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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Fantasy

Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an agent of the British crown, with a deceptively simple directive: end the magical potions crisis, by any means necessary. He’s here to tell us about how posing as a bodyguard and joining the beguiling potions expert on her continent-hopping expedition led to danger of both life and heart.


Ah, Ainsworth. Welcome. Please sit down.

Sir? It was my understanding that all reports were to be conducted in private. It appears we have an audience.

Indeed. Given the importance of this mission, Parliament has decreed that the information be made available to this carefully selected committee.

I see.

Now, please introduce yourself to these fine people.

Captain Henry Charles MacAlaster Ainsworth, intelligence officer, retired. My current title is that of Civilian Consultant to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. You may also know me as Lord Henry, youngest son of George Ainsworth, Marchese di Murlo. Not that my father’s Italian title puts us anywhere but on the fringes of British aristocracy. His money on the other hand… well, I’m certain you understand.

Tell us a bit more of your background. Your childhood? Your family?

I don’t see how this is especially relevant to my report.

*an awkward pause ensues*

Very well. I grew up traveling often between Italy and England for my father’s business dealings, and Scotland where my mother’s family lives. My father stopped traveling when I was a teenager, and my brothers are happy to remain in Italy growing grapes, but I have never stopped craving travel and adventure. I live in London now, but my occupation takes me all over the world.

Ah, yes. About this occupation of yours. What exactly is a “Civilian Consultant?”

You wish me to be blunt? I’m a spy. What I once did in the army, I now do as a direct agent of the Crown. I sneak into places where I’m not supposed to be to gather intelligence. I’m particularly good at drawing maps from memory and I steal things probably more often than necessary. My sister, Emma, calls it a “disgraceful profession,” but I find it rather suits me. Continue reading “Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)”

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Jael (of Teliko Mageia, by AJ Carbonell)

Dear readers, tonight we bring you an interview from across dimensions. This interview was conducted by a fellow researcher into the nature of magick. He was fortunate enough to run into a fierce warrior, specialist in fire. Read on to find out a world most of us will only see in Japanese manga and role-playing games.


Hello, Jael. I am Melchior from the kingdom of Anithelis. I am currently travelling around the world studying about the history of Magick. I understand that you are resting after a fierce battle, but do you mind answering a few questions for my research?

No worries. I love interviews. I’ll answer everything you have for me.

Can you tell me about growing up in Bristal?

I had a nomad’s life I would say. Well, I only had Frekkis by my side as we traversed through woods, villages, and whatnot. Most of my time growing up was running errands, accepting hunts and requests from clients.

It wasn’t a childhood worth imagining. But hey, it did play a key role in developing my magick further.

Do you have any cherished memories?

Cherished memories? I never had the luxury of time, nor the ability to think of any. The only thing valuable I had with me was this necklace. However, if magick is included in this category then yes, I only had my flames with me. Ha ha ha!

Oh, wait. It isn’t? Meh.

What do you do now?

I’ll let you in a little secret…

Aside from attending interviews such as this one, I am still busy trying to find about my mysterious past. Surprise! You didn’t expect that did you?

Well, it was nowhere near easy, and I was hoping my questions would be answered there. Yes, that’s the queen’s castle. Continue reading “Jael (of Teliko Mageia, by AJ Carbonell)”

Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight we have a mid-week special column, to celebrate the Friday release of the next volume in the Shadows Over Seattle series.

With me is a Gunnery Sergeant from the US Marine Corps — the second character we interview from the series (the first was a lupine – a lycanthrope – which you can meet here).

He is here to tell us about his latest snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory — and the surprising things he ran into during it.


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

I don’t really have many clear memories of the places I grew up in, because we moved around a lot.

My father was deployed all over the states, and sometimes even abroad. That meant relocating everytime he got new orders, and I’ll be honest, I hated it. But he carried so much pride in serving his country that I never questioned why he kept reenlisting at the end of each tour of duty.

The bases all looked alike to me as a kid, with only minor changes, but the stories my father told changed everything. He’d tell me about foreign places and the cultures of their people. Unfortunately there were so many stories he couldn’t tell, because he said there were secrets that should never be told.

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

Because I grew up around soldiers, there were guns around the house, and I begged for one of my own for months. I wanted to be like them so badly, and I’d use sticks in my games when I’d pretend to be one of them.

