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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

August 2021

Silas Dryden (of Rescuing Her Knight, by Rosie Chapel)

Dear readers, tonight we’re hosting the villain of the piece. A shady man, intent on revenge, is prepared to sabotage the happily ever after between a lady and her long-lost knight… permanently.


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

Silas shuffles in his chair: Not sure as anyone’d wanna know. Rookeries is pretty grim. Poverty, overcrowding, nuthin‘s yer own, death, disease, you name it. Was all I knew fer a long time, mind, and as nippers we didn’t much worry.

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

Barks with laughter: Toys? Yer kiddin’ me. Toys is what the gentry has. That said, we knew ’ow ter have fun. Hide ‘n’ seek was a favourite. Rookeries is a great place fer that, so many alleys and hidden corners, abandoned buildings, better still, down the docks. Got ter know it like the back o’ me ’and, I could walk it blindfold. Just ’ad to watch out fer the Runners. Oh yeah, we used ter see who could get the farthest on the back of an ’ackney afore the driver kicked us off. Nickin’ coin pouches… now, that was the best. Them nobles is easy pickin’s. Aye, we ’ad a lot ‘o’ fun. Yer make do, see. 

What do you do now?

Silas puffs up his chest: I am a businessman. I have an office an’ everything. Yer could say I’m in the service industry. I got several… errr… enterprises on the go at the moment, successful they are, I’m raking in a good profit. I have an ’andful employees who know which side of their bread has jam on it. If yer get me drift.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Silas steeples his fingers. Hmmm… now that’s a bit of a tickler. See, I had this partner, one ‘o’ the gentry, a viscount he was, but ’e tried to double cross me. Nobody doubles crosses Silas Dryden and gets away wiv it. Dunno what was goin’ on in ’is noggin (Silas shakes his head in bafflement). Anyhow, I had to deal wiv it. ‘E shan’t be bovverin’ anybody ever again, and that shoulda been an end to it. Regrettably, of late there’s been some unsettling incidents, yer know, them too close for comfort moments, and I reckoned someone had been tattling. I needed ter get ter the bottom of it.

Continue reading “Silas Dryden (of Rescuing Her Knight, by Rosie Chapel)”

Aldeaith Tearshan (of The Outworlder, by Natalie J. Holden)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young soldier who left his bucolic world to get a taste of the bigger universe. He’s here to tell us about the people of a thousand worlds, of the technomagic that binds them together, and picking sides when the rebels are people he grew up with.


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

I was born in Nes Peridion, one of the newly colonized worlds in Meon Cluster. My parents came from Tarviss—well, they were brought by their lord, but quickly realized that away from Tarviss he had no way to keep them under control and got rid of him. So we lived as free people.

My parents were simple farmers and the first people to settle in Nes Peridion. It took them a lot of work to turn it into the fruitful farming colony it is today. The beginnings were especially hard, our crops and stock needed time to adjust to local soil and climate. I was born a few cycles after they settled and I think that by that time, the worst was already over. Some years were rough, though.

What did you do as a child?

There was always something to do at the farm, and we had to help since we were old enough to stand. Not the hard stuff, just keeping an eye on zeeath birds or working in the herb garden.

‘We’?

I have a sister and two older brothers. Well, had. My brothers died as children, taken by the diseases. I don’t really remember them too well.

My sister’s fine. She lives with our mom in Nes Peridion.

Between dead siblings and constant work, that sounds like a pretty rough childhood.

It’s the one I had. Do you think Dahlsian children have it better? They may get their education and their playtime, but they spend their lives locked in. They never feel the sun on their faces, or the breeze in their hair. They never play with living animals. They don’t even eat real food, only this tubed sludge. And when they go outside, they freak out, they go down with allergies, sunburn, and their immune systems are so compromised, a light cough can kill them.

I was never sick in my life. Drop me in a new world and I can survive, I don’t even need any fancy technomagic. I know how to find shelter, make water safe to drink, find food. I could build my own house if I had to. And I’m strong enough to carry a Dahlsi person through half the world—I already did that once, when my colleague broke her leg. She was as light as a feather.

So was it really that bad for me?

Do you have any cherished memories?

Hm. Maybe the times Aeva and I ran to the river to play. I liked making patterns with colorful stones. Aeva was always better at pretending. She also learned to crochet little dolls—I think in old Tarviss they were used for some rituals, but we just used them to play. Although mom would always undo them to save the yarn. Textiles were hard to come by in Nes Peridion.

Just the two of you?

