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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Adventure

Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a former painter turned master swordsman. He is here to tell us about his adventures, about swords and sorcery, sabertooth tigers and bizarre blades.


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

I grew up in the frozen wastelands of Shimoshimo. It’s absolutely terrible, especially for me. Everyone is brutish, rude, and primal while I’m… just different. Not saying I’m more artsy and sophisticated but… I am, which has been more of a curse.

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

My favorite toy would certainly have been a paint brush. I grew up with a painter for a father and a kind, intelligent mother who had the job of growing the few types of vegetation possible in Shimoshimo.

What do you do now?

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to have become a Champion and a graduate from the Champions of Arbitration. I, and my team of Champions, help to keep the peace between Bizarre Blade wielders around the world as Champions can be either good or evil.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I recently just ran away from a massive T-rex that was bent on eating me for lunch! It wasn’t her size that scared me the most (which it certainly did scare the crap out of me) but that of her amazing intelligence!

Continue reading “Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)”
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Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a slave responsible for a feathered racing dragon. She is here to tell us about how her life changed when she was forced to ride one.


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

I don’t know where I was born or who my parents were. I don’t really think about it. I was born a slave, as far as I know. It’s easier not to think about it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am pure Kadralin. My skin is not as dark as some but, as far as I know, there’s nothing in me that looks like a Taymalin, and I’m grateful for that.

My first master was Kevrey of Tander. He kept a shop in Dakastown, on the south coast of the Isle of Esternes. He traded in knowledge, that didn’t make him popular with the Brothers of Taymar, of course, but he had lot of interesting visitors anyone from lords to ship captains to ordinary people.

I learned a lot there, even though slaves aren’t supposed to be educated. They think that if you’re educated you might rise up against them. And they’re right, of course.

Dakastown is very big, it’s home to the Otulain family and even among the lords they are very rich, because of all the trade from the mainland. Apart from the sea trade, it’s got a big ley-circle too.

I remember the sea and the gulls, but most of time I was cleaning or fetching and carrying.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Being a slave means you don’t own anything, I didn’t have toys … but there were so many interesting things in Kevrey’s shop. I would play with them sometimes, in secret when I could find a moment. There were shells and different stones, the stuffed animals and insects. But it was the zirichak feather that I loved the most, golden and blue, as long as I was tall.

What’s a zirichak?

You don’t know?

I’m not from around here.

It’s what I ride now, a ziri, some people call them dragons. The racing ziri have beautiful feathers, not like the wild ones which are just grey and brown.

Continue reading “Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)”

Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is an old slavic goddess from a world where gods and monsters, the heroes and villains of ancient lore, are real.

She is here to tell us about the rise of the gods and the coming war.


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

Why do you bother me with these silly questions, durak? I am busy and war is coming. No time for nonsense from crazy person. Now you are kidding. You are crying? All right, bezumets, I answer quickly.

My father is Father, all you need to know. My mother was Phoberomys pattersoni. Much like muskrat or beaver, but much bigger. Don’t give me that face, I peel it off your head. That is better. I was born in what is today called Orinoco River Valley, in country now named by the watoto—humans—Venezuela. I have been everywhere in world. Several worlds. I have lived in many places. After last Great War with Asura I lived in lands later called Russia. People knew my Truename, Mokosh, and worshipped me as goddess of weather, water, and protection. Yes I am goddess. Do I not look like goddess?

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

Toys?! I played with sticks and fish when I was young. I ate them. And I threw them at Father. Was fun.

I have enjoyed looking after brat child Fiona Megan Patterson and spending time with her uncle, Edgar. Do not tell them I said that, or I show you lightning from sky to your backside.

What do you do now?

I am answering idiot questions from beshenyy mal’chik! (Mutters again) I am sure u tebia ochen malenki hui

We are on invisible island, Kumari Kandam, to prepare for war. There are many Firstborn here, but not enough. We will probably lose. Mac Gallus plays terrible music. Fiona trains to be Valkyrie. Zeke has made himself stone clubfoot by accident and set his hand on fire. Stupid boy, but sweet. I am happy to have Leshy here now, someone to talk to from old country.

