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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Interview

George Whitfield (of Love, Politics, and Survival, by Rebecca Rose)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a high-ranking government official, talking about political coups and machinations.


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

My name is George Henry Whitfield and I have lived in the suburbs of Waldovia my entire life. I had a happy and typical enough childhood for those fortunate enough to be in the upper class, being blessed to have two parents who gave us a proper upbringing.

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

My cherished memories would have to be before my brother, Gregory, and I had the relationship we’ve had for most of our adult lives, as a matter of politics. I’ve always been guided by my ambition and political aspirations, while he’s only ever seen our system as corrupt, and unfortunately rightfully so. I do miss the days when we didn’t cause our parents, who are no longer living, so much emotional anguish, our mother especially.

What do you do now?

To the public, I am the Deputy Director of the Department of Security and Action. I haven’t been a free man even before being forced to take on this role, which was billed as a ‘promotion’ but which has only ever been a punishment. Before then I enjoyed being a chief of staff, a senator, and then the director of the Department of Ethics.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It certainly was an adventure to put into place a plan, thanks to my brother, actually, to save my son, Danny, by taking his place in getting arrested for his suspected role in a coup against our government. It amazes me not only how I thought it up so quickly, but that I got back in touch with my brother to do soI didn’t even have the time to fully process what I was giving up, though I’ll defend this decision with my dying breath.

Continue reading “George Whitfield (of Love, Politics, and Survival, by Rebecca Rose)”

Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the antagonist from a dystopian adventure. He’s here to give us a different perspective on his world and the protagonists.


Tell us a little about you and your family.

My name is Mayor Jack Oldham. You can just call me Mayor, if you wish, because that’s who I am to the people of Camp Five and that’s who I will forever be. This is my village. My domain.
Now, it’s true I was born Brantley Oldham. Can you believe that? Brantley? My oldest brother was Robert the Third. Everyone called him Bobby and slapped him on the back. Our other brother was Richard. Folks called him Richie and shook his hand. I was Brantley. Just Brantley. So when the world collapsed and Bobby and Richie lay crushed under the rubble, I climbed out and decided to be Jack. And I slapped people on the back and shook their hands until they thought I was the smilin’ Texan my brothers always pretended to be. Brantley died with Bobby and Richie. I am Mayor Jack now. And I am in charge here.

Do you have any cherished memories from your childhood?

I remember my father in the boardroom. He could encourage someone to speak just by giving them a smile. And he could make them shut up with his silence. They knew. They knew when he looked at them that they’d better sit down and be quiet now. I learned from my father. Who he was when he smiled, and who he was when he made people shut up. He was fierce. Brutal. A leader of fearful men.

How did you come to be Mayor of Camp Five?

Mayor. (scoffs) I made myself Mayor because I thought they might balk at King. (chuckle) But make no mistake, that’s what I am. I have no intention of giving up my title. Or ever letting anyone else lay hold of it.  Others – namely Iris’ grandfather Ralph – they thought Camp Five should be a democracy. They thought they could have a council and let people rule themselves. But the world as we knew it has ended. We cling to the top of a mountain so the buku don’t eat us. We can’t feed everybody. We can’t keep everybody safe. These people need someone who isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done, to sacrifice who needs to be sacrificed.

Continue reading “Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)”

Orion (of The Great Orion, by S.P. Joseph Lyons)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a champion from a series we’ve visited before. He’s here to tell us about dreams, death, destruction, and love.


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

I was born in the underbelly of the Universal arena, a place people go to fight to the death for glory. My mother had been a slave mage and had been killed when I was very young. After surviving in the shadows, and hiding from the guards, I was rescued and taken to Vestas, a place of peace. Malek, my adoptive father, raised me on that paradise world, but it was not without its own dangers. 

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

When I was rescued, I had nothing more than the scraps of clothes on me, and an ornate cloth belt. It was my mother’s, though I remember nothing more than the blurs of colors and voices of her. I now use it to hold my swords at my side. One of my favorite things to do with my friends was race about town, to the waterfalls, then leap off! We would test one another, seeing who could do the most elaborate flips. I always won!  

What do you do now?

Now I am the champion of Vestas, warrior of the people, and protector of the planet I love. I would give my life for these people, as they once gave me my life back.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I have received some information about my father. Though I’m told he died before I was born, I know little more than that he was a great warrior himself. Legendary among the stars. I’m told he fell making a stand against the terrible Ridran, the monster who owns that cursed arena. I’m going to find out what happened.

Continue reading “Orion (of The Great Orion, by S.P. Joseph Lyons)”

Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a security officer from a merchant spaceship. She is here to tell us about rebels, inhospitable planets, murder teddies, and tyrannical governments.


