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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

January 2020

Hemlock Connal and Morgan Burns (of Another Dead Intern, by Joel Spriggs)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a preternatural investigator (a private investigator specialising in the supernatural), and her latest intern.


Hemlock: Hi, I’m Hemlock Connal, Preternatural Investigator.

Morgan: I’m Morgan Burns, Professional Intern.

Hemlock: We first work together in Another Dead Intern, hopefully no spoilers, but also working together in a short Holiday ditty called Little Drummer Boy.

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

Hemlock: My mother is Queen Fand, of the Sidhe Shadow Court. So I grew up in the castle, training with the court. That is up until I was thirteen, when I played a trick on an Earl of the Summer Court at a party. I put an enchantment on him to make him fall in love with a pine tree. It was funny at first, until he started cramming pine cones up his rectum. They said he got six, but I counted seven!

Anyway, rather than have me executed, the Queen had mercy and I was banished for 13 years, stripped of most powers, and lost my beautiful voice. They basically made sure I was cursed to sound like I’d been gargling acid and broken glass for a lifetime. After that, I lived with dad. Old Man Connal was the private investigator, but he was an independent practitioner of the magical arts, so he dealt with investigations in the magical community. When he died a year or so ago, I took over the family business.

Morgan:  I grew up in an Indiana town, had a good lookin’ mama who never was around. I but I grew up tall, and I grew up right, with them Indiana Girls on them Indiana Nights

Hemlock: Damnit Burns, that’s the lyrics to Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty.

Morgan: … it’s mostly accurate.

Hemlock: Fair enough.

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

Hemlock: I had a Curious George doll. Got it from my dad one time when I visited him before I got banished. I kept it with me after, which seemed dumb, but it was a comfort thing. Unfortunately, I had it with me when dad dragged me along on a job. A monastery was having an issue with a yokai that followed some new monks over from Japan. One thing led to another, and he had to trap the spirit in the Curious George doll. I still have it, but now it has a vengeful spirit bound to it. He does help with tasting blood for quick analysis when I need random facts about something.

Morgan: My dad didn’t believe in furthering the capitalist ideals of major toy corporations. So, I had to make the toys I had in his woodshop. I wasn’t really good at making action figures or most things like that, but I did have a knack for furniture. Honestly, the thing I loved most was this one old fashioned wood plane he had in the shop. That thing could take a see through layer of wood off the surface, oh so smooth.

Hemlock: Burns?

Morgan: Yeah?

Hemlock: You are a complete and utter dork.

What do you do now?

Hemlock: We are Preternatural Investigators. Well, I am, Burns is just an intern.

Morgan: C’mon, I’m a bit better than that.

Hemlock: That doesn’t mean we go around killing vampires for people or looking for ghosts in resold haunted houses. It just means we do private investigations for the preternatural community. Which means doing a lot of the same stuff a PI would do, a lot of cheating spouse cases, insurance fraud, white collar crime discovery, that sort of stuff. Just, with, y’know, vampires, witches, warlocks, mages, werewolves, sometimes the Sidhe, and other various species and members of the preternatural community of Boston.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Hemlock: There were stolen memories that led us to the murders, the murders led us to the drugs, and more drugs led us to the nightmares.

Morgan: Ah, don’t forget, it was me taking more drugs that led us to the nightmares.

Hemlock: Semantics, don’t try to be a glory hog, Burns.

Continue reading “Hemlock Connal and Morgan Burns (of Another Dead Intern, by Joel Spriggs)”

Perry Caduca (of The Gifts Of Life, by Oliver Smuhar)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a young man for an IT job — covering such aspects as his ability to teleport, evil armies, and beasts made of smoke.


PERRY: [Crud, am I nervous! I can do this! It’s just a job interview. IT, I know… I know computers! Yeah. I can do this. I marched into the room, my chest heaved, but I was a champion. The manger eyed me down with half a groan.]

MANAGER: Perry! Grab a seat please.

PERRY: Yeah. Cool, cool, cool. No whackers…

MANGER: Shall we begin?

PERRY: Yeah, sure… Oh, dad! How long is this going to take? Cause mum said that you were gonna hire me… and she’s a prophet, so… I’ll just keep my mouth shut. Am hungry though.

MANAGER QUINTEN: Perry, this is an interview, not dinner—

PERRY: But!

QUINTEN: First question! Tell me a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

PERRY: Why do you need to know that? You literally raised me.

QUINTEN: Answer the question!

PERRY: Fine! I grew up in a house with a patio and a cow. And I’m not talking about you dad!

QUINTEN: More detail please!

PERRY: Okay… I grew up in the white city of Oberon a continent on the planet Euphoria.

QUINTEN: Tone it down a little.

