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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Interview

Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)

Joseph Malik - Outworlders banner

Dear readers, tonight with me is a cross-dimensional champion. Taken from Earth to a strange new world, this former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert was tasked to be an adviser to the war council for a magical realm teetering on the edge of collapse.

We wanted to meet Jarrod Torrealday since we first read his book, and finally caught up with him at his castle home in the Wild River Reach at the end of this past autumn, between his two book adventures.

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

I grew up in Connecticut, on an estate called Knightsbridge. Our house was one of these castle homes, with stone turrets and everything. (Laughs) I guess it kind of warped me. My family owns Eastern Technology Bank. We mostly handle hospitals and big tech campuses. We had a few hundred acres of woods that butted up against a huge green belt that went right down to the sea. I was much more into getting into adventures out there than I was ever interested in playing with toys.

What do you do now?

I’m part of an order of knights here in the kingdom of Gateskeep. Our order teaches hand fighting and military science to the troops, but also serves a counterespionage function, as well. We keep an ear to the ground and keep an eye on the fighters in the castles where we train other knights and soldiers. We find spies, and disrupt plots against the crown.

I’m also a Lord Protector of the principality of Falconsrealm, which means that I can be called upon—and have the right—to settle affairs of the crown in personal combat. A lot of the time, here, they’ll settle small wars and grievances with just two guys beating the crap out of each other, sometimes not even to the death. It’s a pre-industrial, mostly feudal society—interlinked fiefdoms of regional lords and magnates operating under privatized rule—but it’s technically possible to take over a castle and lands in a fistfight. Which keeps the afternoons interesting.

It all just goes to prove that we never really know where we’re going to end up, I guess. It’s a good gig.

What do you find most surprising about living here? Compared to Earth?

The number of women in the ranks of the military, especially the knights, and how effective they are. On Earth, we’ve really underrated them. Our brightest military leaders, and some of our toughest knights here, are women. Continue reading “Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)”

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Benji Fisher (of Mermaids Are Real, by Bo Wu)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young boy who grew up by the sea. Used to surfing with dolphins and some odd things encountered underwater, he’s come here to tell us about how his life changes following a recruitment speech from an octopus the night before his thirteenth birthday.


What was it like growing up in Beech Mill?

I liked the town much more than the growing up part. It’s hard when you stick out and all everyone else is trying to do is conform. I think no matter where you are in the world, that’s a problem for kids.

Having said that, Beech Mill was a great place to grow up. I was in or on the water whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted. My dad had a boat. What else can you ask for, right?

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

I wasn’t a toy kid. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just gravitated toward the outdoors. A part of me always knew I belonged outdoors and, more specifically, in the water. I just didn’t know how much I really did belong until Octavius showed up and told me about my real home in Sanjowqua.

But, I guess my surfboard could be considered a toy. I had plenty of fun on it. That’s for sure. It was on my surfboard that I had my first run-in with Eeke, Zeeke, and Mai, the dolphins that kept watch over me.

What do you do now?

I’m still thirteen, so no matter what, I get to still be a kid, but now I get to be a merman kid with an ocean full of creatures to play with and unexplored territory, at least for me, that I get to call my home.

I think for the meantime, I’m going to be helping prepare for the next full moon party in a few weeks which, by the way, is the first one Sanjowqua has celebrated in thirteen years. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have my hands full for the foreseeable future.

I’ll spend my free time working on honing my Mystiq powers. I see another visit to my dad’s lair again pretty soon, as well. Continue reading “Benji Fisher (of Mermaids Are Real, by Bo Wu)”

Vladimir Taltos (of Jhereg series, by Steven Brust)

Steven Brust - Vlad Taltos (Jhereg) series covers

Dear readers, we are excited and proud to host tonight a character out of one of fantasy’s longest running series! He is a wizard, an assassin, a crime baron, and a foreigner. He climbed his way to the top against all odds, in a society controlled by a different race. We wanted to speak with him since we first read his books. Please welcome Vlad Taltos!


