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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Fantasy

Talon (of the Catalyst Moon series, by Lauren L. Garcia)

Dear readers, tonight we eavesdrop on an antagonist interview, held in a tavern in a world where magic is real and mages battle priests.


[A tall, solidly-built woman strides into the tavern and approaches your table. Chips of a dark gray stone, hematite, embedded in her leather armor, glint in the lamplight, and her gaze sweeps across the seated man from head to toe. Her brown eyes narrow, but only a fraction, and she lifts her chin, her annoyed expression smoothing into one of forced politeness. She shifts her sword and daggers, and sits across from him.]

Please forgive my lateness. There were pressing matters to attend at the mage bastion, as I’m sure you can understand. But of course, if the Circle clergy want you to interview me in order to gain a greater understanding of my role in the One god’s world, I shall oblige. Shall we begin?

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

Surely you know of the capital city, Lasath? Well, I saw little of it, save on training runs. I was born in the bastion there, but since I have no magic, I was taken to live with the sentinels. I became one of them from an early age.

You were born in a bastion? Were your parents mages?

My parents are gone.

[An uncomfortable silence stretches before the interview continues]

Did you have any cherished memories of your childhood?

[Talon shifts in her seat, her gaze going distant before she catches herself.] Sentinel initiates are not given many chances to be “children,” but we were cared for when no one else would have done so. Food and shelter were enough. They had to be.

What’s it like to live so close to mages?

Mages are human, after all, albeit with…extraordinary abilities. Living near them is unremarkable, most of the time.

Most of the time?

Talon: How do you feel about folks who can turn into crows? Or shoot fire from their fingertips? Or spin sand into glass?

[Another long, uncomfortable silence]

What can you tell me about the other sentinels who serve under you?

[The stiff set of her shoulders eases, as does the stern tone of her voice] They’re a good lot. My second, Captain Cobalt, is a gifted warrior, loyal beyond measure. He’s been offered his own command several times, but has turned it down. I don’t imagine he’ll do so forever, but for now, I’m grateful the gods have kept him near.

Continue reading “Talon (of the Catalyst Moon series, by Lauren L. Garcia)”
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Kade Traskel (of The Brightest Light, by Scott J. Robinson)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a man back from a decade of exile. He’s here to tell us about a world of death, corruption, shady deals and dirty deeds — just like old times — and of the Skyway Men that set him up.


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

I was born on the skyland of Hassan but I can’t remember much about that because, when I was five years old, my parents sold me to the Skyway Men and I moved to Girindult. I guess they needed to money but I don’t know for sure.

Girindult is a tiny skyland that’s been part of the Last Chance Archipelago for fifty years or more, moving between Rookery Reef, High Plain and Wind Haven. It’s known for metalworking. Up top is foundries and smithies and silversmiths and what-not. It’s hot. It stinks. It’s noisy. There’s smoke and acid and a constant clatter. Endless, deafening clatter. It keeps away the tourists, I suppose, which means the real purpose of the skyland is easier to hide. Down below, in the tunnels, it the main training center for the skyway men. With all the noise above the tourists couldn’t hear the gunshots and the screams even if they were paid to.

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

Favourite toy? The skyway men teach recruits to make their own weapons for some reason; I was quite fond of the first throwing knife I made. I lost that when an older boy fell off the side of the skyland with it still stuck in his throat.

What do you do now?

I screwed up a mission. I mean, it wasn’t my fault. I was young and had too many people telling me what to do and I couldn’t please everyone. But I took the blame and they shipped me off to rot on Whiparill, an insignificant farming skyland where, funnily enough, I ended up doing metalwork. I guess the training paid off after all. I waited ten years before they finally came looking for me for another mission.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I really wasn’t expecting to be given another job. I thought if the Skyway Men ever came looking for me it would be to make sure they wouldn’t have to worry about me ever again. But when I got the chance to get back in I was not going to screw it up. It seemed to be a pretty simple job. Break into a laboratory, steal an experimental crystal-machine and post it to the local Operations Manager. Of course, if it had been simple I wouldn’t be here.

Continue reading “Kade Traskel (of The Brightest Light, by Scott J. Robinson)”

Auren Trask (of Shadow Stalker, by Renee Scattergood)

Dear readers, tonight with me is woman that discovered a secret from her past – that she is destined to become a horrible monster.


