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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a rambunctious couple. Let’s hope we can settle them down to an interview about life in their world, where they will tell us how an average-Joe got to be an intergalactic admiral, and what is it like living with a commercial telepath.


Kyle: “Oh for crying out loud, another one of these? Don’t I even get to introduce myself? I’m sure you have that down somewhere, but can I at least intro myself?”

Of course.

Kyle: “Cool, thank you. Hope you don’t mind, but I asked my fiance to join me this time. I expected that when Tory asked me to sit for another interview, that it would be another one of these things.”

That is fine.

Kyle: “Well, my name is Kyle Durlow, and this is my fiance Kate Trell-do.”

Kate: “Katlene Thor Trell-do, to be specific. Kyle, how come the only person I can sense is you?”

Kyle: “Not sure. I suspect that the interviewer isn’t actually here, or they are some kind of semi-sentient construct. Tory still hasn’t answered that question from the first time around.”

Kate: “Ah. Wish a lack of answers from him was a surprise.”

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

Kyle: “Nothing special about where I grew up, assuming you are familiar with mid-90’s Earth. I mean. I have been to several alternate realities at this point, and with few exceptions, the mid-90s is damn near the same everywhere. Kinda weird that way.

I was born in central California. Lived and grew up in the Sacramento/Auburn/Stockton area over various parts of my youth and teenage years. Went to high school there. Was a B-ish student, had a few friends, summer job at one fast food joint or another. I hung out at the mall. Got my first car at 16, a true POS of a VW Rabbit. It only had three cylinders, but it got me to where I needed to go, and it sipped gas.

I did community college and earned Associates, which got me a job in San Diego. Like I said, nothing special about me, at least not until I met Kate.”

I see. Okay then, what about you Kate? Or do you prefer Katlene?

Kate: “Kate is fine, thank you.

I was born on the Kaldaree colony world of Fuullist, where my father was working at the time as a power consultant. I spent the first few years of my life as a colony kid. I got a better education than most because dad was well paid and mom was from a core family. Because my mother wasn’t more than a sensitive, she could choose any mate she wanted. Don’t let the laws fool you. The core families don’t give you much choice, other than a choice of pre-selected mates, if you are anything over a Class 8.

My abilities manifested right when they should, which was only a year we after returned to Kal-dar, the Kaldaree home world. As I was already done with my base education, and displaying abilities, mom’s family sponsored me to attend the second best telepath academy. I was only rated as a high Class 10, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten that. The graduation certificate got me into the legal telepath program, and uncle Kel covered the cost as a graduation present.

As with Kyle, it really was not that unusual for someone of my species who was a low level telepath. I had friends, played kids games. I was normal.” Continue reading “Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)”

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Nick Cisco (of Father Divine’s Bikes, by Steve Bassett)

38730511Dear readers, tonight with me is a police lieutenant from 1945 Newark, New Jersey. He’s here to tell us of the dark underbelly of a city that boomed during World War II but finds itself unable to cope with the peace that brings joblessness, despair and crime.


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

I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. The sole child of first generation Italian immigrants, Angelo and Angelica Cisco. My father was a stevedore working the Port Newark docks, having turned his back on the easy money offered by an Italian mafia that began to strangle the city.

Like most immigrants’ kids, I got to know the city’s streets, empty lots and back alleys very well. They were our playground.

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

I love the street sports, stickball and stoopball were my favorites. And they were cheap, we could all come up with the loose change needed for pink high-bouncers which were really the inner lining of tennis balls. You could find broom handles anywhere. I had a strong left arm and could really wing a bouncer off a stoop. I hardly ever lost a stoopball game.

What do you do now?

I’m a newly minted homicide detective moving over from the burglary detail during a shake-up of the police department by Mayor Vincent Murphy. I’m a cop, not by choice, but by circumstances including my marriage to Constance Margotta. This killed any chance to pursue the career I really wanted, art critic or curator. Continue reading “Nick Cisco (of Father Divine’s Bikes, by Steve Bassett)”

Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an agent of the British crown, with a deceptively simple directive: end the magical potions crisis, by any means necessary. He’s here to tell us about how posing as a bodyguard and joining the beguiling potions expert on her continent-hopping expedition led to danger of both life and heart.


Ah, Ainsworth. Welcome. Please sit down.

