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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Contemporary

Chandrian Smythe (of Books & Bone, by Victoria Corva)

Dear readers, tonight we speak with an historian freshly returned from a frankly astounding field study. He is here to tell us a little about his findings and a little bit about himself. Some parts have been redacted for our safety.


We’ve read that you’ve achieved the station of Third Rank Historian at the Grand University at the young age of nineteen! Did you come from a family of scholars?

The youngest ever to achieve that rank, don’t forget! I’m not one to cry my own news, as they say, but I did make history by attaining such a high level of scholarship so young — even though my role is to study history!

[summarised for brevity: he goes on for some time about the difficulty of being so intelligent and underappreciated before we steer him back to the question.]

Ah, yes! I was just about to get to that. Though it may seem hard to believe, I wasn’t raised in a very scholarly home. As the third child of a lowly house seventh removed from the throne — we’re distantly descended from common knights, you see, though my mother likes me to keep that hushed up — I was faced with much hardship. Often excluded from events of import as my older sister or older sibling would get the invitations before I. Always the recipient of hand-me-down clothes, if you’ll believe it, so often the Antherian silk would be fraying at the seams! Always of the least import, and the Regent hardly knows who I am.

But! And I’m jolly proud of this — I turned my misfortune into an advantage. I threw myself into my education, though my tutors were barely adequate and had a reputation for serving merchant families, if you’ll believe it. It quickly became clear that I had a gift for research and the kind of passion for history that money can’t buy. So mother sent the Grand University a modest donation and within a few months I was accepted into the University on full scholarship!

I consider this a testament to the rewards of hard work and scholarly fervour — even the humblest among us can make history! When you think about all I’ve been through —

Moving on — did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Well, I suppose you’ll consider this twee, but when I was six I read about the bodies preserved in peat under the Elakkat marsh and I went out into the grounds with my little silver bucket and trowel to exhume a body myself.

Of course, I didn’t find anything — our grounds span a modest 260 acres and nobody of interest has ever been buried there — but my tutors were so enamoured of my behaviour that they implored my mother to have a sandpit dug for me.

They used to hide little dolls for me in there which I would have to dig up ever so carefully so as not to damage them. I like to think that’s where my passion for the history of burial rites first began.

[Interviewer’s Note: we were written by one Usther the Acolyte and threatened with black magic should we reveal Mr Smythe’s current whereabouts. Parts of the rest of the interview are therefore redacted for our own safety.]

Where have your studies taken you?

Why, very far indeed! It must be said that for years I wasn’t cleared for field work — jealousy is an ugly thing among scholars — but showing the same resolve and self-starting mindset that got me into the Grand University in the first place, I took matters into my own hands!

This took me all the way to [redacted] — and yes, it may be hard to believe that a secret community of [redacted] exists — on the bones of [redacted] no less! Truthfully, I hadn’t intended to leave it for some time, but when word reached me of your journalistic prowess, I simply had to meet you and have you tell my story.

Continue reading “Chandrian Smythe (of Books & Bone, by Victoria Corva)”
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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)”

Reeni Dutta (of Klone’s Stronghold, by Joyce Reynolds-Ward)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a teacher, but not a regular school teacher, She specialises in teaching cryptid children. She’s here to tell us about the supernatural world and the mysterious Stronghold in the remote Oregon mountains.


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

I grew up in Tualatin, Oregon. I didn’t do much outside of my home because my parents kept me very isolated. If I wasn’t studying, in church, or in school…I really didn’t have much to do outside of those things. I was a good girl and did what my parents and Pastor Ananda wanted, mainly because I had seen demons and dragons as well as woods elementals and was frightened of them for a while.

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

My parents were second-generation Indian immigrants who converted to Pentecostalism along with my uncle Jayanesh, as part of a splinter church under the direction of Pastor Ananda. Ananda had a ministry converting halfling humans who were part-supernatural to his brand of Christianity and “exorcising” their supernatural abilities to make themselves appear human. My parents were really strict and I didn’t get to date or do much until I went to college. Otherwise, I studied, went to church, and…well, that was it. In high school I was a teacher assistant in a self-contained special education classroom and that got me hooked on working with special needs children.