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

I grew up in a suburb on the island of Appolia, called Woolanby. Appolia is the northernmost island in the island chain, the Serpent Isles. It was a pretty quiet neighborhood. It’s cold most of the year there because it’s so far north. Even summer tends to be on the cool side. It rarely gets warm enough to swim, but when it did, we had a great beach we’d go to.

Did you have a best friend growing up?

I didn’t have many friends growing up because I looked different from the natives, but I had two great friends who made up for it, Jade and Deakan. We did everything together, when Kado, my foster father, actually let me leave the house. He was a bit overprotective.

Do you still live on Appolia?

No, I’ve been on the Dark Isle, the hidden home of the shadow stalkers, ever since the Galvadi invaded the Serpent Isles. Kado has been training me now that I know my true identity. My last name isn’t even really Trask. Shadow Stalkers don’t have last names. He only gave it to me so that we would fit in on Appolia. He spent years trying to hide me from Drevin, the emperor of the Galvadi, who wants to kill me because he believes I’m going to enslave everyone in the Serpent Isles.

That sounds rough. Are you safe now that you’re on the Dark Isle?

Not really. We’ve learned that some members of the Council of Elders are allied with Drevin. So now we’re on the run again, but we can’t leave Dark Isle. The only way off the Dark Isle is by travelling through the shadow world, and the Council of Elders is watching for any shadow stalkers doing just that.

Continue reading “Auren Trask (of Shadow Stalker, by Renee Scattergood)”

Alex Orlov (of Twin Time, by Olga Werby)

Dear readers, tonight we print a police interview, together with the detective’s notes and observations about the interviewee — a young woman, who claims the disappearance of her autistic sister is due to magic and time-travel.


From the closed files relating to the Ms. Orlova’s house fire and the disappearance of Sasha Orlov: Transcript of Alex Orlov interview with Hillsborough police department’s Detective Hendle. (Additional observations were added after the interview by Officer Tony Davids.)

Notes & Observations: Ms. Orlov appears young for her age. She is very thin, but it is hard to tell just how thin—she is hiding underneath a gray sweatshirt with a UC Berkeley logo that is several sizes too big on her. She has shoulder-length dirty blond hair, which looks unwashed and unbrushed. The girl’s overall appearance is a bit bedraggled. Given what her family is going through, I suppose it’s understandable.

Detective: Tell us, Alex, a little about your sister. How you grew up? What was it like?

Alex: As you know, this is a very difficult question to answer.

Notes & Observations: As she talks, Ms. Orlov continuously fidgets with the extra-long sleeves of her sweatshirt, picking at the unraveling fabric at the hem. She is obviously very upset. She avoids meeting the eyes of the detective and other officers in the room.

Detective: You mean so soon after your twin’s…we know it must be very difficult—

Alex: No, it’s not what I mean. And it’s not even like Sasha died recently. It’s been almost three decades now.

Detective: But you are only nineteen…

Alex: Right.

Detective: Can you explain what you mean, please?

Alex: I guess I should start at the beginning…or as much of the beginning as it’s really possible given…well, given that time is not really linear for my sister and me. We were born at the turn of the century.

Detective: 2000?

Alex: Does it really matter?

Notes & Observations: I’m noting this as a classic avoidance behavior. I assume Ms. Orlov is lying to us. She is not a very practiced liar.

Alex: Sasha, as I’m sure you know, was…is…was severely autistic. Of course when we were babies, I didn’t know that. So we played together like other sisters, I guess. Only it was different. I usually ran around and got into all sorts of mischief, but Sasha toyed with things that were right next to her—a rocks, a pinch of sand, a flower petal, a spoon, her toes. Basically, whatever was within her reach. She wasn’t really into baby toys. She didn’t like clothes much either.

Detective: You were just babies.

Alex: Exactly.

Detective: Please go on.

Alex: We were born in Brooklyn, New York. But when Sasha was formally diagnosed, we moved out to California. There are more resources for kids like Sasha out here. And Aunt Nana was out here and she helped the family a lot in the beginning. Nana helped us buy a home and helped with finding Dad a job out here… Nana babysat us. But she was…

Notes & Observations: Ms. Orlov’s face flashes every time she mentions her great aunt—Ms. Nadezhda Orlova. “Aunt Nana” or “Nana,” as the girl refers to her. Note the variation of the family name spelling—something to do with Russian language.