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

I grew up in South Adrilankha, the Easterner’s district. What was it like? It stank, that’s what it was like. You had the slaughterhouses on one side, dead fish smells from the other.  You could sometimes find a witch to help you out when you got sick.  Sometimes you couldn’t.  Then we moved across the River.  That stank too, only in different ways.  Not so much in the nose, except when you got punched there.  It stank because I was short and weaker than everyone else, and some of them didn’t like Easterners much.  You could always find a sorcerer to help you when you were sick, but you couldn’t afford to pay him.  It sucked, okay? Can we talk about something else?

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

My favorite toy was a lepip, which is a piece of iron, usually about as long as my arm from shoulder to wrist, with some leather wrapped around it to reduce bleeding.  My most cherished memory is using it on some asshole of the House of the Orca who was expecting me to just, I don’t know, stand there and get hit.  Those guys aren’t too bright.  But they make these great sounds when you smack them really hard in the kneecap.  Ever done it?  Try it.  If it goes well, come and see me, I might have some work for you.  If it doesn’t go well, that’s your problem.

What do you do now?

There are people trying to kill me.  I thwart them.  I also travel a lot.  Sometimes I meet bandits, highwaymen, you know?  When I do, I rob them.  It’s a living.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Adventure?  You call it an adventure?  I call it people trying to kill me.  Maybe that’s an adventure for you, but–okay, let me explain.  When there’s this vast criminal organization that hates you because you didn’t quite play by their rules, and they want to stick a weapon into you that destroys your soul, that’s not an adventure, that’s just scary.  So, anyway, I thought up a way to maybe get myself out of that uncomfortable situation.  See, I had a plan… Continue reading “Vladimir Taltos (of Jhereg series, by Steven Brust)”

Gwyn the Welshman (of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch we have an 11th century warrior. He’s here to tell us about his amazing journeys through storms and treachery over seas and lands, across England and on the road to far off Rome.

Shield brother and friend to Harald, son of the king, Gwyn the Welshman is always at the atheling’s right hand, ready to defend him and the realm.


You are known as Gwyn the Welshman?

Aye. Gwyn ap Emlyn be my true and rightful name. Gwyn, son of Emlyn, who was my da, a course.

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

My wife, Gudrun would say I never did grow up, wouldn’t she? She can never resist a jab, that one. Got to love her. Well, I’m a Welshman, but you know that. Not that I’ve ever spent much time there. To tell you where I was a lytling, I’ll have to tell you of my father. My da had not the heart for working the land and being a scrapper he kept himself alive long enough to get good with a skeggox––a battleæx, you know. He had no love for the Saxons––the dastards had too many Welsh slaves, though I dare say the sardin’ Danes wasn’t much better. So he offers his battleæx to Sweyn Forkbeard, don’t he? That’s when he gets to know Cnute, son of Forkbeard, as they was fightin’ Edmund Ironsides. Shield brothers they was, and nothin’ counts more between men than killin’ together and keepin’ the other alive.

So Cnute’s handfasted wife was Ælfgifu, English born, from Northantone. And my da takes up with her friend Ylva. And what do you know, both women are expectin’ bearns ’bout the same time.

And the babes were you and Harald Harefoot, son of King Cnute?

Harefoot, ha! He loves that, don’t he? You guessed it. So the story of my growin’ up is all about my friendship with Harald Cnuteson, in’t it? Playin’, scrappin’––Harald and me, we was like two bear cubs.

And Sweyn, Harald’s older brother?

Sweyn the Swine we called him. What a cruel dastard he was. Still is. One time he took after us, Harald and me––can’t remember what for––didn’t need a reason. Harald got away, but Sweyn grabbed me and pushed me into the brambles. After Sweyn had gone, Harald was back to get me out, careful like, wasn’t he? Harald’s got a tender side you don’t usually see. Selia sees it––loves him for it.

And this, of course was before Harthacnute, Harald’s younger brother was born?

