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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Fantasy

Dargoth (of Children of the Dead City, by Noor Al-Shanti)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview, gathered while eavesdropping on one character in the book interviewing another. It seems like a case of mistaken identity — a boy thought to be an orphan and taken to the palace. We’ll let you judge for yourself.


Sit down, son, I just want to talk to you.

I’m not your son! Who even are you? Just let me go!

I apologize. I should not have addressed the King’s adopted son in such a way. Please forgive an old man’s habit. My name is Hiraku and I am only a second captain in the Palace Guard. I was tasked with ensuring your safety.

I… I… didn’t mean. Don’t do that. Don’t talk to me like I’m some kind of royalty. I’m not… I just want to go back home. Why won’t you people understand?

Perhaps you can help me understand. I would like to know why you are so eager to escape the palace. Tell me about the orpha-

I’m not from the orphanage! Listen to me, I live with my mother in a little house by the Shining Lake. Why don’t you just let me take you there and you’ll see?

You understand how dangerous it is out there, don’t you? With the Sorcerers and…

I understand that better than any of you cowering here in the palace behind your huge walls! I need to go home and make sure my mother is alright! She was injured by the men that kidnapped me! She… she’s all alone now without me or father!

Very well, Dargoth. I will speak with my Lord Commander and ask for permission to take you wherever you want to go myself. It will certainly be easier than trying to protect your while you are so bent on escape. Just tell me a little about your home and about the King’s City.

The King’s City? Why do you people call it that here? The King’s this and the King’s that… you know what we call him in Dalaiabeth? We call him the Weak King. He ran away from the Fortress City to hide in this palace and he just hides here while the sorcerers attack Dalaiabeth again and again!

Tell me about Dalaiabeth, then.

It’s… it’s a beautiful city. Especially when all the ships are in the dock with their sails open. Father used to let me climb the rigging on the ship, I could climb higher than the old clocktower. And when there’s a celebration we always make little boats and see whose boat can stay afloat the longest. The boatmaster’s son won last year, but that doesn’t even count. My boat was the second best. And the bakery… you must have passed mother’s bakery when you were in the city, it’s the best bakery there is. She makes the most delicious sweets and the best hot bread for everyone at the school when we pass our exams.

Continue reading “Dargoth (of Children of the Dead City, by Noor Al-Shanti)”
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Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Halea, a priestess in the service of the dragon goddess, roaming the land hunting demons and sealing tears caused by the Chaos Dimension.


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

I don’t remember much about where I was born, but I was brought to the holy city of Ruinac after my father died when I was quite young. I’m one of very few born blessed by the dragon goddess, Tiamet, which means I’m far faster and stronger than an average human, and I also have the power to purify evil.  That was a bit much for my poor mother to handle all on her own, and it just so happened my paternal grandfather is a cleric of Tiamet who lived and worked in Ruinac, so we joined him, and he mentored me on the path to becoming a priestess. Tiamet worshippers are tasked with fighting the evil of the Chaos Dimension that seeks to converge with our world. As for Ruinac, it wasn’t so great, just a crowded seaside city and it was hard to fit in because there weren’t many children like me. Sadly, when I was about twelve years old, a convergence destroyed the city, killing everyone in it, including my mother, and at the time, I thought it had killed my best friend Varg too. A convergence is a massive dimensional tear that can only be banished by sacrificing the life of a priestess, and let’s just say the ritual didn’t go as planned.

Did you have any cherished memories from your youth?

My fondest memory will always be of the day I first met my best friend, Varg. He was in the form of a wolf when I first saw him, and then he turned into a scrawny little wolf boy and threatened to eat me. Those were good times.

What do you do now?

These days I am an official oath-sworn priestess of Tiamet. Priestesses are given immortality in exchange for serving the goddess. We roam the land hunting and slaughtering demons and using our powers to seal dimensional rifts called tears. The work hours are kind of crazy and we’re not allowed to put anything or anyone above our duty, so no marriage, love, children, or anything else that can distract us from our calling. Kind of a thankless job, but it pays well, and if the demon’s don’t kill you or you don’t get chosen as a blood sacrifice, you get to live forever, so it’s not all bad.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it would seem my long term career plans didn’t turn out as I expected and I’ve been unwittingly thrust into a managerial position for which I’m vastly under-qualified. I’ll make the best of it – somehow.

