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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

June 2019

Rachel and Adam Deneuve (of Walking Through Fire, by Sherri Cook Woosley)

Dear readers, tonight with us are a woman and her son facing the end of the world. But while ancient gods have come alive and are fighting for supremacy, their world revolves more around Adam’s leukemia.

They are here to tell us about the personal and literal end-of-the-world facing them.


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

Rachel: Before the firestorm we lived in the suburbs north of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m an art historian turned stay-at-home mom. Now we live here, in Johns Hopkins hospital, room 833 in the Pediatric Oncology wing. We’re lucky, I guess, because I saw a fireball land north of us that night. You know, the summer solstice. I’m sure everything back home burned. I only have the clothes I packed and Adam’s scrapbook because I was working on it right before the storm.

Adam: And Dad too. He lived with us.

But your father isn’t here at the hospital, is he?

Adam: No, he dropped me off and then had to go to work.

Rachel (clears throat): We’d recently separated. It’s complicated. But no, he didn’t answer his phone. I called and called. I don’t know how else to reach him.

I’m sorry to hear that. I’m also a little confused. How did you end up at the hospital?

Adam: I had a fever.

Rachel: Ha, yeah, that’s the short answer. Adam is in his second year of treatment for leukemia. A fever is an emergency in an immunocompromised patient so I was driving him here when the firestorm started. Listen, you said you had to take down information for hospital records, but can you talk to Dr. Abramson? Explain to him that we can’t leave.  

Well, I don’t really have any influence with him.

Rachel: I get that the hospital is running out of supplies. They’re running out of food, fuel for the generator, and medicine. That’s the only reason I agreed to let them do surgery on Adam to remove the port in his chest, but we’ve done everything they’ve told us. Don’t let them send us outside. My son…his body can’t take it. I can set up a school here on the hospital campus. I can sweep the floors. I’ll do anything to keep my son safe.

Adam: That’s not why we can’t leave, Mom. You’re afraid the dragon will come back.

Dragon? What does that mean?

Adam: When we arrived in Baltimore another fireball landed. It grew into a tornado, moving down Orleans Street straight toward us, but when it was close I saw a dragon’s face in the flames and she flapped her wings at us. That’s what pushed us into the hospital a moment before the tornado burned through where we’d been.

Rachel: Oh, that’s not true. He’s got a great imagination from all the manga he reads.

Adam: Mom! Why are you lying?

Rachel: Because it doesn’t make any sense. The world has changed so much in only a few weeks. We have to stay focused on the facts. There’s been no communication from outside of Baltimore and we don’t know how widespread the firestorm is. There could be people from other states trying to get to us, to help. There could still be electricity and a government. Or, there could be nothing. I don’t want to complicate it all with wild rumors.

Other people have also claimed that fantastic creatures are roaming through the area. What do you think about that?

Rachel: Look, I’ve heard about the giant golden bull that races through the sky and eats souls, but I don’t have time for that. Honestly, it sounds like something from an ancient story or piece of art. Mesopotamians, for example, featured many supernatural animals in their mythology. They had lions, bulls, dragons, all kinds of hybrid creatures.

But, that is history, not relevant today. My primary concern will always be Adam. How do I take care of my son when modern medicine is gone? I look out that window right there and I see people starving. Tent camps set up where the Walters Art Gallery used to be. People with burns that don’t heal. Gangs looting collapsed houses. It’s scary and it makes my mind spin with anxiety. I’m trying to hold it together for Adam, but I don’t understand why this happened.

Without Craig, you must feel very alone.

Rachel: Well, I have Nurse Lauren. I wouldn’t have my sanity without her. She and I became best friends over the course of Adam’s treatment because I spent more time here than I did at home. And, when I was home, none of the other moms knew what it was like to have a child go through what Adam is experiencing. He can’t use the swimming pool on certain days, depending on his blood counts.  He could wake up and need an emergency trip for platelets or blood. And the medications. It’s like learning a whole new subject at school. Certain ones like methotrexate mean he can’t be out in the sun while a steroid protocol means he’ll be an emotional mess. I would be lost without Lauren’s friendship, but you know what she’s like.

Uh, I’m not really sure. Black hair? Short?

