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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

January 2022

Jack Flint (of Whiplash, by Morgan Quaid)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man abducted in the dead of night by a mountainous thug and a ginger-haired dwarf. He’s here to tell us about the underground bunker where he and a group of other teens are forced to fight an implacable enemy in dream world rife with danger.


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

I grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island. Lived there my whole life. Well, until a couple of friendly neighborhood abductors came and dragged me out of the house in the middle of the night and stuffed me in the back of their sedan. My parents were British though, so I don’t have the typical Rhode Island accent. That went down real well at school.

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

Got a stuffed ape I called Ugly. Had him since I was born. There’s a photo somewhere of me as a baby with this thing sitting next to me. It looks freaky, but I loved that little ape. Still got it somewhere in my room. Half his face is hanging off and there are bad stitches where my mom tried to fix him up when I was a kid. My sister hates that thing. Use to scare the crap out of her with it when we shared a room back in the old days when mom and dad were still around. Good old Ugly.

What do you do now?

Most days, try to keep some cosmic god from tearing my head off. Basically, I survive. I run from one danger to the next, trying to keep my head above water and trying to make sense of it all. For a while there I was a Black Stripe, a soldier for the Bunker. Never really got to finish my training though and now I’m something…else. I joined the rebels a while back and technically never left, so I suppose I’m still part of the rebellion.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It started a few months back. Me and a bunch of other guys, some kids, some my age, we all got dragged down into a secret underground training camp called the Bunker. A dude named Giant runs the place. He told us that there was a war going on and that people were dying in their sleep, getting pulled into a dreamworld city called Rust where some demigod chick known as the Red Queen was planning to invade our world. We were all chosen because we showed an ability to lucid dream. It wasn’t all bad though. I got to meet a chick named Saffron and we hit it off. Then, I got myself stuck in the dreamworld and it all went to hell. I got caught up in a rebellion against the Red Queen and her godling lieutenants. Found myself buddied up with an assassin named Shadowfang—she’s a pretty cool chick, if I’m honest. I think she came from Brooklyn originally. Sorry, what was the question?

Continue reading “Jack Flint (of Whiplash, by Morgan Quaid)”

Harland and Yokoyawa (of The Cursed Titans, by Ricardo Victoria)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a sports interview from a world where titanfighters and demonhunters show-case their abilities in a special arena.


“I’m Mr. Funktastic and welcome to ‘Mr. Funktastic’s Triennial Chivalry Games Special Quick Fire Sessions’. Today was an exciting day after the contestants were registered and the preliminary fitness tests were carried out. Plenty of surprises, especially from an unexpected group of contestants that are not titanfighters, nor sanctioned demonhunters and will be participating without titan armors. This night I have with us in our studio two of the persons under the spotlight in this edition of the Games: Mr. Harland Rickman, president of the Foundation and one of the heroes of the “Battle of Saint Lucy” and Yokoyawa “’Big Y’ Quetzalcoatl, legendary former champion of four editions of the Games and representative of the Samoharo delegation. Please give them a deserved applause.”

Mr. Funktastic sat behind his desk at the left side of the stage, while Yokoyawa and Harland were seated on the right, with Harland closer to the cameras to compensate for the stark height difference. One meter thirty-five centimeters versus the towering height of the samoharo that reached two meters with ease.

“It’s an honor to be in front of a legendary champion and a man that was at the frontlines of the Battle of Saint Lucy, against the Flying Terror lead by an undead royal prince bent on world domination,” Mr. Funktastic said. “An event that certainly has put some spice into this edition of the Games, where the cream of the crop of the fighters in the Core regions will represent their patrons in a spectacle of battle prowess and athleticism in highly creative arenas. This is the first time the Foundation has been invited as delegation, Harland. No NGO had been invited before, not even the Sisters of Mercy.”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Harland replied

“Why do you think this was the time to do so?”

“I think the rest of the delegations want an external observer to provide a different point of view removed from usual politics.”

“Isn’t that disingenuous? I mean, some say that you are bought by the Freefolk,” Mr. Funktastic stared at Harland, whose blood pressure was rising. He knew the video-radio host liked to act as a shock jock in front of the cameras, but while it might make for entertaining moments, it could lead to misinformation as well.

