Search

The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

November 2019

Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the mother of the protagonist. She is here to tell us about life behind the Iron Curtain, about spies – and about a magical ring inherited from the famed John Dee, which she passed to her daughter.


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

Well, I was born in Prague, Czechia, between the two World Wars. It was exquisitely beautiful and yet terrifying at the same time. We lived in a grand old flat in Novy Svet, an old quarter of Prague up near the Castle. From an early age I was steeped in a culture of mystery. I used to love wandering around the old quarters of the city, especially the Jewish Quarter, and reading about old legends like the Prague Golem. There always seemed to be an air of unseen reality behind everyday life. A sense of the occult at work. It was sinister, in a way, and yet there was also a lot of laughter in our lives. That must be where I got my anarchic sense of humor! And my nose for the occult at work in public institutions.

What would you say were your defining memories as a child?

I seem to remember we read a lot, went to the theatre, and like most families in that part of the world we had a log cabin in the  forest where we spent weekends and holidays. You have to remember hardly anybody went abroad on vacation in those days.

My favorite memories are of sitting by the log fire at our cabin and reading fairy stories with my grandmother. It seemed idyllic, until  the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Then my whole reality changed forever. I guess that’s the origin of my contradictory personality. And why I became a spy. I witnessed Nazism and then Communism in only a few years. The point of all this, for me, as I say, is to understand the occult aspects of power and institutions.

Even in your life today?

Well, on the face of it I’m now just a retired, respectable grandmother, living in England, where my daughter Sylvia was born, and being a granny to my grandson Rusty. He’s quite a character. Takes after me in many ways! My daughter was pretty angry with me for a long time, on account of my spying career, which took me away from England a lot, but of course I couldn’t tell her about it.

Sometimes people tell me I’m just being paranoid, but I think I know better. It’s hard for me now, though, in a way, having to sit on the sidelines and just watch it all playing out, all over again. This time it isn’t a sudden cataclysmic event. It’s a slow creep. I could see my daughter Sylvia being sucked into this false reality of today and I meant to help her by giving her the ring, but in the end it just made her life more complicated.

So what, then, is this ‘wizard ring’? And what’s playing out all over again?

It was a gift from a dear friend of mine called Stanislav, who found it in Prague and I gave it to my daughter Sylvia. I meant it to enhance her consciousness. It was made in the Prague workshop of the famous English alchemist, John Dee, who lived in Czechia for a few years with his family. I completely underestimated its magic powers, as it turned out. But then perhaps I also underestimated my daughter. Parents often do. What’s playing out all over again? The colonization of our minds with propaganda. Misdirection about what’s really going on. The dark arts of money.

Continue reading “Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)”

The Audit Team (of The Good Audit, by CP Aiden)

Dear reader, tonight we have something unique for you. The Good Audit happens to be one of the most hilarious, poignant books about corporate life we have ever read, laughing and crying at the same time. We had therefore invited the heroes of the audit, the brave team of The Accounting Firm, to audit our own blog.

You will be getting an unparalleled view into our audit, with a privileged view into what they say out loud vs what they put on messenger. Also, you’ll get used to the HR-based addressing of people as resources in no time.


Three members of an exceptional audit team from The Accounting Firm show up at The Blogger LLC’s office at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Blogger:  Welcome! Come in!

The team enters a small but swanky conference room, drop laptop bags, and set up.

Blogger: I’m so happy you could squeeze me in. I really need my blog audited. Your opinion and signature verifying my follower count will go a long way to building trust in my number of followers!

Manager: We are very excited to be here.

Staff 2: This certainly beats the last conference room we had!

Senior Manager (SM): We hope to be as efficient as possible – our profit margins are better the faster we are. That one special piece of paper with our opinion and signature is really the only reason anyone pays us. Amazing how much we can charge for it really.

Blogger: I agree. I’m surprised you stay so busy with fees like that… You said on the phone you’d just wrapped up on another client. How did that go?

Manager: Yes, we finished our audit of a company called Widget Maker last week! The company itself was not very exciting, but our team experience took us on so many wild and unexpected turns. I would say what we learned about each other as a team was life changing.

SM: The company makes widgets used to create gadgets.