Rachel: No. Not at all. How do you not know Nurse Lauren? She runs this floor.  

There’s a lot of people. Maybe I’m bad with names. So, Adam, what do you do to relax? Do you play with toys? Have a favorite stuffed animal?

Adam: I’m eleven years old. No, I don’t play with toys. This interview is stupid. I’m going to the teen suite. 

<The hospital room door closes behind him. >

Rachel: Sorry, he’s used to being treated like a third adult in our family. I guess he took your question the wrong way.

I’m not offended. I just wanted to know more about him. He looks like a regular kid. Why is he so special?

Rachel: Excuse me?

The interview is over. Thank you for your time.

Rachel: Wait a minute. Why are you so interested in my son?

Tell me a secret and I’ll tell you mine. Make it a good one, Rachel.

Rachel: Fine. You know what? I saw the dragon, too. The night of the firestorm. She was in the flames. It was just like Adam said. She extended her wings. I thought it was to kill us, but the rush of air pushed us into the hospital before the buildings around us burst into a fiery inferno. I don’t know how to process that information. What the hell is the firestorm?

Was that secret good enough? What’s yours?

I AM that dragon.


Sherri Cook Woosley has an M.A. in English literature with a focus on comparative mythology. Her short fiction has been published in Pantheon Magazine, Abyss & Apex, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Walking Through Fire is her debut novel, a combination of her interest in Sumerian mythology and her experience as a mother to a child with cancer.

You can find Rachael and Adam on the pages of Walking Through Fire.

Join us next week to meet a man woken after 50 years of cryogenic sleep, to find the human race nearing extinction. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

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Mikhail (of The Scented Bones, by Angelina Kerner)

40382483Dear readers, tonight with me is a young man working as a detective by day and and as a guide for departed souls by night. Between mafioso godmothers and the cement shoes on non-human skeletons sleeping with the fishes, he’s here to tell us about his uncanny adventures.

Rather unorthodoxly, the interview is recorded from the point of view of the interviewee. Who says mind-reading isn’t fun?


Please introduce yourself –

I raise my hand for a pause and pull out a pack of cigarettes. After going through my motions, I light the cigarette and take my first smoke of the morning.

After exhaling, I say, “Can you repeat that?”

Please introduce yourself, and the book you are from.

“My name is Mikhail, last name private. My first appearance is in the Scented Bones by Angelina Kerner.”

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

“Can’t really. There’s no real place that I can call home. My parents moved a lot when I was a kid. It’s not in our nature to stay in one place. I remember living in the in-between, in the mountains, by the ocean, in a big city. Thanks to my parents travels, I can adapt to anything and I mean anything,” I say and wink.

What do you mean by not in your nature?

“Oh,” I said. “You don’t know.” I laugh before continuing to smoke. “I’m a psychopomp. My day job is being a detective and my underground life is helping paranormals reach an understanding at an end of an argument or accept death. I help spirits enter the otherworld and have similar powers to a witch’s. Lately, I’m stronger than my little sprite. She’s neglected her magickal part of life. I need to spank her for that. Her neglect makes my third job hell.” I laugh again.

Your third job?

I sit back and dab my cigarette on the plate on the table. “I’m only going to answer that because you’re not in the book and therefore can’t screw me or my charge. My third job is my first job. I’m someone called an Associate. I’m not part of an Italian mob, but I have a working relationship that benefits both parties.” Continue reading “Mikhail (of The Scented Bones, by Angelina Kerner)”

Nick Medea and guests (of Black City Dragon, by Richard Knaak)

Dear readers, we are ecstatic to present you tonight with a unique view to the characters of one of our most favoured series! Moreover, the detective from this historical-urban-fantasy has brought unique guests (some not quite in our world).

This interview is set in the middle of the just released Black City Dragon, but should not interfere with your enjoyment whether you read it (or the previous volumes), or are still about to. We trust you’ll enjoy this glimpse!


Claryce: Stop talking! Nick! Wake up!

Nick: Sorry. Guess that last Wyld took a lot more out of me than I thought. Fell asleep as soon as I sat down on your couch. You say something about me talking in my sleep?

Claryce: Not you. Him. He was talking through you.