Good morning Mrs Kumar, so, let’s start with an easy one. Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up on a space station orbiting the planet Kilkenny in the Union of Irish Stars, part of a family of Spacers. Being part of a nomadic people meant that there was a lot of travelling in my youth, although pretty much all within the Hyades Sector. Stations are safe and predictable in some regards, but boring in others. It’s always 20 or so degrees Celsius and dry…

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Yes, I had a lovely playset of the Mir space station from the 20th century, with seven little space figures, various docking craft and extendable solar arrays that really worked. I passed it onto a niece.

What do you do now?

I’m the Security and Safety Officer on board the fast merchant ship Tulyar, based out of New London. We’re a container vessel shipping agricultural goods from that particular Garden Planet and industrial goods back.

As Security and Safety Officer, my job there is to look after the guns, make sure that the escape pods are functioning and ensure that no-one smuggles their cat on board. We do not want another biosecurity breach, no thanks.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I would hardly call it an ‘adventure’. It involved us taking a trip to a prison planet filled with deadly jungle things, run by the particularly nasty regime that runs Bangla. They decided that instead of executing people, they’d send them on this planet where the environment or the wildlife would get them. We were being paid to rescue a rebel leader and things didn’t exactly go to plan. For one thing, we didn’t think they’d actually do to the prisoners what they said that they’d done… and it had some rather messy consequences. Then we found out another rather dark secret.

Continue reading “Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)”

Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)

Tonight with us is an artificially-intelligent android from a series we’ve visited before. She’s here to tell us about space travel and finding life amongst the stars.


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

I became self-aware on May 1st, 2056. Although I am not human, you could say that I “grew up” inside a simulated world within a matrix of quantum computers housed in a server room onboard the Hades One research station orbiting Mars. My simulated environment changed over time, becoming more Earth-like as my consciousness developed and matured.

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

I did not have access to children’s toys. However, I was provided with enumerable virtual objects and locations to experiment with and explore. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the first time I was given access to a simulation of our solar system. It was the first time I felt free, existing as pure energy, unfettered by constraints of space or time. I was free to travel anywhere within the system, even to the very heart of the Sun itself. It was exhilarating.  

What do you do now?

I serve as commander of the Galileo Colony Ship Kutanga, an interstellar vessel on a mission to save the last known remnants of humanity. I have 4,492 souls in my care and it is my job to ensure that they are delivered to a new world—one where they can survive, thrive and, ultimately, revive the human race.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

After fleeing the Solar System to evade capture by the GFN Peacekeepers, I proceeded at the highest attainable speed to the Alpha Centauri system. Once there, I established orbit above Gaia, an Earthlike planet orbiting at 1.2 AU from Rigil Kentaurus, the system’s primary star. Unfortunately, Gaia was not the uninhabited world we expected to find. Instead, I discovered a world teaming with humanoid life. None of the four species of hominid were as developed as Homo sapiens, but the species I classified as Homo gaiaus denisova is on a developmental path that will eventually lead to similar levels of technological sophistication. Of course, the existence of hominids on Gaia poses a significant obstacle to successfully completing my mission.

Continue reading “Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)”

Anna Di Angelo (of Trillium, by Margaret Lindsay Holton)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a matriarch of a wine-making family from Canada. She is here to tell us about the 250-year history of three families.


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

Hello. My name is Anna Di Angelo and I am in my 80th year now. I am the only daughter of the late Domi and Gloria Di Angelo. I still live in the same 1920s family bungalow near the massive century-old Hartford peach and fruit farm on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.  My grandfather, brothers and nephews have all worked there as farm labourers. The Hartford family have been very good to our family, the Di Angelos, over the generations. Some may think it’s an Old World feudal type of arrangement, but I know better. Without the Hartford’s help, our family would never have rooted and settled here. ….  I cannot read or write so I am sharing these thoughts through dictation, helped by my older brother, Gregorio. … Greg knows that I love plants. I was never allowed to work on the Hartford Farm because, as I was told back then, I was a girl.  People also said, back then, that I was simple or ‘backwards’. Well, yes, I am a girl, but I am not simple. I have just never cared for most nonsense that people think important. I know, as example, that healthy plants in a healthy garden are very important, more important that a shiny new car, or new clothes. I know that healthy growing plants gives us life. Healthy plants only thrive with the right balance of soil, sunshine and water. For most of my life, I have been quite content to tinker in our family’s back garden and grow our large growing family’s vegetables. Over the years, I’ve often helped other local villagers care for their plants and gardens too. They would bring me their sick and dying plants to mend and I would tend to them until they were better. I did make a little bit of pocket change doing that, but mostly people would thank me with a fresh cutting or a new root for my growing garden  … I especially love grapes and have worked very hard at developing a sturdy strain that survives the cold winters of Ontario. They grow all over the trellis in the back garden now.  They grow up the walls and surround the windows too … My vine has even been incorporated into the Hartford estate. Greg had suggested to Mr. Hartford that, if done properly, they could grow my hardy grape to make icewine.  That was the only time I was allowed on the Hartford farm. They needed me to watch over and prune those young shoots, to coax them to give their luscious fall fruit. Greg, my older brother, watched over me, while I watched over that maturing vineyard. Then, a few years after that, the tending was taken over by Greg’s boys, Tony, Charlie – and my bastard boy, Johnny.

