In which Vanda Symon is interrogated by Detective Sam Shephard...
SS SS I will remind you that anything you say can be taken down as evidence and held against you at a later date.
VS Noted. As long as you don’t whine about it.
SS I don’t whine.
SS First up, why did you make me so bloody short?
VS You’re not short, you’re vertically challenged.
SS (Withering look)
VS Oooh, enough with the eye-daggers. There was good reason for that. My Mum was a shortie, she just squinked in over 5 foot tall, so she was small but mighty. One of the things she often complained about was that when you were short, people didn’t take you seriously, so I thought, it’s always good to give your characters a challenge to overcome, I’ll make her short.
SS Gee, ta.
VS You’re welcome. But there are distinct advantages to being short.
SS Yeah, right. If there are I haven’t encountered them yet.
VS Actually, you have. When people don’t take you seriously, they underestimate you. And dare I say it, Sam, people underestimate you at their peril.
SS Okay, come to think of it you might have a point there. I’ll give you a begrudging thanks.
VS Sometimes I happen to know what I’m doing. Not always, but occasionally I get it right.
SS Hmmmmm. So, do people ask you if you are me? I mean, I am you? That sounds weird, but you know what I mean.
VS People often ask me if I am you, but no. I have far better manners, don’t swear as much as you do and have better taste in pyjamas. But seriously, you are definitely your own woman. You arrived fully formed, full of the saSS, quirks and insecurities we love about you. If you insist on trying to find common ground, there is one characteristic of mine that you share, it is our hopeless optimism and faith in people.
SS So if you’re not me, who are you like?
VS People tell me I’m a lot like my mum, which I take as an immense compliment, but if I was like anyone in your world, I am more of a Maggie – a steady Eddie.
SS So if your mum was so cool, how come mine is such a battle-axe?
VS Your mum is not a battle-axe. Sure she can be a bit stubborn and abrasive, and she seems a bit stand offish and judgemental with you, but she loves you to pieces, and don’t you ever forget that. Truth be told, you are both quite a lot alike.
SS I’m nothing like her!
VS Protest all you like. In case you hadn’t noticed, your dad’s besotted with the both of you. Doesn’t that tell you something?
So, if they happened to make a movie, or put me on telly one day, who would you want to play me?
VS I don’t actually care, as long as the actor is short! I’d be a bit miffed if they cast a statuesque actor as your height informs so much of who you are, how people treat you and how situations pan out. They need to have a shortie. (So for all you vertically challenged actors out there – here’s your perfect role...)
SS Who would you want to play you in a movie?
VS I don’t think they could find anyone with frizzy enough hair to play me...
VS One last question?
SS Sure. Of all the things you could have made me addicted to, why was it a biscuit? Why Toffee Pops?
VS Hellloooooo, Toffee Pops – does that need explaining?
SS Good point
VS And it does mean I have to do quality control research on them regularly - for your benefit, of course.
SS Naturally, sacrifices you make.
VS You have no idea.
The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon (Published by Orenda Books)
Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand. Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus... Determined to find out who's running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending...