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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Pamela Williams (of May It Please the Court, by Daniel Maldonado)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a private investigator. She’s here to tell us about being drawn into a court case starting with the severe injury of a mother at her daughter’s sweet sixteen party — followed by her even more suspicious death.


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

I’m a military brat.  My father served in the US Army Special forces.  So I’ve lived in various places in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

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

Following in my father’s footsteps, I also served in the military and ultimately became a private investigator when I retired. 

What do you do now?

As a private investigator, I work with law firms and individual clients.  Sometimes, it’s the run of the mill divorce case spying on cheating spouses and catching them in the act.  But when I work for law firms, it can vary depending on the assignment.  I may have to spy on the firm’s clients to ensure they’re on the up and up.  Or I may have to investigate and interview witnesses to a murder scene.  It all depends.  That’s why I love my job.  It varies day by day. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

In my latest adventure, I work with the Mendoza law firm to find out why a hotel guest unexpectedly injured herself by falling down the stairs.  Complicating things is she ultimately died under suspicious circumstances.  Inevitably, I have to investigate in various states including, Las Vegas, NYC, and Phoenix, Arizona.

What did you first think when you when to saw the scene of the accident?

The luxury hotel premises were lush and beautiful.  I wished I was staying there myself rather than working.  But what I found there, wow, it changed the whole investigation.  I’m skilled but sometimes luck plays a big part of it.

Continue reading “Pamela Williams (of May It Please the Court, by Daniel Maldonado)”

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)”

Andy Thomas (of Suffer the Little Children, by Tina Helmuth)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man accidentally drawn into the dark world of child trafficking and abuse, and facing real and supernatural dangers.


Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.

I was born in Grass Valley, California, which is near Sacramento, the city where the seat of government for the state is.  My dad’s career was in the Army, so we moved around a great deal.  We spent time in Japan and Germany and once dad became a General, we moved stateside and came back to Grass Valley.   My dad was quite the inventor so when he was home, we would work on projects together.  We spent most of our time inventing things around the house for my mother.  I suspect she just put up with our inventions since she didn’t really care for things like a vacuum that cleans, sort of like the Roomba that seems to be all the rage today, though for her, it just keep getting under her feet.  I used to laugh when she would get a broom and try to sweep it out of the kitchen, only to have it come back.  Frankly, I think the thing did it just to bug her because it knew how much she disliked it.

My dad traveled back and forth to Washington DC, since he worked in the Pentagon, so my mother and I spent a lot of time alone.  I wanted a sibling, but evidently my father was too busy even for that, so I entertained myself.  I discovered I had a knack for computers and started tinkering with them.  In the early days of computing, well since I’m only in my 30’s, not the really “OLD” days where the computers used a dot matrix printer and were huge, I started writing code.  I was never a hacker, because frankly I wasn’t interested in breaking into sites, but I liked to write programs for me to do things with.   I also love photography and since I lived near the Redwoods, any chance I got to go there I took.

When I hit my 20’s, the General as I liked to call my dad disappeared.  The military told us they had no idea where he went though they kept visiting my mother and me at least once a month until finally after years had gone by, they just checked in once a year to see if we had heard from him.  My mother died broken-hearted and for me, it took a long time to get over my anger that he just up and left.

The General left behind some plans that I found one day while going through his stuff that my mother refused to get rid of and I discovered detailed plans for a noiseless drone that was smaller than anything the military had and could fly up to 30,000 feet as well as being undetectable by anything like radar.  I decided to build it to use for my photography even though he had left instructions on how to weaponize it.

Any cherished memories?

One of my most cherished memories is while living in Japan; before we left the country we went on a sightseeing tour.  The General didn’t normally have to time to do these kinds of things with us, but for one week we went to places like Kyoto and Nagoya where we visited some incredible Shinto temples.  I was into photography then and had a Polaroid that I used to take pictures with; I still have those photographs, the only pictures I have of all of us together.

What kind of work do you do? 

I have my own company which is basically computer tech support.  My mother left me the house where I live in Grass Valley, so I work out of the house.

Continue reading “Andy Thomas (of Suffer the Little Children, by Tina Helmuth)”

Barbara Bernsen (of the St. Rage series, by Karen Eisenbrey)

Dear readers, tonight with us is your not-so-typical high-school junior girl. While invisible since third grade, a magic hat recently brought her back to light. She’s here to talk about her priorities: an all-girl garage band, and fighting bullies with miraculous super-powers.


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

I was born and raised in Seattle, WA, which maybe explains all the flannel in my wardrobe. Practical three seasons of the year; some years, four. You’ve probably heard that it rains a lot? Yeah, so good boots are also a must. I got these retro Doc Martens at the thrift store for only $10! Anyway—we’re lucky to have a lively music scene. All-ages shows are a little harder to come by than over-21, but my dad was great about finding shows and festivals he could take me to once he realized we liked a lot of the same bands. We saw the Sonics!!! After I was in high school, I insisted on going by myself, hoping to meet my people. I had this fantasy that I’d be at a show and I’d overhear some other kids talking about starting a band. I’d say, “I’ve been writing songs,” and they’d be like, “Cool, you wanna be in our band, too?” and I could be a backup singer. But I was still invisible then, so that didn’t work out so well. I’d go, enjoy the music, and never talk to anybody but the door guy.

