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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

October 2021

Lexi (of Toxic, by Karina Kantas)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a faraway planet, craving adventure against her people’s drag existence. She is here to tell us about acid rains, desolate lives, friends, emotional scars, and independence.


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

You can’t have much of a life when you’re stuck living in a mountain, ruled under a Committee of Tyrants. Sorry for sounding bitter. But I was bullied most of my childhood because I had two very pale blue almost white eyes. My best friend, someone I cared deeply for, left our mountain to train in another. He was always there for me and when he left my world fell apart. There’s no rule about not leaving the mountain, but who would dare without the proper equipment to protect themselves from the acid rain, that could melt your body within minutes

Were you close to your family? Do you have a favourite memory as a child?

I wasn’t close to my family. We were taken away at a young age and put to work, everyone had to pull their weight to make the running and life in Mount Elta go smooth.

I was forced to move in with Aron, my boyfriend. Although I never wanted the relationship to move forwards, others did. He was a Ranger and would always brag about his explorations and adventures he’d have whilst protecting the Trackers as they searched for the Terra plant. We could not live without this plant, as scientists created a substance called Dozax. This was then used in agriculture, medicines, recreation, protective clothing and shelter, basically in all parts of our lives. As for childhood memories, the only thing that stands out for me was how Marcus, my BF would always know when I was feeling down. He taught me how to survive outside the mountain. We would go on adventures together whilst trying to track the Terra plant down ourselves. But we never strayed too far from Elta.

I never did get to meet a savage face to face. These were Maloks just like us, who used the plant in another way. Boiling the leaves, they would ingest the juice, which gave them a high. A feeling of euphoria. The Committee soon put a stop to that, and they were cast out of the mountain, with no food, shelter, nothing. They would either have their skin and bones melt to nothing from the acid rain or would meet up with a savage and be killed. Those that were lucky enough to survive and find some form of shelter, turned into the monsters that now hunt for the plant and kill Trackers and Rangers.

What do you do now?

I’m a medic. Some injuries can be horrific, especially if the Ranger or Trackers were attacked. My job is to assess the situation and put the patients in order of who needed to be treated first. Of course, Dozax is used in all treatments I just have to decide in what form, where and how much to use. Dozax in its natural form is potent and too much in ones’ body can cause the opposite effect. That‘s why we can only get a massage once a week and even then, we get tested to how much Dozax is in our body. Too much can be a VERY bad thing. What I want to do and what I’ve been secretly training for is to become a Ranger. But Aron lectures me, every time I leave the safety of the mountain. He knows how much I want this and even though there are females Rangers he’s told me plenty of times that I’m not a good fit. But he’s not going to tell me what to do. I will listen to no man except my commanding officer.  Just a while ago we lost him to a vicious attack. We couldn’t save him so now we’re waiting for another CO to come and take over the Ranger Corp. I have my exam in one week. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. But I know I can do this. Marcus taught me everything. I’m not sure if Aron has been informed about my training, being as everyone knows we are together, and although I’ve asked for it to be kept on the down-low. He asked me to marry him so we can move into the West sector where the Rangers, Trackers and Committee lived with their family. But I refused. In fact, I don’t want him to be here anymore. He’s too controlling, and I feel like he uses me for sex, never giving me any satisfaction as long as he gets his. No this is not the way I thought my life would turn out. I have to speak with Aron and kick him out of my life, for now. If I do pass the exam, then I’ll be working with him and he holds a high rank, so I’ll have to put up with him giving me orders again. And I know he’s not going to go easy, but the sacrifice I have to make if I want to leave this mountain and make something of my life.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Only a few days ago, I was out exploring when the sky turned to a glowing red, the sign that it was about to rain. I knew no matter how fast I ran I wouldn’t make it back to the Elta in time. I was wearing a protective suit made of a rubber material from Dozax. I don’t know how they made the material, but it was certainly acid-proof. This wasn’t the first time I got caught in the rain. I grabbed the tent that was folded into a pocket of my backpack, I threw it out onto the floor, and it sprung up into an oval tent, I dived in just as the first drops started to fall.  I laid down and relaxed while hearing the rain splatter on the roof of the tent, I must have fallen asleep as I was having a very good dream 😉 then I woke to a burning on my hand. I sat up and watched the acid burning into my skin. I wiped the residue off my hand using my clothing and then looked up at the roof of the tent and saw a tiny hole where the rain was coming through. I watch it hit the floor of the tent and be soaked up. I’ve never heard of a leaking tent before so I knew that once the rain stopped, I would have to take it to the scientist in the North sector, after getting treatment on my hand which was still burning and stinging, but it’s happened before so I knew what the pain was like and how bad it could get.

