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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Aemilia (of In Numina, by Assaph Mehr)

Dear readers, with the forthcoming release of In Numina, the second novel by our fearless leaders, we are proud to present an interview with one of the novels’ most charming characters.

This young lady is here to tell us about life in Egretia, that wonderful fantasy city based on Ancient Rome and Alexandria, from a point of view other the Felix’s. The interview is set at a time between the books, and reveals things that might surprise you.

(Note that this interview first appeared on D. Lieber’s blog. Our many thanks for her prompting to write it.


Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?

You do incantations? Right here? What branch of magic? Can I watch you do it? Will you show me how you do it? Oh, you want something specific? Anything really, just so long as it’s not permanent and I can see you perform it. Maybe light a fire? It’s rather chilly this time of year.

Please introduce yourself, and the book you are from.

My name is Aemilia, and my first appearance is in Murder In Absentia.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up in the Clivi Ulterior, in my family’s domus. If you’re not familiar with our city, the Clivi Ulterior are the highest reaches still within city limits on mount Vergu. It’s a neighborhood of rich men’s mansions. My father was Tiberius Aemilius Mamercus, a consul and a direct descendant of the T. Aemilius Mamercus.

My life, I know, was better than for the vast majority of people in our city. In matter of fact, I knew little about how most Egretian live their lives. I grew up with friends of the same social circle – sons and daughters of the Senate’s elite. My elder brother died young, but my family kept his tutor. I thus benefited for a scholarly education beyond that of most women.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

My brother had a couple of wooden toy soldiers, that one of the slaves made for him. One was an Egretian legionary, the other an Arbari barbarian. When Tiberius died from the ague, I kept those soldiers. I hid them under my pillow, and I imagined my brother’s spirit was still in them, that he – and they – were guarding me. I treasured them more than anything else I owned. I still have them.

What do you do now?

Trying to delay the inevitable… I’m nineteen. My mother is busy planning my wedding. I may have some little say in who I marry – or at least absolutely refuse to marry – but the outcome would be the same. Some young scion of a well-respected, old family. Probably a lawyer or a promising career military man, on his way to the senate. Me, I’d just like to experience life a little bit, before I become a show wife, sitting quietly behind the loom.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Ha! A young woman of my social standing is not allowed to have “adventures”. Not formally, that is. That never stopped me. My cousin Caeso has died in some strange circumstances, and the family wanted to keep it quiet. They hired a man to find out the killers, which he did. I am thankful for him bringing peace to my uncle, even though I thought his methods dubious.

Now another uncle seems to have ran afoul of some bad property investments, his tenants claiming that his apartment blocks are haunted. We thought Felix could resolve this too, so we recommended him. But I’d love to know how he approaches this. Continue reading “Aemilia (of In Numina, by Assaph Mehr)”

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Luna (of Pink, Not Fanged, by Paige Etheridge)

Dear readers, tonight we interview a young woman who found herself at the clashing point of science and the supernatural. She is here to talk about anxiety, the dangers of the Amazon river, and were-dolphins.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I lived in Narragansett,  Rhode Island until I was eighteen. A beach town known as Gansett by locals. Being in New England, it’s cold much of the year. Despite this I walked along the beach all the time, whether it was returning home from school or just to wander while looking at the ocean. Narragansett is also known for it’s Witch’s Altar and Druid’s Chair. Joseph Peace Hazard built the Druid styled burial site for his family. Even though it’s located in a rich and considerably safe neighborhood, I was always too scared to go there. It wasn’t just because of my conflicts over the paranormal at the time. I was terrified I’d run into classmates doing crazy stuff there. It’s the perfect place to have sent my anxiety through the roof. I hated parties and drugs. Add illegal trespassing and satanic rituals? I’m staying as far away as possible. 

So do you believe in ghosts, spirits, the paranormal?

I tried not to for a long time. It scared me too much and anything which spiked my anxiety was something I always ran away from. The science I long studied didn’t give such things much value. Yet this didn’t comfort me. Somehow I knew science didn’t have the real answers for any of this. Answers about the mysterious  woman and Amazon River Dolphins I dreamed about. Answers about the power from the Dolphin tooth I found. Spending years being haunted by the ghost of a Weredolphin and finally having the paranormal literally staring you in the face changed that. I didn’t start to believe, I started to know it’s real.

Do you know how you got your name?