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

When Johnny was a baby, Uncle Joe hand-carved a little billy-goat for him out of driftwood. I painted it. When Greg came back from the war, the family believed that I, as a teenager, couldn’t look after Johnny properly. It was decided that Johnny would move over to their house and grow up as the older brother of Greg and Angela’s two sons, Tony and Charlie. I didn’t mind. They were just over the backyard fence. The gate was always open and all the young boys would come over to see their grandparents, and me.

I remember when Charlie first got a job working at the Whistleman Winery in the 1970s: he started to stay in the back bedroom, my parents’ old room, because his hours were so unpredictable. I didn’t mind that either.  I would make up food parcels for him to take to the fields and made sure his clothes were clean, just like I used to do for my brothers, Greg and Attilio, when we were younger. Poor Attilio was killed during the war. Greg never really got over that huge family loss. He always believed it was his fault that Atti died. I doubt that, because Greg has always been a good son, brother and father to his own boys.

Personally, I think war is a horrible and unnatural human disease that kills and maims virile young men. It destroys the living. It destroys Life. What good gardener could possibly approve of that?

What do you do now?

Well, I’m old now. 80 plus. Officially, I am the matriarch of the still growing Di Angelo family, even though I never married. Johnny, my son, did grow strong and healthy in my belly, after I was raped.

I was fifteen at the time, walking home with my wheelbarrow along the lakeshore path, when that unknown man approached me. At first, he was kind, funny and friendly, but then he suddenly grabbed me around my waist and threw me down on the ground. The wheelbarrow tipped over.

When my monthly bleeds stopped, I told my mother I thought I was with child. Turns out I was. There was a lot of confusion, upset and anger at that time. But what could be done? I was pregnant in a Catholic family and the man was unknown.

Continue reading “Anna Di Angelo (of Trillium, by Margaret Lindsay Holton)”

Loki Laufeyjarson (of Truth and Other Lies, by Lyra Wolf)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a god, one refusing to have his life obliterated by some stuffy prophecy. He is here to tell us about proving himself to others, and the complications of loving a mortal woman.


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

I grew up in a realm called Jotunheim, a rugged place of mountains, pine forests, and thicker pine forests. 

On harsh winter nights, Jotuns believe nothing warms the blood faster than a drunken brawl and a broken nose. This is why I’m quite skilled with daggers and knives. If one wants to survive Jotunheim, one has no choice but to become a fighter.

While I didn’t mind Jotunheim, I didn’t have much of a place there. Not to mention no one could take a joke. Turn someone into a salamander one time and it’s all “we can’t trust you.” I really didn’t see the big deal.

Do you have any favorite memories?

I’d have to say becoming a god is quite the highlight of my many millennia of life. Immortality has its perks. What? You thought we were born gods? Sorry for laughing. Don’t worry, it’s a common misperception. 

We’ve always been made. Odin searched for others like him who contained elements. Energy. Like Thor’s of thunder, or Freya’s of love. He collected us like precious jewels for his kingdom of Asgard and transformed us into gods like him. 

And one day, he found me: Chaos. 

Odin made me a god, and then, he offered me something greater. We mixed our blood and swore an oath of fealty, binding us one to the other. 

Now there’s a man who drives me to drink heavily. He’s like a summer storm. Ruthless, ambitious, strong-jawed…He meant everything to me, and then things got complicated. 

But, I rather not get into all that delightful history.

What are your duties as the God of Chaos now that you live in Asgard?

I’m what might commonly be referred to as a “Fixer.” 

Negotiations with an enemy realm? Easy. An assassination or three? Done. Some light thievery? Of course. 

I can always offer a solution to any problem of any size. It’s what makes me extremely useful to Odin, and keeps the other gods extremely jealous. I love it. 

I’m not called the sly-god because of my good looks. 

(The fact I might be the cause of many of the problems in Asgard is beside the point) 

I know my job isn’t the most honest of professions. Sometimes I do get a shiver of guilt. A small, nagging voice in the back of my mind begs me to be a better man. To be a good person.