Staff 2: And messes! It was a miracle we ever got done! They were so incompet—

SM (interrupting Staff 2): It was a great learning experience.

SM turns to Staff 2 and adds, “for EVERYONE!”

Staff 2: Yeah, like learning how to fix everyone else’s problems and how to cover up a bunch of—

SM (interrupting Staff 2 again): They were a first-year client. It typically takes a little time to ramp up when we start a new client. We did find several errors, but our interactions with the client team was where the real fun was. Manager even managed to get large pay raises for a couple people over there.

Staff 2: We also managed to get Office Manager fired, but they rehired her, so it worked out.

Manager gets on instant messenger:

Manager pinging Staff 2: Generally, it is not a great idea to talk bad about other clients in front of new clients. It gives them the impression we talk bad about all our clients.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Don’t we?

Manager pinging Staff 2: That’s beside the point. We don’t want them thinking we do.

Manager: Yes. We sharpened our skills at finding errors, we attended to CFO’s request to get the legal department in trouble, we learned quite a bit about plumbing, and we even made a little money selling concert tickets online!

SM: We were also able to charge Widget Maker extra fees. Extra fees get us better performance reviews within The Accounting Firm, so we always try to get more.

Blogger: Well, I’m a new client and we only have this morning, so I hope this goes well. Before we start, I would like to know a little more about you. Would you mind telling me about yourselves?

SM: Sure. I’m SM. I’ve been with The Accounting Firm for about 10 years now.

Manager: Don’t tell him about your JOB. Tell him about YOU!

SM: Is there a difference? (long awkward pause) I guess my ‘fun facts’ can be that I have dogs and do well when I’m hopped up on energy drinks.

Manager: That’s better. Way to branch out SM. I’m Manager. I have a super-hot wife and 3 little kids. I’m teaching my 10-year-old how to trade stocks. He made almost as much net income as Widget Maker this year (which isn’t saying much) and we are having a great time. I also like all things outdoors, except the time I had to go clear up to the middle of nowhere to count huge piles of clay they use in chocolate bars. Yes, you eat dirt.

SM: Manager, Partner doesn’t like it when you talk about your family in front of clients.

Manager: Good thing Partner isn’t here. My wife and kids love me and would love to see more of me.

Blogger: Well, with that, let’s move along with the audit then, shall we? How exactly are you going to audit my blog?

Staff 2 pinging Manager: I didn’t get to introduce myself.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Get over it.

Manager: Well, we basically need to make sure that what you say on your blog is true and accurate. We focus particularly on numbers, not so much on the text.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Fine. We can’t focus on much else. It is all a bunch of made up Sci-Fi and Fantasy. How are we supposed to validate any of these posts? There’s only one post on the main page that has any numbers and those are Guest 1 and Guest 2. The only real number on here is the number of followers.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Most of the numbers we audit at all our clients are made up. Think of how much was made up at Widget Maker! Those guys were guessing on practically everything and they weren’t even educated guesses!

SM: I do have to say, this is the best blog I’ve read all year!

Manager pinging SM: You work over 60 hours a week year-round, even on vacation. This is the ONLY blog you’ve read all year!

SM pinging Manager: Still makes it a true statement, doesn’t it?

Manager: I believe you wanted us to verify the number of followers. We’ll need to understand what people need to do to subscribe and how that gets tracked. Is there anything else you needed us to do?

Blogger: That is correct, and given you charge by the hour, I think we’d better get going!

Staff 2: I just subscribed, and the number of followers went from 39,038 to 39,039.

Manager: I subscribed and then unsubscribed (don’t worry I will subscribe again – my son could use a lot more Fantasy and Sci-fi in his life. Unfortunately, with me gone all the time, his childhood is becoming the home-school of hard knocks). The count went up and then back down again.

SM: Well, it seems like everything is working then. We’ll just call Partner and get his signature.

Blogger: Wait! That’s it? I thought you’d grill me about my awesome database and tracking system. I thought you’d confirm with some followers that they actually did follow the blog and get the newsletter! I thought you’d actually do something!

SM: We could do all that, but your fee would quadruple. I thought we discussed earlier how it is just our letterhead and signature you were after.

Manager: I just got the newsletter. So exciting – it looks fabulous!