Continue reading “Lexi (of Toxic, by Karina Kantas)”

Montague ‘Monty Hill’ Glupie (of Children of Little Might, by Peter D’Hollander)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a sixteen-year-old boy with autism, who found a book that promised his every wish once he translated it. It took a bit of coaxing and some bickering, but he agreed (so long as it wasn’t face-to-face). He’ll tell us about fantasy kingdoms, princesses and paper girls, and power in adversity.


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

I grew up in Utah (though that’s never mentioned in the book) where I live with both my parents in a small city. Or rather: lived. My father… Well, he’s gone now and I still miss him. But Mom and I still live in our old home. In fact, I even sleep in their old bed – so I can be close to Dad.

I don’t have any brothers or sisters; though my father once said he wanted to have more. They never said so, but I guess my parents didn’t go for more children because I wasn’t always the easiest. You see, when I was eleven – the most horrible year of my life – they discovered I have autism. That same year, Dad… Went away and my best friend betrayed me. But I don’t want to talk about that.

I live in a house with three floors of which the third floor is my bedroom. I also have a game room, there, but I talk about that later. I go to a high-school, but I hope you forgive me when I don’t tell you its name. I’m not one of the popular kids, there, probably because I broke a bully’s arm. Also, the principal has it in for me. He doesn’t understand I had nothing to do with breaking my bully’s arm. I pushed him against a wall, for sure, but is it my fault he has brittle bones?

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

I often sit alone in my room. I don’t have many friends, except for Storm,  but I do speak a lot of different languages. And I love to find the explanations of names. Storm’s real name is Sherwin. It means ‘swift runner’, but since he’s in a wheelchair I don’t think it fits him well. Hence, I called him Storm. He’s like a storm in his wheelchair; fast and hard to keep up; even if I’m on my bike. He’s my only friend, though you should ask him why. Most people find me weird because of my autism. I often think the only reason why he’s with me, is because he can’t run away. I once told him, too, and it made him laugh. Don’t ask me why.

But to answer your question: I love to play computer games. I like Civilization, Humankind  or Minecraft. I love to conquer the world and I am so good at it I even beat Dad at it. When he was still at home… I also like to ride around with my bike. Dad and I did that on my eleventh birthday and that’s how we found the burned down ranch house. I loved it so much, Dad bought it and started to renovate it.

He shouldn’t have. A wall collapsed and since he was alone…

In the ranch house, a week or so later, I found a book that promised to grant me my every wish if and when I translated it. And that’s when I knew it: I wanted to wish my autism away and bring my father back.

My most cherished memory? It’s a Fourth of July – in New York. We watched the fireworks. And we were Mom, Dad and I. Did you know I recreated that memory to help save the Twelve? They are a crack commando and the personal bodyguards of the King of Kalpana – the author of the book I had to translate. But I really didn’t save them at all, I’m afraid. But that Fourth of July? Yes: that’s my fondest memory of Dad and me. Because, you know, he was always there for me.

What do you do now?

Yeah. About that. I don’t want to brag, but when I made my wish, I didn’t ask for my autism to disappear or my father to be alive again. I wished for a girl, a Princess for sure, certain she never came. But she did. And because of that…

Don’t let them tell you anything else. She took me to Kalpana – the world she came from. And that’s a funny word, right there. Did you know Kalpana means Imagination in Hindi? So, today I’m still this glupi boy who believes in wishes. And in case you don’t know, because you’re not as good in languages as I am, glupi is stupid in Polish.

