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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Fantasy

Cassidy and Torr (of Moon Deeds, by Palmer Pickering)

Dear readers, tonight with us are fraternal twins, a sister and brother, from Earth’s future. At least, a future where science and magic clash, the best defense against rampant alien technology is magic, and the only hope for humankind rests in the hands of the legendary Star Children.


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

Cassidy: Well, we’re twins, in case you can’t tell.

Torr: We’re identical.

Cassidy: Haha. You wish you looked like me.

Torr: I do, actually. Your eyes, anyway.

Cassidy: Awww, that’s sweet.

Torr: We grew up in Mt. Shasta, in California.

Cassidy: Land of the crazy shamans. We got out just in time.

Torr: Or, we left too soon. Depends on how you look at it.

Cassidy: True. The shamans protected us from the Tegs. If we were in Shasta right now, we’d be safe on Earth, instead of on this god-forsaken rock.

Torr: The moon’s not so bad.

Cassidy: [eye roll] It sucks. Just sayin’. So, what questions do you want to ask us?

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

Cassidy: My favorite toy was Grandma Leann’s mirror.

Torr: A dangerous weapon.

Cassidy: [Laughs] I used to be able to move things with it. It was awesome.

Torr: I saw the flaming monster woman in it once when I was a kid. I wouldn’t go near that thing for years afterward.

What do you do now?

Torr: We’re refugees on the moon. I feel kind of useless. There’s not much to do here.

Cassidy: We’re supposed to save the world. Earth, that is. And the other planets too, I guess. Seems kinda ridiculous.

Torr: People think we’re the Star Children, and we’re supposed to find our ancestors on a lost planet across the galaxy. The golden Star People. But nobody knows where the home planet is. It’s kind of stressful having everybody look at you with this burning hope in their eyes. I mean, you’d think we were magical saviors or something.

Cassidy: We need to learn magic.

Torr: Yeah. We need to go to the planet Muria.

Cassidy: But then we’d have to leave here.

Torr: I thought you wanted to leave.

Cassidy: I do. I don’t.

Torr: Errgh.

Continue reading “Cassidy and Torr (of Moon Deeds, by Palmer Pickering)”

Nenn (of River of Thieves, by Clayton Snyder)

Dear readers, tonight with us a thief, a knife-fighter who robs from the rich and gives (some of it, at least) to the poor. She is here to tell us about the biggest heist — to steal the heart of a saint and punish a tyrant — and about her partner who keeps dying.


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

The Veldt? The river dominates it. Men with money and religion on their side keeping the ones without down. And the rest of us, we do what we can. Cord n’ me, we make our own luck though. Better to be free on the road than tied to a post.

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

I had a knife. It was shiny. I named it Knifey.

My parents dumped me at Our Lady of Perpetual Weeping and Moaning. I don’t know if they were too poor to afford me, or too weak to raise me, but in the end, the nuns got me. No. I don’t think nuns is the right word. They were temporary guardians. We tended the grounds, and sometimes were rented out for work—not like that. They were rarely kind, but they also weren’t lunatics. I don’t think religion ever entered into it. OLOPWAM was a business, and they ran it like one.

When I turned seventeen, they released me, and I made my own way. Sometimes honestly, busting my back at the mill. Other times, not so honestly, busting teeth and heads in the alleys for a little money.

What do you do now?

I rob people. And sometimes stick knives in the assholes who deserve it. Oh, we don’t keep it all. Cord says that’s selfish. You gotta give. There are people even smaller than you, and no one deserves to be on the bottom rung. I guess he’s right, but I’d sure like a new pair of boots and something to eat that isn’t dried fish.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Cord’s got a plan. We’re getting his old gang back together. This big mountain named Rek, a really pretty, but a bit cracked lady, named Lux. There’s enough suffering in this world and seeing men like Anaxos Mane take more—well that doesn’t sit right with any of us.

Continue reading “Nenn (of River of Thieves, by Clayton Snyder)”

Ahmed Justinius (of Sins of the Fathers trilogy, by Matthew P. Gilbert)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man from a Middle-Eastern inspired fantasy world. He has been drafted by his god and his prophet to a war against ancient sorcerers, in a battle at the end of day.


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

It’s hot, and there is a great deal of sand. And scorpions. A wise man always checks his shoes. I received regular beatings from my master, Yazid, for ignoring my studies or being insolent. About half of them, I counted as unfair. The rest were simply the cost of doing as I wished.

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

I had a wooden sword I was very fond of, but I barely remember it. Yazid gave me one of steel when I was five, and told me to put away useless children’s things. I have no idea what became of the toy sword. Likely, Yazid destroyed it.