“And they are wrong,” Yokoyawa interjected. The Samoharo smiled at Harland. The thing with samoharo smiles is that they were equal parts endearing and frightening, a result of the rows of sharp teeth for the lizardlike species. “Both the Kuni Empire and the Samoharo supported the invitation, not just the Freefolk. Because part of the current crisis derives from the Battle, it’s advisable to have someone that was actually there to provide context so our nations can take the best course of actions.”

Continue reading “Harland and Yokoyawa (of The Cursed Titans, by Ricardo Victoria)”

Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher and Jenni the sprite (of The Roshaven Series / The Bone Thief, by Claire Buss)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the chief thief-catcher for the emperor, and his second in command — a rather mischievous sprite. They’re here to talk about their quirky magical mystery adventures.


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

Ned: I grew up in Fidelia with my parents and brother. It’s a coast town like many others I guess except…

Jenni: Yor Dad was ‘ead of T.A.R.T.S and yor bruvver took over and made it even more evil. Only ‘e ain’t yor bruvver or yor Dad.

Ned: Yeah, just found that out. A lot to take in.

Jenni: Specially as you killed yor bruvver. It were self-defence though, Boss.

Uncomfortable silence…

Jenni: Whereas me, I’m a fae ain’t I, so I was born in the grove. Me mum is Momma K, you’ve ‘eard of ‘er. Queen of the Fae and that. Me dad I just met so I can’t really say much.

Ned: He’s no pillar of society though, is he?

Jenni: Nah. S’good job we got each uvver in Roshaven, eh?

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

Ned: Just the usual really, wooden swords and toy bows and arrows. That sort of stuff.

Jenni: Yeah but you grew up in a big ‘ouse though, didn’t you? Wiv servants and stuff. You got taught to fence and ride and all that malark. S’not wot people get usually, Boss.

Ned: I left all that behind when I moved away from Fidelia and came here to Roshaven. Started afresh.

Jenni: True. Now you got a real sword. I never ‘ad a sword or nuffink like that. Didn’t need it being fae. Just snap me fingers and I’d get wotever I wanted. Corse that all changed when I ‘ad me coming of age ceremony and then there were the whole fing wiv the Source but I don’t fink we can talk about that, can we?

Ned: Not yet, Jenni. The book came out on 12th November, but we don’t want to spoil it for the readers.

Jenni: Right, right. I wos a ‘appy kid though. Always in everyfink, you know wot it’s like. Fun times.

What do you do now?

Ned: I’m Chief Thief-Catcher here in Roshaven. It’s my job to run the team and keep the empire safe from the criminal element.

Jenni: And I’m ‘is right ‘and fae.

Ned: That’s right, Jenni is my second in command. We also have Willow, a tree nymph, Joe, a regular human and Sparks, a firefly. We are actually looking for new recruits so if you think you’ve got what it takes to keep the streets of Roshaven safe then do pop in to Headquarters for a chat.

Jenni: And don’t go to the old ones on Justice ‘Eights. We ain’t there no more. Not after it got burnt down again again. We’re in The Noose, on the corner of the Black Narrows. Can’t miss us. Curry Night special on Thursdays.

Ned: We both joined the Catchers at the same time. It’s a funny story actually, involving a potato…

Jenni: Yeah, but we can’t talk about that eivver, Boss. It’s coming up, innit. When she wot does the writing sorts out the Case Files.

Ned: Yes, that’s right. There will be more Case Files coming your way, detailing some of our more interesting cases.

Jenni: Like the runaway cheese. And the Tea Cake Alley riots.

Ned: Best not to say too much more.

Jenni: Rightchoo are, Boss. ‘Ere, did you always wanna be a catcher? I tried a few fings first afore I knew. Didn’t get on wiv any of ‘em. And I definitely ain’t gonna be the next Queen of the Fae. No fank you!

Ned: I knew I wanted to do something in the opposite direction to my family.

Jenni: Them’s being thieves and vagabonds and evil and wotnot.

Ned: Erm, yeah. And I saw a notice in The Daily Blag about recruitment for the Catchers so I thought I’d go along. That was when…

Jenni: Boss! We can’t tell ‘em, remember? They gotta wait for the Case File to find out wot ‘appened.

Ned: Yes, sorry.

Continue reading “Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher and Jenni the sprite (of The Roshaven Series / The Bone Thief, by Claire Buss)”

Saul Imbierowicz (of Unavoidable, by Coy Kissee and Geoff Habiger)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a postal employee from 1920’s Chicago. He’s here to talk about being murdered buy AL Capone, and about being reborn as a vampire.