Continue reading “Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)”

Riwenne (of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts, by Kristen S. Walker)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a utopian floating city, dreaming of serving the gods as a priestess. Armed with the power of the sea goddess, she must fight Mechanical beasts which are attacking innocent people on the streets at night.


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

I grew up in a city that’s floating in the sky. It’s scarier than it sounds. We have high walls so you can’t see the ground. We get clean air, but there’s also not a lot of open space and everything has to be flown in by airship. Some people say city dwellers are snobs, but I just think we’re different, y’know? The gods choose the best places for everyone, so we’re just suited to here, and I’m sure people on the land have things they like about it.

Anyway, I think it’s exciting to live in the city because there are so many things. I can hop on a cable car and be at the bookstore in a few minutes. A few stops away, there’s a chocolatier and pastry shop. I can buy cute clothes from all over the empire, and see my favorite singer at the concert hall. There’s always something fun to do!

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

I have a rag doll. We’re supposed to give up our toys when we leave school, but I held onto her. She’s a little ratty but my best friend, Nexita, she fixed my doll up nice. So I couldn’t give it up.

Nexita has been my best friend for years, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. We were roommates in school, so she was the one who always made sure I cleaned up our room, got to class on time, and helped me with homework. I know it sounds like she does everything for me! But I try to be a good friend, too. She’s really shy, so I help her talk to other people and I stand up for her. We’re really close. We don’t know who our parents are (no one knows their family), but we pretend that we’re sisters.

We were supposed to be apprenticed together . That’s what we dreamed of, being priestesses. It’s so weird that I got to be a priestess and she’s an engineer. It’s tough to be separated, but I visit every chance I get.

How do you like studying to be a priestess?

It’s not really what I expected. I thought we’d be able to talk to the gods, y’know, since we’re supposed to be serving them. How do we know that we’re doing the right thing if the gods aren’t speaking to us? And there’s so much work. Like, not just learning about priestess stuff, we have to do all our own chores like cooking the food and cleaning the temple. Since priestesses are so important, I don’t know why we have to waste time on chores. But the Sister says we have to be self-sufficient.

But being a novice isn’t all bad. My favorite part of the day is when we’re in the temple first thing in the morning, at the dawn ceremony, and everyone sings together. We all pray to the sun goddess and she grants us her power for our city. It’s hard because we can’t have breakfast until after, so I’m always starving, but the connection I feel to the gods is incredible. It’s almost like they’re right there in the room with us, and when I open my eyes, I’ll see them standing there…

What makes you think you can speak to the gods?

Well, don’t tell anyone else I said this, but I think it may have already happened. I had a dream about Sawycha, the sea goddess. Okay, it was a dream, but it felt real. And the weird thing is, she warned me about this giant wolf machine thing. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it was really scary.

I know I have a wild imagination—Nexita says I read too many novels—but then my dream came true. Not the part about talking to the sea goddess, but the part about the wolf. Wait, let me back up. So first this bird started talking to me. Sounds crazy, right? But she told me she’s a messenger from the sea goddess—she’s a sandpiper, I guess that makes sense—and she could give me magic. I thought I was still dreaming. Until I jumped out the window and didn’t even get hurt! So Tika, that’s the bird, she led me to the giant wolf which was attacking Nexita.

Wait, where did the mechanical wolf come from?

I don’t know, we’re still trying to figure that out. I was able to break the machine with the sea goddess’s magic and save Nexita. We got away, but when we went back to look for clues, the mechanical wolf was gone! And everyone just acted like it never happened. It’s so weird, but we’ll figure it out. Nexita’s helping me and she’s really smart.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures so far?

Everything! I’m not, like, good at running or climbing things. I’m usually clumsy and I tend to fall down a lot. These days I’m jumping from one building to another, fighting these giant mechanical beasts, trying to save people and solve this mystery. It would be exciting if I were reading it in a book but it’s way scarier to deal with it for real. Some days, I don’t want to get out of bed! But the worst part was something I don’t want to talk about. I still can’t believe it happened. People are worse than the monster machines.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Besides Nexita, I’m lucky to have a lot of good friends. My new roommate, Kyra, didn’t like me at first but I think she’s coming around. She’s very critical every time I mess up, but she’s just looking out for me in her own way, y’know? And then there’s Janera, she’s a guard at the temple, and she’s really nice. We swap books and she shares my taste in music. Tika, the messenger bird, she’s strict but I like having her around to give us advice. I wouldn’t understand any of this magic stuff without her. Then there’s this guy I keep bumping into, Deryt, he’s an engineer apprentice with Nexita. He’s annoying and he’s probably hiding something, but I didn’t hesitate to save his life because I think he’s a good person. Finally, we found out that Amena, my favorite singer, is actually a warrior like us! I’ve never met a celebrity before and I don’t know if we can be friends, but she’s part of the team now, so I’m going to try.

