Welcome again to Familiarise Friday.
My guest today is Iamo, priest of the Mother Goddess and the male protagonist from Ailsa Abraham's novel “Shaman's Drum”. Ailsa writes in different genres, and is a fellow Crooked Cat author, but she's happy to let Iamo do all the talking, today.
Hello, Iamo. It's been a little while since I thoroughly enjoyed reading Shaman's Drum. I've a few questions to put to you which might let my readers get to know you a bit better.
Iamo is an unusual name. Is there any particular meaning behind it that any readers should know and understand?
It is a tradition in my practice that when one is elevated to the priesthood, as opposed to merely being an initiate, a new name is taken to indicate that one's life has started over, a new beginning. I regret that I cannot tell you the signification of Iamo as it is revealed in Shaman's Drum and I would not wish to spoil the surprise for readers. You will forgive me, Lady.
Okay. (Just thought I'd ask but, personally, I hate spoilers, too!) Can you describe the place you live in, instead, please?
I have spent a great deal of my adult life in the Temple. It was originally a cathedral but when the old religions were banned, my order bought the building. From the outside it still looks like a religious edifice with wide stone steps leading up to the enormous wooden doors but inside the space has been cleared for our rituals. There is a stone altar in the centre with a pentacle graven into the floor. Four pillars mark the quarters of the compass and on top of each is a wrought-iron fire-basket.
Now that some of us live there permanently, a more functional, modern house has been built at the back. Only our High Priestess, Lady Solus, has her official rooms within the Temple building.
Is the Temple where you were brought up, or was that somewhere else?
No, I spent my childhood at my parents' home in the far North. They live in a very large house with an estate, including a farm. It was the typical childhood of a son of the landed gentry but I was sent away to prep school when I was seven years of age so I did not spend much time there. Scribe is currently writing the account of our youth and early adventure which she hopes to publish soon.
Do you have some things you’d like to share about your typical day?
That would be difficult to do. A typical day for me at what period? Before I met Riga and we were sent on a mission, my day was occupied with priestly duties, conducting rituals and I was also personal assistant to Lady Solus. After that my life was a little chaotic. I think that has something to do with Riga. Then I was imprisoned in a monastery overseas in the East where I spent my time training in unarmed combat and honing my meditation skills. Once free of there, I regret that you will have to read Shaman's Drum to see again that there were no typical days.
How would someone else describe you?
Analytical, serious, probably “brainy” and perhaps “a bit of a cold fish” but again are we speaking pre or post Riga?
Riga definitely seemed to make a significant impact in your life! However, do you think that would be a fair description of yourself?
At that point in my life, yes. I tried to control my emotions to the point of almost losing them entirely. I was very narrow-minded but highly academic, dogmatic perhaps. Riga has done a great deal to change some of those less-loveable aspects of me.
Riga the smoother? Now, I wonder if she'd appreciate being called that? Though, I do think it's a pretty apt description. What aspects about Riga do you admire most?
Her indomitable spirit and courage. She will never accept defeat. I am in awe of her abilities as a shaman and her sense of humour is probably one of the things I like most, not having much of one myself. She is also the most loving person I have ever met if one can get past the warrior exterior.
When and where did you meet Riga?
Again, in fairness to my Scribe I must be very brief here. Her Guild of Black Shaman were called in by the Council of the Wise (the governing body for all magic-users) to combat a problem. Through various circumstances it was essential for us to work together even though we disliked each other intensely on first sight. This is being recounted in the current work in progress.
That's good enough as an answer! What would you wish to be changed in your future life, things which are currently not satisfactory?
Anyone who has read Shaman's Drum will know that in my personal life I could not wish for more although I do not know what the future holds for us. For the world, I could wish that the continual in-fighting between religions, belief systems and magic-users would stop. I thought that when we finished our adventure in Shaman's Drum we might be able to overcome it but I greatly fear that it is human nature and just as the old religions were forever at each others' throats, we will be the same.
I believe you have very strong principles, but what kind of events might shake the foundations of those very precepts that you live by?
They already have been. Our punishment at the hands of the Council was so grossly unfair that I came to doubt my own faith. By becoming an adopted brother of Riga's Guild I realised that prejudice and stereotyping are the biggest enemies we face and that before I had been as guilty as anyone of those faults.
We are none of us entirely free of blame. Is there anyone in your daily life you really dislike, or even hate?
Hate is a very destructive emotion. It has little effect on the hated person and slowly eats away at the person hating. There is only one entity in any world that I could allow myself to hate and that is the Demon Prince against whom we have fought twice and I sincerely hope that we despatched him for good in Shaman's Drum, but who can say? Were I to come up against him again, I think I might hate him. The only other person I truly disliked was my mother.
1 Physically, I am six foot four inches tall and very thin but muscular from all the training I do. I have blue eyes and white-blond hair which I wear very short. I used to have a tonsure but I have allowed that to grow out.
2 I am vegetarian which most people think is amusing as I boxed for my school and am now a kick-boxing expert.
3 Since coming out of the priesthood I have discovered that I am somewhat of a peacock, loving to dress up in fine clothes. This may also be Riga's influence as she is like a small child with a dressing up box. I think both of us are reacting to many years of wearing “uniform”.
4 This may sound ludicrous but I am allergic to some incense. The very heavy ones, such as “pontifical” or pure frankincense send me into violent sneezing fits which is very embarrassing when officiating at a solemn ceremony. More than once I have nearly ruined a ritual by wheezing all the way through it.
I love the descriptions of yourself, Iamo, but... oh, dear, inadvertant sneezing during a ritual sounds extremely - painful!
I would like to thank you for your hospitality, Lady. I know that you are friends with my Scribe and she sends her regards, as does Riga. Bright blessings upon your home and hearth.
Thank you kindly for your good wishes, Iamo. I'm delighted to have you visit. I'm looking forward to reading about those early bits of your life that I haven't heard about, yet! Best wishes to you and Riga, too.
As Ailsa Abraham :
(nominated for the People's Choice Book Prize)
Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from
Twitter - @ailsaabraham
Facebook – Ailsa Abraham
England in the near future.
Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again.
Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive.
Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust?
Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga's Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths.
It's a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting.
Thank you to Iamo, and to Ailsa, for stopping by today. My very best wishes for the great success of this excellent novel. I thoroughly recommend it.