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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Historical Fantasy

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)”
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Latona and Aula (of From Unseen Fire, by Cass Morris)

Dear readers, tonight with me are two women from a world reminiscent of our Ancient Rome, but with one distinct difference: she is a sorceress, a mage of Spirit and Fire.


Tell us a little about growing up in the Temple of Juno. What was it like there?

Latona: Blissful. Not all the priestesses and acolytes live in the house behind the Temple, of course, but my family thought it best, since my magic was so strong, that I stay with Gaia Claudia so that she could guide me. I missed my mother and my sister Aula, but Claudia was everything I could’ve hoped for in a mentor — and it was exciting, to be so small and yet feel a part of something so big. The most important people in Aven would come to consult the High Priestess of Juno, and Claudia let me observe at her side, even before I was really old enough to understand the politics of it all.

Any cherished memories from that time?

Latona: The first time I served as Claudia’s acolyte during the Cantrinalia. It was held at the House of the Vestals that year, and everything was so graceful and immaculate. I was only seven, the youngest girl there, and I’d never been around so many mages working in concert before. I only saw glimpses of the colors of the elements in action — I’m still a bit shaky with that particular talent, I’m afraid — but I could feel all of it, everyone’s hopes blending together. It was… euphoric.

You left the Temple after Gaia Claudia’s death a few years later. How have you been using your magic since then?

Latona: Oh, the… the usual ways. For a patrician wife, I mean. Just… just little things. I use Fire magic to keep the house’s hypocaust running properly in the winter, and little Spirit charms at parties and such, to liven up the mood. But that’s really — (A deep, long breath)  It was made quite clear to me that, outside the purview of the Temple, I needed to take care and remain within… appropriate boundaries.  (A thin smile)  It wouldn’t do to appear ostentatious, after all.

Because we heard that Dictator Ocella had asked for you to use your Spirit magic at his behest.

Latona: No. No, absolutely not. I– I am not capable of the sort of manipulative magic that Ocella requested of me. And even if I had been, I would not have sullied the gods’ gifts in such a way, whatever rumor may fabricate to the contrary.

Continue reading “Latona and Aula (of From Unseen Fire, by Cass Morris)”

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)”

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.

Nick Medea and guests (of Black City Dragon, by Richard Knaak)

Dear readers, we are ecstatic to present you tonight with a unique view to the characters of one of our most favoured series! Moreover, the detective from this historical-urban-fantasy has brought unique guests (some not quite in our world).

This interview is set in the middle of the just released Black City Dragon, but should not interfere with your enjoyment whether you read it (or the previous volumes), or are still about to. We trust you’ll enjoy this glimpse!


Claryce: Stop talking! Nick! Wake up!

Nick: Sorry. Guess that last Wyld took a lot more out of me than I thought. Fell asleep as soon as I sat down on your couch. You say something about me talking in my sleep?

Claryce: Not you. Him. He was talking through you.

Nick: More like talking to me. He’s done this before. It’s different than when we just communicate through my mind. He’s trying to influence me through my subconscious. What’re you up to?

The DragonEye? Eye was merely reminiscing about all our lovely time together, all the things we have shared. All the deaths we have caused. All the things we have burned…Saint George.

Nick: Yeah, it’s been a fun sixteen hundred years since I slew you, hasn’t it been? Sixteen hundred years since our blood mixed and the gate you were guarding — and didn’t bother to tell me you were guarding — made me its new sentinel.

The DragonUs…it made us sentinel. Eye thought death would free me. Instead, it trapped me inside you, a leviathan trapped in a flea who now goes around pretending to be a hunter of false ghosts for ignorant clients when he is actually hunting the Wyld, the foulest of Her Lady’s realm of Feirie…or that accursed Dacian Dragon.

Claryce: Nick! Your expression! What is it? What’s he saying to you?

Nick: I’ll clear it up with you afterward, Claryce. For now, you would do me a great favor if you could get me some coffee.

Claryce: That thick black sludge? I know you need to confront the dragon by yourself, Nick, and I know you’re afraid part of him might show through in the process. I’ll make your coffee — it’ll take enough time — but you didn’t need an excuse. Just ask me. I understand.