Sir? It was my understanding that all reports were to be conducted in private. It appears we have an audience.

Indeed. Given the importance of this mission, Parliament has decreed that the information be made available to this carefully selected committee.

I see.

Now, please introduce yourself to these fine people.

Captain Henry Charles MacAlaster Ainsworth, intelligence officer, retired. My current title is that of Civilian Consultant to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. You may also know me as Lord Henry, youngest son of George Ainsworth, Marchese di Murlo. Not that my father’s Italian title puts us anywhere but on the fringes of British aristocracy. His money on the other hand… well, I’m certain you understand.

Tell us a bit more of your background. Your childhood? Your family?

I don’t see how this is especially relevant to my report.

*an awkward pause ensues*

Very well. I grew up traveling often between Italy and England for my father’s business dealings, and Scotland where my mother’s family lives. My father stopped traveling when I was a teenager, and my brothers are happy to remain in Italy growing grapes, but I have never stopped craving travel and adventure. I live in London now, but my occupation takes me all over the world.

Ah, yes. About this occupation of yours. What exactly is a “Civilian Consultant?”

You wish me to be blunt? I’m a spy. What I once did in the army, I now do as a direct agent of the Crown. I sneak into places where I’m not supposed to be to gather intelligence. I’m particularly good at drawing maps from memory and I steal things probably more often than necessary. My sister, Emma, calls it a “disgraceful profession,” but I find it rather suits me. Continue reading “Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)”

Jael (of Teliko Mageia, by AJ Carbonell)

Dear readers, tonight we bring you an interview from across dimensions. This interview was conducted by a fellow researcher into the nature of magick. He was fortunate enough to run into a fierce warrior, specialist in fire. Read on to find out a world most of us will only see in Japanese manga and role-playing games.


Hello, Jael. I am Melchior from the kingdom of Anithelis. I am currently travelling around the world studying about the history of Magick. I understand that you are resting after a fierce battle, but do you mind answering a few questions for my research?

No worries. I love interviews. I’ll answer everything you have for me.

Can you tell me about growing up in Bristal?

I had a nomad’s life I would say. Well, I only had Frekkis by my side as we traversed through woods, villages, and whatnot. Most of my time growing up was running errands, accepting hunts and requests from clients.

It wasn’t a childhood worth imagining. But hey, it did play a key role in developing my magick further.

Do you have any cherished memories?

Cherished memories? I never had the luxury of time, nor the ability to think of any. The only thing valuable I had with me was this necklace. However, if magick is included in this category then yes, I only had my flames with me. Ha ha ha!

Oh, wait. It isn’t? Meh.

What do you do now?

I’ll let you in a little secret…

Aside from attending interviews such as this one, I am still busy trying to find about my mysterious past. Surprise! You didn’t expect that did you?

Well, it was nowhere near easy, and I was hoping my questions would be answered there. Yes, that’s the queen’s castle. Continue reading “Jael (of Teliko Mageia, by AJ Carbonell)”

Clare Rhoades (of Abnormal, by AJ Mullican)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a genetically-gifted young woman. Unfortunately, her socio-economic background is from lower echelons, marking her as an “abnormal”. She is here to tell us about her world, and about her dangerous struggle for survival against the “Gifted”.


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

I grew up in a poor borough of Heaven’s Light called Undertown. Most of the buildings are older, brick-and-concrete construction, but the roadways are the same electrostatic roads as Uptown Heaven’s Light and other major cities. I went to a public school, but I stayed in the back of the class and tried to keep my head down. The Squads patrol Undertown pretty regularly, so I had to keep a low profile to keep myself out of a camp.

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

My favorite toy wasn’t really a “toy”—it was my own mind. I remember how Mom would sit down with me and teach me to use my telepathy to search for Squads, to read the minds of the neighbors, to manipulate thoughts. She made a game of it, and her mind was bright and golden and full of love. I really miss her…

What do you do now?

I’m kind of…between jobs. I have a “job” of sorts, but it’s not one I chose, believe me. I’ll get out of it…one of these days. Continue reading “Clare Rhoades (of Abnormal, by AJ Mullican)”

Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight we have a mid-week special column, to celebrate the Friday release of the next volume in the Shadows Over Seattle series.

