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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Jaimie Stadler (of All the Beautiful Liars, by Sylvia Petter)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man living in a unique kind of prison. Acting against the protagonist, he is here to tell us about his observations of life from his unique perspective.


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

I am Jaimie. I was born in the war years and went to school in Vienna. We lived in a posh district and when the war was over and Vienna cut up into four like the rest of Austria, my family was luckily in the British zone, so they tell me, but I was too young  back then to appreciate that so-called luck.

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

I was an only child and was very curious. I tried to make the family cat step  on a hot plate in the kitchen to see if its pads felt heat. They did. I copped it. Do you say cop if no cops were around? I used to catch flies and pull their wings off. I was not cruel, just curious. What is a fly anyway in the grand scheme of things? I used to  scribble and draw a lot. I studied law, but dropped out. It was not  for me, and so  I took off for Thailand for a few years, to learn English, among other things. That is where I started work for an English-speaking rag there. My English improved, but I could not get rid of my accent. Well, neither could Arnold Schwarzenegger, and look where he went.

What do you do now?

Now I service the Panopticon, a Limbo of sorts, or a last chance for some rare ones just passing through. I am the keeper of lost endings and most people get stuck with me in my archives forever. Many are old and boring. In a way, running this place is my punishment for having snooped into people’s lives as a tabloid hack, or so I am told. But sometimes it can get interesting.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, this one plays a different ballgame, is that not what you say? I, however, must say that my visitor is a bit different to the others who come here that I must admit I am quite happy to quickly “archive”. This one has a mind of her own. She even saw through my hologram, dammit. She answers back. And she drinks my brandy. OK, I do offer her a glass here and there. It cannot always be tea.

Continue reading “Jaimie Stadler (of All the Beautiful Liars, by Sylvia Petter)”

Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the Lord Sorcier of Regency England. Most people find him handsome, strange, and utterly uncouth—but gossip says that he regularly performs three impossible things before breakfast. We’re here to find out the truth.


“Lord Sorcier” is a French title, isn’t it? How does one go about becoming the Lord Sorcier of England?

It wasn’t my choice, thank you very much. The Prince Regent suggested it, for some mad reason. He thought it was fitting, given that I supposedly defeated Napoleon’s Lord Sorcier in an epic magical duel.

…Supposedly?

You should really exercise more scepticism in your daily life. The ton also believes that I do three impossible things before breakfast every morning.

Three impossible things! Who has time for that sort of nonsense? I limit myself to two impossible things per day, at best.

You spent at least some of your life in the workhouses. What were they like?

I see you have indeed been listening to idle gossip. I would be happy to answer your inquiry in lengthy detail—in fact, I have described the hideous conditions of the workhouses to the House of Lords on more than one occasion. I am sure you could find a record of it. Would you like to hear about the lice, the influenza, or the boy who had his hand cut off from gangrene? I could go into the rampant abuse, the lack of food, or the constant, awful smell—

Er, how fascinating! We really must move on, I’m afraid, since we haven’t that much time.

I somehow suspected as much.

And what are the duties of the Lord Sorcier of England?

Primarily, I am told, I am supposed to defend King and country against black magic of all sorts. In practice, there is little black magic to be found, and I must say, I grow tired of noble ladies insisting that their larder has been looted by faeries.

Continue reading “Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)”

Thal Lesky (of Werewolves in the Renaissance, by Tracy Falbe)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a werewolf, stalking the streets of 16th century Prague. He is here to tell us about witches and sorcerers, and about a world that denies its pagan roots.


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

My youth, or my first life as I like to think of it, is not easily recalled. I have flashes of memory since I emerged from the forest. The potions and spells that gave me the wolf life in the forest wiped away my clear recollection of childhood. Or perhaps the ageless decades that I spent in wolf form gradually consumed memories of my early years.

Now that you know better my troubles, I can say that I came to live with my mother on the outskirts of Prague as a young lad. My mother was a midwife and much disparaged by some quarters of society although relied upon by a trusting clientele. Our life on the fringe of society made me an outcast.

I think that motivated me to seek out my father for he could work the magic that would take me away from the human world. He gave me potion and chanted over me in a secret forest grove.

I became a wolf and lived wild in the forest. Always was I an alpha. I knew mates and sired pups. When the wolves of Central Europe howl, I hear my kin.

All of those years are precious to me. Part of me will always be the beast of the woods.

Do you have any important possessions?

I must admit that my wolf hide is precious to me. When my mother cast the spell of werewolf making, it drew me out of the wolf body and left me as a man. But the magic wolf fur remained at my side. When I recite the spell written on the skin, I become the werewolf.

Aside from my fur that I carry with me always, I do love my two pistols. The first one I won in a game of cards from a Bohemian Captain. His rage at that loss caused much misery for the Gypsies whose company I was keeping at the time, which I regret. My second pistol I obtained from a gunsmith in Prague.

Why did your mother cast a spell that made you a werewolf?

The werewolf spell was her last desperate act before witch hunters caught her. They burned her at the stake, but her magic summoned me to avenge her. Her magic compelled me to do some terrible things, but she had her justice in the end.

The folk now call me the Butcher of Prague for what I did.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’ve reunited with my father, Sarputeen. He gave me shelter after I fled Prague. We’ve decided to make war, such as we can, against an old rival of his. He is a perilous sorcerer named Tekax, who empowered the Ottoman armies.

When Tekax learned that I had returned to the world of men as a werewolf, he wanted to strike a blow against my father. And so Tekax sent assassins to kill me. He worked dark magic to make a creature called a fext. This fext began as a man, a skilled warrior, but now…he cannot be killed.

His body expels bullets and heals. If he is cut, his skin closes and makes the flesh whole again. We hope to defeat him by cutting him into pieces and burning them.

Continue reading “Thal Lesky (of Werewolves in the Renaissance, by Tracy Falbe)”

Lucia Rhodanus Fortem (of The Last Gladiator: prequel to the Steam Empire series, by Daniel Ottalini)

Dear readers, we all love to see blood spilled for our entertainment, cheer for the brave gladiators as they fight in the arena. Tonight we have a unique chance to hear from a woman who dedicated her life to this amazing sport, so beloved by our empire’s citizens.


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

Neapolis: A shining city on the coast. Number two city in the empire, or so I like to think. You may have heard of Mt. Vesuvius? That’s our most famous landmark to the northeast of the city. Or perhaps, Pompeii? Yes, we remember it. I’ve even been into the ruins!

 When I was a kid I’d run around with the workers’ children. How I loved racing up and down the hills of Neapolis. The black sand between my toes as we lounged on the beach. Those are some of my happiest memories, even when my father banned me from playing with the ‘chaff’.

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

My wooden swords, without a doubt. Perhaps my carved toy soldiers as well. I loved watching puppet shows as a child, and I would help put them on for my friends using my toys. It was fun to be the center of attention that way. Probably seems a bit selfish of me, but when you’re born into a family with clear expectations of what you should be doing with your future, you feel the need to do anything else. 

What do you do now?

Well at this moment I’m in training to be a gladiator, here at the Ludus Magnus. It’s the greatest gladiator school in Rome and the empire. I’ve wanted to join the fighters in the arena since I was ten, and spent as much time as possible reading about them, watching events in the coliseum, and training with one of my father’s servants. When I turned sixteen, I was told about an arranged marriage to one of my father’s….friends. “All about the business” he said. 

I said “goodbye” a week later. Here I am, in Rome, following my dream. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Being a gladiator isn’t exactly the same as it used to be. Incomes are down, attendance is down, and we’re about to be replaced by mechagladiators. The Emperor wants a big fancy spectacle. I mean, honestly, so do I. So do the owners. Everyone wants a spectacle. That’s why you attend the games at the Coliseum in the first place! Humans versus giant mechanical gladiators, with the Emperor, his family, and his brother watching… How can you not want to see this?

Continue reading “Lucia Rhodanus Fortem (of The Last Gladiator: prequel to the Steam Empire series, by Daniel Ottalini)”

Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman who speaks to the dead and dates gods out of slavic myths. She’s here to tell us about her unique gifts, about saving the world, and about tea.


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. It’s pretty hard for zines on this side of the Veil to get interviews. You weren’t born in Ljubljana. Where are you from originally and do you go home often?

It was the accent that gave it away wasn’t it? I’ve never been able to banish that little bit of Southern twang. I grew up in Chattanooga in Tennessee in the American South. Chattanooga isn’t a bad place to be from but it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to stay. I took the first opportunity to leave that was presented and eventually I wound up in Slovenia, in Ljubljana. I can’t really imagine being anywhere else now. Chattanooga isn’t really home anymore, so I don’t visit very often if I can help it. Some ghosts are best left to rest.

Any cherished memories from home?

(Laughs softly) Does leaving count? Aside from that, there’s a lot to be said for growing up next to a river. I’ve always felt a connection to water wherever I go. I think that’s what made me stay in Ljubljana, but I didn’t know until much later that you could step into the same river twice. And that they would both share the same snarky river god.

What do you do now?

Well, when I’m not slinging tea and making fancy sandwiches at the punk rock teahouse I own with my two closest friends, I talk to and for the local dead folk. Well, that and try to keep a couple steps ahead of my ex and his grand plans. Never underestimate the trickery of your average ancient dark deity and, trust me, don’t ever date one and definitely don’t have a kid with them.

You said you talk to and for dead people? You did say dead people right?

 It isn’t a very common “gift,” being a Voice of the Dead. The people who like to keep track of those of us who live behind the Veil thought my mother and my aunt were the last ones as all the other lines of Voices had died out. Then—surprise—it didn’t skip me after all. There’s nothing quite like finding out you’re a freaking “dead whisperer” way past your brooding Chosen One sell-by date. It isn’t like a parlor trick or anything though, it’s a job. Or more accurately, a duty.

Continue reading “Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)”

Magus Draeson (of Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a mage, one of those defending the realm. He’s here to tell us about his life, and about his recent role in solving magical murders.


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

I grew up in Kalanon but not like it is now.  We’re talking four hundred years ago so a lot has changed.  The gold mines at Sandilar hadn’t been found yet.  Obviously Valda was still the capital city and not much of one at that.  People today don’t get how much effort was put into building this country.  They know about the war but ask them about the years before that and they know nothing. 

I know I have a bit of a reputation as a grumpy old man but, well, appearances aside I AM old.  And not always entirely patient when it comes to fools.  There’s a tiredness that comes with that, no matter how much power you have.

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

Toys weren’t really a part of my childhood.  You have to understand what’s necessary for someone to become a mage.  It’s not like wanting to be a baker or a soldier when you grow up.  The dedication required is…relentless. Magic has a price and that price is sacrifice.  I prefer not to dwell on it.  Nobody truly understands anyway.

What do you do now?

I’m the magus of Kalanon.  I’ve done more to defend this country than anyone – both during the war and before it.  These days I’ve been tasked to help Sir Brannon Kesh solve a series of unusual and magical crimes.  I suppose I’m a consultant and a guide for him.  A soldier grunt can’t be expected to know about the true mysteries of the world so he needs my guidance.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The Djin shamans are a dangerous lot who work with elementals and death magic.  So when a member of the royal family is murdered in what looks like a Djin ritual…well, it’s either them or the Nilarians, in my view and both of those options are bad!

Continue reading “Magus Draeson (of Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith)”

Griever Blackhand (of The Girl Drank Poison, by Keith Blenman)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the deadliest bounty hunter in the world — also easily overlooked, as she’s only two feet tall. She’s here to tell us about legendary pirates, spoilt potions, and a sleepy little town.


Welcome Miss Griever Blackhand. How are you?

Hello! Thank you for having us. This chair is quite plush. We’re a little bit hungry. We’d very much like to flop around in a pile of leaves, should you happen to have one. Or perhaps some dirty laundry.

Um… Right. Now, you are a ferrelf. A lot of our readers might not be familiar with your species. If you don’t mind me giving them a physical description, you look like a ferret or weasel. Maybe eighteen inches tall with black and white fur. You’re wearing only a purple cape, which is crooked, draped over your arm. Can you give us any other insights into yourself or your people? Perhaps some history or culture.

…That was a lot of questions.

Oh. My apologies. I’ll slow down. Can you tell us a little about ferrelves?

Yes! As a ferrelf, we are more than able to speak on all matters regarding ferrelves.

…Griever?

Yes!

Would you tell us about ferrelves?

We’re a nomadic people, living in tribes throughout the Northern continent. Like elves, we are immortal. But we don’t always get along with them. You know how elves do things like spend five hundred years shaping a tree into a house, then stare at a roaring fire and recall the ancient times of war when their dwarf friend was slain by an ogre, so they planted a seed on the spot and spent five hundred years using that dwarf as fertilizer to make their house. But then they spent so much time reminiscing about their dwarf friend that they forgot trees are made of wood and their entire house burns down? Well, us ferrelves don’t dedicate so much time to such things. All that sitting would make our minds wander, and we’d start thinking about bright things, and how we like bright things. Then we think about how some of the kindling in the fire isn’t burned and we could probably take it out of the fire pit. But then it’s really hot so we throw it away and it hits the wall.

I’m sorry. Are you telling us you burned down some elf’s wood cabin?

…So the main difference between elves and ferrelves is how we regard time. Elf minds are in ages. Ferrelf minds stay in moments. We’re also a lot more carnivorous. We’ve eaten six birds today. Five of them were still in eggs, but we ate them.

Continue reading “Griever Blackhand (of The Girl Drank Poison, by Keith Blenman)”

Harthacnute (of The Cold Hearth; Book 3 of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)

Dear readers, tonight we interview the half-brother of the protagonist Harald, from a series we visited before. Our guest is the heir to the throne, concerned about the future of his land and the choices of his brothers.


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

I was born in Engla-lond in the early years of my father’s reign, back when Cnute was consolidating his power, playing the sarding earls off each other, and swiving his new wife, Emma, my mother, the widow of Æthelred, the old Saxon king. My father was young then, more Viking chieftain than king. Cruel dastard then, same as now, but shrewd. I’d say my mother is an even match for him—clever, and just as ambitious. Emma got Cnute to promise that their offspring would inherit the throne, not his sons Sweyn and Harald—those stinking curs. So, they had my sister, Cunigard and me. They’re grooming her to marry the next Holy Roman Emperor and I am heir to the throne—a role I am more than willing, and well qualified to play.

So, my childhood was in Engla-lond until Father decides when I am eight years old, to send me to Danmark as future bloody king, under a council led by that nithing, Jarl Ulf. I was just a game piece on Cnutes’ game board, meant to rally the Danes so they’d defend against attacks from Nordvegr and Sverige. Didn’t quite work out that way. Jarl Ulf tried to get the Danish provinces to accept me as king outright, not under Cnute. Stupid Ulf. I think he was half elf-shot. Did nothing to push back the invaders from Scandinavia. My father had to sail from Engla-lond with a fleet. First thing Cnute did after establishing his hold on Nordvegr was kill Jarl Ulf and make it clear to me I was King of Danmark, within his northern empire.

I returned to Engla-lond whenever I was summoned and always chose to stay as long as I could. There are worse things than being young, a blessed gift to women, and heir to the throne. And there is always plenty to drink at my father’s court.

How are your relationships with your half-brothers?

Fine. I hardly see them. Sweyn’s a cruel arseling, but I know what he wants—a throne. I relate well to Sweyn. I understand him. As long as we both don’t claim the same throne, we’ll get along fine.

And Harald?

Harald has more chance of being named a saint than wear a crown. Has no stomach for ruling. And he’s an arrogant turd. He and that slut-wife of his, Selia. Harald says he has no use for the throne. Lying backstabber. We’ve had our run-ins. Beat each other half to death this one time. I was only accepting his wife’s offer to fill her where she’s empty. You know how you can tell some women are ready for you—the way they look at you? Guess it was an act, because she fought like a wild beast. Harald pulled me off her and we fought barehanded. I could have taken him, too, if our father hadn’t stopped us. There will come another time, when I’m ready.

Continue reading “Harthacnute (of The Cold Hearth; Book 3 of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)”

Loquacious McCarbre (of The Legends of Grimous Ironblood, by K. R. Boyter)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a storyteller extraordinaire, a man in love with words and his voice. He is here to tell us about the healing arch-mage and the many other wondrous sights he encountered on his travels.


Tell us a little about where you grew up.

It’s hard to imagine such an extraordinary storyteller like myself, the wondrous Loquacious McCarbre, was born into such humble beginnings but it’s true. In the Middle Realm of Edra, nestled in-between two woods: Fire Spark Wood and Water Spark Wood, is the sleepy village of Nymphs Crossing. I grew up in the family tavern, The Gift of the Gab. The ramshackle pile of wooden beams, white plaster walls, and grey slate for the roof fought with the laws of gravity. The lead-latticed windows were slanted and the whole building looked like it drank the beer and cider along with the locals that frequented it. But this was home, true home.

Did you have any cherished memories?

In The Gift of the Gab where it all began, is where I told my first story. My father was a storyteller and my father’s father too. I was five years old and I would make all the sounds of the animals and of nature while my father would weave glorious tales around the expectant audience. My dad encouraged me to tell fragments of stories until, aged seven, I told my first full tale: The Gnome Who Lost Her Home. Wave and wave of love hit me as the locals cheered and bought me cider to celebrate. Best of all, my father raised me into his chest with a hug and whispered, “I’m proud of you.”

What do you do now?

I travel the realm weaving the finest, grandest, most thrilling tales in all of Edra; from the mysterious Dark Woods to the immoral Smokeshields Citadel, the suppressive Crooked Smile Island to the perilous Banshees’ Forest. I collect and re-tell tales of woe and tales of wonder, tales of sun and tales of thunder, tales of pity and tales of spite, tales of creatures fierce with fight. I also have to put up with my useless apprentice Stumps! 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I happened to hear of one legend that tells of a man who desired to heal with real zeal. Grimous Ironblood, Arch-Mage of renown; he travelled to hamlet, city and town. Offering the cure to all one’s ails; the sick, poor, needy and frail. His heart desired to cure where he could, using his talent and magic for good. But some were suspect of this healer’s skill: “A trick”, “Deception!”, their voices shrill. “What was his secret?” They were dumbfounded; the magic he used always astounded. I decided to follow and see his good deeds, from place to place, answering their pleas. Seasons passed on the long treacherous road, collecting his stories to be told. What I procured will entertain and delight, intrigue, entice, and even fright!

Continue reading “Loquacious McCarbre (of The Legends of Grimous Ironblood, by K. R. Boyter)”

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