Nick: It’s not that. I promise you. I’ll explain all afterward.

Claryce: I’ll keep away until  you call. And don’t worry. I’ve got the Smith & Wesson on me if anyone tries to sneak in. 

The DragonSo many promises to her unkept! Why, Eye thought you loved her. Why keep so many secrets? Are you afraid to tell her how you have failed to keep her previous incarnations alive each time? How they all perished violently and that you fear it is not bootleggers, gangsters such as the ones you call Capone and Moran, and the other vermin of this city Chicago that will be responsible for her dying, but rather Galerius, once Roman emperor and the man who had you beheaded in Nicomedia? Ha! A death so marking you that you always call yourself by some variation of that land’s title?

Nick: Yeah, that didn’t last long, that incident…and you should talk about names. You’ve come to calling yourself ‘Eye’ instead just using the pronoun because that’s the part of you I dare you most, your vision. The only part that might not be used to trick me into letting you out.

The Dragon Hmph. What is in a name, anyway? Why bring up names, Saint George? As for the losing of your head, I lasted long enough, Eye remember the pain as well as you do. Eye was there in you already, even if it took your death to meld us as one and begin our curse.

Nick:…

The DragonNo reply? Ah…are you dreaming again of your Greek  parents in Syria, or your life as a tribune and friend of the emperor Diocletian, who is just as guilty as Galerius for your execution or else why does his ghost haunt you? Are you dreaming of Claryce or her earlier self, the Princess Cleolinda…or any of the other incarnations?

Nick: Leave her out of this!

The DragonBut she is the focal point of all of this! Far more important than even you thinks she is? Such a loyal love, following you through death again and again. Ah! That makes you burn! Careful, oh fiery saint! You might open the way for me again! You recall what happened that one time, when this very city burned…

Nick: I had to let you out. Oberon wanted to make Feirie and our world one.

The DragonOur world? Eye fight only for myself and for the day when I can make everything burn, including her. If Galerius lives and has one of the cards of the Clothos Deck, it may not even be your world, anymore, but a variation he creates with the card.

Nick: That’s not going to happen.

The DragonNo? A simple use of the one you secreted in Holy Name Cathedral with the help of the renegade elf Kravayik did so much already just to landmarks in Chicago! You will need more than the questionable help of an elf converted to Christianity or the errant archangel Michael to help you if another card has been found. Best you give the first one to me. Eye will deal it well…

Nick: I don’t think so. I also think I’ve had enough of this conversation.

The DragonBut Eye could make this place so much more appealing. All you care about is her. Admit it. Eye promise Eye would not do much to her. She may face…a little change.

Nick: Not a chance…and there’s more to it.

The DragonOh? You have concern for Kravayik and that dwarf of a man Barnaby? Recall that it was his son Joseph who caused much of what we face and who could very well be the key to what Galerius is doing. Dunning will not be a safe enough place to keep that madman if Galerius wants him. You know that. Is it that lapdog of a shapeshifter, Fetch? He can be amusing at times, especially when he annoys you with the human slang, but you know he is a treacherous hound. He almost gave you up to Oberon! Perhaps, he will do so to Oberon’s more than cunning former mate, Her Lady, since she sits on the throne now…

Nick: I know Fetch’s shortcomings…but I know his loyalty, too.

The DragonBut will that loyalty change again? He has already hidden refugees from Feirie in the city and has some sort of pact with the so-called gangster “Ladykiller” Leighton…or should Eye call him Laertes like the elf he really is? Where are all these refugees? Maybe you should even ask the archangel Michael. He seems to have a hand in many things. Or maybe your very good if ignorant friend the police detective or his witch of a wife…

Nick: Leave Cortez and his Maria out of this. In fact, leave me out of this, too. I’ve let you taunt and try to manipulate me for the past few minutes in order to see what you’re up to. I think I know. You’ve seen how stressed my mind is since I found out Galerius was still alive. I wondered why he began entering my nightmare where you and I keep reliving our battle. Now I know. You’ve been trying to get me so damned distracted so that you could attempt to slip in and take over.

The Dragon:…

Nick: No snappy comeback? No mocking taunt?

Claryce: It suddenly got very silent in here. Is everything all right?

