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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Interview

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)”

Serena Mendez (of Serpent Rising, by Victor Acquista)

Dear readers, tonight we conduct our interview in a hogan (a traditional Navajo dwelling) on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. We’re talking to a previously unemployed, pill-popping twenty-one year old who suffered from nightmares and PTSD, whose quest to sort out her life leads her to ancient conflict between the Illuminati and a Luminarian sect with origins to Atlantis.


It sounds as though your childhood was pretty messed up. If it’s not too painful, can you tell us about that?

Up until I was ten, things were pretty normal, at least in so far as a little kid can figure out what normal is. After the cave incident–that happened when I was ten–everything went downhill. My parents blamed my great aunt, each other, and me for what happened. I suffered from terrible anxiety–the doctors called it PTSD. I was put on endless meds and began popping pills like candy. Then my baby brother died in a car crash when my mother was driving me to a psychiatrist appointment, and that caused a whole other round of blame. I really wasn’t close to my parents and only realized later in life that my great aunt, Ooljee, was the only adult I felt comfortable with. I’ve pretty much been on my own since age eighteen and I was just barely getting by. It’s only since I went back to the cave and started my Circle training that everything began to fit into place.

What do you mean, ‘fit into place’?

I returned to this Navajo reservation to ‘confront my demons’ as my psychiatrist recommended, and I went back to the cave. That’s where the opening of my first chakra was supposed to happen when I was ten; that initiation was to start my Candelaria training. When it finally happened at age twenty-one, that’s when I began to embrace my destiny and stopped running away from my life. Things began to fall into place, and as my other chakras were opened, I became progressively more balanced.

What are you up to now?

That’s a good question. Even though I’ve completed my Circle training and am a fully realized Candelaria, I feel like a warrior without a weapon. This great War of the Two Serpents isn’t over. Sure, me and Bryson may have won a little skirmish, but the big plans to establish a New World Order haven’t changed. I should say presumably haven’t changed because we really don’t know how the Illuminati are scheming to accomplish that. So, at this point, I don’t know how to use my gifts, there’s no one to ask, and we don’t know how to fight the bad guys. The good news is that I feel great and genius-boy Bryson will figure out something.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I got to travel to India, Australia, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Peru on my journey to open all my chakras. I learned things about myself along the way and I managed not to get killed. That’s not to say Li didn’t try. Still, he does have my DNA and he’s got the resources and know-how to misuse that. I also realize that Ooljee must have carried a great burden, feeling responsible for all the problems she caused in my life, but she was just doing what she thought best. It’s funny how your opinion of people can change once you can ‘walk a mile in their moccasins’–that’s a Native American expression Ooljee used to say.

Continue reading “Serena Mendez (of Serpent Rising, by Victor Acquista)”

Jactatio Dolor (of Add a Cup of Chaos, by Stephanie Barr)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a demon – a denizen of another realm. Rather than the devilish connotation you might have been led to believe, they are peace-seeking beings. He’s here to tell us about magic, cats, dragons, space aliens, and love.


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

Well, I was born on Mundus which would be a lot like Earth except the technology ran on magic and it was full of demons like me. Like most demons with a human parent, my mom kinda just dropped me and left me to my own devices. That was the norm before the Prudens started changing things, but my mom was old school. Or so I guess. Never met her.

But, when I was a kid–barely forty years old–my great great grandmother Hecate found me and told me we were going after  Prudens and her family to another plane, leaving this one to the war with the humans. I didn’t argue since Paul is Prudens’ grandson and my best friend. I half grew up at his house.  Now Orbis, the new plane, was empty and pretty primitive so even the kids had to work hard, try new magic, stuff like that. It’s still kind rural-feeling next to someplace on the Earth but it’s nice to know your neighbors and there’s no smog or anything since we snagged all the renewable ideas the Earth had been working on–no sense not learning from humans even if they’re pugnacious and prone to nuke first and ask questions later–which they did to us. But not the new plane, Orbis, because humans don’t know how to get there.

What’s it like? Well, we use magic sensitive crystalline materials for most things so we can shape buildings and stuff with magic pretty readily and still have something we can imbue with magic. Most of us have a hobby or skill we can use for barter so no one really wants for much.  Most of us grow stuff to eat or have a few animals for milk or meat–or both. It’s a pretty calm relaxed place to live–almost boring if it wasn’t for Beth coming and giving me a chance to show off.  Good thing I’m the best teleporter in the whole demon world so she had no choice but to take me along on her adventures.

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

I don’t remember much about the first decade or so. I was mostly trying not to get eaten by dragonets and unicorns and stuff. I mean, obviously I was a tough demon even as a baby, but young dragons can eat several times their weight in one sitting. My only chance was to try and talk them out of it. Fortunately, if you sweet talk a few female dragons, they’ll help look out for you so some rogue doesn’t decide you’re a snack.

Then Port and Paul stumbled on me, and I never had to worry about how I’d get my next meal or sleeping without a roof over my head. I think Port is the one who told Hecate who came to look after me, but I had to learn how to cook in self-defense. That woman makes a mean potion but her omelettes are twice as deadly.

I don’t remember favorite toys. I don’t think demons have toys like human children. We’re more about making things to suit our interests. You know, tinkering. Now I remember tinkering with lots of stuff that I was proud of, but, once you’ve got it, you kinda move on to the next one. Besides, I didn’t often make something that Dux couldn’t improve on. He’s the best at making cool gadgets especially in conjunction with Paul’s golems.

Good thing I was so damn good at porting or I might have gotten a complex.

As for cherished memories, hanging out with Paul, Dux and Stult, another friend who’s moved away when his mom did. They were a great bunch of fellows, always ready for adventure.  And, since I was the biggest and the oldest, I usually found some for us.

What do you do now?

We still make the odd gizmo, but I scored a sheaf of coordinates in the asteroid belt. Dux fixed up an inflatable station-like thing and a couple space suits. I port ‘em out there and they gather a couple of kings’ ransomes in heavy metals,  and then I port ‘em back. Metals like that are always in demand.

Might give it up now I’m a married man. Hecate knows Dux could port out without me, but I’d be worried someone would lose track of time or something and then they’d be stuck. I better keep helping them.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Now that was a doozy. The demon realm hadn’t been threatened since the human sniffed out Mundus.  And the aliens were canny. Didn’t come gunning for us directly–well, they couldn’t. Didn’t know where we were. So they went after the human world. After all, we’d saved them from the aliens once before, but they didn’t realize how adverse the demons would be to saving the humans. No full scale protection this time, bucko, not after what the humans pulled. For a bit, I thought even Roze and Beth couldn’t convince the demons to help at all–and there’s no way the humans could do it alone–when Beth pulled out the sacrifice of our own to save the humans the first time and damn near got the whole room crying.

Put her money where her mouth was, too, because, when I mentioned I thought I could port to the ship that had a beam that could kill everything on Earth in one blow, maybe sabotage it, she offered to go instead so the demons wouldn’t get on the alien radar.

That’s just hwo Beth rolls. No one goes into danger she won’t face. And she’ll face damn near anything. We went to the alien ship and she was Miss Intrepid. Even when we ran into a baby dragon–a very hungry one.

Continue reading “Jactatio Dolor (of Add a Cup of Chaos, by Stephanie Barr)”

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