SM: I guess we just confirmed on the newsletter. Look at that! We did extra work. I’d like to charge you extra for it, but my newly found conscience is telling me not to. However, I’m expecting your client satisfaction survey to reflect extremely high marks!

Manager: Staff 2, will you please write the 20-page summary memo detailing ALL the procedures we just did and send it to us for review?

Staff 2: You got it boss!

SM: Partner just confirmed we are good to go! Another great audit down and more fees for the Firm – what a fabulous day!

Blogger: Thanks for coming out and taking care of my audit today! Great to have this all wrapped up so quickly. What is next for you?

SM: Partner also said that Widget Maker just called back and they have some issues with a potential buyer and the financial statements we audited. We’ll be going back there to check it out tomorrow.

Manager: Sounds like a potential restatement. Those are always fun – tons of overtime hours to repeat what we just did thanks to the client screwing up! Buckle up Staff 2. We are in for a long ride ahead.

Staff 2: I thought I was going on vacation next week?!

SM: True. That is what you thought.


C.P. Aiden is an experienced corporate accountant with 14 years of corporate accounting and people interaction. Eight of those years took place at large public accounting firms. C.P.’s vast experience dealing with clients and teams provides all the fuel necessary in imagining up and creating his debut novel, The Good Audit.

You can find the audit team on the pages of The Good Audit.

On a personal note, this is one of the funniest books we’ve ever read. If you’ve ever been exposed to corporate life (accounting or otherwise), we’d urge you to go read it! A full review has just been published on our sister blog.

Join us next week to hear from a protagonist’s mother, talking about cold war spies and magical rings! Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Jordan Abbey (of Chaos Wolf, by Sheryl Hayes)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a literature major who – together with her moccha latte – got a bite from a love-sick werewolf. She is here to tell us about hostile alpha pack leaders and stiff-necked vampire elders, about their uneasy coexistence, and how one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.


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

I grew up and still live in Rancho Robles. It’s a medium-sized city near the Santa Cruz mountains in California. Not as big as San Francisco, but not a small town either. It’s large enough to host a community college — go Fighting Acorns! There are a lot of oak trees, which is how the city got its name. I didn’t think it would be big enough to host both a conclave of vampires and a pack of werewolves.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

I still have a stuffed unicorn with a purple mane and a gold horn. Its body is more a gray than white, and there’s a few spots where the fuzzy fabric has matted up. Mom and Dad were a bit embarrassed that I would bring it with me everywhere I went. It was a gift from my grandmother, and I loved it. When I moved out to go to college, and then into Montgomery’s apartment, Uni was the first thing I packed, almost before I grabbed any clothes.

What do you do now?

My official title is Famulus to Montgomery Cooper. A famulus (usually) is  a human servant to a vampire. Exact duties vary from vampire to vampire, but mostly we deal with the daylight errands that can’t be delayed until after sunset, providing blood if a vampire cannot, or chooses not to to hunt, and help maintain that connection to humanity that allows them hide in plain sight. Which for me is a little tricky since I’m learning how to be a werewolf.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

My life-plan didn’t include being bitten by a werewolf.  And it didn’t include being rescued by a vampire.  Now, I’m trying to figure out my place in this new world.

Did I mention that I accidentally insulted the leader of the Black Oak Pack? Because of that, Alpha Shane has declared that unless I can shapeshift at will before the next full moon, he’s going to kill me and my rescuer Montgomery.  Elder Marcus, the leader of the Conclave of Rancho Robles, and Montgomery’s sire, has strong feelings about that.  Not so much about me, but he’d rather not lose another child to a werewolf’s fangs. If I don’t get in touch with my animal side, I’m going to start a war.

Oh, and Rhys, the werewolf who bit me?  He didn’t think that I was a meal.  He’s under the delusion that I’m his mate, even though he didn’t consult me in the matter. He’s killing anyone who he thinks is keeping me from him.  I’ve already lost two old friends and I’m sure my new friends are next on his list.

Continue reading “Jordan Abbey (of Chaos Wolf, by Sheryl Hayes)”

Sergeant Vila Kiprik (of Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep, by S.P. Stevens)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the leader of a snatch squad, tasked with clearing an old mine from the psychotic savages that took over. The savages – known as the Unbound – are followed by dark magic that mutates living things and liquefies rock, and Kiprik and his crew must make it to very bottom of the mine, where the deepest magic and the darkest truths lurk.