Yeah. We were never good with other people—well, Aeva was a bit better, she even had friends. But most of the time we preferred each other’s company.

It got harder as I grew older and my brothers died. The amount of work to do remained the same, but there were fewer hands to do it. We were a small community, you know, so we had to do everything by ourselves. Not just grow food, but make houses, make furniture, make tools. Travel to the lake to fish or the nearby mountains for salt and lime. Also, there was no iron anywhere nearby so if a tool broke and no trader came, we had to replace it with a flint one. 

Flint?

It’s not so uncommon. All the metals in Tarviss have been mined ages ago; iron tools have to be brought from off-world and if they break, people have to use what they have on hand.

I became quite good at this. Maybe because I could sit for hours hitting rocks until they produced something I was happy with.

What do you do now?

I left Nes Peridion to work for Mespana. It’s a Dahlsian organization, but they accept outworlders. Our primary job is exploring new worlds within Meon Cluster and assessing their usefulness to the colonists. But we also had other duties. Escorting tax collectors or helping colonists with various problems.

Continue reading “Aldeaith Tearshan (of The Outworlder, by Natalie J. Holden)”

Ral Ranaya (of Draconium Carbide, by Alan Ray Argente)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man who betrayed his homeland, by giving railguns to dragonkind.


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

They’re not my type and I was such a loner back then. But even then, they saw me as a freak or insane all because I walk alone, and everyone wanted to see and expect me get embarrassed in front of everyone. I had no friends beside me nor anyone who knew me. Besides, even if I did forge a friendship with my fellow humans, they would leave me and turn their backs when I needed them the most.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It’s an ongoing resistance against the Ardynian Crown with me as being the gunrunner of Javyria. What did you expect? I know what it is like being different among them. Welcome to mob rule where the interest of the collective is more important than the individual.

What did you first think when you gave the dragonkind his railguns and betrayed Ardynia?

What did you expect? I was mistreated every day of my life by my fellow humans and lousy leadership at Ardynia. Believe me, it has always been decadent at the top and seedy at the bottom. I happen to be in the middle of the crossfire. I know what it is like being trampled down, but refused to give in countless times over. You really expect me to have a shred of sympathy to them after what they did to me? They mocked me throughout my entire life and my talents just because I never followed everyone and even the elders who knew. Now their jealousy, hatred and dishonesty runs rampant in the upper echelons and courts as they tried to hunt me down like the traitor to his own blood. Such acts of hypocrisy are what made me do this and betray my own.

I don’t care what will happen to my former homeland. Besides, when was the last time they cared about me?

Continue reading “Ral Ranaya (of Draconium Carbide, by Alan Ray Argente)”

Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the owner of a local bookstore. Her knowledge of the Whitechapel murders and of Jack the Ripper bring her to the attention of the police. She is here to tell us about how investigating a current murder brought up a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Emily, the proud owner of Emily’s Lair, a private, non-corporate bookshop in New Vernon, Connecticut, with a wonderful variety of books. There’s an entire wall dedicated to classic literature, for example, sections on art, exploration, science, history, ancient civilizations, even true crime. You can get the latest releases, of course, but most of the shop is made up of books that I find interesting and think other people will too. I’m especially proud of the special section in back that’s filled with books on the European witch hunts. It also features more than one biography on the woman responsible for singlehandedly ending the witch hunts, Liesbeth Jansson.

Liesbeth Jansson? Who was she?

She was a woman from Breda, a city in the Netherlands. She got married to a professor from Leiden, a city that became a beacon of the Enlightenment. He died when the Plague swept through Leiden, and because Liesbeth was smart and strong-willed and refused to conform to what citizens at the time considered to be a “proper Christian woman,” she became a target. At that time, women who were different, or, especially, who weren’t submissive to men, were often accused of witchcraft.

Was Liesbeth Jansson accused of witchcraft?

Oh yes. But she fought back. You see, none of the women accused of witchcraft—the accused were almost always women—were actually witches. Many were elderly spinsters, midwives, or rich widows like Liesbeth. If you had money, you were a prime target because a witch’s money was always seized by the state, and witch hunters loved money. But with Liesbeth they had stumbled on someone they never expected to encounter—a woman with real power. She escaped, hunted down each of her accusers, and killed them in a very public and brutal manner. Once people realized there was a chance that they might accuse a woman who could fight back, the witch hunts ended.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I met Will, a homicide detective. I fell for him right away despite that he was questioning me. You see, I was a person of interest in a murder that Will was investigating because I had once dated the man who was killed. Will came in the shop to ask me some questions; that’s how we met.

Continue reading “Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)”

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