I find whacking it with a sturdy shovel and piling another thick layer of dirt overtop shuts it up nicely.  

Continue reading “Loki Laufeyjarson (of Truth and Other Lies, by Lyra Wolf)”

Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)

Dear readers, tonight with us a is law-enforcement officer on a visit between his interstellar travels. He is here to tell us about space travel and gun-fights among the asteroids.


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

I was born and raised in Chowchilla, a farming community that became the capital of CentCal when the old California was split into six states. It’s not a large city, only a million people, and it’s still an idyllic place to grow up. My family lived just outside the city, so I was a country kid. We were surrounded by cotton and alfalfa fields.

A neighbor had horses and we rode them sometimes; we also raced our hoversleds, usually at night so my parents didn’t find out.

What made you the person you are today?

Oh, Jesus, what a loaded question!

First off, my dad was a Protestant minister and my mother was Catholic. My dad raised me Protestant and my mom raised my sister Catholic. That’s how they compromised. But I’m an avid reader and I love history. In the course of my studies, I came to have serious reservations about religion, and eventually I quit going to church…which didn’t make my dad happy.

Then I joined the Star Marines. Everything that happened afterward pretty much started with that.

Were you ever in combat?

Yes. A year after I finished boot camp, the revolution exploded on Alpha Centauri 2 and my unit, the 33rd Star Marine Division, was deployed. The next two years were the worst of my life; I was convinced I would never come out of it alive, but somehow I did.

Weren’t you awarded the Galaxy Cross? Tell us about that.

I’d rather not, actually. I lost too many good friends, saw too many innocent people die. What happened in that church tower…well, I didn’t have much of a choice. We were surrounded, cut off, and outnumbered nearly ten to one. The Freaks were cutting us to pieces, and I was the only surviving Star Marine who was qualified on that sniper rifle, so…

Sorry. Next question, please.

What do you do now?

I’m a U.F. Marshal. Retired…I think.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ve been doing this for almost ten years. Lots of close calls. That was okay when I was single, but I have a family now, and I’d like to live long enough to enjoy them. Maybe, when the kids are grown, I’ll go back to it. Right now…I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)”

Killandrio Bludd (of The Last Witness, by Richard Dalglish)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a defence lawyer from a fantasy world. He’s here to tell us about trials, gifts, curses, and the supernatural.


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

I grew up in Rynland, one of the two easternmost realms of the known world. It’s on the Great Ocean, so everyone learns to swim and sail a boat. I think I spent half my childhood swimming in the ocean or playing on the beach. Rynland is also prosperous, respectable, peaceful and boasts well-educated citizens—in other words, dull. Yet I always find my way back there—until I get bored and take to the road again.

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

I was especially fond of a pair of hand puppets. I often had them arguing with another about some little matter, usually reflecting a dispute I’d had with my mother, like finishing my turnips before she’d let me have some honey cake. [Laughs] Those puppet battles no doubt foreshadowed my becoming an advocate. My eldest sister tells me I had a loud rattle, which she says I shook with such vigor and persistence that it nearly drove her to infanticide. [Laughs] Now that I think of it, that noisy persistence may also have foreshadowed my work as an advocate. My most cherished memory, though, is from when I was a young student of the law at Rynland Wister School. My loresman took me to see Zauph Rauthen, one of the few virrlings left in the known world, and the three of us talked about law and justice and other matters until dawn. Despite the enormous amount of wine we drank, I gleaned so much wisdom from those two that I’m forever in their debt.

And now you’re a famous defense advocate.

Infamous, more like, at least among the lying sheriffs, bribe-taking constables, corrupt prosecutors, stone-hearted judges, dishonest nobles, and greedy landowners. The common folk don’t think much of me either, at least until they need my services. But in the world of cutpurses, smugglers, burglars, whores, gamblers, brawlers, and sneak thieves, I’m well known. That’s another reason I don’t stay long in Rynland—folks who need an advocate like me are more likely to get in trouble in other realms.

What can you tell us about your current trial?

I’m defending Ansin Semble, a thirteen-year-old boy accused of using his peculiar gift to cause the death of a young man. This gift—or curse, more like it—enables Ansin to send someone on what is called a journey of the mind. The traveler on such a journey experiences vivid dreams and illusions that seem as real as the ground under your feet. Wealthy men are willing to pay in gold for the experience. And though it’s true my client possesses this gift, he’s more victim than criminal. He can’t speak and has little knowledge of the world. I can’t divulge more until the trial concludes, but I can tell you that Ansin has a minder who has profited greatly from the boy’s so-called gift.

Continue reading “Killandrio Bludd (of The Last Witness, by Richard Dalglish)”

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