PERRY: Anything else?… When I was three my best friend Faith moved next door and when I was younger than that, I met the Princess, Zia. I was blest with the white crest of the wolf, the same as my father and his before him. Its white brand has been on my right wrist since before I could remember. I’ve had a pretty weird childhood being that my mum is the prophet of Kelton Whide. Oh, and that’s the name of the white city by the way. Uh, but I am fortunate! I have great friends like Dally and two sisters I’m very close with. I’m glad Teala came into my life when I was around seven. And I’m safe, under the floral. I’ve always been safe under the Kelton Guard and inside the farmland of the white city! Oh, and Baily, our servant makes pretty great hot chocolates!

QUINTEN: Good. Next question. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

PERRY: What does that have to do with—

QUINTEN: Stop whining!

PERRY: Uh, I guess. I—I shouldn’t really mention it. Especially in front of you. But, Dally. We’d play with that crappy footy his dad bought. You remember Peter, don’t you? Nice guy. Too bad he had to leave after using his powers. It was my fault. But he didn’t have to end up in that trunk, you know?

QUINTEN: Trunk? Perry, I’ve told you countless times. Peter left after breaking taboo using his powers when the beacon was not on.

PERRY: I know. It’s just, your stick was bloody that night… Oh, maybe I was just seeing things. I didn’t like that toy!

QUINTEN: Don’t you mention my staff! It’s a not a toy.

PERRY: Can we move on please?

QUINTEN: Of course… What do you do now?

PERRY: I go to school. I just started year 10. It’s good, my grades aren’t as bad as last year! I only use my powers every Ascension Day, during the ceremony. Lucky Tea gets to be Flower Carrier this year!

QUINTEN: Oh, I didn’t mention. I’m talking with Lord Kelton to get you up as Age Representative this year!

PERRY: You what?…

QUINTEN: We’ll talk about it at home. Can you elaborate on your powers?

PERRY: Dad you—I know, I know. Answer the question… Um I can teleport. Mum says I can walk through walls as well. Said I’ll lose my sense of feelings one day. Eh, funny lady, isn’t she? But, yeah. I can do the same as you, White Wolf!

Continue reading “Perry Caduca (of The Gifts Of Life, by Oliver Smuhar)”

Galtas Morellis (of the Godblind Trilogy, by Anna Stephens)

Dear readers, tonight we print an overheard conversation between a a hapless royal records keeper and a newly elevated lord, about the latter’s clandestine service to the royal family.


‘Just a few questions, milord, so that the nobility might get to know you. Help to grease the wheels of public occasions. And, of course, His Majesty King Rastoth is curious about the prince Rivil’s new companion.’

Edric somebody or other, the royal record keeper, sat opposite the new Lord Galtas Morellis with an ingratiating smile. Galtas should have refused the interview, but he bored easily, and so far being a nobleman had been less than exciting.

‘You have recently been elevated by Prince Rivil in reward for your … efforts on his behalf, I understand. Of course, all nobles were once not … er, noble. Everyone started from humble beginnings. I’d like to know yours.’

Galtas licked his teeth and put his head on one side. Edric looked up, down at his paper and the ink dribbling across it from his quill, and back up. Expectant. Terrified. So at least some of Galtas’s reputation preceded him, then.

‘For example, before you took the name Morellis, you were Galtas Potterson, were you not? From Sh-Shingle on the River Gil. Isn’t that … right?’ Edric persisted. He was sweating at Galtas’s silence.

‘It appears you already know all this,’ Galtas said in a friendly tone completely at odds with the frozen fury in his gut. His background was nobody’s business. He was a lord now, a noble with land and title taken from Rivil’s own holdings and he’d be damned if he discussed the pathetic little hovel he’d come from.

‘Just trying to get a sense of the man, milord,’ Edric said desperately, scratching something on the parchment. ‘What about your boyhood, then? Shingle’s one of Rilpor’s smaller towns, but the clay deposits are second to none. Small wonder your family trade was in pottery. What was it like growing up there?’

The ale arrived and Galtas poured a cupful and then, his eyes never leaving Edric’s, he drained it in four long swallows. Then he refilled his cup. ‘It was normal,’ he said eventually, to their mutual surprise. ‘My family had a trade. Times weren’t especially hard. My little sister died.’

‘Oh!’ Edric said. ‘I’m so sorry.’

He seemed to be, as well, but now he’d mentioned her, Galtas could see nothing but that little shadow and hear only the whiny voice that trailed him everywhere, never stopping, never a moment’s peace. Not even when he dug clay or fashioned the pots. “What’re you doing, Galtas? What’s that? What’re you doing now? Can I help? What’s that?” On and on until he might scream or lash out. Endless, grating interference. Until he had lashed out, hadn’t he, but it hadn’t been his fault. It was her own fault. She’d brought it on herself. And in the end, it had just become the tragedy it seemed to be. No one had ever accused him. An accident. Just an accident.

But one that had taught him many lessons, which in turn had brought him to the notice of Prince Rivil in the first place. Galtas was a handy person to have around when it came to creative accidents and plausible deniability.

‘Indeed,’ Galtas murmured, shaking his head. ‘It was a tragedy that affected us all.’