Any romantic involvement?

Um, I’m afraid it’s way too obvious, because I’m always staring at her… I have this huge crush on Kyra. It’s really awkward because we share a room, so I see her all day long. I’ve crushed on girls before, but this feels different. I can’t get her out of my head. I bet she’d be mad if she found out.

Whom do you really hate?

Whoever is building these mechanical beasts is a real creep. They’re hurting innocent people, but they don’t seem to care at all. And they have to be powerful, because the constables in the city seem like they’re covering it up. There’s nothing in the news about the attacks. When I find out who it is, I’m giving them a piece of my mind!

What’s your favourite drink, food, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I love to drink chocolate and I’ll eat anything sweet! Or fried. Or full of garlic. Or… I really like food. I’ll try anything once, as long as it doesn’t have too many soggy vegetables. My favorite color is pink, like my hair. Besides eating and sleeping, I love to read, especially romance novels. My favorite part is the happy ending.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s hard to say. I guess I’m stuck as a warrior for the gods, at least until we figure out how to help them. It seems like the sun goddess is hogging all the worship, so we have to get people to pray to worship the other gods again. It feels like a lot of work. There’s a lot of people in the empire and they don’t change their minds easily. Even when we summoned a goddess to show them how powerful she was, they didn’t believe she was real. And if you’ve ever seen a god in person, you know that’s not easy to fake. So we have to think of something else.

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

A secret? I’m not good at keeping secrets, especially from my friends. I tell Nexita everything…

Except…

I’m afraid of what I’m capable of. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t choose to become a warrior. But if someone was trying to hurt my friends…

I’d kill them.


Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. She lives in northern California with her family and a rescue cat.

You can find Riwenne on the pages of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts.

Join us on Friday 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.

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)”

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.

Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a wizard. He is part of an adventuring group (because he’s broke), and he’s here to tell us about dungeons, dragons, quests, and bad attitudes.


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

Well I lived in Trestfall with my parents, two brothers Vine and Berek, and my sister, Shana. It was nice I suppose. My father was a baker and I always hoped to become a baker myself, or perhaps an accountant. Unfortunately, when I discovered that I had the ability to mess with the elements and blew my father’s kitchen to pieces I was shipped off to the local witch, Our Sharon, to be assessed. After that it was off to the Elementalists School for me.

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

I used to have a couple of wooden dolls that I would play ‘entrepreneurship’ with. Essentially one of the dolls would come in and ask for a loan to start up his own turnip producing business. The other was an investor who would advise him that there was no money in turnip production and had he considered killing dragons instead. But it would turn out that the investor had a scam running with the local dragon who, being in on the deal, would lie in wait for the former would-be turnip magnate and eat him. After getting him to sign over all his capital to a Hoard Based Currency System that is.

Endless fun.

What do you do now?

Well at the moment I’m involved in a questing group. They are an absolute shower. Andreton, typical warrior, as dumb as rocks, five times as hard and ten times as stubborn. There’s this Ranger, you know, nature type. Noble, brave, clueless. A wretched woman named Daisy, I ask you, Daisy, and she’s a fighter. Watch out for your head, she has a habit of removing them. The Cleric, Valeran, as you can probably imagine has his head so far up his own backside he probably needs an Elixir of Nightseeing just to find his own shoes. And a Rogue, Donalt. He’s always behind you. Doesn’t matter where you are.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So, under absolutely bloody false pretenses I got dragged into this group of sociopathic idiots and now we are faced with angry townsfolk, angry Trolls and angry Demons. I have no idea why but everywhere I go everyone is either very stupid or mad at something, and they naturally take it out on me. God’s save us. Everywhere I go, ‘Why don’t you have a pointy hat?’ or ‘Have you arrived precisely when you mean to? Because you’re bloody late.’ That’s what I get all the time. Look. WITCHES have pointy hats, OK? Wizards can wear whatever headgear they like. And I don’t use a wand either. That’s all marketing. I can point a cake at you and do the same spell.

Continue reading “Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)”

Jorrie (of Jorrie and the Skyhorse, by Zoë Landale)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a girl that ran away from home, only to discover a world of strange creatures and dark magics. She is here to tell us about her bond with a wolfhound and about an ancient skyhorse.