Storm says I shouldn’t tell you that. But everyone knows and it’s okay. I guess that I still have autism. I got the chance to get rid of it, but everyone around me wanted me to still have autism, I guess.

No, of course that isn’t true. They really wanted me to remain me. My one real wish was to have friends, so that’s what I do, I guess. I do my best to evade them because while I like to have friends, they also make me feel awkward. I never know what to say around them. If this wasn’t a written interview, I probably sat there and looked at you. Now… It’s Storm and Princess Aislinn who keep pushing me to write answers down. I hope I don’t bore you to death, though. Because I Want to be your friend, too. Even when you look like a very old dude.

Ah. I forgot. Both Storm and Princess Aislinn want me to tell you I have a girlfriend. Princess Aislinn. It’s funny, because I’m not sure what to do around her, but then, she does most of the doing. Even the things I don’t like, but secretly love. She made me to what I am today.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

If I have to believe Princess Aislinn, I’m the hero of the story. But I don’t agree. The true heroes are my friends. Storm, because he’s always there to defend me – even when everyone else ignores him, without asking anything in return. Can you imagine that, though he sits in a wheelchair, he didn’t even want to be able to walk? He called it overrated. The idea alone.

And then there is Aislinn, who you can’t ignore, no matter how hard you try. She’s… Well, she’s her. She stopped my bully. And my teacher. And she took it upon herself to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn’t do. I guess she could do all that because she’s incredibly beautiful. And it helps she’s able to influence people.

Oh, and there is the King and his hateful twin. And the Queen. I still feel ashamed when I am around her because not only Aislinn, but she, too, witnessed the wish I made about her daughter. I’m surprised she didn’t kick my ass. After all, I asked – wished – her daughter to fall in love with me.

And that takes me to Damon. The king’s twin brother, but also my high-school principal. He wants something of me, but I don’t really understand what. By the time I figure it out, it’s too late.

Continue reading “Montague ‘Monty Hill’ Glupie (of Children of Little Might, by Peter D’Hollander)”

Nabilak (of There was Music, by J.D. Grubb)

Dear readers, tonight we meet a supporting character, right before they met the protagonist at the opening of her book. He’s here to tell us about his war-altered world , and about the prison from city ruins where he met the protagonist.


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

My mother, Fenna, was a prostitute.

I never knew my father, but Fenna said that he was a military man, and some even alleged that he was a noble. Regardless, my life began in Girion, the greatest Illiri city in western Illirium. Fenna and I did not stay in one place for long, however. She sought to change her life by becoming the mistress of Lord Goreb who resided in Tïrmen. At that time, I was still young, but old enough to recognize the dangers of his character. Goreb’s persistent abuse of my mother drove me to rise up on her behalf. She did not want me to, but I could not stand the man. At first, I challenged him with words; yet a disease clung to my throat, reducing my voice to a quiet, raspy sound. Therefore, I learned action is the truest measure of strength. Though we had to ultimately flee from Goreb’s estate, I felt greater liberation from the thought that he would never again be able to walk properly.

Meandering from one terrible relationship to the next, my mother stood tall at first, never letting anyone see how tired and lost she felt. I admired her for that. She was a survivor in spirit. Yet, she also never fought for herself, and for that I nurtured resentment. Dragged from place to place, I tried to learn all I could, such as from the baker who showed me the care and strength necessary to bake bread—the timing, the kneading—or the blacksmith who taught me about the focus and power needed to shape iron.

When Fenna and I eventually found ourselves living on the streets of Girion, I did all I could to provide for us. She came to both rely on and scorn my presence. “It is because of you that we are here,” she would say, acting like the trappings of Lord Goreb were worth all the pain. At other times, she desperately wanted me to hold her close. Her unpredictability taught me patience, while at the same time gnawed at it. When I reached manhood and could tolerate her madness no more, I left. I never saw her again, but suspect that she died on the street.

Continue reading “Nabilak (of There was Music, by J.D. Grubb)”

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