Continue reading “Alex Orlov (of Twin Time, by Olga Werby)”

Kyris of Yond (of Gloomwalker, by Alex Lang)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man on a quest to kill holy man with the blessing of a sun god. He is here to tell us about his enemy, about the struggles of slaves and masters, of light and dark. And of his own dark abilities.


Tell me a little about where you grew up.

What? Where am I? How did I get here?

You have been here, Kyris, with me. It’s safe, and we are just having a friendly chat. You were telling me about your childhood, where you grew up. What was it like there?

Yond? I thought it a grand city until I laid eyes upon Vigil. I see now it barely qualifies as a city in comparison. Life was hard when we first arrived. I had to beg and steal on the streets in order to feed myself and my sister, Jahna. But through shrewd scheming and an orchestrated robbery attempt, I was able to engender myself with Tasi and her grandfather, Baaz, an old pit fighter turned instructor. He took us in. I… I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. No one other than Jahna knows I did this. I haven’t even told Tasi after all these years.

It is fine, Kyris. You can trust me. You were not born in Yond?

No. I was born in Gailen. It’s a small village far to the east, past Yond, near the outskirts of the Imperium.

What was life like in Gailen?

It was… pleasant there, until it wasn’t.

Do you have any cherished memories from your time in Gailen?

Certainly. I remember my mother baking sweet spiced flatbread, and the divine smell of it. I remember my father hammering away in his work shed, and little Emin with his wooden blocks. But what I remember most was spending endless hours exploring the forest with Jahna. 

What do you do now?

Do? What I must. What needs to be done.

And this includes stealing and killing?

Stealing, yes. But… Is this is about the job I did for Marlek? That was a fluke. Ask him about the jobs prior to Curunir. All performed flawlessly.

Continue reading “Kyris of Yond (of Gloomwalker, by Alex Lang)”

Jade (of the Veritas Series, by MJ Vieira)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman with no memories, left in a coma to drift between two distinctly different realities.


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

~Tilts head to the side and narrows eyes~ Where I grew up? Well, in Veritas or Malum’s horrible world, I awake in a new world. I don’t have a childhood. Later in the book, I find out that there are past lives I have lived and I supposed the most recent childhood I had would belong to Addy. She had a good one; grew up in Ohio, I think? ~shrugging, I smirk a bit~ But, if I look to my true self, as a Fallen Angel, my ‘childhood’ was strict. The Creator isn’t one to allow too much fun in games from someone destined to bear the souls of the newly conceived to their Earthly bodies. I spent much of my time learning to control my powers, travelling with Onyx, the original angel of Death, I encountered many of man’s triumphs and downfalls. I particularly enjoyed watching the Egyptians build their monuments and the burning of the Tower of Alexandria.

What objects or memories from your past lives, or current ones, bring you peace/happiness?

These are odd questions…~snorts and shrugs lean shoulders~ For a long time, weapons were my only solace. A knife I took from one of the pharos’s tombs in the Delta Nile began my collection. I wasn’t supposed to have a weapon. The Creator saw me as a bearer of good tidings, why would I need a weapon? That was Onyx’s department, not mine. But, being curious, I took one. I began to find more and begged Onyx to train me. He gave in. We were lovers, he wanted me happy so…~raises hands in a ‘voila’ gesture~ So, over time, these knives became a sort of stress ball for me.

Now? Well, outside of Malum’s apocalyptic world, I love music. I have a collection of iPods and phones from those I feed from. The music I find there brings me some peace.

As for memories? ~tugs bottom lip in between my teeth~ I have a lot to go through. But off the top of my head? When Onyx was trying to teach me to fly after my awakening in Veritas, he took me to a cliff over looking a river, demanded I release my wings and then pushed me over the side. Onyx is a firm believer in tough love and learning from experience. So, I figure out how to ride the air drafts, land and take my boots off because they were cramping my style. Onyx decides to give me crap and in return, I throw a boot at him. He ducks and there goes my shoe ~whistles to simulate a falling object~ He thought that was hilarious… ~rolls eyes~ but, now? Yeah, it’s funny.

What do you do now?

