We had the pleasure of interviewing Camela Rider and Krysta Valanche of The Talisman series for our first ever character interviews.
[includes spoilers until Book 4!]
Camela Rider and Krysta Valanche are two halves of the Knight-Dragon female duo of Brett Salter’s The Talisman series. Camela is strong, sassy and un-apologetically herself. She steals most of the attention in the second book, Riders of Fire and Ice. Rome and Julian who?
Krysta Valanche is all we can hope for in a fierce but kind Ice dragon. Through her, we get a different perspective on a dragon’s life and childhood compared to Rome. She is adorable and a perfect counterpart to Camela. We didn’t know how they got along so well so we asked that question in the interview too.
Here’s how it went.
Hi! It’s great to have you here with us. Camela, we come in peace. How are you both today?
Krysta: Very, very, very well, thank you.
So, let’s get started with the questions. What does a typical day look like for both of you?
C: Early to wake and to my classes amongst the peons. A quick lunch and then off to the library for more research into the Talismans. I finish my school day with battle training and strategy theory and into the bed before the moon’s arc hits its early horizon.
K: Well, I like to follow Camela most of the time to protect her, assist her, and share in her research. We ARE a team after all, so I need to be there for her. For her own sake. And the sake of our classmates.
You both seem like very different people, but you are sworn sisters. What makes your friendship work?
C: Krysta is the ONLY being on this planet worthy of my friendship. She is the most honorable and faithful friend a knight could ask for. True as a blade’s edge and as loyal as a weathered shield.
K: I think it works because we have each other’s backs. We also balance each other out. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our limits. Wherever one of us fails, the other succeeds.
What does the Great Synergy feel like?
C: Like pulling Excalibur from the stone!
K: (Laughs) I would say it feels like being connected, you know? But more than just any connection. It is like living inside someone else’s mind, body, and memories. Like being plugged into another’s soul. And I feel like my heart grew ten times that day. Colors are more vibrant, feelings are like electric sensations, and your perceptions are channeled into their highest point.
How and when do you practice battle strategies?
C: (Scoffs) No need to practice. My battle strategies are the pinnacle of perfection.
K: She’s bragging, of course. We practice whenever we feel like we are not being watched. We have to keep our secret from the rest of the world. While we train in the evenings on the school’s roof, the library is the safest place to discuss the matters of The Great Synergy. And, of course, with you, The Rising Tilde.
How do you think Rome and Julian can improve their battle strategies?
C: Ha! A pox on those two simpletons! They offer no more harm to the Darkbrands than a flea to a lion. If the Earth realm’s forces were run by fools and buffoons, then those two would be both general and flagbearer.
K: Well, I have not given up on them quite so easily. I think that if they had proper training, an elemental Talisman, and dependable allies, they could be an influential force for good. I see no limit to their potential.
C: You see the good in all, Krysta. Even in a couple of muttonheads!
Questions for Camela
You were great at pretending as if you shared the same thoughts as your father does about dragons when you first met Julian and Rome in the UK. If they weren’t sworn brothers and hadn’t revealed themselves to be Knight and Dragon, would you have kept the secret from your brother forever?
I certainly have a panache for the theatrical, yes? Perchance I may see myself on a stage in the near future. ‘Twas an unforeseen complication having to reveal myself to my fool of a brother. Had it not been for me, and Krysta’s undying belief in commoners, they certainly would have ended up skewered on that lake shore. (Groans) Were it up to me, I would have kept our secret as long as I could. Especially seeing as how I now have to work alongside those imbeciles.
What is your favourite thing about the Frostshard?
Ah! My elemental Talisman, The Frostshard. A true marvel, yes? My family’s keepsake. My birthright. What do I love about it most? Methinks the power it affords me; the glory I deserve. And my destiny to serve as the savior of The House of Rider.
What do your classmates think of you having a bodyguard?
Peasants and puppets at best! What care have I for their opinions? Would the soaring eagle care what the ground worm thinks? Nay! Nor SHOULD she!
What do you think of Rome, Jericho and Clay?