I don’t actually. Yet for years of my life, I very much felt like the moon. Watching others from afar. Living in my own space far from others. Not known well by most. Most of the time people passed me without a thought. Occasionally I would be stared at and it would terrify me. I found comfort being isolated and alone. But overtime, I learned to illuminate through my own light. 

Did you have any favourite things as a child? Any cherished memories?

There were glow in the dark stars on my ceiling I loved looking at when I couldn’t go outside to look at the real stars. I didn’t have things I was attached to as a child. I loved stargazing. It’s one of the few things which calmed me as a kid. I still take much comfort in it now, even if the constellations visible to me have changed. I don’t remember my family much. We were all ghosts to each other. Barley seeing or interacting with one another. 

Do you have thoughts on Astrology/Astronomy? 

Both are of equal value to me now that I know what I know. But there is still much I need to learn about both. Looking to the stars teaches you a lot, but not everything. There is still much I need to do in order to better understand the Cosmos. But there are also things I won’t understand even in my new life. Yet I can still gaze in awe. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I was in combat training with a Werejaguar. The first Jaguar I ever encountered nearly killed me. Training with a Werejaguar, who can take on both Jaguar and Humanoid form, has given me the advantages I need to survive in the wilderness. I have scars to prove it and I’m proud of them. 

Continue reading “Luna (of Pink, Not Fanged, by Paige Etheridge)”

Jie Yan (of Thorn of the Night Blossoms, by JC Kang)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with an half-elf member of anb imperial assassin clan.


It’s early in the afternoon in a empty tea house in the corner of the Floating World. I beckon to a young courtesan and her half-elf apprentice, who approach with sensual grace.

Though they appear demure—well, the courtesan does—I know they’re members of the imperial spy clan.

I swallow hard. Even though I outweigh both of them combined, either could probably kill me with a pinkie.

It’s the latter I’m here to question, since she’s head of the cell embedded in the Floating World. They don’t know who I am or what I already know, just that their clan has ordered them to answer all of my questions.  At my invitation, they bow their heads and take a seat.

Greetings, Miss Jie. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. Please, have  a seat.

<looks around> The clan commanded I give you my full cooperation. Still, this is highly irregular.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My father abandoned me at the Black Lotus Temple when I was just a baby. He probably thought, just like you are thinking now, that they train the best accountants and scribes in the realm.

I shouldn’t be telling you this, but here’s a little secret: we’re actually the emperor’s secret spies and assassins. So yes, we did learn reading, writing, and accounting, but we also trained in stealth, acrobatics, and combat. There were nights I just wanted to die: my muscles ached from stretching, every nerve fired torture resistance training, I was vomiting my guts out from testing poisons, or my head hurt from trying to remember eighty-nine items.

It sounds harsh, but my fellow clan sisters and brothers were family. We had time for fun, like dodge blades or pin the knife in the traitor.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

YES! Every initiate’s most treasured memory is receiving their first real throwing star.

What do you do now?

Utterly wasting my talents. You see, while some of us go on dangerous missions to safeguard the realm, the most beautiful of us get assigned to the Floating World to entertain rich men and learn their secrets. My cover, as the only known half-elf in the world, is as a courtesan-in-training. The deployment was supposed to last just two years, but it’s now going on four, because Floating World conventions dictate a Blossom can’t be Plucked until the flower with Heaven’s Dew.

Yeah, I don’t like all that flowery language, either. Thankfully, my best friends Lilian and Wen are here, and we train in secret with other clan sisters almost every day.

Continue reading “Jie Yan (of Thorn of the Night Blossoms, by JC Kang)”

Milandra (of The Cleansing, by Sam Kates)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a member of an alien race, a race that has had quite enough of humanity and has decided to do away with us.


I’d like to begin by thanking you for having me. I have lived here on Earth Haven for many years—for almost five millennia, to be more precise—but have not, until now, been able to talk about myself or my people. We have, through necessity, maintained a shadowy existence, one of secrecy and discretion, not attempting to deny the fact of our existence, but rather the nature of it: the longevity and regeneration capabilities, the power to influence lesser creatures, the ability to communicate mentally… It’s not a term we use, but I suppose you’d call it telepathy. I think it was one of my deputies, Jason Grant, who described our lifestyle as ‘hiding in plain sight’. It’s a good way to describe it—typically Jason.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Growing up isn’t a concept that applies to me and my kind. Not really. You see, we are born in a similar way to drones— sorry, I mean humans, but after gestating for only two weeks in the womb. The placenta is expelled whole and we mature within it, not emerging until fully grown.

