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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Humor

Alexandra Renai (of Heroic Lies, by Stephanie O’Brien)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a spunky reporter, on the front line of an alien invasion. She’s here to tell us about her friends (and what she’d do to save them), and about alien abductions (which involve more video games than you might think).


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

It was a pretty regular neighborhood, until I grew up and it became the site of regular abductions.

Y’know, cute suburban houses, UFOs in the form of unidentified airborne birds, because those technically count, and kids banding together to try to rescue said birds after they mashed their faces into windows, with mixed results.

It was the identified flying object that ended up making things interesting, seeing as it was a spaceship.

Did you have any favourite toys or activities that made life interesting before the spaceship showed up?

Like a lot of modern kids, I was pretty attached to my smartphone. I took pictures of everything that caught my eye, and made up news stories about them, though they almost never got published.

Most of the pictures were pretty mundane, though I did get a pretty good one when a moose wandered into our yard and my friend, Alexa, tried to check its hooves for thorns.

You know the story about the lion with a thorn in its paw? It doesn’t work as well when the lion is a moose. I had to distract it while she ran inside.

That one actually did get into the local paper, and it’s one of my proudest childhood memories. My dad got interviewed along with me, and I swear he mangled his grammar just to annoy me. He did that all the time when I was a kid; I started correcting his spelling and grammar when I was eight.

Are you still taking pictures and reporting on things now?

Most of the time I’m in front of the camera, not behind it. I mostly report on what I’m told to, but I do my best to find my own stories whenever possible.

Lately I’ve been making stories by posing as the girlfriend of an alien superhero so his equally alien rival can kidnap me instead of the real girlfriend. I don’t think Alexa would take it as well as I do.

You know, at first I thought those aliens might be goofy college kids in costumes with prosthetics, but when the kidnapper crossed a huge room in less than three seconds to prevent my experimental escape attempt, that theory got a lot weaker.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’ve mostly been teasing an alien abductor, trying to keep everyone convinced that I’m the hero’s girlfriend without actually having to kiss him, and trying to beat said aductor’s high score on the video game he made for us.

More importantly, I’m also digging for answers to some pretty weird questions, such as why Zorei and Kadian are wearing matching ornaments, and why Zorei keeps picking fights with Kadian even though he never wins. He’s pretty smart and tech-savvy, so you’d think he could find something more fun and lucrative to do with all that skill.

Continue reading “Alexandra Renai (of Heroic Lies, by Stephanie O’Brien)”
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Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)

Dear readers, tonight with me are two characters that sprang out of their books to confront their authors. One, a handsome rogue, is the last chauvinist left in the feminist fantasy realm; the other is a space defender, struggling to be a strong female protagonist in books written by a pulp-fiction author.

They are here to tell us about their adventures.


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

Xander: My background is of little importance.

Lyra: *glares*

Xander: Oh, all right.

I was born in the village of Scrubbleypot, a three-day trek from the Landrian capital. My father was a knight in the old king’s royal guard, and died a warrior’s death on the battlefield, leaving behind his wife with child, a farm, and a cow. I was the child, and I had a miserable upbringing. My mother thought little of me because I reminded her of Father. I, in turn, think little of her.

Lyra: I was born on Terra in the year 5740. After years of rigorous training, I was inducted into the prestigious League of Space Defenders, a special force that protects the galaxy from alien threats.  In ’75, I and a team of seven other Space Huntsmen were dispatched to the Jerome Moon Outpost, in preparation of a future civilian colony.  Unfortunately, there was a … devastating incident on the base that left everyone but myself dead.  With our comms destroyed, I had no way to call home and report what had happened; instead, I’ve taken it on myself to identify the culprit and avenge my team.

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

Xander: A great warrior does not require such … intricacies…. Actually, we were too poor to buy toys, and I hadn’t a father to carve gewgaws and baubles from fallen branches as the other lads did. I never did learn to carve my own, but perhaps I shall when I meet a woman worthy of bearing my children.

My most cherished memories are those of solitude. When I’d finish milking the cow and letting it out to pasture, I would run to the untamed forests surrounding our land and listen to the birdsong. It is possible to lose track of time in there, for it is always dark beneath the canopy of trees. Thus ends the cherishable portion of any such memories, for Mother detested when the cow got out from being left unattended.