Continue reading “Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)”

Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)

Dear readers, tonight with me are an acrobat turned burglar and a jaded former mercenary. They have been thrown together into an unexpected adventure involving deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods. They are here to tell us about it, and of Fate’s sense of humour.


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

Trilisean: I grew up as a slave. I don’t know who my parents were, whether I was taken in a raid or sold as an infant or born to slaves. I have no idea what a normal childhood should have been. Eventually I learned I was being prepared to be sold as a concubine or to a brothel. So I escaped. I knew how to smile and put men at their ease, which was useful, and I knew dancing and etiquette, which would come in handy. I managed to join some traveling performers, learned to tumble and do sleight of hand and throw knives. When we made it to the big city, one of the leaders of the troupe got…presumptuous, so I ran away again. Knowing a bit about disguises and a lot about knives made it challenging for them to find me again. And made my living on the edges of polite society.

Conn: I grew up on a farm until the Jarvings invaded. I fought my first battle at thirteen. Then I spent a few years as a rebel until they finally beat us. I ran off to join a mercenary company, until I realized that I was just fighting for the glory and gain of the men at the top. Figured if we weren’t going back to liberate my homeland, I may as well fight for my own.

What do you do now?

Trilisean: I’m a thief. Don’t look at me like that. It’s true. I like the word “thief.” It’s honest. I’m a very good thief, and it’s hard to take pride in your profession if you won’t even say the word. Euphemisms make my eyes roll. “Acquisitions expert” sound like someone who works in a bank.

Conn: You’ve done some work in banks.

Trilisean: But never for banks. There are limits to my villainy.

Anyway, I can support myself picking pockets, but the bulk of my work is contract burglary. If somebody wants something stolen, word will come to me, and I’ll plan and execute the job. Quite a few come from a fence I know. People will talk to him about a thing they want, and he’ll pass that on to me, taking a cut for his services that he will lie to both me and the client about.

Conn: I’m along to carry heavy things, act as a lookout, and to deal with any guards she might have underestimated, including bloody demonic temple guardians that bleed fire. Just standard soldiering stuff, really.

Trilisean: That made us a lot of money, and you figured a way to defeat it. I had faith in you.

Conn: Aye, well, the prospect of a hideous death if I didn’t was quite the incentive to get creative.

Trilisean: You see? You get to expand your skills and challenge yourself an get paid for the privilege. I really think you should show a bit more gratitude for these experiences I’m opening for you.

Conn: I know I seldom lie awake in fear that I may die peacefully in my old age.

Trilisean: There you go.

Conn: And in between this one trying to get me killed, I run a fencing studio. Teaching swordsmanship and self defense in a city where that’s like to come in handy.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Trilisean: It’s…embarrassing.

Conn: We did save the city.

Trilisean: Working at the request of the Watch.

Conn: Not the Watch officially. Just one sergeant.

Trilisean: But it’s still the law. And we didn’t get paid.

Conn: True enough. But at least we didn’t get any credit, either.

Trilisean: Well, that was a relief. And I got my lip split. I’m sure we agreed taking punches is your job.

Conn: But you did get to match wits with a criminal mastermind and come out on top. Expanding your skills and – what was it – challenging yourself and all.

Trilisean: That was nice.

Conn: And you managed to only give the good sergeant half of what he wanted and survived.

Trilisean: That was even nicer. What kind of criminal would I be if I let the Watch dictate terms? If I’m going to do that I may as well just get an honest job. That was just a lesson he had to learn. Still can’t buy much with gratitude. Even less with grudging gratitude.

Continue reading “Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)”

Gary Karkofsky (of The Supervillainy Saga, by CT Phipps)

Dear readers, tonight with my is the supervillain Gary Karkofsky, also known as Merciless: The Supervillain without Mercy™.