I was born and lived the first couple of centuries of my life on Earth Home. That’s a planet some distance from Earth Haven. 479.4 light years, to be exact.

It’s a planet similar in many respects to this one. The main difference lies in the sun around which it orbits. It is millions of years older than Sol and has begun to expand into what scientists here call a red giant. The surface of Earth Home has been uninhabitable for many millennia; my people have, of necessity, become below-ground dwellers. Burrowers.

There will come a time—no one can be sure when, but we are confident it will happen within the next few centuries—that Earth Home’s sun will explode, sloughing off its outer shell like a snake shedding its skin. Then life on Earth Home, even our subterranean type of existence, will become unsustainable. It is why we are relocating. It is why we are here.

Continue reading “Milandra (of The Cleansing, by Sam Kates)”

From all the characters in all the books: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Whatever you’ve gone through in this past tumultuous year, and with sincere hopes that you won’t need quite as much escapism during the coming one, here all of us at The Protagonist wish you a happy and book-filled year!

Join us next week for an explosive interview – we’re starting the year with a bang, interviewing a character out of one of fantasy’s longest running, award winning series of novels! Make sure you follow the site (bottom right) so you don’t miss out.

Note to…
Readers: Check out past guests!
Authors: we’re open to new interviews 🙂

Thya (of Illusional Reality, by Karina Kantas)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a marketing exec turned heir to a magical kingdom. She’s here to tell us about power and destiny.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Well, I’m from the UK, at least I thought I was. Turned out I was adopted and was born in Tsinia a magical land on Enumac.  My adopted parents were amazing and gave me love and everything I needed.  Thanks to them, I went to college and studied hard and then got a position in a prestigious Marketing firm and worked my way up before becoming an executive.

I was happy in my own way. I lived by myself in a converted loft in the centre of town and was single and I thought my life path was set. But little did I know that everything I thought was real was just an illusion  and everything I knew as truth, was, in fact, a lie,

What do you do now?

Now I’m Queen of Tsinia, my real home. Guardians to the Changlins (the sacred stones.) When I found out who I was, it took a lot to finally accept my rightful destiny.  I was very stubborn, well I still am. But I refused to take the crown and demanded they send me back home. Especially when I found out what they had planned for me. Can you imagine, waking up in a  strange land, being told you are the heir and you have magical powers and that you’re to marry an evil warlord’s son, which it was said, he was the one who slew my parents, the rulers of Tsinia (the Ganties.)

I didn’t know these Tsinians and yet their govern committee decided that an alliance between the two lands, Senx and Tsinia would create peace and I was supposed to be the cement. So stubborn me refused their plans and to meet with Darthorn and my decision caused death and destruction. Knowing what I do, If I could have gone back, I would have done things a lot differently.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The first adventure was bittersweet and there are some things I don’t want to speak about. Eventually, I agreed to meet with Darthorn but I refused the marriage to Kovon, Darthorn’s son. I had it in my head that we could create peace without a union. Hey, I was young and stubborn and didn’t know any better. Let’s just say the meeting didn’t go well. 

I was being tutored in the Tsinian code by Pertuis and Alkazar was my tutor in my gifts ( as we like to call them) but it was his duty to teach me how to use my powers and control them. As a Gantie, I had the gift of Mynd, where I could make things move with my mind. I turned out I was a special Gantie where only one other ever existed with the added power to control the five elements.

Then something surprising happened and I was once again asked to speak to the Warlord of Senx. I was trained in my gifts and could use them if needed. But Alkazar spoke of another will that was fighting to get control of me. I didn’t know what he was referring to, but I remember blacking out several times and not remembering what happened. Alkazar and I tried to fight our feelings about each other. Just after the announcement that we were going to both return to Earth and get married, reality came crashing down and I lost my love.  I went back to Earth hoping never to return to Tsinia, however, I gave them my word that should they require their princess, to call for me at once. These Tsinians were my kinsmen and I refused to let them down again.