Half brother he is. Crafty fox. So Cnute casts Ælfgifu aside and marries King Æthelred’s widow, Emma, didn’t he? To unite the Saxons and the Danes he figures. Harthacnute comes along at the natural time after Cnute and Emma have done the deed a few hundred times––in the first week of the marriage bed, I’m thinkin’. Ha! So Hartha was a bearn when Harald and I were up and runnin’ everywhere. And he was with the Queen while we was with Ælfgifu, Ylva, and some of the other families. Harald didn’t see his father as much as before and that pained him. It was like Cnute had two wives, two families.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, that would be when Yngvarr Skarissen and I set off in search of Harald, wouldn’t it. He’d been held for silver somewhere outside Engla-lond. Word came that he’d returned, landed near Ceaster. Then his friends lost him. Cnute sent us riding north. No that’s not the truth of it. He sent us to find that cur Drefan. We was lookin’ for him and tryin’ to find Harald, with a big swath of Engla-lond to cover. And there was that business with Pearce the Shire Reeve, the sardin’ pig poker, setting me up for Wregan’s murther. Pearce got entangled with the search for Harald as well, all on account of that connivin’…but I can’t tell you ’bout that. Continue reading “Gwyn the Welshman (of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)”

Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)

Dear readers, tonight with me are two characters that sprang out of their books to confront their authors. One, a handsome rogue, is the last chauvinist left in the feminist fantasy realm; the other is a space defender, struggling to be a strong female protagonist in books written by a pulp-fiction author.

They are here to tell us about their adventures.


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

Xander: My background is of little importance.

Lyra: *glares*

Xander: Oh, all right.

I was born in the village of Scrubbleypot, a three-day trek from the Landrian capital. My father was a knight in the old king’s royal guard, and died a warrior’s death on the battlefield, leaving behind his wife with child, a farm, and a cow. I was the child, and I had a miserable upbringing. My mother thought little of me because I reminded her of Father. I, in turn, think little of her.

Lyra: I was born on Terra in the year 5740. After years of rigorous training, I was inducted into the prestigious League of Space Defenders, a special force that protects the galaxy from alien threats.  In ’75, I and a team of seven other Space Huntsmen were dispatched to the Jerome Moon Outpost, in preparation of a future civilian colony.  Unfortunately, there was a … devastating incident on the base that left everyone but myself dead.  With our comms destroyed, I had no way to call home and report what had happened; instead, I’ve taken it on myself to identify the culprit and avenge my team.

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

Xander: A great warrior does not require such … intricacies…. Actually, we were too poor to buy toys, and I hadn’t a father to carve gewgaws and baubles from fallen branches as the other lads did. I never did learn to carve my own, but perhaps I shall when I meet a woman worthy of bearing my children.

My most cherished memories are those of solitude. When I’d finish milking the cow and letting it out to pasture, I would run to the untamed forests surrounding our land and listen to the birdsong. It is possible to lose track of time in there, for it is always dark beneath the canopy of trees. Thus ends the cherishable portion of any such memories, for Mother detested when the cow got out from being left unattended.

Lyra: My favorite toys growing up were my model starcruisers and VR headset.  We all got them as space cadets for training simulations, but I figured out how to add a variety of entertaining games to my system….

What do you do now?

Lyra: I may have no contact with the League of Space Defenders, but I’m still a Space Huntress through and through.  I’d dreamed since childhood of going to space, colonizing the moon, and expanding our access to the world as much as I can.  I just hope I’ll make it back to Terra with my findings someday.

Xander: At this time, I am my own master. After a brief juncture in the Landrian army, I took up service as a rogue mercenary.  I serve whomever I please, but unlike many, I am still a man of great honor.  And alas, my heart belongs the fair ruler of Landria, Lady Jen Mondegreen. Continue reading “Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)”

Nash Bannon (of Lifeliners, by Stefan Vucak)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a member of homo renata, the species destined to replace homo sapiens. This young lifeliner, as they are commonly called, is here to tell us about his life in Australia amidst protest marches by extremist groups, riots, attacks against lifeliners, and repressive laws enacted by governments everywhere — and his current position as a Senate candidate for the Lifeliner Party.


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

What can I say? As far back as I can remember, which is a long way back – my eidetic memory is a dump truck – Melbourne has always been a fun city for me. My twin brother Mark and I spent time riding the trams and keeping our parents from finding out what we were up to. We played pranks on our younger sister Natalie. Let’s face it. We were mean to her, girls having an odd idea of fun. As Melbourne changed, so did I. I knew about lifeliners, of course. They sucked energy from people, and everybody thought they would one day take over the world. When Mark and I turned fourteen, Dad has a quiet talk with us, which turned my bright, innocent world into something dark. Why? We were lifeliners, a secret I could never reveal to anyone, not if I wanted to live.

