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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Horror

Sergeant Vila Kiprik (of Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep, by S.P. Stevens)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the leader of a snatch squad, tasked with clearing an old mine from the psychotic savages that took over. The savages – known as the Unbound – are followed by dark magic that mutates living things and liquefies rock, and Kiprik and his crew must make it to very bottom of the mine, where the deepest magic and the darkest truths lurk.


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

I was a Sendal lad, born and bred. Village like any other, bunch of scrags for the main part. Trouble followed me everywhere, no damn surprise there, by the time I was in double digits I’d already broken a full-grown man’s skull. Don’t think no one was sorry to see me go, truths be told.

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

Toys? What are you on, son? Only toys we had was sticks. Liked a spot of fishing with Denrak, the weaver’s lad – does that count?

What do you do now?

I’m a ranker, son, a gods’ honest regular soldier in the Primearch’s glorious army. Cannon fodder for those bastards back home, just like the rest of us sorry clodhops. If you want a type to lay in a ditch for two nights then slice open a dozen arseholes’ necks before breakfast, I’m yer man.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Adventure? Bah! I’m too old for that billyshit. This ain’t no adventure, it’s a godsdamn feeding frenzy for the crazies down that feckin’ hole. We ain’t bloody miners, son, but they expect us to go down into that pit and search out the Unbound like they were bloody waiters at some vache tea party. Only tea party I ever went to, the staff weren’t trying to rip out yer bloody necks. Bet yer top brass wouldn’t go down there. Damn pigjubbers couldn’t swing an axe to chop firewood.

Continue reading “Sergeant Vila Kiprik (of Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep, by S.P. Stevens)”

Fergus of Weirdell (of A Ritual of Bone, by Lee C Conley)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a support-cast character, who seems to have taken the place of the scheduled protagonist!

He’s here to tell us about his world, where forgotten Dead Sagas talk about the rise of the dead and the coming of great evil.


You are not quite the person I was expecting.

‘Not what you were expecting, eh? Expecting Arnulf, or the famous Bjorn perhaps? I read some of what that scholar wrote. True, there are others who play the bigger part in his Saga. That scholar… Conley, what does he know anyway? If you ask me, he wrote about the wrong man for our part in it all. So I’m here. I am Fergus, lord of Weirdell. You’re best off speaking to me. I can’t say I know some of the others he wrote of, but Arnulf, his man Hafgan, the lot of them now… a bunch of grim, stoic bastards – You’d get better conversation out of that old hound of his. Ha! If you want the real story, sit, listen to Fergus. We’ll have a drink and I’ll tell ya true.’

Okay, fine. If you don’t mind I’ll start at the beginning. So, Lord Fergus, tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up. What was it like there?

‘Where did I grow up? Well, you must know who I am? No. Ha! Eymsford, lad. In my father’s halls at Eymsford. What! You’ve not heard of Eymsford? New to these shores, eh? Well, Eymsford is the seat of the high lord in the Old Lands of Arnar – my father, Lord Angus – he answers only to the king. So, Eymsford, a great place, and very old. A place of warriors. It was we who held the borders in the wars of forging, we who bore the brunt of old Cydor so our brothers could forge a new realm. It’s all in the old Sagas, you should hear it sometime.’

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

‘Do whores count? Ha! Aye, I remember when I was a lad. With my father being the man he is, I had a good childhood, better than most. I remember my first time on his ship, the spray and wind battering my face. I remember the feasts, the melees, basking in the valour and renown of some of Arnar’s finest warriors – it was a good way to learn honour. My most cherished possession though… I remember my first sword, the real thing, the steel, you never forget. But I always loved my first wooden sword. The old bastard had us training from the cradle with the Master-at-Arms. It’s how I met Arnulf in fact. We’ve been as close as brothers since we were young. Training hard with him and the other noble lads, good times, bashing up that sour bastard.’

What do you do now?

‘Well, now I’m the lord of Weirdell. I am lord and law-giver of the town, one of my father’s bannermen, perhaps one day I’ll take my seat in his stead.’

What can you tell us about your part in this Dead Saga I’ve been hearing about?

‘Well, let me tell you this. Times have grown dark of late. It’s grim news whenever you hear it. So you want to know about the passes – I take it you wouldn’t be asking if you hadn’t heard rumour of the deeds written in the Saga. For our part, it’s true, lad. It’s all true. I saw it with my own eyes.’

Continue reading “Fergus of Weirdell (of A Ritual of Bone, by Lee C Conley)”

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)”

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)”

Paul Moore (of Hell Of A Deal, by Mark Huntley-James)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a Master of the Dark Arts, a demonic broker who runs a shop supplying witches. He’s here to tell us about fighting through life, death, demons and trying to survive a first date.