Continue reading “Thya (of Illusional Reality, by Karina Kantas)”

Ylaine (of Princess of Undersea, by Leslie Conzatti)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a mermaid princess, desperately trying to avert war — even if it means transitioning into a human.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

This might come as a shock to most people who haven’t met me, but I wasn’t always a land-walking human. I used to be a Mermaid, living in the Channel between Overcliff and the mainland. The mer-kingdom is called Undersea, and it was once much shallower, I’m told, back when the humans, the fairies, and the Merfolk all engaged in trade with one another. That ended, and instead of building taller as the years went on, the Merfolk dug deeper to build their towers, until the “floor” of our city lay deep in the shadows of the ocean. We didn’t venture much higher than the tallest Watchtower at the center of the city, and the only humans we ever saw were the drowned ones that fell with their wrecked ships. It was only by a miracle that I was ever able to not only reach the surface, but be able to exchange my tail for legs and walk among the humans, to breathe air and live as they do.

Do you have any cherished memories from your childhood? What was the one thing you wanted more than anything else when you were young?

Well, I suppose the two are sort of related; they both have to do with my mother. You see, when I was still very young, my mother disappeared, tangled in the net of a fishing boat passing through the Channel–at least, that’s as much as anyone knows. I have vague memories of her, looking up into her kind face as she held me in her arms, sitting in her throne next to the King, my father. More than anything else, I would want to see her again. Her disappearance is what stoked my father’s anger against the humans, such that he would use my magical Gift of Song to sway the minds of his councilors to bend to his will. More than anything I just want my family to be whole again, so that I don’t have to be afraid of what might happen as a result of too many rash decisions!

What do you mean by “Gift of Song”?

I mentioned before about the humans, the Merfolk, and the fairies living in harmony with one another. Back in the days of old, the Merfolk and the humans would trade with one another, and every Great Moon, the fairies would come and bestow gifts upon humans and merfolk alike. They chose infants to gift, since each fairy only had one Gift to give, and there weren’t as many of them. That ended when the human King seemed to arbitrarily decide that the fairies were no longer welcome among them, and they set up gates of iron and other repellants to drive the fairies away and ensure that they couldn’t ever come back. (I have since learned that the human King’s decision was not arbitrary, but borne of great tragedy, similar to my father’s own decision to go to war) At the next Great Moon Rising, a few fairies came to bestow Gifts on some Mer-children, and to tell us that this would be the last time they would come. I was the last infant born before that time, so I received the last fairy Gift: the Gift of Song.

According to my godmother, the fairy who gave the Gift spoke thus: “May the music of your voice bring comfort to the heavy heart, courage to the fearful heart, wisdom to the foolish one, and truth to the hearts darkened by falsehood. May those whose hearts are noble be drawn by the sound of your Gift.”

It followed that whenever I sang or even spoke, my voice would compel all who heard it to listen. Unfortunately, after my mother disappeared, my songs would only remind my father of her disappearance, and he constantly refused to listen to me, barely letting me speak in his presence, much less sing at all, except on the anniversary of my mother’s disappearance, when he would be too distraught to protest. When he decided that he wanted war against the humans, though, he met opposition from several wiser councilors–so instead of heeding them, he found a use for me, bidding me to sing for the councils, so that they would comply with whatever he said. My “Gift” became something horrible to me, something that others used for their own purposes, because I could never use it for the purpose I really wanted: to comfort my father, and help him see reason in all the hurt and bitterness he carried.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I became human because I wanted to prove to my father that they weren’t malicious and just biding their time, waiting for a chance to send down their best divers with giant nets and sweep us all up for food like so many sturgeon. Honestly, when I first learned about the potion that would make me human for a day, the first thing I wanted to do was acquire two doses of it, so that my father could come with me and we could just be humans for a day and find out what they were really like. I suppose a part of me thought that sharing a moment like that could pave the way for more of a discussion between us of the best course of action, rather than letting him shove me in front of the council and then ignore me when he got what he wanted. 

Well, imagine my surprise when the very next day, a human suddenly drops from the surface right next to me! I caved to my first instinct and pulled him back to the surface–but after that moment, I just wanted to find him again. I didn’t even care that only one dose of potion was ready. 

Little did I know, the situation on the surface would change my life forever.

Continue reading “Ylaine (of Princess of Undersea, by Leslie Conzatti)”

Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a tattoo artist from the near future. She is here to tell us about her dystopian future, with government-pushed drugs and the security of gangs, and about cyborgs – both human and whales.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

2100s Seattle. Starbucks is still a thing, but I’ve never been there. Many of the buildings of the city are empty and covered in vines. Nature has been taking back the city. Where there’s room on the outside walls, art is created. The government can’t keep up with stopping these artists. They never caught up to my art either. 