What do you do now?

Mostly, I obey Yazid or I get my ears boxed. I’d guess it’s about sixty/forty as to which. He is very strong, and very fast. I have no hope of beating him in a contest of fists.

Continue reading “Ahmed Justinius (of Sins of the Fathers trilogy, by Matthew P. Gilbert)”

Em 19 (of Guardian Blood, by Nicholas Hoy)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a smuggler from a world where magic and technology interact freely. She is here to tell us about living in the shadows of the underworld, about high-rise conspiracies, and about the times humans still ruled the world.


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

Crescent City’s been called paradise on Earth, as you well know, with Mage-grown skyscrapers that climb for miles, all connected by breathtaking, nature-encrusted skywalks. But that’s not exactly where I grew up. Throw yourself over the edge of any one of those buildings and eventually you’ll end up in Low-Town, a red stain on darkened streets, if you don’t smash into one of the countless sun-blotting skywalks first. Low-Town, a place of perpetual darkness, if not for the neon glow of a million signs, will slit your throat just to watch you bleed out. It’s a hard place to grow up, but I’d rather be forged in Low-Town than pampered in paradise with the rest of the sheep.   

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

Favorite toy? Not so much. Cherished possession? Yeah, my retractable palm blade. You see, Black Leaves, one of the more ruthless gangs, get off by preying on helpless girls. They would often loiter outside the orphanage, waiting for one or two of us to head to the store. Their mutilated victims almost always ended up dead or wishing they were. I can’t tell you how many times that old piece of steel saved my life.

What do you do for a living?

Dealing in Magical Technologies (Tech) is one of the more lucrative businesses on the planet. However, as all Tech is required by order of the Administration to be licensed, and all licenses are traceable, it falls to me to find buyers willing to pay for the anonymity unlicensed Tech affords them. Does that make me a Tech smuggler? Sure. Could it get me killed? Sure. But they gotta catch me first.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Breaking about six separate border laws, I bypassed security and portaled up to the world above for what was supposed to be an easy score. Have I mentioned how much I hate going topside? Well, I do—a lot. It rarely goes well, but the payoff is almost always worth it. Fleeing the authorities in Low-Town is a simple thing, given the intense overpopulation and cramped spaces, but up there, where the corporations create laws and machinations to subjugate the weak, the Aquilae have a much easier time of snuffing out crime and either arresting or executing criminals right there on the spot, especially some illegal Townie no one would miss.

A society contact from up there got word to me that a low-level engineer for Corporate Technologies (CorTex) found out that he was about to get the axe, and decided to be proactive by squirrelling away several pieces of high-end Tech before they could let him go. The plan was simple; meet the engineer, inspect the stolen Tech, offer him half of whatever he was hoping to get, secure the Tech, and get my happy-ass back to Low-Town. Well, like every other arrogant topsider, he screwed me over. An entire squadron of Aquilae were waiting when I got there. Overkill, if you ask me. Even one Aquilae is usually more than enough to contend with a Prime Mage, let alone some Townie smuggler like me. It’s a rare thing to catch me off guard, though, and so I unloaded everything I had on ‘em and was barely able to slip through a portal. The only reason I’m still alive at all was because I was wearing a Prime Infernal Ring. Watching half a dozen Administration enforcers turned into so much ash was almost worth all the Tech I had to use up just to save my own neck. To this day, I still don’t know who sold me out, but I never heard from that contact again. Is that what you meant by adventure? For me, it was just another day at the office.

Continue reading “Em 19 (of Guardian Blood, by Nicholas Hoy)”

Giulia Degarno (of Up To The Throne, by Toby Frost)

Dear readers, tonight with us is an ex-criminal on a mission of revenge. She is here to tell us about a world of magically-enhanced Renaissance: a dangerous world of assassins, alchemists and flying machines, a world where artists and scholars cross paths with feuding nobles and clockwork monsters – and death is never far away.


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

I grew up in a city-state called Pagalia, in the north of the Astalian Peninsula. Pagalia is the site of the rebirth of man: the greatest flourishing of art and knowledge for a thousand years. It’s produced painters, scholars, authors, inventors… and people like me. All the stuff about the art is true – but there’s plenty of thieves, robbers, forgers and every other type of criminal there.

Did you have any cherished memories of childhood?

Memories, eh? I don’t have many. Sometimes I think it’s best that I didn’t know much about my parents, what they must have done to make ends meet. There is one memory, though, that always comes back to me. It was during the War of Faith, so I must have been five or six. This column of Inquisition soldiers marched through town on the way to fighting the heretics in the north. They wore black cloaks and silver breastplates, and their boots were so shiny. Everyone had to go outside and cheer. But you could tell that people were scared of them. Even then I knew that. Sometimes I wonder if the New Churchers had to go out and cheer for their soldiers, and whether, deep down, they were frightened, too.