Hes here to talk about super-powers, about heroes and villains, and about what separates them.


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

Hello, I am Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless the Supervillain without Mercy™. Yes, I know it’s redundant. I am the world’s first anti-villain and supervillain for the common good. I lie, cheat, and I still with my magic cloak but it’s all for the greater good. Well, at least mine. I live in a world full of heroes, villains, gods, and monsters but it’s all up for grabs if you’re willing to take it.

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

I was born in New Angeles as the younger brother of Keith Karkofsky a.k.a Stingray the Underwater Assassin. Unfortunately, antiheroes gunned down my brother and I swore I’d avenge him. Then life happened and I completely forgot about that vow. It’s decades later and I’ve decided to give supervillainy a go again. My wife Mandy is less than pleased with my new career choice, especially since it brings me in contact with two of my exes. My henchwoman Cindy a.k.a Red Riding Hood and Gabrielle Anders a.k.a Ultragoddess the World’s Greatest Sueprheroine.

What do you do now?

To be a supervillain is to have great power and zero responsibility. I rob, cheat, lie, and steal in order to have as much fun as possible. It sure as hell beats my former job as a bank teller. However, I will say that I try not to hurt the regular people of the world. Unfortunately, that’s harder than it sounds since they seem to think my actions warrant sending cyborg mercenaries and killer robots after me. Other supervillains resent my robbing them as well.

Continue reading “Gary Karkofsky (of The Supervillainy Saga, by CT Phipps)”

Brandt Talenz (of Wardens of Issalia, by Jeffrey L. Kohanek)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the second son of a king, is a prankster who lacks a sense of purpose, from a kingdom threatened by an enemy nation. Faced by subterfuge, assassinations, and fire-powered weapons, he and his select friends must infiltrate and eliminate this threat before all is lost.


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

I had a complicated childhood. Growing up as a prince living in a castle is not as easy as it sounds. My older brother, Broland, garnered the most attention. Yes, he was the crown prince, but where did that leave me and my twin sister, Cassie? Sure, we had the best education, but I wasn’t too interested. Reading, math, lore—it all came easy to me. Too easy. That’s where the trouble began.

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

While my parents were always supportive, I was not well-loved by the palace servants. Burtles, the head of staff, was often the subject of the pranks Cassie and I used to plan for entertainment. The man remains scarred from the time I replaced his shampoo with pink hair dye. The rest of the staff enjoyed that particular joke, but there were times when they were forced to repair or clean the damage we had rendered.

Despite my antics, things were fine until my sister and I hatched a plan to drug guests at a dinner party. To see every noble in Kantaria hallucinating and delirious was a moment to remember. A duke stripped down to his smallclothes, my brother and a duchess danced on the table, and a man slid across the floor, thinking he was a worm. It was all in good fun until my father treated the lit fireplace as an enemy soldier…

What do you do now?

Our last prank was the final straw. My parents sent me and my sister to Fallbrandt to join a secret organization called ICON. There, we trained to become wardens. My strength with Chaos magic, the skill I had developed with a sword, and my knack for impersonating others made me a natural fit to become an espion. My sister, whose magic outstrips my own, trained as an arcanist.

With parents who are among the strongest magic-users in Issalia, our leaders believed we both had the potential to become even more powerful. Time will tell.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

After a few months training, I was sent into the heart of enemy territory to join Quinn, a fellow espion. Within the Kalimar Palace itself, the two of us spied on the enemy, seeking any means to reduce their power before war breaks out between the Empire and the kingdoms of Issalia. Quinn and I executed amazing feats, crippling our enemy and sapping their means to produce fire-powered weapons. Still, the threat of war looms and the Empire possesses fire-powered weapons unlike anything we have ever seen.

What did you first think when Quinn asked you to free the imprisoned king?