Rome? Pray tell, who is that? Do you refer to my brother’s pet? (Rolls her eyes) Worthless and listless. A flame not worth the candle. And Clay? That gluttonous dirt lizard? He may come in handy should I ever require a garbage disposal. He already embodies their stench. Sir Jericho, on the other gauntlet, is the epitome of noble blood. Truly an effective mage and valiant warrior all in one. My fondest desire would be to find a spell to have him permanently replace my brother, Julian the mouth-breather.
Do you think Rome and Krysta make a good pair?
Truly, I know NOT what my sister sees in the fire drake. In honest, I foresee no long-term future between them. Alas, until Krysta snaps herself from this delusion, I suppose I will continue to tolerate his drivel. She doth seem happy in his presence, though anyone with half a brain in their skull could not pretend to understand why.
You know a lot more about Re-emergence and related topics than Julian. Did he not pay attention during his studies, or did you learn more on your own?
That muttonhead would get lost in his own walk-in closet! Of course, I know more about the real world and the battle with The Tyrant King’s army. Those chosen from my family are sent to school in England to learn about the re-emergence and the true history of our world. ‘Tis tradition. Since I was five years old, I’ve been groomed to be the next Dragon Slayer as my ancestors before me. At an early age, my father recognized MY talents and my brother’s, shall we say, lack thereof. (Flicks pigtail over her shoulder) ‘Tis more a matter of preference than birth order when it comes to who will carry on the family legacy, after all.
What made you want to not follow what your father believes and look for a dragon?
My father is half-right in his philosophy. This realm needs guarding from the Darkbrands. And I am a shieldmaiden of the noble House of Rider. ‘Tis my generational duty to protect the innocent. Even if they ARE just commoners. My obligation is to defend them AND this realm. But the REAL power to fulfil my obligations comes from The Great Synergy, so I had to go through with it even though it is against my father’s ideals. Plus, with a dragon, I can LITERALLY look down on the peons I risk my neck to keep safe.
What do you think will happen when your father finds out about you being a Synergist Knight? If you had to convince your father right now about the truth about dragons, what would you say?
I have heard rumblings from the past about Rider family members dabbling in The Great Synergy, and the excommunication that follows. However, I fear that not. If I WERE to be persecuted for my actions, I would tell my father of the goodness that comes from The Great Synergy. I would implore him to look beyond the rumors and falsehoods spread by wicked men and embrace dragons as our allies in this fight. As the two races did during the times of The Good King Arthur. We cannot win this alone. We must nurture the old alliance to bring forth prosperity and valor. And if he still cannot see the merits of The Great Synergy, then I will pack my belongings and run away (Harumph).
You are usually a confident person. Is there anything that you fear or are insecure about?
Stares angrily) I fear nothing of sea nor Earth, you understand? Not beast, nor bird. Not human, nor ethereal. Not flora, nor fauna. NOTHING in the known realms OR unknown to the world’s witness gives me fearful pause. However, losing to my brother in combat would cause me nightmarish displeasure indeed.
If you could have anything in the world gifted to you, what would it be?
I would wish for a type XX longsword from the 15th century. Original steel, not a replica. Complete with a cruciform hilt and octagonal cross sections along the blade. Light enough to wield with one hand, but sturdy enough to lop off a Garm’s head with one swing! Aye! Can you imagine? I would never abandon the battlefield!
If someone had to get on your good side and see the sweet person you (umm possibly) are on the inside, what would they have to do?
Talk battle strategy competently. Understand your station and respect my noble position as your superior. Do not waste or mince words. Do not pursue frivolous conversation. Bring gifts of admiration. And keep the air conditioner at 67 degrees. For me AND for my Master Dragon, Krysta!
What do you do when you want to have fun?
Fun? I know not this word. However, in my spare time, I practice my swordplay, ice skate, read classical poetry, and endeavor to keep the Rider family name thriving as the most highly respected and paramount in ALL the realm. Or at least keep it unsoiled by my numbskull brother.
What is the quirkiest thing about you that not many people know? Being a Knight does not count.
Oftentimes, I do coordinated dances and lip-synch to 80’s pop music before my mirror. (Leans in close touching her scythe) If this secret were EVER to escape your lips, my blade will surely find your neck with haste!