What do you do now?

These days, well, some would call me a thief-catcher, but it’s more complicated than that… Let’s just say that I get things done. Sometimes, it’s finding something that’s been stolen, other times people want me to steal it back… and other times, I just plain steal. When I get some time to myself, I train. You see, I’ve been away from Pagalia for a little while, and when I go back, I’ll need all the practice I can get.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, this is just between you and me, understand? You see my face, these scars? A man called Publius Severra put them there. It was a long time ago, and I was – well, I was a criminal. But I was much less of a criminal than he was, and he wanted me out of the way. His men got me out of the way all right, but they didn’t get the chance to finish me off. So now I’m going back to the place where Severra lives. And I’m going to finish him.

Continue reading “Giulia Degarno (of Up To The Throne, by Toby Frost)”

Alexander Edward Rathadon (of The Being Of Dreams, by Catherine M Walker)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the Fourth for the Royal Archives. As the fourth son of the king he was expecting a life of parties, but his ability to manipulate magic puts him in the path of dark powers and legends.


Fourth, thank you for seeing me….. um, I guess we should get started… um, well, what was it like growing up as a prince? What was it like growing up and living in the Royal Palaces?

No need to thank me scholar. You know I’m only putting up with this because my brother ordered me to cooperate and answer your questions? He can be a little irritating like that but I guess if I don’t play this game with you, the first thing you’ll do is run to him and complain.

What was it like growing up as me, here? A life of privilege. I grew up as the fourth son of the king. As I’m sure you and people like you would imagine I wanted for very little. Servants ran to do my bidding, guards trailed behind me, everyone wanted to be my friend.

Do you know what it is like to be constantly watched? To live in a world where everyone wants something from you? Or rather from your father and brother but think you are the easy target? Where your whole existence is governed by duty?

I doubt you could really understand. Any more than I can really understand what it’s like not to live and grow up in the world I have. To be fair my father and brother tried to shelter me from all of that political side as much as they could, for as long as they could.

Still I’m the Fourth. Duty was always going to catch up with me eventually.

I see… what is your most cherished memory as a child?

Ah. I keep forgetting you are new to your position here in the palace. No one who knows me would really ask that question. They know better.

My most cherished memory as a child was going on a picnic with my lady mother. Just the two of us. Well, the two of us and the assorted guards and servants, as I already told you I was never really alone. None of us were.

Mother dropped her formality and played with me; we ran through the forest playing a game of catch. Then we had lunch. I remember I wanted to impress her that I was old enough to join her and father along with my brothers and sister at the big table for meals in the court. Then the meal finished, and it was time to go back to the palace.

I still remember that moment.

Why wouldn’t anyone ask you that Your Highness? It seems like a wonderful moment from your childhood.

Because right after that meal, that idyllic moment from my childhood is when things went wrong.

The Sundered one attacked and everyone in the party was killed. I watched as his hunting knife slit mothers throat and she crumpled to the ground, discarded, broken like one of my sisters and brothers toys.

That idyllic moment turned into the nightmare that plagued my dreams.

I guess I didn’t quite tell the truth earlier. I was alone then, alone in the forest with the cooling bodies of the guards and servants, of my mother.

I spent a great deal of time growing up running away from the palace to escape official functions. As much as I’d craved being a part of it before, I hated it all after that moment.

Ah, I’ve shocked you. You needn’t look so guilty scholar; it was all a long time ago when I was a child. Everyone knows that story. I’m surprised you don’t.

What did you first think when your father first proclaimed you as the Fourth?

Believe it or not I was angry, upset with him. I never wanted the rank even though it was mine from birth.

I’m no hero not like my uncle was during the Sundered War. Uncle Edward was the first to be proclaimed the Fourth, the one the legend and myth grew around. It was a different time, a different era back then. Before the Sundered War those born with power weren’t feared like they are today. But you’d know that better than me being a scholar.

I felt like a fraud.

I was terrified that I would turn into one of the Sundered Ones. As it turns out there was a fair bit my father was keeping from me, although I didn’t realise it at the time. Still I had to come to terms with it. I am the Fourth. It’s my duty. If I turn my back on it who else is there to stand between the people and those mad ones with power who seek to harm us all?

Continue reading “Alexander Edward Rathadon (of The Being Of Dreams, by Catherine M Walker)”

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)”

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)”

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