Nick: You can put the gun away. Everything’s all right.

The Dragon:…

Nick: For now…


Richard Knaak is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Wolfheart, and nearly fifty other novels and numerous short stories, including works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, the Iron Kingdoms, and his own popular Dragonrealm. He has scripted comics and manga, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages.

You can find Nick Medea (aka St George), Claryce and the Dragon on the pages of the Black City series, starting with Black City Saint, continuing in Black City Demon, and the just released Black City Dragon.

Special announcement: for those of you in the San Diego area, Knaak will be signing books this Friday (June 14th) at Mysterious Galaxy! Knaak is a wonderful person as well as a great author and getting signed copies of this awesome series is a great addition to anyone’s bookshelves, so pop over and say Hi.
Full details here:
https://www.mystgalaxy.com/Knaak-06-2019

Join us again this Friday to meet a paranormal investigator, torn between fairy godmothers and mafioso godfathers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman from Book 2 of the Victorian historical-fantasy Potions and Passions series. We’re always happy when our patrons revisit us!

This volume is her first appearance. She is here to tell us about
Ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic — and about love.


Welcome, Mrs. Fasching. We are so pleased you have accepted this interview with our newspaper. Please introduce yourself for our readers.

Call me Rachael, please. My married name has a host of unpleasant memories associated with it.

Oh, dear me. Yes. Can you tell us something about your background? Who was your husband and what happened to him?

Well. Anyone who reads the gossip rags knows something of the matter. Mr. Fasching was an American potions importer. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up dead. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about it. He was rather a villain, as it turns out.

I must say, you wear your widowhood well. That is a marvelous dress.

Isn’t it, though? I’m sure many would tell me that the neckline is too low to be appropriate for a widow, and the red embroidery likewise improper, but I have never been one to conform to restrictive fashion ideals. I prefer to set the new trends. People may gape and whisper if they wish, but no one can say I lack for beauty or elegance.

Your bold personal style does garner attention. Is that your plan, now that you will soon put your mourning period behind you? Attend parties and show off?

Parties and showing off are always in the plan. But I have far more interesting goals for my life at present. As I have indicated, I do not wish to use Fasching’s name. I intend to remarry to remedy the situation. In fact, I fully intend to woo the most passionate, romantic man in all of England until I have earned his undying love.

How strange. Because your name has recently been linked to that of Professor Avery Cantrell, a man noted for being dull and peculiar.

Ah, dear readers, you know so little about him. I don’t expect you to believe me, but Cantrell is so much more than you see on the surface. He hides himself behind his research, but I am uncovering his secrets and I must tell you they are delightfully intriguing. I do not doubt we will have fantastic adventures together.

Speaking of adventures, what can you tell us about yours?

Well. Certain information is not mine to share, but I can tell you that I have recently learned of strange, ancient curses and deadly potions allergies. I’ve encountered murder by poison and discovered vital clues. I’ve scandalized society by driving steam cars fully as well as any man.

Continue reading “Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)”

Paulette Monot (of Royal Blood, by Bruce Woods)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from the time of the Matabele Wars in what is now Zimbabwe.

She is an adventurer, a friend to famous people, and a vampire.


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

Questions regarding background are devilishly difficult for such as I, in that one is always cognizant of two separate and very different “births.” I spent my last mortal years in the metropolis of Manhattan, and was, I think, much like any other young woman there at the time. I was intelligent, a tad ruthless, attractive (if I may say so), and soon to be something else entirely! In the years since I’ve traveled extensively, exploring not only Matabeleland but the hidden wonders of Empress Cixi’s China.

What do you do now?

I have been, I am, and I hope to continue to be for some time to come. Having at one time been persona non grata among my Kind as a result of my unconventional “making” (I was created accidentally and against my will, thus contravening all regulations regarding the creation of a new member of the Kin), I am now considered to be, if not a leader per se, at the very least a spokeswoman for my Kind in America. I currently operate out of my fiefdom in Washington D.C., and look after the wealth that my travels has afforded me while attempting to enhance the invisibility of my Kin and defend their status against those who would usurp it.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The tale currently available concerns the First Matabele War in what is now Zimbabwe. At the behest of a cabal of Britishers, including Lady Ellen Terry (“Ageless” stage actress and undead Mistress of the City), Cecil Rhodes, and Sherlock Holmes, I traveled to Africa to see what influence I might have on the troubles then subsuming that region.