Hmm well, now? I am trying to help the Rebels and the free people left on the Earth rise above the threat of Aton and Malum’s evil residue he’s left across the planet.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, in the last installment, I wake up mentally and find myself helping the Onyx and Andor to fix the crap Malum pulled. Only now we’ve found out there is a bigger picture, one we didn’t see coming. A bigger baddie, Aton, is about to be released by a siren named Loreley. Guess who gets to fight him? ~smirks~ Yep, me. Well, Onyx and Andor are supposed to help, but I wouldn’t count on it. At least I found out what his deal is. As the keeper of hell, well, the realm of the Dead, he tended to keep his soul detached. Well, silly Nik, another God, it gets confusing ~waves hand dismissively~ stole it and now Aton is angry, seeking revenge. This is one scary mother fucker, let me tell you. He looks like a skeleton and his sense of humor makes Onyx’s dry ass comments seem like slap stick comedy. His anger is worse. Former lover to the Creator, he’s one bitter ex and the only thing that will make it better is burning Eden and heaven.  No pressure.

Continue reading “Jade (of the Veritas Series, by MJ Vieira)”

The Directors of the Honourable Company of Cunning (of The Censor’s Hand, by A.M. Steiner)

Dear readers, tonight a step back in time, as we reprint an excerpt from Lundenwic’s earliest newspaper: The Exchange Gazette. The publication was widely read before the Great Terror and (unbeknownst to its hapless journalist) this interview contains one of the few surviving examples of words directly spoken by those most responsible for that great suffering: The directors of that infamous company which sought to turn magic into an industry.


From the Exchange Gazette – Maatday 98th, Malchus III

THE FIRST INTERVIEW RECORDED BY HEKAMAPHONE

A TALK INTO THE INSTRUMENT WITH MASTERS OF THE HONOURABLE COMPANY OF CUNNING

The interview below is the first of its kind ever published; one in which the interviewer had no work to do beyond the propounding of the questions. The apparatus through which it was conducted, demonstrated to me at the Hon. Co.’s Lundenwic office, appeared little more than a modest construction of brass and oak, newly manufactured, yet powered by only drops of my own blood it astounded my ears, relaying distant voices with effortless ease. For a few precious minutes I conversed like a god, unhindered by distance or time. The words I shared are here reproduced in my faithful report.

Hello. Can you hear me?

Very clearly.

With whom am I speaking?

Gustav Gleame, chairman of the Honourable Company of Cunning, and his two most recently appointed colleagues: Masters Maximillian and Miranda Solitaire.

And where are you situated?

(M. Maxim-) At the Convergence, in Seascale Bay, centre of all magical industry in our fair isles, no less than three hundred miles north of your present location.

Extraordinary. Could you explain to our readers how a hekamaphone works?

(Ch. Gleame) I’m afraid it is quite impossible for a layman to comprehend the mysteries of the cunning arts, and the Honourable Company must be jealous of its secrets, for reasons which I hope are obvious. But let me offer this: the hekamaphone operates upon the principle of a sympathetic connection between the bloods of the communicants, and is powered by a modest construct invested here at the Convergence.

That does sound complicated. When will these wonderful machines be made available to the public?

(M. Maxim-) I’m afraid that for now the Hekamaphone is an invention for a privileged few. But I foresee a day when every armiger’s house will contain one. The progress of the Honourable Company in rationalising the production of magic is unending. Every day we consider new ways to make the process safer and more efficient. Our ultimate ambition is to have a magical device in every nobleman’s home.

Continue reading “The Directors of the Honourable Company of Cunning (of The Censor’s Hand, by A.M. Steiner)”

Gaiso the Stag (of Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale, by Sybrina Durant)

Dear readers, tonight with me a non-human guest. In fact a non-biped, which is why we forgo the usual couch.

Meet the stag who mentored and traveled with the young unicorn foal, destined to save his tribe.


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

First of all, I want to say that I am honored to be chosen for this interview.  I would have never imagined to be doing this since I’m not even a unicorn but you can’t always niggle out the why of some things. I am Gaiso, a stag who lived out most of my life on MarBryn in the Guarded Forest. Back in my younger days, with the rise of that despicable sorcerer, Magh, it was really the only safe place left in the land. But I left the safety of my home to guard and protect a little blue unicorn. My friends thought I was crazy but for me, it was an easy choice to make. I just had this feeling that his quest was of great importance.

