From all of us here at The Protagonist, may you have a happy and book-filled new year!
It’s been quite the ride this past year, with many characters getting to speak out (and occasionally, speak out of turn). May your next year be full of great books, and may their characters forever live in your head!(*)
We’ll leave you with this interview with both Assaph and Felix (seen together to prove they’re not the one person), originally published on Jen Winters‘ blog. It’s a classic Felix…
(*) Yes, we know how that sounds. That’s the point ;–)
My name is Assaph Mehr, and I am the author of Historical Fantasy Mysteries, or – as I like to call them – Stories of Togas, Daggers, and Magic. The stories tell the cases of a hard-boiled detective named Felix, set in a magical world based on ancient Rome. If you like any two of Urban Fantasy, Detective mysteries and Ancient Rome, you’re bound to enjoy them.
With me tonight is Felix, the protagonist of the stories. I met Felix a while ago, in circumstances that we’d both rather keep quiet for now –
Felix: I still don’t understand why…
Assaph: We’ve been over this before. Back to the introduction. I have been writing and publishing Felix’s memoirs these past two years –
Felix: And I’m still to see any royalties from them.
Assaph: Told you, writing and publishing isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. There are costs involved…
Felix: Yeah, yeah, great reviews… [sotto voce] mentula.
Assaph: I heard that! Please keep respectful language. Seeing how you’re so eager to jump in, why don’t you introduce yourself to the readers of this blog?
Felix: Right. Salve omnibus. My name is Spurius Vulpius Felix, sometimes known as Felix the Fox, though almost everybody calls me just Felix. It means Fortune’s Favourite in my language, but I’m afraid I am more like Furtuna’s favourite butt for practical jokes.
Actually, you may know my language as Latin. Years ago, I visited your world, quite by accident. I came to a city named Rome, which was hauntingly similar to my own home in Egretia. Language, artists, philosophers all seemed familiar – yet there were some glaring differences. It was on a river, not on the seashore for one. And everybody talked about gods and magic, but no one seemed to know how to properly practice it for another.
Assaph: Let’s start with what you do for a living.
Felix: I studied to be an incantator, a wizard. I got booted out of college, however, and never completed my studies. I worked a while for the firm of Gordius et Falconius, where I learned the art of investigation.
Now I work for myself as a private investigator – a sniffer of troubles, and resolver of predicaments. The kind of messes where there’s often a corpse involved. That’s how I got my nickname. Not ‘Felix’ – that just a childhood nickname that means lucky. The ‘fox’ part is a reference to what I do. Better than being called a ‘ferret’ I guess, which I almost got stuck with.
Assaph: Why don’t you tell us about some of your cases and adventures?
Felix: There was this one case of a young woman who was haunted by the most dreadful dreams. It turns out that the cellars of her home were infested by lemures. These are not, as Assaph says, cute and cuddly little creatures who “like to move it”, but rather the animus of unburied dead. They have the resemblance of what might have once been humans, but are now devoid of life and colour; grey shade of the dead.
As the story goes, I had to lure them away from the house and into the Mundus, the gates to the underworld. I distinctly remember that I told Assaph that I counted forty-four of the evil spirits chasing me, but he insisted on making it fifty. He said that writing a story called Fifty Grey Shades would help him sell my memoirs, though I didn’t quite understand why.
Assaph: You had to pick that one… There was another one with the spirits of the dead, which we put up only recently on Halloween. Why don’t you tell us about it?
Felix: That was a strange one indeed… Normally when speaking of the lemurs of the dead, the conversation is all about how to get rid of them. Put them to rest, or at least send them back to the underworld where they belong. But that time… I understand that the night it happened was not far from your Halloween. November 8th. For us, a sacred night. We have a ceremony that has been observed for centuries. That night, the lapis manalis, the stone slab that lies open to cover the gates to the underworld must be opened, and sacrifices must be made.
Well, I found myself out on the streets that night. And I ran into a lemur. Only, instead of trying to drag me with her to Dis, she hired me to exact revenge on the man who killed her. It turns out that fifty years or so prior she was…
Assaph: Let’s not discuss the particulars of that case. There might be young readers of this blog. Those who would like to know more, will find it on our website, where we published it for free. Instead, why don’t you tell us about the case that first made you, the one we published here as “Murder In Absentia”.