I had just arrived in Kalimar when Quinn reported that King Pretencia was imprisoned in the citadel dungeon. My father and the other rulers had assumed the man dead after the Empire captured Kalimar. Finding him alive was one thing. Having to free the man without being caught or killed was another. Still, I couldn’t say no. Not to Quinn.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

How we survived our mission in Corvichi remains difficult to comprehend. The odds were incredibly against us and all seemed lost until I tried the new Rune my sister discovered. The magic it unleashed was incredible.

What is the worst thing about teaming up with Quinn?

Quinn is forever bold, brave, and fearless. I adore all those things about her. However, she is too like me. Combined, we take risks that anyone with sense would avoid. I just hope we survive our next adventure. I could not bear to lose her.

What is the best thing about it?

Every day with Quinn is a fantastic day. She inspires me to be a better person while simultaneously fulfilling my lust for danger and need for adventure.

Tell us a little about your friends.

The wardens are a tight team, consisting of a variety of characters with different skills. Take Quinn’s brother, Everson. He might be physically disabled, but he has the brightest mind of our generation. That’s how he discovered Chaos Conduction and used his discovery to create mechanical legs that enable him to walk.

There are others who support our cause in their own way, such as Puri and Thiron, both of whom are skilled rangers. We also have wildcats, like Curan. What’s a wildcat? Those are warriors trained to fight while empowered by Chaos magic.

You would like my fellow wardens…at least most of them.

Any romantic involvement?

From the very first time she beat me in a fist fight, Quinn captured my heart. I’d follow her to the ends of Issalia if asked, which is quite possibly what comes next if we survive this war.

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

I despise Archon Varius, who hates Chaos magic and anyone able to wield it. She and the other Empire leaders wish to execute people like me.

What have I ever done to her?

What does the future hold for you?

With the war soon coming to a head, I hope to survive it. If I do, I will surely remain a warden as long as Quinn is at my side. I suspect our adventures will continue for some time, so long as we don’t end up dead.

Perhaps, one day, we will settle down. For now, I am having too much fun.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I now confess something few know—a secret that puts both me and my sister at great risk should our enemies discover the truth.

We can communicate telepathically.

Yes, ICON sees our ability as a tool. Despite this, we choose to comply. Our communication skill has proven critical to the success of numerous missions and might be the difference between victory and defeat at the hands of Empire forces.


Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota where comic books sparked his young imagination, inspiring fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination. Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses his imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire the dreamer within us all.

You can find Brandt on the pages of the Wardens of Issalia series.

Keep an eye out for mid-week SPFBO interviews! Join us next week to meet a private-eye from Denver, tangling with gangsters and serial killers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a retired SEAL who has stumbled on shocking evidence that rogue programmers and Russian mobsters are reprogramming helper androids to take over humanity. He’s here to tell us about his team’s efforts to combat the rise of hive-minded species.


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

I grew up in a small town in the backwoods of Washington State, and my Dad worked for a lumber mill there. He was quite the outdoorsman, and took me hunting and fishing from just about the time I could walk. My mom taught history, and we had conversations around the dinner table about the world outside our little town. She also taught me to be a leader; that it was my responsibility to take care of others when they needed it.

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

My favorite “toys” if you call them that, were my hunting rifles. I was so comfortable in the woods, even as a kid, I would take off for a week just living in a tent and hunting. My mom kept wanting to send out search parties, but Dad said “The kid knows what he’s doing. Let him be.” Sure enough, I’d come home with a nice buck, and we’d keep some of the meat and give the rest to people who needed it.

What do you do now?

I’m a retired Navy SEAL, so after I decided I had “aged out” I looked for the closest thing to that. So, I went to work for Hardwood Security, mainly protecting high-risk targets—like oil company execs in the Middle East and African politicians who were terrorist targets. I’ve gotten in a couple of firefights, but I never ever expected I’d need my SEAL training to figure out how to kill armored killer androids! Continue reading “Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)”

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)”

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)”

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