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

I was born and raised in Chicago. Mom raised me to go to Temple and respect my elders, while Dad taught me to be a Cubs and a Blackhawks fan, and that the only way to succeed in life was to work hard. My little sister, Sarah, tries to teach me patience, but I’m apparently a slow learner, heh. Until recently, we lived together in a second-floor apartment near Douglas Park, but once I got a job at the post office, I saved up enough to get my own place. It wasn’t much, but it was mine, and the only thing I had to worry about was my nosy neighbor keeping track of my every move and reporting back to my mother. At least, that’s what I thought. Then I died, but that wasn’t so bad, as I ended up getting a better apartment out of the deal. Silver lining, right?

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

We didn’t have much in the way of toys growing up. Dad made a decent living at the meat packing plant, but not enough for too many extras, you know? I don’t have a lot of memories with my Dad other than sending him off to work in the morning before school, or eating dinner together once he got home, but there was one day that we had together that I’ll never forget.

It was Memorial Day, 1916, and Dad had the day off. The Cardinals were in town, and that day was a double-header. Dad surprised me with tickets and we spent the whole day together at Weeghman Park. The Cubs got shut out in the first game, but in the second game, Cy Williams hit a home run off of Bob Steele that landed close enough that I could chase after it. When I saw the ball coming our way, I heard Dad say, “If you want it enough, you might be able to get that ball.” That was all I needed. I shot out of my seat, and raced to where the ball landed, determined to snare my prize. Just as it was almost in my grasp, a bigger kid snatched it up in his meaty paw and jumped up and down for joy. Dejected I shuffled my way back to my seat. I sat there, pouting in silence, until my father said, “Do you see how happy that boy is?” I glanced up at him, and then over to the boy with the ball, and mumbled, “Yeah.” He looked me square in the eye and replied, “He thinks that he’s happy because he has a new ball, but he’s wrong. He’s happy because his hard work paid off. He saw something that he wanted, and he didn’t let anything stop him from getting it. He could lose that ball tomorrow, but he’ll remember the day that he got it for the rest of his life.” Dad had always touted hard work, but this particular example is the one that really hit home. No pun intended, heh.

What do you do now?

I worked for the United States Post Office up until my untimely demise. After that, I became a government agent, working for Eliot Ness. With the help of my partner, Christian Wright, I enforce the law and am trying to take down Chicago’s biggest gangster, and fellow vampire, Al Capone. Oh, whoops, I probably shouldn’t have said the part about the vampires. I mean, I was just kidding, there’s no such thing as vampires. Heh. Um… yeah. So…

Ok, fine, here’s the deal. It turns out that my former girlfriend was a vampire who worked for Al Capone, who is also a vampire. That’s not public knowledge, so you can’t publish any of this. It’s… what do you call it? Off the record? So, anyway, she turned me into a vampire before she got killed in that big shootout on Valentine’s Day. She was under orders from Capone to get me to steal some ledger books that Capone wanted. I got caught up in this giant mess between Capone and Bugs Moran and the Feds, and I didn’t even escape with my life. Capone himself murdered me on the Michigan Avenue bridge. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that I’d become a vampire. I just thought I was dead. Which I was. Am. Heh.

Once I rose from the dead (no, not like Jesus), I became part of a team, led by Eliot Ness, with the main goal of taking down Al Capone once and for all. The fact that he (and I) are vampires isn’t even known by everyone on my team, but we’re fighting fire with fire, so to speak. My partner, Christian, was not very happy about the situation at first. Or now, even. We’ve gotten so close that he calls me these fun nicknames, like “abomination” and “affront to God”. Yeah, he’s quite religious, but he wants to take down Capone just as much as I do, so I trust him with my life. Death. Whatever.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, now we have a new boss, this J. Edgar Hoover guy, and he wants us to try to get Capone for tax evasion (I know, super exciting, right? I get to use all my special vampire accounting powers. Just kidding, that’s not really a thing. Heh.), although my partner and I think that he deserves a stake through the heart instead. Since we’re not going to be super busy with that, I think we should try to figure out who the mystery player is that seems to be at odds with Capone. If we can’t figure that out, I worry that Chicago will end up in the middle of a vampire turf war, and nothing good can come from that.

Continue reading “Saul Imbierowicz (of Unavoidable, by Coy Kissee and Geoff Habiger)”

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