Sometimes my father would join me in these games, and he finally started to teach me how to handle real guns. He told my mom it was for my safety, and so that I’d learn to respect the danger they represented. Honestly though, I have a feeling he secretly hoped that I’d lose the taste for it after a while.

That never happened.

What do you do now?

I signed up for the Marines Officer Candidate School as soon as I was old enough to do so. It drove my mom crazy for weeks worrying about what would happen to me when I shipped out to Parris Island. She didn’t think I had the strength and willpower to get through boot camp, because I dropped out of college to enlist.

Thankfully, I got through with my brains intact, and a thirst to serve. I finally understood what had driven my father to keep reenlisting.

I’ve been in for just over ten years now, and the tensions in the middle-east have taken us to the edge of another world war. Continue reading “Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)”

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)”

Michel Anglo and Vipa (of God’s Forsaken, by David Brevik)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an angel and a human woman. This isn’t the first time we interview such a duo, but this ‘Angel of Death’ is merely the professional moniker of a ruthless assassin.

Together, and with some unusual friends, they had to destroy a forsaken god. They are here to tell us of their adventures.


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

Michel Anglo: Well, their isn’t much to-

Vipa: Me first, me first! I was raised on Congla island after the Guilty One stranded us on an isolated island. Father died when I was just a baby, but Mom was an incredible huntress. Taught me to waterbend, hunt, and all that fun stuff.

Michel: Which I assure you which is abnormal. Where we’re from most people are work in factories or farms. My aunt and uncle adopted me and we lived in Kalaim.  Almost became a factory work if it wasn’t for my… assassination skills. Good things too. Damn factory is as dangerous as this crazed huntress I’m working with.

Vipa: Says the guy who hunts the world’s most dangerous predator.

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

Michel: I’m talking first this time, Vipa! Our family was poor, so there wasn’t too many toys. Yet my uncle got me a gun and a knife. Good for hunting and my friend used to play games just as knocking over cans who can piss off demons.

Vipa: That’s mean.

Michel: Hey, as my aunt said, ‘Demons have granite skin. You have easier time breaking iron.’

Vipa: Wow, that depersing. I used to have tons of friends and toy to play with.

Michel: I thought you lived on an island alone with my mother.

Vipa: Not just my mother. I have old Nubby the goat. Oh, we used to play tug war all the time. Oh, and then there this one time where mother left me alone in the woods when I was five. I cried so much, but then I made a doll and it kept me company. After surviving in the wilderness for a day, she gave me honey as an award.

Michel: *Stood dumbstruck for a bit.* Please never leave my children along with your mother.

Vipa: Why? She’s a good person.

What do you do now?

Michel Anglo: My real job is assassination, so I go around killing people. Not that complex, though I tend to spend week researching my target before going after them. Knowledge make life easy. As for my day job, I’m a sugar merchant. Spices and sugar are expensive and pay good.

Vipa: Now Michel help me hunt down the Guilty One.

Michel: Against my will! This crazed huntress is dragging me along for her crazed adventure.

Vipa: Which isn’t easy. You try tracking down a living island. Continue reading “Michel Anglo and Vipa (of God’s Forsaken, by David Brevik)”

Alerich Ashimar (of Ties of Blood and Bone, by A.E. Lowan)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a wizard, a man with the soul of a poet and the heart of a demon.

His family is bound to a demon in a geas of murder and mayhem, or risks losing his father. He is here to tell us about his conflicted love life, his estranged relationships, and about deals one might strike with a demon.


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

I grew up at Ashimar House just outside of Guildford in Surrey in the U.K.. Ashimar House is a respectable old pile, with a great library, but it’s drafty, and Ashimars have been continuously replacing the roofs for centuries. At 13, I boarded at Eton College in Hertfordshire, just west of London. I loved everything about Eton—the sporting fields, rowing, and of course beaks who taught me my mind was more important than my money.

What was your favorite pastime as a child?

My favorite thing about Ashimar House was its library. My favorite days were the ones I could spend with a book in front of the fire. My father was an exacting man, and often found fault with a lot of what I did, but never with my love of books. Stories or knowledge, I love them both.

What have you been up to since University?

