apart by a family secret. Everyone’s fate lies in the hands of an old woman. Will she let the past die with her or take revenge the only way she knows how?