What do you do now?

Now I teach cryptid construct children in an isolated Eastern Oregon community. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun too, because these kids want to learn. It’s just finding what works to help them learn. I don’t know everything about what it means for them to be cryptid constructs—only that they’re part Sasquatch—but give enough time and I will.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, since I now know for sure that my ex-husband Karl isn’t just stalking me, but is a blood elemental, I’m really, really invested in making sure that this position pays off. I mean, 40k for six months’ work, and Karl’s supposed to be leaving me alone! I think that’s great. Now if only my uncle and Pastor Ananda don’t find out where I am….

Continue reading “Reeni Dutta (of Klone’s Stronghold, by Joyce Reynolds-Ward)”

Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a PE teacher from a small Midwestern town – or at least, that’s what he pretends to be. His past lies in a different, magical, land.

He is here to tell us about his relationship with Jen, and life between worlds.


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

I was born and raised in the Lamtu Valley region of Kiamada, in a fairly quiet part of the valley.  There are plenty of mountains and rivers to explore.  There weren’t a whole lot of other people living there, but I had my twin sister Kira to annoy…err…talk with.

When I joined the Tayamu, I mostly stayed on Bar Truga, the island home of the Tayamu.  THAT place is amazing!  The island is sentient.  Yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean.  Bar Truga is alive and conscious, and has complete dominion over itself.  It can do whatever it likes, even change the weather patterns anywhere on the island.  It knows what we need or want, often before even we ourselves know.  I look forward to going back there, especially when Elowyn sees it for the first time.  Knowing how curious she is, I suspect she will spend a lot of time exploring the island.

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

I didn’t really have any favorite toys, no.  My powers manifested at a fairly young age, so I spent a lot of time playing with Nature.  Most Tayamu get their powers a few years after puberty starts, but I got mine when I was five or six.  I spent a lot of time teaching myself what to do and how to use them, all without even knowing what I was.  If I wasn’t playing with Nature itself, I was out exploring the surrounding area.

As for cherished memories, I would say the visits from my Uncle Orlaf and Aunt Cara.  Cara was my mother’s sister, and the inspiration for my twin sister’s name.  Whenever they’d come visit, they would arrive early enough for Uncle Orlaf to bake muffins.  He used an old family recipe of his, and those things were absolutely delicious!  The smell always woke us up, and we knew it meant our aunt and uncle were there to visit.

What are you going to be doing in the immediate future?

At the moment, I’m focused on helping Jen recover her lost memories.  We need her to remember who she is.  I’m also going to rejoin the Tayamu and try to help free our land from that despotic tyrant.  After a very long time, the Uncrowned Queen of Kiamada has returned home.  The Tayamu have to spread the word, and make sure she is ready and willing to claim her rightful place.  I also have to train Elowyn in the use of her powers.  She’s already stronger than she should be, doing things she shouldn’t be able to yet. Continue reading “Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)”

Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the high priestess of a sisterhood dating back fifteen centuries, to the times of Arthur and Merlin.

She is here to tell us about their heirs, and about the post-apocalyptic Britain they must rescue.


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

I grew up in Talinn, Estonia, the youngest of seven daughters. Coincidentally, my mother was the youngest daughter of seven, as well. In some traditions, this is supposed to be the mark of a high adept/holy person. The Sisterhood (The Daughters of Arianrhod, a group that worships and serves the Goddess) doesn’t rely on such things, but I think it was a factor in their choosing me to be High Priestess.

I did not have a pleasant childhood. My father died when I was 6—a plane crash in the Sahara. He was there as part of the World Bank’s outreach to tribesmen. My mother died in a mysterious elevator accident in Talinn when I was 12. I was sent off to study at the Sisterhood’s Goddesshouse in Viborg, Denmark, where my grandmother was High Priestess.

I found it stressful to be in classes there. Everyone expected me to be perfect, and to emulate my grandmother—who I look a lot like. I am a very different person—more impetuous, restless, rash. Or at least I was back then.