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

I was a Sendal lad, born and bred. Village like any other, bunch of scrags for the main part. Trouble followed me everywhere, no damn surprise there, by the time I was in double digits I’d already broken a full-grown man’s skull. Don’t think no one was sorry to see me go, truths be told.

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

Toys? What are you on, son? Only toys we had was sticks. Liked a spot of fishing with Denrak, the weaver’s lad – does that count?

What do you do now?

I’m a ranker, son, a gods’ honest regular soldier in the Primearch’s glorious army. Cannon fodder for those bastards back home, just like the rest of us sorry clodhops. If you want a type to lay in a ditch for two nights then slice open a dozen arseholes’ necks before breakfast, I’m yer man.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Adventure? Bah! I’m too old for that billyshit. This ain’t no adventure, it’s a godsdamn feeding frenzy for the crazies down that feckin’ hole. We ain’t bloody miners, son, but they expect us to go down into that pit and search out the Unbound like they were bloody waiters at some vache tea party. Only tea party I ever went to, the staff weren’t trying to rip out yer bloody necks. Bet yer top brass wouldn’t go down there. Damn pigjubbers couldn’t swing an axe to chop firewood.

Continue reading “Sergeant Vila Kiprik (of Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep, by S.P. Stevens)”

Dorothy Kennedy-Denham (of Behind the Fan, by Caroline Walken)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an ageing heiress to an electronics empire, about to be sent to a nursing home by her family. She reminisces about her time as a burlesque dancer, and of family drama playing over decades of history.


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

Oh my, well that is going back a ways, you know I am nearly a 100. I will tell you, times were quite a bit different than today. My family lived in Newport Kentucky, in a real nice neighborhood; we knew everyone on the street. My fondest memory was sitting in our little backyard in the summertime. My mother used to let my brother and I ‘camp out’ under the stars. My little brother Donny knew all about the stars and the planets when he was just a kid. I can still hear him pointing out the constellations. He was real smart, when he was just a boy he went to a special school created just for kids like him. I wish you could have met him, now he was someone you would want to interview!

Oh, look at me go on! Yes, we had a wonderful childhood, but there were hard times too. My folks took ill and in the end, it was just us kids. I almost lost Donny too, but he rallied. In those days there was no welfare and, had I not been older, Donny and I would have been sent to an orphanage. Of course, everything turned out fine, I took a job to support us and eventually that job is what helped Donny get into the college-prep school. We stayed in that apartment building, the older girls living there helped us, everyone there just loved Donny.

Yes, it was a nice neighborhood, a real community if you know what I mean.

What do you do now?

Well, these days I do a lot of sitting and remembering. I don’t get around much; or very well at times! The girls; my granddaughters and their daughters come to visit but honestly they do more fussing than anything. I guess everyone just looks at me as some old woman, I wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I was strong and I was the one looking after others.

That was a long time ago though. Some days I look at my hands and I’m amazed, how these old hands could be mine? This gold band here, it has never been off my left hand since my wedding day. It had an inscription, but Lord the years wore those words away. Never the love though, my Nicky and I had a strong bond.

I am rambling again, I do that. My Granddaughter Mary calls it my ‘moments.’ Back in the day I knew a man that did this, we called him crazy. I understand it now though, my memories are stronger than my days. Sometimes when I have these ‘moments’, it is just like stepping back in time. I see my Nicky again, my friends are all there, even Donny; he is with us again. It’s nice.

What was it you asked; oh yes; what I do. Well, I am a widow now, dear.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, let me tell you, it was quite unexpected. A few weeks back I had a little accident in the kitchen. Everyone made a fuss, somehow a paper towel got into the oven and caught fire. My girls came over and the next thing I know; they are moving me to a nursing home. I know my Granddaughter Mary made sure it was the ‘best’ in the industry. Her sister only agreed because she was concerned for me, she is such a sweet-hearted girl. Still, here I sit watching my life being packed into boxes, my whole existence cover in newspaper and bubble wrap.

Continue reading “Dorothy Kennedy-Denham (of Behind the Fan, by Caroline Walken)”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