Love Set in Stone just released last week. On my birthday, actually. (What a gift to me!) We’ve talked a bit about the novel itself, but not too much about the characters. Today, I thought we’d take a moment and meet Damien Stone, the male protagonist.
Hair: Dark brown, close-cropped
Occupation: Died as a warrior. Exists as a gargoyle—protector who watches over the city.
Quirks: Despite observing mankind for centuries, he hasn’t interacted with them much. Sometimes his movements are stilted, his language is off. When he’s nervous, he tends to stretch his body parts like he’s loosening kinks in his muscles—which probably isn’t unlikely, given he spends half his day immobile as a stone grotesque.
Damien has agreed to meet me at The Original Hot Shop in the Oakland community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s recently discovered he has both a healthy appetite and a taste for their fries. (Yes, the restaurant has “hot dog” in the name but they are known for their fries.) I arrive first, as I’m able to travel before sunset, and order for both of us. The waitress looks at me funny when I order a large fry with cheese and gravy. “You sure ’bout that?” she says. (That should jog my memory. It doesn’t.) I also order us each a mushroom cheesesteak sub and a large soda, then I choose a seat by the window. The food arrives just as Damien does. The platter of fries is enormous. I’m not sure I can describe just how large this platter is. I mean, third world nations would be in awe. Or appalled. I should have remembered. In college, four of us used to eat off one plate of small fries. And have some left over. But Damien looks pleased, so I don’t sweat it. I just greet him and gesture to the food. Hopefully he grows chatty when he eats. He’s not usually very open otherwise.
Me: Hi, Damien. I’m glad you could make it.
Damien: I’m glad you suggested The O. (He takes a handful of fries, dips them in cheese and gravy, and takes a bit bite. A smile of satisfaction spreads across his face.) This sandwich for me, too?
Me: It is. (I push it toward him.) So, I want to thank you for meeting me tonight. I know your time is limited.
Damien: Yeah, that happens when your schedule is so… set in stone.
Me: (I giggle.) Funny.
Damien: Yeah. I’m a riot. I’ve had lifetimes to think of all these puns. (He takes a bite of his sandwich and savors it.)
Me: (All traces of humor gone.) Will you talk to me a little about that? About all those lifetimes?
Damien: (His hand stops midway to the dish of fries.) What do you want to know?
Me: What happened to you on the battlefield? How did you get here?
Damien: (Sits back, sips his drink, stares at me.) That was centuries ago. Literally lifetimes. (Wipes his mouth, tosses his napkin aside.) I was a loyal soldier, maybe too brutal a warrior. I fought hard, won many battles. But I never thought about why I was fighting. My liege called me into service, and I wielded my sword. I fought his battles, one after the other. In the Crusades, it seemed all of Europe was there. It was so easy to have pride and righteousness. But then we went home, and I was tasked to fight in the Normandy Campaigns. Now I was fighting against some of my brothers-in-arms who I had just fought side-by-side with. That’s when I started thinking about the carnage, the violence. The death I had visited on the world. The bloodshed I was responsible for. I had worry. Doubt.
Damien: Yes. Those thoghts weighed on me, caused hesitation. Thinking about the potentially innocent lives I was responsible for taking cost me my own life. And as I lay on the battlefield, breathing my last labored breaths, I was given a choice.
Me: Who gave you a choice?
Damien: The name was not spoken. But I knew it was God.
Me: You knew? How do you know you didn’t make a deal with the devil?
Damien: (Ccocks a brow) I guess I don’t know. But I know. You know?
Me: No. No, I don’t know. Then what?
Damien: I’ll let your readers learn about the terms in the book. But for the last however many centuries, an angel has been keeping tabs on me.
Me: You realize if your deal is with the devil and not God, then that’s no angel keeping tabs on you, right?
Damien: Oh, he’s an angel, all right. You should see what the non-angels are like. (Pops a fry in his mouth.)
Me: A non-angel.
Damien: A non-angel. They call them Fallen.
Me: Fallen. Wonderful.
Damien: That’s not the word I’d use.
Me: (I make notes in my notebook. When I look up, Damien is done with his meal.) Would you like something else?
Damien: No, thanks. I’m good. But I gotta fly.
Damien: (Shoots me a cold stare.) Really?
Damien: Anything else?
Me: Actually, I have a lot of questions.
Damien: Sorry. I’m on a tight schedule. Maybe next time.
He looks at me awkwardly for a moment, then finally decides to extend his hand. We shake hands, say goodbye, and he leaves. I swear a moment later I see a winged figure fly past the moon, but he wouldn’t be so bold to risk his cover by doing something like that, would he? I decide not. Must be a hawk or an owl. Anyway, Damien has given me some interesting details about his past. I didn’t get to learn anything about his life on the roof of Nathaniel Burton Mansion on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh, or about Katarina Whitman, the woman who has caught his interest, but for such a private person, I think he shared quite a bit. Maybe next time he’ll let us watch him transform. Or maybe take us for a fly around the city. Now that would be cool!
So, that was my chat with Damien Stone, the male protagonist of Love Set in Stone. Whether you’ve read the novel or not, I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment, and let’s talk about it.