Nick: More like talking to me. He’s done this before. It’s different than when we just communicate through my mind. He’s trying to influence me through my subconscious. What’re you up to?

The DragonEye? Eye was merely reminiscing about all our lovely time together, all the things we have shared. All the deaths we have caused. All the things we have burned…Saint George.

Nick: Yeah, it’s been a fun sixteen hundred years since I slew you, hasn’t it been? Sixteen hundred years since our blood mixed and the gate you were guarding — and didn’t bother to tell me you were guarding — made me its new sentinel.

The DragonUs…it made us sentinel. Eye thought death would free me. Instead, it trapped me inside you, a leviathan trapped in a flea who now goes around pretending to be a hunter of false ghosts for ignorant clients when he is actually hunting the Wyld, the foulest of Her Lady’s realm of Feirie…or that accursed Dacian Dragon.

Claryce: Nick! Your expression! What is it? What’s he saying to you?

Nick: I’ll clear it up with you afterward, Claryce. For now, you would do me a great favor if you could get me some coffee.

Claryce: That thick black sludge? I know you need to confront the dragon by yourself, Nick, and I know you’re afraid part of him might show through in the process. I’ll make your coffee — it’ll take enough time — but you didn’t need an excuse. Just ask me. I understand.

Nick: It’s not that. I promise you. I’ll explain all afterward.

Claryce: I’ll keep away until  you call. And don’t worry. I’ve got the Smith & Wesson on me if anyone tries to sneak in. 

The DragonSo many promises to her unkept! Why, Eye thought you loved her. Why keep so many secrets? Are you afraid to tell her how you have failed to keep her previous incarnations alive each time? How they all perished violently and that you fear it is not bootleggers, gangsters such as the ones you call Capone and Moran, and the other vermin of this city Chicago that will be responsible for her dying, but rather Galerius, once Roman emperor and the man who had you beheaded in Nicomedia? Ha! A death so marking you that you always call yourself by some variation of that land’s title?

Nick: Yeah, that didn’t last long, that incident…and you should talk about names. You’ve come to calling yourself ‘Eye’ instead just using the pronoun because that’s the part of you I dare you most, your vision. The only part that might not be used to trick me into letting you out.

The Dragon Hmph. What is in a name, anyway? Why bring up names, Saint George? As for the losing of your head, I lasted long enough, Eye remember the pain as well as you do. Eye was there in you already, even if it took your death to meld us as one and begin our curse.

Nick:…

The DragonNo reply? Ah…are you dreaming again of your Greek  parents in Syria, or your life as a tribune and friend of the emperor Diocletian, who is just as guilty as Galerius for your execution or else why does his ghost haunt you? Are you dreaming of Claryce or her earlier self, the Princess Cleolinda…or any of the other incarnations?

Nick: Leave her out of this!

The DragonBut she is the focal point of all of this! Far more important than even you thinks she is? Such a loyal love, following you through death again and again. Ah! That makes you burn! Careful, oh fiery saint! You might open the way for me again! You recall what happened that one time, when this very city burned…

Nick: I had to let you out. Oberon wanted to make Feirie and our world one.

The DragonOur world? Eye fight only for myself and for the day when I can make everything burn, including her. If Galerius lives and has one of the cards of the Clothos Deck, it may not even be your world, anymore, but a variation he creates with the card.

Nick: That’s not going to happen.

The DragonNo? A simple use of the one you secreted in Holy Name Cathedral with the help of the renegade elf Kravayik did so much already just to landmarks in Chicago! You will need more than the questionable help of an elf converted to Christianity or the errant archangel Michael to help you if another card has been found. Best you give the first one to me. Eye will deal it well…

Nick: I don’t think so. I also think I’ve had enough of this conversation.

The DragonBut Eye could make this place so much more appealing. All you care about is her. Admit it. Eye promise Eye would not do much to her. She may face…a little change.

Nick: Not a chance…and there’s more to it.

The DragonOh? You have concern for Kravayik and that dwarf of a man Barnaby? Recall that it was his son Joseph who caused much of what we face and who could very well be the key to what Galerius is doing. Dunning will not be a safe enough place to keep that madman if Galerius wants him. You know that. Is it that lapdog of a shapeshifter, Fetch? He can be amusing at times, especially when he annoys you with the human slang, but you know he is a treacherous hound. He almost gave you up to Oberon! Perhaps, he will do so to Oberon’s more than cunning former mate, Her Lady, since she sits on the throne now…

Nick: I know Fetch’s shortcomings…but I know his loyalty, too.

The DragonBut will that loyalty change again? He has already hidden refugees from Feirie in the city and has some sort of pact with the so-called gangster “Ladykiller” Leighton…or should Eye call him Laertes like the elf he really is? Where are all these refugees? Maybe you should even ask the archangel Michael. He seems to have a hand in many things. Or maybe your very good if ignorant friend the police detective or his witch of a wife…

Nick: Leave Cortez and his Maria out of this. In fact, leave me out of this, too. I’ve let you taunt and try to manipulate me for the past few minutes in order to see what you’re up to. I think I know. You’ve seen how stressed my mind is since I found out Galerius was still alive. I wondered why he began entering my nightmare where you and I keep reliving our battle. Now I know. You’ve been trying to get me so damned distracted so that you could attempt to slip in and take over.

The Dragon:…

Nick: No snappy comeback? No mocking taunt?

Claryce: It suddenly got very silent in here. Is everything all right?

Nick: You can put the gun away. Everything’s all right.

The Dragon:…

Nick: For now…


Richard Knaak is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Wolfheart, and nearly fifty other novels and numerous short stories, including works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, the Iron Kingdoms, and his own popular Dragonrealm. He has scripted comics and manga, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages.

You can find Nick Medea (aka St George), Claryce and the Dragon on the pages of the Black City series, starting with Black City Saint, continuing in Black City Demon, and the just released Black City Dragon.

Special announcement: for those of you in the San Diego area, Knaak will be signing books this Friday (June 14th) at Mysterious Galaxy! Knaak is a wonderful person as well as a great author and getting signed copies of this awesome series is a great addition to anyone’s bookshelves, so pop over and say Hi.
Full details here:
https://www.mystgalaxy.com/Knaak-06-2019

Join us again this Friday to meet a paranormal investigator, torn between fairy godmothers and mafioso godfathers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman from Book 2 of the Victorian historical-fantasy Potions and Passions series. We’re always happy when our patrons revisit us!

This volume is her first appearance. She is here to tell us about
Ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic — and about love.


Welcome, Mrs. Fasching. We are so pleased you have accepted this interview with our newspaper. Please introduce yourself for our readers.

Call me Rachael, please. My married name has a host of unpleasant memories associated with it.

Oh, dear me. Yes. Can you tell us something about your background? Who was your husband and what happened to him?

Well. Anyone who reads the gossip rags knows something of the matter. Mr. Fasching was an American potions importer. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up dead. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about it. He was rather a villain, as it turns out.

I must say, you wear your widowhood well. That is a marvelous dress.

Isn’t it, though? I’m sure many would tell me that the neckline is too low to be appropriate for a widow, and the red embroidery likewise improper, but I have never been one to conform to restrictive fashion ideals. I prefer to set the new trends. People may gape and whisper if they wish, but no one can say I lack for beauty or elegance.

Your bold personal style does garner attention. Is that your plan, now that you will soon put your mourning period behind you? Attend parties and show off?

Parties and showing off are always in the plan. But I have far more interesting goals for my life at present. As I have indicated, I do not wish to use Fasching’s name. I intend to remarry to remedy the situation. In fact, I fully intend to woo the most passionate, romantic man in all of England until I have earned his undying love.

How strange. Because your name has recently been linked to that of Professor Avery Cantrell, a man noted for being dull and peculiar.

Ah, dear readers, you know so little about him. I don’t expect you to believe me, but Cantrell is so much more than you see on the surface. He hides himself behind his research, but I am uncovering his secrets and I must tell you they are delightfully intriguing. I do not doubt we will have fantastic adventures together.

Speaking of adventures, what can you tell us about yours?

Well. Certain information is not mine to share, but I can tell you that I have recently learned of strange, ancient curses and deadly potions allergies. I’ve encountered murder by poison and discovered vital clues. I’ve scandalized society by driving steam cars fully as well as any man.

Continue reading “Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)”

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