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

When I was 6, I got a toy electronic keyboard for Christmas. I had just started piano lessons and it was fun to plunk out the tunes I was learning with sound effects and drumbeats! And it had a microphone, too, so I could make little recordings! My parents are both music lovers but not musicians beyond singing in church. And I never really learned to play the piano, but I think they could see music was important to me from an early age. I still use that toy keyboard when I’m writing songs now, if you can believe it. It lives on the shelf above my desk, next to my snowglobes and bobbleheads.

What do you do now?

I’m a student. When all this started, I was still in high school. Now I’m going to community college. One quarter down! I’ll probably get some kind of nothing job next summer. Oh, what do I mean by “all this”? Well, the band was obviously a big part of my life the last years of high school. I write songs for and sing lead in St. Rage. We’re kind of on hiatus while everybody goes to college, but we’re not done. And then there’s the whole superpowers thing. Against all logic, I’m leading a superteam called The Rage Brigade. I did not see that coming.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I was invisible—maybe literally—till age 16, when the most popular guy in school put a magic hat on my head and suddenly, I could be seen! That gave me absurd confidence, enough to start an all-girl garage band. The anger-fueled gestural superpowers were … unexpected. I try to use them for good; careless drivers, bullies, and misogynist jerks better watch out!

Then I started finding other young people with unusual abilities: a kid who punches internet trolls right there in the comments; a girl who can text her past self to undo mistakes; a guy who talks to bugs, and another who hears the soundtrack. We became the Rage Brigade. When we realized a fake pastor was using mind control on an entire megachurch, it was up to us to stop him.

Continue reading “Barbara Bernsen (of the St. Rage series, by Karen Eisenbrey)”

JAK037 (of Requiem For A Genocide, by Michael Drakich)

Dear readers, tonight we’re hosting a warbot, the last of his generation still in operation. While he was hoping to spend the last of his days in peace, he now needs to deal with a new menace – human settlers. He is here to tell us how he hopes to end the war and save his people from what he believes is a looming disaster.


Tell us a little about going online. What was it like to become alive?

It starts off crazy. It’s not like a Dalrean child who is raised from birth and learns over time. My head was filled with stuff put in there by my makers. Trying to sort through everything had me confused for days. And then when I was told to do certain tasks I didn’t want to, these insane robotic laws inside me threatened to shut me down if I disobeyed! Who puts such horrible controls in my head?

Did you have any cherished memories from those early years?

If going to war zone after war zone and fighting for your life is a cherished memory, I’d rather forget them. But I did make some friends who had my back in those fights. JBK775 and JBK892, whom I’ve nicknamed Boss and Chief respectively, became my best mates.

What do you do now?

Fighting, killing, fighting again. All the fun stuff that comes with war. Oh, and pissing off my Dalrean superior, Commander Bedo. A brainless coward.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It’s one thing to fight against the Carthians, Dalrea’s nemesis, but when our leaders decide it’s time to fight against a technically superior race, the humans, you have to wonder if they’re all as stupid as Bedo.

What did you first think when you first encountered them?

We’re doomed. They got these big robots, I mean, really big robots, that can take out a platoon of my fellow bots single-handed. There has got to be a better solution than war.

Continue reading “JAK037 (of Requiem For A Genocide, by Michael Drakich)”

Sam Melvin (of Zombie Detective, by Andy Zach)

Dear readers, tonight we feature an ex-reporter specialising in zombie turkeys. After being fired from the newspaper, he decided to give being a detective a try — but found that people are only interested in hiring him for his experience in dealing with zombie animals


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

This’ll be short, since Midley, Illinois is a very small town (510) and there’s not much to it. I grew up on a farm, but I went to town several times a week with my parents and then every day when I started school. There’s only one street, one high school (300 students), one junior high, and one elementary school. We also have a hamburger stand, a gas station, and a post office.

People are basically the salt of the earth, in the sense they talk about fertilizer and farms and corn and bean prices.

It wasn’t bad at all. I got to drive my dad’s tractor by the time I was ten, and the grain truck by the time I was fourteen. We had a creek and swamp to play in and I could ride my bike to my school friends.

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

I loved playing with my trucks and cars in the sandbox. I played a little pickup baseball and football, but I was never any good. But I was always picked for the teams by my friends, so I had fun anyway.

I remember going to the big town of Peoria for special dinners with my family, like my parents’ anniversary. I got to see the Caterpillar Power Parade and the Heart of Illinois Fair.

What do you do now?

Until yesterday, I was a reporter for the Midley Beacon specializing in tracking and reporting on zombie turkeys. They’ve pretty much died out, that is, they’ve been ground up for sausage or whatever. They don’t really die without a LOT of encouragement.

This morning I was fired by my wife, Lisa Melvin, who’s the editor of the paper. She said the paper isn’t making enough to pay me. I’m worth more drawing unemployment. I’m going to give private investigation a try now. I’m good at asking questions and getting to the bottom of things. Lisa said she’d make it all legal, somehow.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

After chasing zombie turkeys, even investigating murders will seem tame. But my first case is from a dairy farmer whose cows keep escaping. He thinks some zombie animal is involved. Could be. I’ll find out. Can’t be any more dangerous than zombie turkeys, can it?

Continue reading “Sam Melvin (of Zombie Detective, by Andy Zach)”

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