Questions for Krysta
Could you tell us about your life before you met Camela?
Hmmm. Not much to tell, really. I lived up north with my family. We never saw humans or cities or anything like that. Just ice as far as you could see. Pretty boring. Honestly, I feel like my life truly began after The Great Synergy.
Do you think you will ever see your family again?
I hope one day they will understand the sacrifice I made for the betterment of this world. Also, I want them to know the splendor, glory, and freedom provided by The Great Synergy. Every dragon should know the awakening that comes with a completed heart. Maybe one day I will return to them and show them how far I have come. I hope so, anyways.
What were the different ways you tried or places you looked for a Knight to perform the Great Synergy with?
Well, there was an old man who used to ice fish a dozen miles from where I grew up. He had an ice shanty that he would use 3-4 times a week. Most of the time, he would just set up, settle in, and doze off while fishing. So, I would “borrow” his computer to search the internet for information on The Great Synergy, the war against The Tyrant King, and possible partners. In several chatrooms, I learned that the current theory was that you needed a Talisman to achieve The Great Synergy, so that limited my number of people and places significantly. When I found Camela’s post on Reddit, I knew I had found the right human to bond with, so my search ended. And her plan to use a concealment spell on me, teach me human customs, and give me an education at her school let me know I had made the right decision.
Has anyone ever told you that you speak in threes?
No, really, I do?
What do you like about Rome?
(Sighs) Well, I try not to be the stereotypical “dragon in love”, but Rome is just incredibly special to me. He sees me for me. He never makes me feel like I am not enough. Plus, he shares my plight of being a dragon in a human world, ya know? We are both young and full of adventure too! (Giggles) Not trying to be funny, but there is a fire in him, a passion, a desire to do good. You can see it in his eyes…Well, sometimes his eyes are LITERALLY on fire, but you know what I mean. He’s just confident, brave, and has a good soul.
Doesn’t it get annoying to be with Camela all the time?
(Looks around) To be completely honest, Camela CAN be a clawful sometimes, but the good in her outweighs the bad. She is caring, and noble, and often unintentionally funny. You will find no human more driven to protecting the Earth than Camela, for sure. Unfortunately, her attitude can sometimes get us into trouble, but there has yet to be a situation I could not handle. I WOULD like to see her relax a bit. Maybe now that we are among other Synergist Knights, she may allow the burden of saving the world to come off her shoulders.
If you could have anything in the world gifted to you, what would it be?
I would like a world that sees dragons, humans, and animals living together in harmony. But selfishly, I would like a my own, personal, travel-sized air conditioner. It gets so hot in Georgia and Florida during the summer.
What is the best and worst part about being a dragon?
The best part of being a dragon is claws down being allowed to eat whatever you want, however you want, and whenever you want. The hardest part is controlling my tail in cramped places like human buildings. Sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own.
What is the best and worst part about being a human?
Well, the best part is obviously being able to live in a society. I love meeting new people, developing friendships, and sharing in the lives of others. Back on the ice, we were forced to live in seclusion to avoid being killed by dragon hunters. In my human form, I am just accepted. It is great! I would say the worst thing about being human is walking on two legs. It took me a while to master it without a tail to help balance, support, and direct me.
What is the quirkiest thing about you that not many people know? Being a dragon does not count.
Um, uh, I dunno. A PARTICULARLY GOOD question. Maybe that when you take my first and last name, and smoosh them together, you get the word “Krystavalanche” which has the word “avalanche” in it. Of course, that is a reference to me being an ice dragon. I guess that is my parents’ attempt at humor. Who knows?
K: Thank you so much for interviewing us. It was really fun, interesting, and new for me!
C: Aye! The Rising Tilde. Thou art well enow in my book! Just keep in mind what I said about my secret.
K: “gnore her. She just needs a meal, a cold bath, and a good night’s rest. She will be back to her usual pompous self in no time!
C: I know not what you speak of, Krysta. But for now, I will venture a goodbye. For Camelot! And keep a wary eye out for portals!
There is a trivia quiz on the Fandom Wiki Page for the series if anyone wants to challenge themselves.