Temelephas Speaks: M.P. McVey interviews the elephant at the center of his novel

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It’s so rare that a writer gets the opportunity to sit down with a figment of his imagination and ask them questions. Sure, they’re characters that you created—molded from the thoughts that appear in the dark place of your mind where dreams are born, but I for one never thought about actually trying to speak to them. We get a feel for them as we write them, somehow peeking into their insights even though they aren’t real.

So when the opportunity arose to actually choose one of my characters from Plod On, Sleepless Giant to sit down with, there was only one that came to mind. Of course I am referring to Temelephas, the gentle, sweetheart of an elephant that pushes his wheel at the center of our world.

I went to meet Temelephas for our interview, as scheduled, and found him in a bookstore, sitting precariously on a wooden chair. He sat at a table, his clumsy trunk trying to maneuver the mug of coffee that sat before him. It was no use, however; he nearly knocked it over as he slid the mug back and forth—sloshing the steamy, black liquid about.

People perusing the bookshelves around him couldn’t help but watch, some of them trying to fathom how it was that they hadn’t spotted the elephant sitting there before. Even for bookstores, where anything can happen, an elephant trying to drink a café mocha is not the first thing to come to mind.

I approached slowly, not wanting to startle the large creature hunkering over the table. I called to him and he looked up, a somewhat pleasant quasi-smile on his face(he still hadn’t gotten used to smiling). He straightened up as best he could, trying to look as professional as possible.

M.P. McVey: How are you today, Temelephas?

Temelephas: Good.

I sat at the table across from him, this old, sad creature I had dreamed of all those years ago. He was shy, his soft eyes unable to keep a steady gaze into my own. He ceased his efforts at drinking the frothy drink before him, nervous and waiting … so I went right on into our little interview.

M.P. McVey: You’re quite literally the central character in my debut novel, Plod On, Sleepless Giant. How does it feel knowing that you play such an integral role, and was it a heavy burden?

Temelephas: Honestly, I had no idea that there was a book. All I did was what I normally do; walk and push my wheel. It’s nice to know that someone was thinking about me, though … so I guess I’d have to say that it wasn’t a burden at all.

M.P.: So humble of you, but you do play a major role, considering that the world in the book—while much like the one in which I live—actually has you in the core of it, turning it with a giant, wooden wheel. As far as we know, there is no elephant in the middle of our world. Can you tell me what it’s like to push that wheel of yours?

T: It wasn’t a lot of fun, but at the time I had no idea how boring it actually was. I was created with that wheel chained to me, always walking. I guess it hurt … it certainly didn’t feel good. I was alone a lot, with nothing but empty time in a dimly lit cavern. In the beginning, I wasn’t really good at thinking … so I didn’t even have my thoughts to keep me company.

M.P.: I can imagine that your early days were pretty drab. But you weren’t totally alone there. Can you tell me about the people that came in and out of your life?

T: For the most part, there were always Minikins around. They are these tiny creatures with red hair … they live somewhere down there, somewhere in the caves that run off from my cavern. They are sweet, little things … they’re always nice to me. They would feed me and talk to me, which was how I learned a lot of things that I know now, from those short, one-sided conversations. Then there was Tyriano … a Watcher that was in charge of me, I suppose. He’s a very smart guy, he knows a lot about you humans, down to how many breaths you’ll take and how many times your heart will beat. He’d go on and on about you to the Minikins, though they didn’t seem too interested.

M.P.: Watchers are mentioned a bit in the book. Tyriano is one of many. What exactly is a Watcher?

T: To be honest, I don’t know much about the other Watchers. From what I saw, they are different from Humans and Minikins, they are more special … they look after everything the Creator made. I heard that there are even Watchers that stand in the middle of playgrounds, watching as children play … but I guess they’d be invisible, otherwise you’d have heard of them by now.

M.P.: The Creator is a character that kind of floats around in the background, but he’s mentioned from time to time—especially by the Watchers. Have you ever met the Creator, and what is your own personal opinion about him?

T: I met him once, long ago … but I can’t remember it.

M.P.: Then how do you know?

T: I just do … I was made to walk in a circle, pushing a wheel … Tyriano has said himself that it was the Creator that put me there.

M.P.: So it was the Creator that put you there? So is there any kind of animosity towards him?

T: ….. What’s animosity? I don’t know all the words, yet.

M.P.: Oh, sorry, it’s like anger … are you angry at the Creator?

T: No, not at all … he didn’t put me there to be mean or to punish me … he did what he thought was needed to be done. I served a purpose there … I can see no wrong in that. The Creator is someone that has love for all things he created … how can I be angry with that?

M.P.: You also got to spend some time with a human, a baby named Franklin … tell me what you thought of him and did you learn anything about humanity from him?

T: Franklin is a very sweet baby … I didn’t even know he was a baby, at first … or even human. It was kind of scary to see something so new to me there in my cavern. He likes to smile a lot, so I suppose most humans do … he also slept … he sleeps a lot, but that doesn’t seem too usual with other humans … I haven’t seen too many humans since then sleep as much.

M.P.: Oh, we sleep, just not in front of people … we tend to do that in the privacy of our own homes.

T: Ahh … that makes sense.

M.P.: The title of the book is Plod On, Sleepless Giant … does that mean you yourself don’t sleep?

T: I never slept before … I figured that that was why Franklin slept so much, that he was using up my sleep.

M.P.: Well, you won’t sleep much at all, if you drink too many of those coffees.

T: I never had one before today, and I still haven’t had any of it … I can’t seem to pick the mug up with my trunk …

Temelephas went to try and pick his mug up again, only succeeding in sliding it further away. His voice was soft, but you could hear the grumble of frustration in his throat. He tried again and again, but always to the same end.

M.P.: You should try to use a straw … that might help a bit.

I held one, paper wrapped straw up and extended it to the elephant. He gave me another one of his awkward smiles before taking it from me. I left shortly after, Temelephas still having no success with his café mocha, which just further proves that not everyone is a “coffee person”.

***

Learn more about Temelephas and all the other characters that inhabit his world in the coming weeks … all of which will lead to the release of M.P. McVey’s debut novel, Plod On, Sleepless Giant. You can follow M.P. McVey on twitter – @mpmcvey, and like him on facebook. Both are great ways to keep updated on Cover Art announcements, release dates, special giveaways, and much more! Or, you can just check back here at mpmcvey.wordpress.com.

You can also follow Temelephas – @temelephas, he will share more about his insights into his world and share fun elephant facts. Plus, you can ask him any questions you would like … he’ll get a kick out of that.

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