Any cherished memories of your first introduction to that little blue unicorn?

It was a fateful day when I first met the little one.  A brutish manticore; thinking to make me his dinner had crept up on me unawares.  We clashed and slashed – him with his claws and me with my antlers. I had just about routed him when he stomped a massive paw down on one tine, pinning me to the ground.  I thought my time was up – when out of nowhere, a little blue creature darted towards us. I thought he might be a unicorn but I wasn’t sure because every unicorn I had ever known had a metal horn and hooves.  This one did not.  He just had some kind of stub sprouting up from the top of his head that seemed to be covered in blue leather.  As I said, he ran towards us, yelling at the top of his lungs. That action so intrigued the manticore (because as everyone knows, unicorn meat is a manticore’s favorite treat), that the hungry fellow stepped away from my antler and I was able to swiftly gouge him in the spleen. He went to his maker, still smiling at the thought of a sweet unicorn meal. If it hadn’t been for Blue’s action that day, I would not be here telling this tale. 

What do you do now?

Now, that Blue’s quest is over I am back home, in the Guarded Forest living a much calmer life. I’m still nursing a few war wounds but I tend to forget all about them when friends and family come by wanting a recounting of the grand adventure that Blue and I shared with our friend Girasol.  She’s a firebird, you know. . .very handy to have around at times.

What can you tell us about that adventure?

We were three amigos – all for one and one for all. . .well, that’s what the Pendragon said about us, anyway. Oh, the things I could tell you about that big waddling bird, but that’s for another story.  Girasol…the Firebird joined up with me and Blue just as soon as we broke through the eastern line of the Guarded Forest, headed in the direction of Smaul Mountain. Now, that’s an amazing place.  They say it’s the highest and coldest place in the world.  But I digress. . .I had yet to make the Firebird’s acquaintance and I’m not ashamed to say that she scared the living daylights out of me when she came hurtling down from the sky at us like a flaming comet.  I do feel a little silly, admitting that I hid behind a bush for protection and that that gave Blue a good laugh at my expense.  Once I got to know Girasol, I was glad for her company.  She saved our hides a few times and when things were at their worst, she was the one to pull us through.

Continue reading “Gaiso the Stag (of Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale, by Sybrina Durant)”

Marissa LaRoche (of A Sea of Broken Glass, by Sonya M Black)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman who endured weeks of torture after being convicted of witchery. She is her to tell us about her escape, and about being hunted by the Darkness and the Lady for the magic that sings within her.


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

I grew up in Greendale which is a lovely little town surrounded by flax fields. My father had a lot of trouble keeping me in line. I was a bit of handful. It’s a good thing Bran and Aeron were around. My Shield and Cloak kept me out of the worst trouble even if it was Aeron who taught me to pick locks and pockets. Bran didn’t like it, but he agreed it was a necessary skill to learn considering what I am. It was Aeron who taught me how to fight hand to hand and Bran who taught me how to shoot a pistol.

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

I loved to climb the clock tower in the church and hide up there. I could watch the whole valley and pretend I was going on an adventure to the Western Wilds or navigating the Warring Sea. When I was thirteen, I waited up in the tower until after nightfall and snuck down into the church. I stole the money from the offering box as prank since Father Delaney was a bit of crab. Bran and my father were furious, but Aeron slipped me a berry tart for a job well done.

What do you do now?

I’m a Healer, but beyond that I’m the last Vessel. Very few people know about me being the Vessel. If they knew, life would get … complicated.  I don’t really want to be the Vessel. No one knows what will happen if the Lady or the Darkness fill me with their power. So the fewer people who know what I am, the better. I love being a Healer. Love helping people. It feels like forever since I’ve been able to be just a Healer.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

We’re on the run from demons, the Bastion, the Darkness, and pretty much anyone and everyone who wants to use me as the Vessel. But, the Lady tasked me with finding the Heart of Creation before the Darkness gets it. Michel thinks I’m nuts and Aeron is only going along with it because he feels responsible for me. Bran would freak if he knew I was headed into the Bonelands. But I don’t know where he’s at. Aeron mentioned that Bran intends to meet up with us. Not that Bran would get a say in what I’m doing. It has to be done. I won’t let the world be consumed by Darkness.

Continue reading “Marissa LaRoche (of A Sea of Broken Glass, by Sonya M Black)”

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