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

I have a stuffed Unicorn which was my only toy as a child. I also held onto a Dreamcatcher from that time as an afterthought. But even when I was young, I was creating art on walls. I painted the walls of my room. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I always had my paint. My parents were too out of it to ever stop me. When I left for the last time, I also brought my paint with me. 

What do you do now?

I design tattoos which can glow in the dark. These express both the uniqueness of the individuals as well as fulfilling their needs in battle. I train with Infinity in ancient combat techniques while also honing in on the abilities left in my body after having the chip removed. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I swam with Cyborcas: Orcas with technological additions to their bodies. We don’t speak the same language, but communicate telepathically. It’s an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had with a human. It’s still unknown how Cyborcas came to be, but they are some kind of a result of the struggles Orcas faced off the Washington Coast during the 21st Century. 

Continue reading “Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)”

Alexander Southerland (of A Troll Walks into a Bar, by Douglas Lumsden)

Dear readers, tonight we conduct our interview in a bar, pretending to be the bartender for a private investigator and summoner of elementals.

He’s here to tell us about trolls and shape-shifters, witches and femmes fatales, and murder investigations that take him from dangerous dark alleys to the dazzling lights of downtown Yerba City.


What’ll it be, buddy?

Whiskey. Neat. Leave the bottle.

Here you go.

Thanks. Slow night?

It’s early. It’ll get busy later.

Got time to grab a glass and join me for a drink? Today’s my thirtieth birthday, and I’m in the mood for a party.

Thanks, I believe I will. Here’s mud in your eye! …. I’ve seen you in here before. You’re a private dick, right?

That’s me. Alexander Southerland, P.I. Call me Alex.

Sounds like an interesting racket, Alex.  Is that something you always wanted to do?

What’s with all the fuckin’ curiosity, pal?

Hey, it’s a party, remember? And you’re the guest of honor. I’m just being sociable.

Yeah, yeah. Okay, pour me another glass and I’ll tell you my life story. This shit is pretty good. Hits the spot. Anyway, to answer your question, no, being a P.I. isn’t something I ever imagined I’d be doing back when I was a kid. I grew up in a working class neighborhood, the kind of place you spend your life trying to get away from. My old man was a factory worker. When he worked at all, that is. My mother stayed home and did her best to keep me out of trouble. Turns out that I had a special talent. Since before I can remember I’ve been able to summon and command air elementals. Nothing big. No hurricanes or tornadoes or anything like that. Just little funnels of air. I used them to find out things I wasn’t supposed to know about. Still do. I also used them to annoy all the other neighborhood kids. That led to a lot of fights. I liked fighting. I got to be really good at it. Anyway, I was an only child, and as far as my parents were concerned, I was one child too many. I guess I was quite a handful. 

Sounds like a rough childhood.

Not really. I got nothing to whine about. My parents weren’t going to win any prizes, but they weren’t any worse than most. The only thing my old man ever taught me was that after the fourth drink they all taste pretty much the same. And the only good advice I ever got from my mother was to stay away from my old man after he’d had that fourth drink. 

Seems like good advice. 

Yeah. I didn’t always take it, though. When my old man was soused he used to beat me silly! But I kept getting bigger, and one day I ended up bouncing him off the walls. After that he stopped bothering with me. Stopped talking to me, too. That was fine. I learned to get by on my own.

What happened after that?

I quit school and joined the army. Gave three years of my life to the state of Tolanica. All hail Lord Ketz-Alkwat! And so on and so forth. I did some time up-country in the Borderland, mixing it up with the Qusco insurgents. 

That would have been, what, about ten years ago?

Thereabouts.

What unit were you in?

The 27th.

I was in the 33rd about the same time. I heard about this wild-ass sergeant with the 27th named Southerland. They say he was a stone-cold killer, but you could count on him when the pressure was on.

You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Those stories tend to take on a life of their own. Anyway, after spending the better part of two years fighting for the cause, I was rotated into the military police, and a year later I was discharged and sent home. Problem was, I didn’t really have a home.

So how did you become a P.I.?

I bummed around a little, and then I went to see the grandmother of a buddy of mine who didn’t make it out of the Borderland. She was a well-heeled old dame named Mrs. Colby, and she owns a lot of commercial rental property, including some units here in Yerba City. Anyway, she had a rental app from a joe that she had a funny feeling about, and she asked me if I would do a little snooping. I dug around a bit and found out that the guy was a were-rat. Mrs. Colby was impressed with my work, and she not only helped me set up a business, but she rented me an office with some living quarters on the second floor. I’ve been working as an investigator ever since.