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

As a kid, I was never much into toys, preferring to explore the wonders of emerging technology, devouring books, and learning what it meant to be a lifeliner. On a tram, Mark and I would select a donor and jam off him. We weren’t fussy. It could also be a woman. A light touch to establish a connection, and two minutes or so would be enough to drain a bit of life-force, as I called it, without disturbing the donor.

I loved our family outings, having fond memories of our trips to Daylesford. Dad was a QANTAS exec and Mom a graphics artist. I guess some of their smarts must have passed to me and Mark. I must say that our sister Natalie was pretty sharp herself. We had a wonderful time as kids, something that will stay with me always.

What do you do now?

Would you believe it? I am now a Lifeliner Party federal Senator! When I fell in love with Cariana Lambert, the last thing I expected was being betrayed by her, something that wounded me deeply. I got it sorted out, but the draconian laws being passed by the federal government to strip away rights and freedoms not only from lifeliners, but ordinary people, and the increased incidence of attacks against lifeliners, led me into politics. There is a lot more to the story, of course, but you’ll just have to read the book to find out. Continue reading “Nash Bannon (of Lifeliners, by Stefan Vucak)”

Lucia Atella (of Prelude to Fate, by Rosie Chapel)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman from a the far reaches in the provinces of the Roman Empire, from a time of relative peace. She is here to tell us about how her peaceful life as a weaver and healer suddenly changed 

Editor note: it’s always great to have authors come back here to introduce new characters and new worlds. You can meet Rosie’s previous protagonist – Hannah of Hannah’s Heirloom trilogy – here.


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

My name is Lucia, I grew up, and still live, in a small town called Emerita Augusta in Lusitania… that’s in Hispania, if you’re not sure. Most people have never heard of it. Hmmm… it’s a lovely town and is all I know; I have never travelled far beyond the walls. If you have coin, there is always plenty to do. There are numerous thermopolia and popinae – although the latter can get a bit rowdy, so you need to have a care – and an eclectic collection of shops. We are lucky to have a theatre; it is the most incredible venue where they have all manner of entertainment. I love the plays, they are wonderful, and some make you laugh until you fall off the seat. Oh, and the amphitheatre, although I would rather not talk about that if you don’t mind, it holds bad memories for me.

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

Before my father died, he took us out, occasionally, for a picnic by the Anas – that’s the river on the outskirts of town… well one of them. I was very young, I was only maybe seven summers when he died, but I remember him carrying me on his shoulders and we would sing all the way to the river. My mother tried to hush him… father could not hold a tune… but she still laughed and sang along with us, so I do not think she minded. Goodness, I had forgotten those days, thank you, if you had not asked the question, that would have been lost to memory.

What is this ‘toy’ of which you speak? I am sorry; the word is unfamiliar to me.

What do you do now?

I am unsure how it all happened, but I seem to be very busy. I weave cloth; usually simple pieces such as mats or wall hangings, but I also make wraps, and tunics and, now I have a bigger loom, I can even make togas or cloaks if people are prepared to wait a little while. I paint, usually decorative tiles and such like, and occasionally I am asked to do a portrait. Two or three times a week, more if an animal is injured or sick, I visit the bestiariorum, that’s where the animals used in gladiatorial games are housed. I… err… well… I suppose I am a healer of sorts. Continue reading “Lucia Atella (of Prelude to Fate, by Rosie Chapel)”

Herta Tanner (of Der Reizen, by E. Lynn Cormick)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a liaison with a supernatural community, though on occasion she has been referred to as a vampire pimp. She is here to tell us about her Bavarian inheritance and the unusual job that came with it.


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

I grew up in downtown Toronto, Canada. I lived on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown, having friends in both groups. I learned a lot about the cultures from my friends (and a few swear words).  It was a riot living there. My sister, Rae-Lynne, wasn’t too pleased about it, but I loved the diversity. And better food than any restaurant ever served didn’t hurt. I dined out for Italian and Chinese and my friends came to our house for German food. We had a lot of fun. Christmas time was great. We kids would celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, and Epiphany as well as the Chinese New Year. It was great until just after I started university. My parents were killed by a drunk driver when I was about eighteen.