With me is a Gunnery Sergeant from the US Marine Corps — the second character we interview from the series (the first was a lupine – a lycanthrope – which you can meet here).

He is here to tell us about his latest snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory — and the surprising things he ran into during it.


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

I don’t really have many clear memories of the places I grew up in, because we moved around a lot.

My father was deployed all over the states, and sometimes even abroad. That meant relocating everytime he got new orders, and I’ll be honest, I hated it. But he carried so much pride in serving his country that I never questioned why he kept reenlisting at the end of each tour of duty.

The bases all looked alike to me as a kid, with only minor changes, but the stories my father told changed everything. He’d tell me about foreign places and the cultures of their people. Unfortunately there were so many stories he couldn’t tell, because he said there were secrets that should never be told.

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

Because I grew up around soldiers, there were guns around the house, and I begged for one of my own for months. I wanted to be like them so badly, and I’d use sticks in my games when I’d pretend to be one of them.

Sometimes my father would join me in these games, and he finally started to teach me how to handle real guns. He told my mom it was for my safety, and so that I’d learn to respect the danger they represented. Honestly though, I have a feeling he secretly hoped that I’d lose the taste for it after a while.

That never happened.

What do you do now?

I signed up for the Marines Officer Candidate School as soon as I was old enough to do so. It drove my mom crazy for weeks worrying about what would happen to me when I shipped out to Parris Island. She didn’t think I had the strength and willpower to get through boot camp, because I dropped out of college to enlist.

Thankfully, I got through with my brains intact, and a thirst to serve. I finally understood what had driven my father to keep reenlisting.

I’ve been in for just over ten years now, and the tensions in the middle-east have taken us to the edge of another world war. Continue reading “Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)”

Trajan Aurelius (of Druid’s Portal: The First Journey, by Cindy Tomamichel)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a soldier from Ancient Rome, right at the time of Commodus. He’s here to tell us about life in Roman Britain, about civilisation and and blue barbarians, and about surprising love that grew in between.


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

I lived on the family farm, in the foothills above Rome. Our family have farmed there since before the time of Caesar. Olive trees larger than any I have since seen, and fruits and grains that were in demand at the table of Apicius. So my Grandmother told me.

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

Toys? I was my Fathers only son, and expected to follow in his footsteps. My toys were weapons, a wooden sword I splintered with usage, a shield I scrawled the wolf of Rome on, and pretended to be a soldier repelling Hannibal.

And yet I well remember those long days of Summer when I ran hunting wild goats with the sons of slaves, the smell of crushed herbs underfoot. The heat of the sun is a welcome memory, for the sun in Britannia is never so warm as that of Rome.

What do you do now?

Aye, that is a tale long in the telling. For once I was a soldier of Rome, fighting the blue painted barbarians in this chill island of Britannia. The excesses of the emperor Commodus sickened me, and with my family gone, I left Rome. I served the Empire in the forts along Hadrian’s Wall, training men to fight, and bringing Roman civilization to a land of barbarians. I expected little else, and my life was filled with the sounds of fighting, and drinking to forget the faces of the men that I met in battle.

Yet that all changed, for on the verge of being killed by the Celts, I was rescued by a flame haired Goddess. Yes, after Janet appeared in my life, nothing was ever the same. I soon realized that protecting her was worth more to me than even my duty to Rome. She had enemies that wished her dead, and a bold spirit that leaps into adventure. I had my hands full – in many ways- keeping her safe. Roman Britain and the borderlands of Hadrian’s Wall was not a safe time or place for anyone. Continue reading “Trajan Aurelius (of Druid’s Portal: The First Journey, by Cindy Tomamichel)”

Raphael (of Light’s Rise, by Yvette Bostic)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man born in the early 17th century — at least the corresponding time of an alternate history.

He is here to tell us about his magical adventures during the Napoleonic Wars.


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

My name is Raphael Silva Lopez. I grew up in a small village on the eastern coast of Brazil, in the early 1600’s. My father was a retired Portuguese soldier and my mother was the youngest daughter of a sugar plantation laborer for the Jesuits. Her tribe worked for the Jesuits for years. My childhood was difficult, as I wasn’t accepted by either culture. Rather than try to fit in, I retreated to the jungle and learned to hunt, fish, trap and survive. Papa took the time he could to teach me things he learned from the army, while Mama taught me the ways of her people. I was always eager to learn and was grateful when an old Jesuit schoolmaster took me under his tutelage. The school said he was too old to teach, but it didn’t prevent me from soaking up whatever knowledge he would grant me.