A were-rat?  Wow! Those guys give me the creeps! They say that they’re all a little nuts!

Yeah, that’s mostly true. But this guy had trained himself to put a lid on his baser instincts. Turns out he’s a pretty fun fellow. Mrs. Colby went ahead and rented him some commercial space and he turned it into a nice business. I invited him to lunch one day and we’ve been friends ever since. He helps me out sometimes. Rats can go pretty much anywhere, and they see and hear everything. And he’s mostly stable, although he’s hinted at some dark shit in his past that I’m probably better off not knowing about. 

Your racket must be exciting.

It can be. It’s usually fairly routine, and the cash flow is far from steady. I do a lot of background checks, and I find missing people and missing items. I do a lot of investigative work for attorneys and occasionally for big corporations. Some of the cases can get a little intense. Like this one about a year ago when a gorgeous doll asked me to find her little sister.

What happened?

There were three problems with that case. First, the client was trying to use me for her own purposes. I couldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. The dame didn’t even give me her real name! Second, some extremely corrupt sons of bitches in the Yerba City Police Department didn’t want me anywhere near the case. This one detective–a seven-foot tall, five-hundred pound troll–tried to get me to lay off it. I probably should have listened, but I didn’t like the way he asked. So I stuck my nose in, and the troll decided to get physical. Actually, he fucked me up pretty good!

A troll? You’re lucky you’re still breathing!

It could have been worse. But, yeah, he rearranged my face a little and threatened to rip out my eye with an icepick. But I’m better off today than he is. I still have nightmares about that troll, though.

You said that there was a third problem with that case?

That’s right. The third problem was that my client was an adaro.

One of those water nymphs from the Nihhonese Ocean?

Yeah, the ones that the government herds into the refugee settlement in the northern part of the city. You probably know that female adaros are extremely attractive to men. It’s part of their evolution, something that stems from the fact that female adaros outnumber the males by about ten to one. And we’re not just talking about physical attributes. They emit powerful pheromones that make lugs like you and me want to get down on our knees and beg for table scraps. It wasn’t easy being in the same room with my client. It was hard not to believe her lies. It’s a good thing that I’ve got a lot of willpower. Or maybe I’m just fuckin’ stubborn. In the end, I guess it amounts to the same thing. I still dream about her, too.

How’d that case go?

It was a clusterfuck from beginning to end. I got myself mixed up in a turf war between two drug-running street gangs up in Placid Point. I met my client’s charming but homicidal sister, and I somehow got my hands on a mysterious locked box that a lot of powerful people wanted. The mayor’s own private fixer threatened to frame me for murder if I didn’t sell the box to him. And, of course, I was tortured by a troll. 

What was in the box?

I’m not at liberty to say, and you don’t want to know. Get me?

Gotcha! So what can you tell me about your most recent case? I hear that you were working for the Barbary Coast Bruja.

You hear a lot of things.

I’m a bartender. It comes with the job.

Yeah, I was hired by Madame Cuapa herself, the most powerful witch in western Tolanica. She told me that she had murdered a man, but that he wasn’t dead. 

Come again?

I know. It’s complicated. Anyway, someone had managed to put a compulsion spell on the witch and turn her into a deadly weapon. And when I say deadly, I mean lethal enough to end all life on this planet! That was the only case in which my own client tried to kill me.

The witch tried to kill you?

Twice. The first time, I wound up shooting her in the chest. It didn’t bother her all that much, though. The second time was really weird. I remember following a giant shadowy dog with no eyes right up to the gates of the Azteca realm of the dead. It was a near thing! In fact, lately I’ve been wondering if maybe I actually died. In any case, Madame Cuapa brought me back.

She brought you back? Didn’t you say that she was the one who tried to kill you?

It’s complicated. But that wasn’t even the scariest thing that happened to me on that case. That scariest thing was when another witch tried to sacrifice me to a giant hummingbird.

A…. Sorry, did you say hummingbird?

Well, some kind of spirit in the shape of a winged man with a bright green hummingbird’s head complete with a three-foot beak that was sharp as a spear. Believe me, it was no joke! 

I guess not. Hey, do you want me to break open another bottle? This seems like a lonely way to spend your birthday. 