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

I think my best friend growing up had to be my notebook. Mei-Lin, Hannah and Toni were fun to play with, but it was my notebook that received all of my confidences and secrets. I started writing stories when I was about eleven and never seemed to run out of ideas. I hid the notebook from my younger sister in the only safe place I knew – a huge panda bear that my father won at the CNE for me one year. It was, at the time, bigger than I was. Rae was afraid of Panda. I told her once that it came to life every night and ate bad children. She believed me.

What do you do now?

What I do depends on who you talk to. There are those who are convinced I’m a pimp for vampires but it’s more like a liaison between two different countries. I don’t know as I’d call it a fun job, but it most certainly has its moments. I’m not sure which amuses me more, the naivete of the Tiele or the outrageous stories the Germans tell of Tielen. Those are the same two things that irritate me, too, come to think of it. I’ve written a dozen or so travel articles for my editor/sister on hunting Walpertingers in Bavaria, but the Hugelgartens really captured my attention. I wrote a few articles on those for various magazines. Rae-Lynne wasn’t impressed that I would freelance for someone else, but I had a story to write, a tale to tell, that her small newspaper didn’t cover. Right now, I’m working on the boxes of notes that my great-grandfather left me. Some of the information would do well in a book about wartime Germany and the rest of the information would have to be published as fiction in our world. No one would believe that there were Gates between worlds in actual fact. Continue reading “Herta Tanner (of Der Reizen, by E. Lynn Cormick)”

Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a rambunctious couple. Let’s hope we can settle them down to an interview about life in their world, where they will tell us how an average-Joe got to be an intergalactic admiral, and what is it like living with a commercial telepath.


Kyle: “Oh for crying out loud, another one of these? Don’t I even get to introduce myself? I’m sure you have that down somewhere, but can I at least intro myself?”

Of course.

Kyle: “Cool, thank you. Hope you don’t mind, but I asked my fiance to join me this time. I expected that when Tory asked me to sit for another interview, that it would be another one of these things.”

That is fine.

Kyle: “Well, my name is Kyle Durlow, and this is my fiance Kate Trell-do.”

Kate: “Katlene Thor Trell-do, to be specific. Kyle, how come the only person I can sense is you?”

Kyle: “Not sure. I suspect that the interviewer isn’t actually here, or they are some kind of semi-sentient construct. Tory still hasn’t answered that question from the first time around.”

Kate: “Ah. Wish a lack of answers from him was a surprise.”

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

Kyle: “Nothing special about where I grew up, assuming you are familiar with mid-90’s Earth. I mean. I have been to several alternate realities at this point, and with few exceptions, the mid-90s is damn near the same everywhere. Kinda weird that way.

I was born in central California. Lived and grew up in the Sacramento/Auburn/Stockton area over various parts of my youth and teenage years. Went to high school there. Was a B-ish student, had a few friends, summer job at one fast food joint or another. I hung out at the mall. Got my first car at 16, a true POS of a VW Rabbit. It only had three cylinders, but it got me to where I needed to go, and it sipped gas.

I did community college and earned Associates, which got me a job in San Diego. Like I said, nothing special about me, at least not until I met Kate.”

I see. Okay then, what about you Kate? Or do you prefer Katlene?

Kate: “Kate is fine, thank you.

I was born on the Kaldaree colony world of Fuullist, where my father was working at the time as a power consultant. I spent the first few years of my life as a colony kid. I got a better education than most because dad was well paid and mom was from a core family. Because my mother wasn’t more than a sensitive, she could choose any mate she wanted. Don’t let the laws fool you. The core families don’t give you much choice, other than a choice of pre-selected mates, if you are anything over a Class 8.

My abilities manifested right when they should, which was only a year we after returned to Kal-dar, the Kaldaree home world. As I was already done with my base education, and displaying abilities, mom’s family sponsored me to attend the second best telepath academy. I was only rated as a high Class 10, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten that. The graduation certificate got me into the legal telepath program, and uncle Kel covered the cost as a graduation present.

As with Kyle, it really was not that unusual for someone of my species who was a low level telepath. I had friends, played kids games. I was normal.” Continue reading “Kate & Kyle (of Chaos Fountain, by D.C. Ballard)”

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