Did you have any cherished memories from your childhood?

One evening, Jose, my Jesuit teacher and I walked along a well-worn path where the forest met the beach. He pointed at the different trees, flowers and shrubs as we strolled past them, demanding that I tell him their names and characteristics. What were their uses? Were they edible or poisonous? Did they have healing properties? We reached the old log that marked our time to turn back. Jose never took me beyond that point. For three years, I followed him along the path and for three years we always turned back at the fallen log. That night, Jose paused and looked at the rotting wood. “Raphael,” he said in his old, graveled voice. “There comes a time in everyone’s life where we must walk beyond our comfortable boundaries.” He stared into the darkened trees and fell silent for several moments. “When that time comes for you, do not hesitate.” He turned his gaze on me and his deep brown eyes bore into my own. He placed his gnarled fingers on my bony shoulder and squeezed. “Don’t be afraid of the unknown, son. Everything is unknown until it is no longer.”

Twelve years later, I reached the point in my life where I was faced with crossing my boundary. It was that moment in time when I had to decide to fight against the evil that threatened our world or walk away from it. The old man’s words came back to me and I didn’t hesitate.

What is your role in the Council of Light?

I think I have many roles. I like some of them better than others. I suppose the others I would avoid all together if I could. My role is completely opposite of everyone else. They are blessed with strength, stamina and magical powers. I was blessed with knowledge, for which I am eternally grateful. I was never very good with a sword and only barely proficient with daggers. But my eagerness to learn proved my greatest asset. I cannot manipulate magic the way Mikel or Magdelin do, but I can see the way they use it. I could spend hours watching it surround, caress and flow through my fellow council members. It dances with them as if the magic and person are one. Maybe they are. But, I digress, my job is to use this knowledge to create protective runes and enhancements for our warriors. Continue reading “Raphael (of Light’s Rise, by Yvette Bostic)”

Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a PE teacher from a small Midwestern town – or at least, that’s what he pretends to be. His past lies in a different, magical, land.

He is here to tell us about his relationship with Jen, and life between worlds.


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

I was born and raised in the Lamtu Valley region of Kiamada, in a fairly quiet part of the valley.  There are plenty of mountains and rivers to explore.  There weren’t a whole lot of other people living there, but I had my twin sister Kira to annoy…err…talk with.

When I joined the Tayamu, I mostly stayed on Bar Truga, the island home of the Tayamu.  THAT place is amazing!  The island is sentient.  Yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean.  Bar Truga is alive and conscious, and has complete dominion over itself.  It can do whatever it likes, even change the weather patterns anywhere on the island.  It knows what we need or want, often before even we ourselves know.  I look forward to going back there, especially when Elowyn sees it for the first time.  Knowing how curious she is, I suspect she will spend a lot of time exploring the island.

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

I didn’t really have any favorite toys, no.  My powers manifested at a fairly young age, so I spent a lot of time playing with Nature.  Most Tayamu get their powers a few years after puberty starts, but I got mine when I was five or six.  I spent a lot of time teaching myself what to do and how to use them, all without even knowing what I was.  If I wasn’t playing with Nature itself, I was out exploring the surrounding area.

As for cherished memories, I would say the visits from my Uncle Orlaf and Aunt Cara.  Cara was my mother’s sister, and the inspiration for my twin sister’s name.  Whenever they’d come visit, they would arrive early enough for Uncle Orlaf to bake muffins.  He used an old family recipe of his, and those things were absolutely delicious!  The smell always woke us up, and we knew it meant our aunt and uncle were there to visit.

What are you going to be doing in the immediate future?

At the moment, I’m focused on helping Jen recover her lost memories.  We need her to remember who she is.  I’m also going to rejoin the Tayamu and try to help free our land from that despotic tyrant.  After a very long time, the Uncrowned Queen of Kiamada has returned home.  The Tayamu have to spread the word, and make sure she is ready and willing to claim her rightful place.  I also have to train Elowyn in the use of her powers.  She’s already stronger than she should be, doing things she shouldn’t be able to yet. Continue reading “Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)”

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