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

I grew up in Cimarron, the capital of the Salish Federation. It’s a port city, very old, with lots of stone buildings. My mom and I live, or maybe I should say lived, on the third floor of a house overlooking St Stephen’s square, right downtown. My mom’s still there. Right now I’m staying with my auntie and uncle and cousin on Satter Island, the furthest of the Outer Islands.

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

My favourite toy was called Donks. He was a donkey. Kids aren’t supposed to display any seithr abilities, any magic, that comes on, or not, until puberty. But after my dad disappeared when I was four, I was really upset. And Donks tore apart another favourite toy, a tiger. True story! I was there, with a High One who took me back to my past. It was really weird watching this four-year-old version of myself. The older version of me couldn’t speak, couldn’t affect anything.

What do you do now?

I’m waiting to apprentice as beast-T, a beast-Talent.  All my life I’ve been this weird kid and now it turns out, I actually some ability. Which is such a relief. I’m going to get training and I’ll be with a bunch of people who practice seithr and I’ll have friends. It’s taking awhile because most Ts only want to take on younger kids. I’ve already have a bond, a gorgeous wolfhound called Narvi.

Continue reading “Jorrie (of Jorrie and the Skyhorse, by Zoë Landale)”

Rachel and Adam Deneuve (of Walking Through Fire, by Sherri Cook Woosley)

Dear readers, tonight with us are a woman and her son facing the end of the world. But while ancient gods have come alive and are fighting for supremacy, their world revolves more around Adam’s leukemia.

They are here to tell us about the personal and literal end-of-the-world facing them.


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

Rachel: Before the firestorm we lived in the suburbs north of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m an art historian turned stay-at-home mom. Now we live here, in Johns Hopkins hospital, room 833 in the Pediatric Oncology wing. We’re lucky, I guess, because I saw a fireball land north of us that night. You know, the summer solstice. I’m sure everything back home burned. I only have the clothes I packed and Adam’s scrapbook because I was working on it right before the storm.

Adam: And Dad too. He lived with us.

But your father isn’t here at the hospital, is he?

Adam: No, he dropped me off and then had to go to work.

Rachel (clears throat): We’d recently separated. It’s complicated. But no, he didn’t answer his phone. I called and called. I don’t know how else to reach him.

I’m sorry to hear that. I’m also a little confused. How did you end up at the hospital?

Adam: I had a fever.

Rachel: Ha, yeah, that’s the short answer. Adam is in his second year of treatment for leukemia. A fever is an emergency in an immunocompromised patient so I was driving him here when the firestorm started. Listen, you said you had to take down information for hospital records, but can you talk to Dr. Abramson? Explain to him that we can’t leave.  

Well, I don’t really have any influence with him.

Rachel: I get that the hospital is running out of supplies. They’re running out of food, fuel for the generator, and medicine. That’s the only reason I agreed to let them do surgery on Adam to remove the port in his chest, but we’ve done everything they’ve told us. Don’t let them send us outside. My son…his body can’t take it. I can set up a school here on the hospital campus. I can sweep the floors. I’ll do anything to keep my son safe.

Adam: That’s not why we can’t leave, Mom. You’re afraid the dragon will come back.

Dragon? What does that mean?

Adam: When we arrived in Baltimore another fireball landed. It grew into a tornado, moving down Orleans Street straight toward us, but when it was close I saw a dragon’s face in the flames and she flapped her wings at us. That’s what pushed us into the hospital a moment before the tornado burned through where we’d been.

Rachel: Oh, that’s not true. He’s got a great imagination from all the manga he reads.

Adam: Mom! Why are you lying?

Rachel: Because it doesn’t make any sense. The world has changed so much in only a few weeks. We have to stay focused on the facts. There’s been no communication from outside of Baltimore and we don’t know how widespread the firestorm is. There could be people from other states trying to get to us, to help. There could still be electricity and a government. Or, there could be nothing. I don’t want to complicate it all with wild rumors.

Other people have also claimed that fantastic creatures are roaming through the area. What do you think about that?

Rachel: Look, I’ve heard about the giant golden bull that races through the sky and eats souls, but I don’t have time for that. Honestly, it sounds like something from an ancient story or piece of art. Mesopotamians, for example, featured many supernatural animals in their mythology. They had lions, bulls, dragons, all kinds of hybrid creatures.