Tell us a little about growing up in Barrowhurst. What was it like there?

Sorry? An interview? Right now? Are you insane?  Haven’t you noticed those damned demons have dragged Barrowhurst into hell and Mickey-F****ing-Twitch is about to kill me. And this bloke here needs a doctor and you’re trapped in hell as well, so there’s no point in an interview.

Bugger off. Come back if I survive this. Then you can interview me all you like.

Several books later…

Tell us a little about growing up in Barrowhurst. What was it like there? And why are you waist-deep in that hole? And what is that awful smell?

You again… Whatever. Just give me a hand out of here when I get to the edge. Sorry about the smell. It’s what happens when a demon goes bathing in pig slurry.

What was the question again?

Barrowhurst…

Barrowhurst was kind of quiet when I was a kid, no bloody demons. Really, nothing much ever happened here. I’d have probably just taken over the family hardware business when I grew up, but Mickey, my best friend at school showed me magic. Yeah, the same Mickey-F****ing-Twitch who put people in the arena to fight to the death so the winner got to kill me. That Mickey. He was alright when we were kids. He showed me cool things.

So, yeah. I learned about magic. I used to go out to Abbey Wood when I was a bit older, and turn trees into stone. Or rabbits into stone. I got really good at turning things into stone and Mickey showed me other magic, and I got really  interested.

My parents never knew. I mean, even when you’re nine or ten, it’s not something you necessarily mention to your parents. I might have told them about it when I was older but they died in a freakish accident when I was eighteen.

What sort of freakish accident?

It was an early deal I cut with a demon. I got a few things wrong, and well, Mum and Dad were out and…

Can we talk about something else?

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

All my best toys were stuff left over in the shop. I built robots and spaceships and just anything, really. Dad would keep bits of scrap, or stuff that was broken, and I could play with anything in that pile. When I was about six I tried to make a car. I mean, it was really simple, just a box with wheels, but I couldn’t make the wheels turn right. Dad went all through the scrap boxes with me to find something to make it right. Looking back, I think he might have cheated and got something out of the shop to make it work, but that didn’t matter.

I think my best pal Mickey was a bit jealous of that car, but he did show me a neat bit of magic to make it go on its own. Pity I couldn’t show that to Dad.

What do you do now?

I’m standing in a pit of demonically contaminated pig poop. What does it look like I do? I clean up other people’s mess. Come on. Just give me a bloody hand.

Thanks.

Don’t worry. It washes off eventually. Or after eternity.

Anyway, I used to run a magic shop as a front for brokering demonic deals – like getting you the girl of your dreams, or the perfect face lift, but at a sensible price that doesn’t include your soul. I dealt with the demons so you didn’t have to. Since the demons dragged Barrowhurst into their realm, and then I mostly got it back out, and I have one trapped inside me, I’m out of business. Being the dungeon to the demon Nyka doesn’t pay well. Doesn’t pay at all, as it happens.

I should have stayed with selling screws and silicone sealant after all.

Continue reading “Paul Moore (of Hell Of A Deal, by Mark Huntley-James)”

Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)

Dear readers tonight with us are two companions – a lieutenant general, second in command to the general, and an archmage. They are here to tell us about bloody battles, about a world of warriors and magic, and of a war without end.


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

Quain: I grew up in the port city of Halimouth on the southern coast of Valendo. When I got to the age where watching canal barges and ships coming in to dock became dull, Halimouth lost its appeal. Trouble with Halimouth is it’s full of sailors — men. That means too few women to go around and—

Disembodied man’s voice: Just eight heartbeats to start talking about your women conquests. These people are sophisticated intellectuals interested in higher learning. They want to know about Valendo’s snowcapped mountains, the sweeping green valleys, enchanting waterfalls, the history of the Ruberan pilgrim fathers establishing of the Church of the Sun here. They want to know about the civil war that almost happened and the subsequent invasion of the Nearhon army. They want to know about the legendary General of Valendo, Garon.

Quain: Eight heartbeats? You seriously counted eight heartbeats?

Man’s voice: What of it?

Quain: You think that’s normal, to count—

Man’s voice: Shall we get back to the interview?

Quain: Sorry. Anyway, you missed mentioning Valendo’s famous Vale horses. Indomitable beasts but I prefer Ruberan horses. Less hairy, sleek with a much better sense of rhythm.

Man’s voice: Why is a horse’s sense of rhythm relevant?

Quain: It’s way easier to teach them to dance and the way their mane swishes from side to side is enchanting.

