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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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History

Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the mother of the protagonist. She is here to tell us about life behind the Iron Curtain, about spies – and about a magical ring inherited from the famed John Dee, which she passed to her daughter.


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

Well, I was born in Prague, Czechia, between the two World Wars. It was exquisitely beautiful and yet terrifying at the same time. We lived in a grand old flat in Novy Svet, an old quarter of Prague up near the Castle. From an early age I was steeped in a culture of mystery. I used to love wandering around the old quarters of the city, especially the Jewish Quarter, and reading about old legends like the Prague Golem. There always seemed to be an air of unseen reality behind everyday life. A sense of the occult at work. It was sinister, in a way, and yet there was also a lot of laughter in our lives. That must be where I got my anarchic sense of humor! And my nose for the occult at work in public institutions.

What would you say were your defining memories as a child?

I seem to remember we read a lot, went to the theatre, and like most families in that part of the world we had a log cabin in the  forest where we spent weekends and holidays. You have to remember hardly anybody went abroad on vacation in those days.

My favorite memories are of sitting by the log fire at our cabin and reading fairy stories with my grandmother. It seemed idyllic, until  the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Then my whole reality changed forever. I guess that’s the origin of my contradictory personality. And why I became a spy. I witnessed Nazism and then Communism in only a few years. The point of all this, for me, as I say, is to understand the occult aspects of power and institutions.

Even in your life today?

Well, on the face of it I’m now just a retired, respectable grandmother, living in England, where my daughter Sylvia was born, and being a granny to my grandson Rusty. He’s quite a character. Takes after me in many ways! My daughter was pretty angry with me for a long time, on account of my spying career, which took me away from England a lot, but of course I couldn’t tell her about it.

Sometimes people tell me I’m just being paranoid, but I think I know better. It’s hard for me now, though, in a way, having to sit on the sidelines and just watch it all playing out, all over again. This time it isn’t a sudden cataclysmic event. It’s a slow creep. I could see my daughter Sylvia being sucked into this false reality of today and I meant to help her by giving her the ring, but in the end it just made her life more complicated.

So what, then, is this ‘wizard ring’? And what’s playing out all over again?

It was a gift from a dear friend of mine called Stanislav, who found it in Prague and I gave it to my daughter Sylvia. I meant it to enhance her consciousness. It was made in the Prague workshop of the famous English alchemist, John Dee, who lived in Czechia for a few years with his family. I completely underestimated its magic powers, as it turned out. But then perhaps I also underestimated my daughter. Parents often do. What’s playing out all over again? The colonization of our minds with propaganda. Misdirection about what’s really going on. The dark arts of money.

Continue reading “Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)”

Sir Blandford Candy (of The Last Roundhead series by Jemahl Evans)

the-last-roundhead-jemahl-evans
Dear readers, tonight with us is an irascible old drunk with a hatred of poets and a love of hats, straight out of the 17th century English Civil War.

He is here to tell us of his adventures, from battlefield to bedroom, unmasking Cavalier plots, earning the enmity of the King’s agents and uncovering an attempt to steal thousand.

 

 

 

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

I was born on the Ides of March 1624 – prophetic, no? My father was a rich cloth merchant who had an estate in Hilperton, near the town of Trowbridge in Wiltshire. Papa gave me the name Blandford after the town where he had just bought a new tannery. ’Twas not the best of starts perhaps, but then my father was ever a drunken old sot. He was likely too soused to think of a proper name.

My mother died when I was but a child from smallpox, and my eldest sister Elizabeth did her best to raise me, and my siblings. I had four: two brothers and two sisters, all dead now, of course. I was the fourth of five, with my little sister Anne the youngest – and most witless; truly she had less intellect than your average sheep. I am the last of the Hilperton Candys, excepting my idiot great nephew. He has just married; he is charmingly naïve.

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

I used to love to play with a whip and top that Mr Figgis carved for me, but my brother James took it, broke the whip over his knee, and threw the bobbin into the River Avon. I had my vengeance: I hid some dead gudgeon under his floorboards until the stink drove him out of his chambers. My eldest brother Henry was a hairy giant – more monkey than man – and another bully, but ’twas ever James that was most cruel. I remember little of my mother – soft white hands and a smile, nought else of worth. ’Tis a tragedy for a son not to remember his mother’s love. Do you see? I am not averse to playing for sympathy if it be to my benefit. Continue reading “Sir Blandford Candy (of The Last Roundhead series by Jemahl Evans)”

Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)

Thomas Brooke - Roman MaskDear readers, tonight with me in a man who witnessed one of the Roman Empire’s most iconic events. He is here to tell us about some of the wonders to be found across the Empire, and of its leading men and women.

 

What is Germany really like? Are the people there really as tall as the legends say?

Germany is awful.  No, really it is.  The lands are mainly covered in dark, thick forests that are often shrouded in mist, so finding your way through the impenetrable maze of woodland is all but impossible.  You don’t ever want to get lost in the woods there, trust me.  What isn’t forested, tends to be covered in bogs, or stony fields unsuited for anything but the basest of crops.  Their winters are so cold, with a harsh wind that comes in from the East, that you’re likely to freeze to death unless you find shelter come nightfall.

But worst of all are the people.  The German tribes are made up of a variety of warlike people all full of giant muscle bound warriors, with blonde or red hair, and fierce cold pale eyes that bore through you with hatred and malice.  Their women are almost as bad, often following their men to the battlefield to hurl insults and spit anger at their enemies from behind the lines. Continue reading “Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)”

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