I have been living a life of parties, women, and fast cars. My mates and I have become quite the fixtures at wizard parties all over Europe. We spend our time in every part of Europe except home. My father has plans for me to take up the family business, and eventually I’ll have to, but I’ve been steering clear of Ashimar House and its secrets for as long as I can. Continue reading “Alerich Ashimar (of Ties of Blood and Bone, by A.E. Lowan)”

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)”

Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)

 Dear readers, tonight with me is a spellster, eschewing the safety of the spellster tower for the freedom to roam the land.

He’s here to tell us about his life in the army, about how his first scouting mission went awry, and the mysterious and flirtatious Tracker.


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

I grew up in Demarn’s spellster tower. It was my whole world for much of my life, actually. It was more of a complex, us spellsters lived in the tower in the centre, surrounded by gardens and a thick wall where the servants lived.

It was peaceful. Really quiet despite the fact there were hundreds of us. Tracker says the spellster population alone was in the thousands, I don’t know if I should believe him but there were a lot of us. We were expected to train our magic, and compete for a chance to join the army if we were strong enough, but we’d a few choices of how we could apply our talents. I kind of miss the monotony. I used to spend whole days in the library, sometimes weeks without stepping outside.

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

No toys, my guardian didn’t really approve of material attachments, not when an errant hiccup of magic could destroy one. We slept in huge dormitories as children anyway and there were always fights over items, they belonged to the tower as it was. I’d a few books I was fond of, but they had to remain in the library. Any game we played needed only yourself, sometimes it involved magic. Especially when it came to bathing where we’d try to make huge waves with very little water, or steal someone else’s right out of their tub.

I’ve plenty of cherished memories, though. Like the times Nestria and I would sneak off into some out of the way place purely to plot the passage of the stars. We were almost caught on a few occasions, there was a curfew we were expected to abide by. Really makes the heart race to think that we could’ve been sent into isolation. When we weren’t doing that, I’d spend long nights trading elaborate stories with Henrie through a crack in the wall.

What do you do now?

It’s oddly reminiscent to what I used to do back home, which was helping the dwarves decipher foreign accounts of their ruins. The only difference really is that where I used to go through my guardian and the overseers, I now work directly with the hedgewitches, which is both terrifying and wonderful. I’m only an apprentice, of course. Not that don’t grant full status to humans, but you’ve got to not have any romantic attachments. Continue reading “Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)”

Tierney J’Arzan (of Dracones Awakening, by Sheri-Lynn Marean)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview from an alternate Earth. The young woman interviewed, an empath, will tell us about life with shape-shifting dragons and fallen angels.


Tierney walks into the room, and I’m stunned speechless. She isn’t really tall, maybe five-foot-five, but she’s slender, and holds herself as if ready to spin into action and put someone flat on their back. Her long wavy black hair reaches her back, but it’s the purple eyes scanning the room, a room that’s been set up just for this interview, that really catch my attention.

“No cameras,” I say, then remember my manners and smile.  “Tierney, it’s good to finally meet you. Will you have a seat?”

“Yes, it’s good to meet you as well,” she says, noting my handheld recorder.

“Would you like some water or coffee?” I ask as she sits down. I notice a bulge under her black leather jacket, telling me she’s carrying. Under the jacket is a black tank top. Then I spot the knife strapped to her jean clad hip and smile. She’d mentioned she would have weapons and that they didn’t trust easily.

“No, I’m good, thank you.”

“Well then, shall we get started?” I ask.

Tierney nods, then grins, and while she is beautiful, there is a presence about her that is just stunning. I tear my eyes from her, and glance at my notes. “So, can you tell me a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?”

“Sure. I was born on Tartaria twenty-one years ago. It’s a beautiful planet filled with color and the most incredible topography I’ve ever seen, though I’ve not been to all the other realms. Oh, and there is an abundance of magic as well. Tartaria has 3 suns and 2 moons. It’s 1 of the 52 realms, and unlike earth, all the different supernatural beings who live there don’t have to hide what they are. Or, actually, that isn’t quite true.”

“What do you mean? I ask, noting the anger on her face.

“What I should have said was that everyone is aware of them. On Tartaria, the population of humans is rather small compared to everyone else, so being a Supe isn’t a big secret like it is on Earth. Unfortunately, everyone still has to be careful because the Ilyium hunt anyone supernatural. Continue reading “Tierney J’Arzan (of Dracones Awakening, by Sheri-Lynn Marean)”

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