Man’s voice: And the relevance?

Quain: It puts on quite a show at the head of a marching arming as I get them singing, and forgetting about the prospect of burning to a lump of greasy goo in mage fire. If they avoid that, it’s swords or whatever necromantic horror Magnar conjures up next. Which reminds me, the Nearhon scout network thinks you’re dead, or at least too sick to function. Aren’t you blowing your cover coming here invisible and gate crashing my interview?

Man’s voice: I might be a lost soul come back from beyond the funeral pyre to torment you for the rest of your life.

Quain: Are you sure I’m the one that would be tormented by that situation?

I’m sorry, I have to interrupt and ask who your unexpected companion is?

Quain: He’s called Jade.

Man’s voice: My name is Zeivite Quarntaker. I am Archmage of Valendo. I would appreciate it if you kept that silly Jade sobriquet to yourself. It’s a girl’s name that thankfully hardly anyone knows.

Quain: What about the five thousand two hundred and twenty-five members of the Valendo army at the last Battle of Beldon valley in 1852? That’s including the ladies of questionable repute, if you take my meaning. Can’t forget to include them.

Zeivite: The one’s that aren’t dead have probably forgotten about it now.

Quain: And anyone reading this interview?

Zeivite: Shut up.

Quain: You will go around wearing a dress—

Zeivite: It’s a robe and—

Quain: It’s very important to your station as Archmage. It has pockets and everything. Because you need somewhere to keep your tea making supplies.

Continue reading “Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)”

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)”

Roach the Demon (of Our Frail Disordered Lives, by Mary M. Schmidt)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a guest of a class we do not normally get – a demon.

He’s here to tell us about heaven and hell, and what lies in between. After working for Satan and trying to sign on new souls, he ended up in a (literally) hellish prison.


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

I’m a demon.  You know that, right?  I was created as angel in Heaven.  I was so gorgeous, I could not stop admiring myself, even for choir practice!  But I knew I could create something much better. I was so great, see?  So, when my boss…he was Lucifer back then, approached me and my buddy (that’s Scorch) and said he was gathering an army to overthrow the Creator, all we could say was, Tell us more! Sheeesh, if only I’d known what a jerk he’d turn out to be!  Do I regret my choice?  Well….no. That’s all I can say about it.

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

I was never a child, so no toys.  As for cherished memories…Hell, no!  Just sad ones.  Like….being stuck in Pandemonium Hall while Satan, that jerk, was setting up the itinerary with those 2 poets.  Dante and Virgil.  And I just knew that whatever they came up with would be a classic of Western civilization.  And I wanted so badly to show them how evil I am.  But, no!  Only the A-list demons were included! I was devastated!

What do you do now?

Not much.  I’m stuck in a high-security prison for making such a mess.  I almost made it big, you know?  That close! Continue reading “Roach the Demon (of Our Frail Disordered Lives, by Mary M. Schmidt)”

Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)

Dear readers, it took us a while, but we were able to secure a meeting with the legendary necromancer Tyir of Irene. We sit in the chambers of the Jaal of Valare himself, where Tyir called a servant over to bring us iced milk sweetened with honey.

He’s here to tell us about the dark and disturbing forces that shaped him to the necromancer he is today.


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

Hah! What was it like there? Do you really want to know? It was a shitehole. Miles upon miles of poverty, rocks and shite fields where nothing could grow. Irene was the wasteland where the refuse of the world was sent to die. No wonder so many people emigrated north. I was very young when my family joined the latest band of refugees.

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

Toys? Do you really think I had toys as a child? It’s as if you think I had a happy childhood. Most days we lived off crushed acorn paste, which tastes like dying shite, my friend. I do recall making a friend with a rabbit, once. That happy relationship lasted for just a day, before my father chopped it up for our rare meal of meat. It wasn’t the worst relationship I’ve ever had.

So….what do you do, if it’s not being a good-hearted soul?

Please, I’m pretty well known for my kindness. Just ask the Pharos Order, the Quellion family…the two thousand odd Order soldiers I’ve killed during the Sorn Rebellion…the Redure quisling scum…okay. That was meant to be a joke.

You could say I am a sculptor of man. I like studying, you see. There is so much knowledge trapped in the bowels of the underworld, laws that we cannot understand because the only ones who did understand it were dead centuries ago. If only the Order were so willing to accommodate that, but they have less intelligence stuffed into their one brain cell then Horse does when he’s on a good day. I also enjoy cutting up dead bodies and finding out how they work. I’m known as the Peddler of Flesh. If I did not know how bodies work, I would make an even poorer necromancer then I do already. Continue reading “Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)”

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