Sure, let’s drink up. Don’t worry about me. It’s not that I don’t have friends. It’s just that I’m not in the mood for them tonight. Besides, they’re busy with their own shit. Take Lubank, for example. He and I get along fine, but he’s a real pain in the ass. He’s a buck-toothed gnome with the world’s most obvious hairpiece. He’s my lawyer and I do a lot of investigative work for him. Mostly to dig up dirt for his blackmail files. In return, he comes to my rescue when the cops drag me to their downtown clubhouse and cuff me to the iron tables in their sweatboxes. For my money, Lubank is the most corrupt attorney in the city. But his human wife, Gracie, is a treat! She’s an outrageous flirt who will have you howling at the moon if you’re not careful.

Did you and she ever….

Don’t be ridiculous. She may talk a big game, but she’s devoted to her husband. I don’t know what she sees in the slimy rat, but he’s nuts about her, too. They’re an odd couple, but they make it work. 

They sound like a unique pair. Any other women in your life?

Not in the way you’re suggesting. In my last case I became friends with a homicide detective named Laurel Kalama. And before you ask, she’s also happily married. But she proved herself to be a real standup partner when the shit came down. She’s seen it all and isn’t fazed by any of it. She’s rock solid and good with a gat. Too bad she doesn’t have a sister.

Sounds like all the dames you know are married.

Well, there was this one doll I ran into in the bruja case. Cindy Shipper. Looks like an angel, but she’s hard as nails. My kind of sweetheart. The heat between us was real, and if circumstances had been different we might have had some fun fanning those flames. But she may have been involved in the murder of her husband and her stepson. That kind of put a damper on things. Still, you never know.

You sure run into some interesting people. 

Yeah, I do. I haven’t even mentioned the two rock-addicted were-snakes. I hope they’re still alive, but I wouldn’t want to go all in with that hand. And then there’s Cody and his pet manticore. 

Manticore?

Think two-hundred pound flying jungle cat with huge bat wings and a scorpion’s tail. He and Cody have this strange mental link. You’d know Cody if you saw him. Six five, solid muscle. Likes to dress in skin-tight leather with purple trim. He’s training to be a butler. 

Well, it’s been interesting, but I need to get ready for the evening crowd. Are you working on anything currently?

Not yet, but do you see that troll back over there in the corner booth? The one in the suit that would cost you three-month’s salary and tips? He’s been following me all day. I suspect that he’ll follow me when I leave. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I have a hunch it might have something to do with the supposed suicide of that good-looking nightclub torcher, the one who called herself Zyanya. The scuttlebutt is that the canary had something goin’ on with our own Mayor Teague. Looks like I might have to miss out on poker night with the boys. 

Best of luck to you, buddy.

Thanks, pal. Finish off the bottle. You’re a right gee in my book.


Dr. Douglas Lumsden is a former history professor and private school teacher. He lives in Monterey, California, with his wife, Rita, and his cat, Cinderella.

You can fix Alex Southerland on the pages of his first case A Troll Walks into a Bar, and his next case, A Witch Steps into My Office.

Join us next week to hear from a tattoo artist from a dystopian, cybernetic near-future. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

George Whitfield (of Love, Politics, and Survival, by Rebecca Rose)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a high-ranking government official, talking about political coups and machinations.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My name is George Henry Whitfield and I have lived in the suburbs of Waldovia my entire life. I had a happy and typical enough childhood for those fortunate enough to be in the upper class, being blessed to have two parents who gave us a proper upbringing.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

My cherished memories would have to be before my brother, Gregory, and I had the relationship we’ve had for most of our adult lives, as a matter of politics. I’ve always been guided by my ambition and political aspirations, while he’s only ever seen our system as corrupt, and unfortunately rightfully so. I do miss the days when we didn’t cause our parents, who are no longer living, so much emotional anguish, our mother especially.

What do you do now?

To the public, I am the Deputy Director of the Department of Security and Action. I haven’t been a free man even before being forced to take on this role, which was billed as a ‘promotion’ but which has only ever been a punishment. Before then I enjoyed being a chief of staff, a senator, and then the director of the Department of Ethics.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It certainly was an adventure to put into place a plan, thanks to my brother, actually, to save my son, Danny, by taking his place in getting arrested for his suspected role in a coup against our government. It amazes me not only how I thought it up so quickly, but that I got back in touch with my brother to do soI didn’t even have the time to fully process what I was giving up, though I’ll defend this decision with my dying breath.

Continue reading “George Whitfield (of Love, Politics, and Survival, by Rebecca Rose)”

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