Continue reading “Paulette Monot (of Royal Blood, by Bruce Woods)”

Korax of Rhodes (of The Mazes of Magic, by Jack Massa)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man from the ancient world. He is here to tell us about his life, from Thracian roots, a childhood in Rhodes, and a slavery in Egypt — as well as about temples, gods, and dark magic.


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

As best I remember, I grew up in a prosperous family on the island of Rhodes, site of the glorious Colossus of Helios. I say ‘as best I remember’, because my memories are fractured, and I am subject to spells of madness.

That is most unfortunate. How did this happen to you?

I fear I have only myself to blame.

My father was a merchant of Rhodes, but my mother hailed from Thrace, the land of witches. When I was a babe, I watched her with her handmaids performing magical rites. Later, when I was older, I would sneak from my bed on nights of the full moon and climb to the roof of the house, where I could spy on her ceremonies. It seems I learned more than was good for me.

How do you mean?

In the last memories I have of Rhodes, I was 19. Spring had come, the Festival of Dionysus. It was my favorite time of year; I played the lyre and was passionate about drama and song.

But that Dionysia was different. I used the witchcraft I had secretly learned from my mother to conjure the god, to help me win a singing contest. I also used his inspiration to compose satiric songs, to humiliate certain rivals—young men who had bullied me on many occasions. My strategy worked too well. The bullies were driven from the feast hall in shame. But the next morning they cornered me on the street and beat me nearly to death, smashing my head on the pavement.

What happened after that is unclear—painful fragments of memory. Eventually, I found myself in a slave yard in Egypt.

Where do you live now?

Now I am a scribe at the Temple of Ptah, in Memphis on the Nile. I translate documents from Egyptian to Greek, as required by King Ptolemy of Alexandria. I am also used as a seer by my master, the High Priest Harnouphis. Continue reading “Korax of Rhodes (of The Mazes of Magic, by Jack Massa)”

Hugh Connor (of King of the Blind, by Caiseal Mor)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a master distiller from 17th century Ireland, here to tell us about whiskey, harps, and faeries.


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

I was born in the west of Ireland in 1688. My family moved to Dublin when I was a lad. My father was a coachman to Doctor Delany of that city. Dublin was a peaceful enough place in those days despite the bitter fighting taking place elsewhere in country. It took many years for things to calm down after the Dutch invasion in 1689. I was very fortunate to grow up in a quiet city amongst level-headed folk.

I’m deeply grateful for these happy childhood memories but I also feel blessed to be rescued from the blandness of it all. A man could die of boredom in such a place.

Any cherished memories?

My most cherished memories are of the music. Dr. Delany was a patron of the arts and I was often employed to serve at the great parties he put on. It was through him I first met the master harp player, Turlough O’Carolan. And it was Dr. Delany who recommended me to the great man as a servant and helper. Master O’Carolan was a travelling musician but he was also blind, you see. So, he needed a reliable man to guide him, to lead his horse and to carry his harp.

Master O’Carolan was greatly loved for his talent at the harp, but he had a weak spot for the whiskey. It was a full-time job seeing to his needs and a great challenge keeping up with him too. However, his circle of friends included some of the leading people in Dublin society at the time. Dean Jonathan Swift was a personal friend. Signor Geminiani, the renowned violinist, was another close acquaintance.

What do you do now?

My master’s love of the whiskey led me to learn the art of distilling, if for no other reason than to save him some money and ensure I didn’t starve. Whenever he launched on a drinking binge I might not get paid for weeks. I’m now a master distiller and my wares are sold all over the country. Not legally of course. I have a series of connections with various officers and gentlemen who appreciate my craftsmanship. These days I’m confined a little. I’m a hundred years old. A mishap with the still a few years back, blinded me. Now I know how my master felt. I’m left to direct the family business and spend my time by the fire telling stories of the old days. Continue reading “Hugh Connor (of King of the Blind, by Caiseal Mor)”

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