Continue reading “Galtas Morellis (of the Godblind Trilogy, by Anna Stephens)”

Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a gifted martial artist, a non-human, shape-shifting Kin who fights the supernatural elements in our world.


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

Well, not to be evasive, but a lady should never discuss her age. And while I’m really no lady, I’ve been around for more than a few normal human lifespans, me not being human and all. Well, not all human, anyway. So where I grew up is hard to describe. It was rural in a way nowhere really is any more, on the west coast of Scotland. My childhood was one of pastoral bliss, really, with my mother. I never knew my father, but if I ever find him, I plan to kill him. My early years were spent crofting, living with the land, and I had no idea of the greater world out there. I heard talk of the English and how they weren’t our friends, but I was too young to really understand. Too young to care, I suppose. It wasn’t until I hit puberty that what I am became apparent and then my mother sought help. We ended up in London and that’s when Joseph found us, and explained what the Kin are. What I was. In truth, that’s the point at which I really grew up.

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

I never had much as a child, we were dirt poor. But I did have a carved wooden cat and I think that maybe I was so drawn to that toy because of my inner nature. I didn’t know it yet. But every Kin has a preferred shape. Mine turned out to be feline, a kind of panther is the best way to describe what I shift into, and I think somewhere deep inside I knew that. I’ve always had an affinity for cats. There was an old tabby at the croft and when I was only about 5 or 6 years old she had a litter right under the hay in one corner of a small barn. I didn’t tell anyone, just protected her, and watched those kittens grow. So very long ago, but I still miss that cranky old tabby like a lost limb. Not counting my mother, she was the first thing I ever loved. When Albert, a crofter across the valley, heard about my love of cats, he carved me that wooden one and I treasured it, made it smooth and shiny with handling.

Do you still have it?

I do, but I’ll never tell another soul where it is. Actually, that’s not true. Alex knows where it is, because he saw it when I moved down to the south coast with him. He asked about it and I told him what I’ve just told you, then I put it safely away. It’s the only thing from my pre-Kin life and it’s special.

What do you do now?

Well, since we signed up with Armour, every day is a new adventure! That’s not entirely true, of course. I mean, I know you’re really interested to hear about the great Alex Caine, right? He’s all stubborn and not especially talkative, which is why you’re talking to me. But I’m afraid that whether it’s about me or Alex, I can’t tell you much. I shouldn’t even admit that we work for Armour, but you already knew so it seems pointless to deny it. But let’s just say the threats that occasionally rise up, the weird and supernatural stuff that regular police and governments can’t handle, are infrequent but all too real. Alex and I are among many who deal with them, as best we can.

Continue reading “Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)”

Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)

Dear readers, tonight we print a psychiatric assessment of the two protagonists from a novel we loved. With their job entailing rescuing the world from other-dimensional horrors on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder they need regular psych evals.


Assessor: What’s your name?

Morag: You don’t know my name?

Assessor: You’ve been through a traumatic incident. We want to assess your mental state. Just give us some details — name, where you’re from — that sort of thing.

Morag: They do this to you, Rod?

Rod: Oh, aye. Every time I go toe to toe with an unspeakable horror from another dimension.

Morag: [huffs] Fine. Morag Murray. I’m from Inverness, Scotland. I moved down to Birmingham at the beginning of this week. A promotion of sorts.

Assessor: Of sorts?

Morag: There were some problems in the Edinburgh office. I pissed off the wrong god. You know how you can sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time?

Assessor: A social faux pas.

Morag: Exactly, except this one involved a shotgun and the face of a demi-god. Both barrels.

Assessor: But you now work in the Birmingham office?

Morag: Correct. Birmingham consular mission to the Venislarn. You’ve got a city full of demons and faceless terrors, all under the surface. We’re just here to keep them happy and tucked out of sight.

Assessor: How has your first week on the job been?

Morag: [considers the state of her clothes] Well, I’m covered head to toe in a thick layer of chocolate. I wasn’t expecting that when I started the week.

Rod: You fight with a god in a chocolate factory, there’s gonna be some chocolate, right?

Morag: I see you survived the night without a delicious chocolate coating.

Rod: One of the first things they taught us in the SAS: how to avoid getting covered in chocolate.

Assessor: Your first week…?

Morag: Let’s see. Is this some sort of test to see if a fight with Zildrohar Cqulu has given me concussion? Er… I pretty much hit the ground running this week. That’s one of my key strengths. I can adapt to new situations quickly.

Rod: You mean you rush in without thinking about things.

Morag: Hey. I’m impulsive. But that can be a good thing.

Rod: Oh, aye. If you hadn’t flung yourself in, we’d never have caught that Kervy Aldo character.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: Right. Kermit Ascot.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: As I said…

Assessor: Who is Kerfin Edsel?

Rod: Curtain Aswad.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal. A god. A little one. A godling.

Rod: A giant vampiric starfish. We chased him halfway across the city. He eats virgins’ hearts and was feeling peckish.

Continue reading “Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)”

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