Felix: The one with the senator’s son? That was delicate work indeed. I was hired by one of the elected officials of our city, when he found his son dead in bed. The boy was covered in such strange tattoos, that he knew immediately there could not be any regular explanation. His problem was, he couldn’t approach the other officials to investigate. If they found out his family was involved in forbidden magia, his public career would be over.
And so I was brought into the picture. I have a very specific skill set, you see. I studied a bit of magic, and although I never graduated I know enough of what’s what. I’ve also been – albeit briefly – with our legions, and have generally accumulated odd and eclectic knowledge.
I was able to solve the mystery for him, in a manner that kept his family name out of the limelight. It was quite ingenious, if I do say so myself. None of the over-confident incantatores would have figured it out in a thousand years… It was so clever, that we won five awards for it at Virtual FantasyCon 2016!
Assaph: Thank you, Felix, for that modest and humble account. Let’s leave the rest of details for those wish to read Murder In Absentia, shall we? Why do you tell the readers about the case we’re currently writing?
Felix: Ah, this is a fun one. Well, as fun as any case involving dead and mutilated bodies is. No forbidden ancient rites in this one. Well, not as much as in the previous case. Just a bit of every day cursing. This is the case that brought be public fame. The one I mentioned about got me into the right circles. This one was public. What started as a landlord with a haunted apartment block, ended up with my public appearance in the courts. It built up my career, and had some ramifications on my personal life as well…
Assaph: This new full length mystery is titled In Numina, and will be published early next year. You should subscribe to our blog to find out when it’s released. Now, I’m sure our readers would like to learn a little more you, the real person behind everything. Why don’t you tell us a bit about your personal life?
Felix: My hobbies and such like? My “tinder profile” as you call it? Sure. Let’s see… My favourite colour is silver – that means I just got paid. And red – means I just spent the silver on some wine.
My favourite drink, now that we’re on the subject, is mulsum. When I can afford it I’m partial to mixing it from Verguvian wine and Kebric honey. Sadly I can’t afford the good stuff all too often, and end up making it with vinegary wine and third-rate honey. The spices I never skimp on, though.
What’s next? Right, favourite food. I’ve been invited to some spectacular parties in my days. I’ve had such delicacies as oysters in cinnamon, calf brains and jellyfish custard. Once, I was even at feast where they served roasted gryphon meat. But if you ask me for my absolute favourite, you can’t compete with a good squid-on-a-stick, drenched in fish sauce. You’ll find it sold in every street corner of Egretia. It’s the food our legions dream of, when they march away from home.
Shall I talk about my romantic life too?
Assaph: Not now. Let’s leave those details to the novels, as our readers would like to discover them slowly over time, as we unfold your life’s stories. Could you share with the readers how you feel about what you do?
Felix: The best part is seeing the gratitude in my clients’ eyes – right before they add a fat bonus to my purse.
The worst is undoubtedly the sewers. I’ve seen corpses in various stages of decomposition. I’ve been stabbed, kidnapped, tortured. I’ve seen the effects of bad magia on people, make them go demented or worse. I’ve even been chased about by fifty shades of the dead once.
Yet somehow, invariably, without meaning too, I end up in the sewers under our great city. And they stink! I don’t care how much water is flushed through them, or how many slave gangs are employed to clear them out occasionally, our sewers are a menace. I make regular donations and sacrifices for Cloacina to keep me safe in her domain, but still it takes such an effort to get the smell off me. And any clothes and sandals I wear are guaranteed to make even beggars turn away. Like I said – Fortuna’s butt for a joke.
Assaph: Thank you Felix. I think that’s probably enough for tonight. Let’s just leave our readers with some information where they can find more about you. Your short cases are published freely on our site at egretia.com/short-stories/. Murder In Absentia, the award winning debut novel, can be found here on Amazon. To connect with us, you can find us on Twitter and on Facebook.
Good night all!
Join us next week to meet a man born in space, one of the first colonisers of an alien world. Please follow the site by (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.