But, that is history, not relevant today. My primary concern will always be Adam. How do I take care of my son when modern medicine is gone? I look out that window right there and I see people starving. Tent camps set up where the Walters Art Gallery used to be. People with burns that don’t heal. Gangs looting collapsed houses. It’s scary and it makes my mind spin with anxiety. I’m trying to hold it together for Adam, but I don’t understand why this happened.

Without Craig, you must feel very alone.

Rachel: Well, I have Nurse Lauren. I wouldn’t have my sanity without her. She and I became best friends over the course of Adam’s treatment because I spent more time here than I did at home. And, when I was home, none of the other moms knew what it was like to have a child go through what Adam is experiencing. He can’t use the swimming pool on certain days, depending on his blood counts.  He could wake up and need an emergency trip for platelets or blood. And the medications. It’s like learning a whole new subject at school. Certain ones like methotrexate mean he can’t be out in the sun while a steroid protocol means he’ll be an emotional mess. I would be lost without Lauren’s friendship, but you know what she’s like.

Uh, I’m not really sure. Black hair? Short?

Rachel: No. Not at all. How do you not know Nurse Lauren? She runs this floor.  

There’s a lot of people. Maybe I’m bad with names. So, Adam, what do you do to relax? Do you play with toys? Have a favorite stuffed animal?

Adam: I’m eleven years old. No, I don’t play with toys. This interview is stupid. I’m going to the teen suite. 

<The hospital room door closes behind him. >

Rachel: Sorry, he’s used to being treated like a third adult in our family. I guess he took your question the wrong way.

I’m not offended. I just wanted to know more about him. He looks like a regular kid. Why is he so special?

Rachel: Excuse me?

The interview is over. Thank you for your time.

Rachel: Wait a minute. Why are you so interested in my son?

Tell me a secret and I’ll tell you mine. Make it a good one, Rachel.

Rachel: Fine. You know what? I saw the dragon, too. The night of the firestorm. She was in the flames. It was just like Adam said. She extended her wings. I thought it was to kill us, but the rush of air pushed us into the hospital before the buildings around us burst into a fiery inferno. I don’t know how to process that information. What the hell is the firestorm?

Was that secret good enough? What’s yours?

I AM that dragon.


Sherri Cook Woosley has an M.A. in English literature with a focus on comparative mythology. Her short fiction has been published in Pantheon Magazine, Abyss & Apex, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Walking Through Fire is her debut novel, a combination of her interest in Sumerian mythology and her experience as a mother to a child with cancer.

You can find Rachael and Adam on the pages of Walking Through Fire.

Join us next week to meet a man woken after 50 years of cryogenic sleep, to find the human race nearing extinction. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Mikhail (of The Scented Bones, by Angelina Kerner)

40382483Dear readers, tonight with me is a young man working as a detective by day and and as a guide for departed souls by night. Between mafioso godmothers and the cement shoes on non-human skeletons sleeping with the fishes, he’s here to tell us about his uncanny adventures.

Rather unorthodoxly, the interview is recorded from the point of view of the interviewee. Who says mind-reading isn’t fun?


Please introduce yourself –

I raise my hand for a pause and pull out a pack of cigarettes. After going through my motions, I light the cigarette and take my first smoke of the morning.

After exhaling, I say, “Can you repeat that?”

Please introduce yourself, and the book you are from.

“My name is Mikhail, last name private. My first appearance is in the Scented Bones by Angelina Kerner.”

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

“Can’t really. There’s no real place that I can call home. My parents moved a lot when I was a kid. It’s not in our nature to stay in one place. I remember living in the in-between, in the mountains, by the ocean, in a big city. Thanks to my parents travels, I can adapt to anything and I mean anything,” I say and wink.

What do you mean by not in your nature?

“Oh,” I said. “You don’t know.” I laugh before continuing to smoke. “I’m a psychopomp. My day job is being a detective and my underground life is helping paranormals reach an understanding at an end of an argument or accept death. I help spirits enter the otherworld and have similar powers to a witch’s. Lately, I’m stronger than my little sprite. She’s neglected her magickal part of life. I need to spank her for that. Her neglect makes my third job hell.” I laugh again.

Your third job?

I sit back and dab my cigarette on the plate on the table. “I’m only going to answer that because you’re not in the book and therefore can’t screw me or my charge. My third job is my first job. I’m someone called an Associate. I’m not part of an Italian mob, but I have a working relationship that benefits both parties.” Continue reading “Mikhail (of The Scented Bones, by Angelina Kerner)”

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