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

My family travelled a lot because of the Sisterhood and my mother’s work for the government of Estonia—especially after my father died.  We were in Viborg, Denmark a lot because of my grandmother. A large number of my family lives in that area, and/or works with the Sisterhood.

I am always amazed when I met other people who had perhaps one or two siblings and don’t talk to anyone else (or don’t know their family history). Everything in my life has always been about family, knowing one’s heritage back 60-or-more generations, and the Sisterhood. I know fourth and fifth cousins and all their relatives. I’m never alone when I’m in a new city—there’s always family there.

So I guess my most cherished memory is being with family, anywhere I go.

What do you do now?

I am the High Priestess of the Daughters of Arianrhod, called the Sisterhood. Almost 1500 years ago, the Sisterhood was tasked with observing the heirs to King Arthur and Merlin in case problems developed, and to assist them in The Time to Come when those heirs will be called upon to Heal Britain in its greatest time of need.

Mostly, my job is to oversee the operations of the Sisterhood—whose main goal is to sow the seeds to return worship of the Goddess back into the world. It’s slow going. It’s a world-wide organization, with thousands of priestesses and initiates, hundreds of temples and residences, and all the logistical and bureaucratic challenges of any large international corporation. So I spend a great deal of my time holed up in my glass-walled office of the Danish-Modern masterpiece that is the Motherhouse, working very long hours… when I am not running to the bathroom and hiding because of yet another panic attack.

I do my best. Sometimes, it’s not good enough. Continue reading “Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)”

Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman, with a unique heritage.

With two dads and a year she was locked up in a basement and forced to practice her music, she has a very intriguing tale to tell.


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

Hey, I’m Cora, I’m nineteen and excellent. I’m from a little, angry, wet island called Wilson’s Well. It never stops raining and everything is grey. It’s a population of workmen, cafes and pubs. We’re all just getting by.

Living there is miserable for people who aren’t – well – umbrella salesfolk, I guess.

That seems harsh; the Well isn’t so bad. It’s just not great.

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

Favourite toys? I don’t think so. I was a loud kid with some hyperactivity issues. I never settled down with toys. I was doomed to be a musician. Way before I can remember, I pulled a whole load of pots and pans out of a cupboard and hit them as hard as I could until my dad came to shut me up. He’s since told me how brutally hungover he was that day and that he ‘felt like chucking me out the window.’ I heard that story so much growing up it must’ve subconsciously forced me into drums. Parents fuck you up.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Oh man. Right. You ready? I got black-out drunk one night – which was my brand at the time – and woke up in a basement with four other incredible musicians. With me? Cool. So, there was this ridiculous, eight-foot-tall cyborg who kept us there under orders from a lunatic in tartan trousers who needed the best musicians in Wilson’s Well to perform at his “Gala” where he planned to blow everything up. This guy is an A-grade prick, just FYI. His name is Judge Rabbit. Elsewhere, Judge Rabbit, who is responsible for electing the honest-to-God GRIM REAPER for our island, fucks up and brings my real dad – who I didn’t know about – back from the dead to do the job. He gets help from my step-dad, who I thought was my real dad, and they go on an adventure to rescue me. But they’re both incredibly useless men and the crap they go through to get anywhere near me is straight-up bananas.

So, yeah. That’s my most recent adventure. Continue reading “Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)”

Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a lupine – a werewolf, one of many breed of shape-shifters – from Seattle. He’s here to set some things straight, what is true and what is merely myth in our understanding of lycanthropy.


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

Seattle’s an amazing city, but then most people would say that I’m biased in my opinion. Because I lost both of my parents before I as even in my teens I grew up on the streets, crashing with friends, or occasionally fellow lupines. Sure, the streets can be a tough place to grow up, so I ran with one of the gangs, and lived off petty crime and handouts.

Now, you may think I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the streets or went hungry a lot, but thanks to my lupine heritage that didn’t happen often. I could head out to the hunting grounds on Cougar Mountain, and hunt down a rabbit or two and spend the night in wolf form.

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

My father left after I started showing signs of having inherited my mother’s lupine abilities. Somehow, she’d kept this side of her life from him even after they married, and she ended up having to raise me on her own. It was a tough time, because she sank into the bottle, blaming herself for my father leaving and she was in and out of jobs for a long time.

I had to learn to hide my shifting abilities, as well as hunt in wolf form just so the two of us could eat. But I’ll never forget those lessons, or the day I lost my mother while we were hunting.

What do you do now?

I miss those simpler days. Running with the gangs didn’t leave me much time for school, and I barely graduated. For someone like me it was hard getting a job or keeping it. I’ve never dealt well with authority, and I’ve had more than my share of run-ins with the police. Somehow, I can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and I know that’s partly how I ended up in my current predicament.

In the space of one night I went from having a great woman in my life, to a drunken brawl which somehow resulted in me being blackmailed into something I should never have agreed to. I couldn’t face being trapped in a cell for what happened, so I made a devil’s bargain and agreed to join a taskforce that investigates and hunts the criminal elements in the supernatural community. Continue reading “Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)”

Denman Malkuth (of Dance of the Butterfly, by Scott Carruba)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man from an old European family. He swears that he is protecting humanity from a great threat, but is refusing to divulge details – for our protection, it seems.

So secretive, in fact, that we believe we have an antagonist on our hands.

He is here to tell us of his competitive and clandestine family.


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

I grew up in a small town in Germany, one you’ve likely never heard of. It was very nice, privileged. It is a town that is fairly ensconced by my family.  It’s not exactly an incubation, but we do need more than the usual amount of privacy.  Of course, as you may imagine, we wanted for nothing. Do not mistake this with being spoiled.  We are far from that. Education and training become vitally important at a very young age, very young.

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

I did, but I was thankfully disavailed of such.  Those can be a weakness.  My family is somewhat competitive, and if you want to have a decent place in it, then you must be strong. It’s all for the greater good. I have an enormous amount of cherished memories, and I will keep those so by not sharing them.

What do you do now?

Oh, I do many things.  My most ‘formal’ work, as it were, is as a psychiatrist, consultant, and professor.  As you may note from this, I am interested in protecting and furthering humankind.  We really are a fragile, threatened species, and it will take strength to protect us. Continue reading “Denman Malkuth (of Dance of the Butterfly, by Scott Carruba)”

Maisie Jaser (of the Glass Vault duology, by Candace Robinson)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a girl gone missing inside of a mysterious museum. The old building appeared overnight in their small town, and people started to disappear. What could be inside? Possibly something glass, since it’s known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault.

Why don’t you slip on an eye-patch as this girl does, and enjoy what lies ahead while she tells us about her adventures into the unknown.


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

Well, I grew up in Deer Park, TX. Me and my cousin Perrie don’t understand how a town could be called Deer Park if there are zero deer here. Maybe I should go into the wooded area and search? I mean, there has to be a reason it’s called this, right? I did make a deer craft out of old mulch one time, maybe I could sit one of those out, and it will call to the deer? We could pretend it’s Bambi, and a mama deer might think it’s one of her babies. I’d snap a pictures, and say aha, so Deer Park does have deer!

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

Hansel and Gretel! That was mine and Perrie’s pretty much main daily activity when we were smaller. I was all about the witch, because come on, it’s a witch! So, we would play this make-believe game and role play it. I always did have fun ideas. Not did—DO!

What do you do now?

I’m all about eye patches. My life goal right now is to liven up the eye of those who have to mourn their eye loss. There’s no need to hide that beautiful hollow space—embrace it. So, I make eye patches to show the support—I wear one pretty much all the time myself. I’ve got a whole chest of them at home, right now I have one that resembles a sheep. You know why? Because it’s Leap year, and when I try to fall asleep, I count sheep as they hop over my pretend cloud. Do sheep even hop? I’m going to say, heck yes they do! Also, I do sleep in my eye-patch! Continue reading “Maisie Jaser (of the Glass Vault duology, by Candace Robinson)”

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