Lyra: My favorite toys growing up were my model starcruisers and VR headset.  We all got them as space cadets for training simulations, but I figured out how to add a variety of entertaining games to my system….

What do you do now?

Lyra: I may have no contact with the League of Space Defenders, but I’m still a Space Huntress through and through.  I’d dreamed since childhood of going to space, colonizing the moon, and expanding our access to the world as much as I can.  I just hope I’ll make it back to Terra with my findings someday.

Xander: At this time, I am my own master. After a brief juncture in the Landrian army, I took up service as a rogue mercenary.  I serve whomever I please, but unlike many, I am still a man of great honor.  And alas, my heart belongs the fair ruler of Landria, Lady Jen Mondegreen. Continue reading “Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)”

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)”

Nyla (of Catgirl Roommate, by Stephanie O’Brien)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a human-shaped lunatic with the furry ears, tail, and manners of an oversized housecat. A cat who loves stealing boxes and lying on personal belongings, and despises clothing of every kind.

She’s here to tell us about her life with her  prudish, responsible neat freak roommate.


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

I grew up in a lot of places! Mr. Michi, the human who gives me food and a house, moves around a lot – usually after I escape through the front door and visit the houses near us.

He doesn’t like it when I do that, but those other yards have lots of interesting animals to chase, gardens to dig in, and places to sun myself, so I don’t really care what Mr. Michi says.

Humans are too ridiculous to listen to, anyway. They tell me to wear uncomfortable floppy cages made of cloth, and when I don’t, they complain about me being “naked” and they try to keep their kittens away from me. As if I even want to be near humans’ kittens – they’re too noisy, and they pull my ears and tail. I don’t like them.

Do you remember anything from when you were a kitten?

Not really. I almost never try to, anyway; none of that is happening anymore, so it doesn’t matter. I don’t even care about what happened yesterday, never mind when I was a kitten.

You humans have this strange fascination with what happened so long ago that it doesn’t matter, and what isn’t even happening yet.

You say things like “Don’t eat too much or you’ll get fat”, but I’m not fat right now, so why shouldn’t I eat your food as well as mine? Yours is probably better anyway. Actually, even if I was fat right now, I’d still want your food, and I don’t see why you can’t understand that you should give it to me.

What do you do now?

Whatever I feel like doing at any given moment. Take a nap on the human’s laptop, lick myself in front of the window, poke the human to wake him up so he’ll feed me, eat the small animal in the yard beside ours, or splash the water out of my bowl because I’m annoyed. Whatever I want.

The humans complain about it sometimes, but it isn’t my fault that what they want me to do isn’t what I want to do. Continue reading “Nyla (of Catgirl Roommate, by Stephanie O’Brien)”

Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman, with a unique heritage.

With two dads and a year she was locked up in a basement and forced to practice her music, she has a very intriguing tale to tell.


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

Hey, I’m Cora, I’m nineteen and excellent. I’m from a little, angry, wet island called Wilson’s Well. It never stops raining and everything is grey. It’s a population of workmen, cafes and pubs. We’re all just getting by.

Living there is miserable for people who aren’t – well – umbrella salesfolk, I guess.

That seems harsh; the Well isn’t so bad. It’s just not great.

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

Favourite toys? I don’t think so. I was a loud kid with some hyperactivity issues. I never settled down with toys. I was doomed to be a musician. Way before I can remember, I pulled a whole load of pots and pans out of a cupboard and hit them as hard as I could until my dad came to shut me up. He’s since told me how brutally hungover he was that day and that he ‘felt like chucking me out the window.’ I heard that story so much growing up it must’ve subconsciously forced me into drums. Parents fuck you up.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Oh man. Right. You ready? I got black-out drunk one night – which was my brand at the time – and woke up in a basement with four other incredible musicians. With me? Cool. So, there was this ridiculous, eight-foot-tall cyborg who kept us there under orders from a lunatic in tartan trousers who needed the best musicians in Wilson’s Well to perform at his “Gala” where he planned to blow everything up. This guy is an A-grade prick, just FYI. His name is Judge Rabbit. Elsewhere, Judge Rabbit, who is responsible for electing the honest-to-God GRIM REAPER for our island, fucks up and brings my real dad – who I didn’t know about – back from the dead to do the job. He gets help from my step-dad, who I thought was my real dad, and they go on an adventure to rescue me. But they’re both incredibly useless men and the crap they go through to get anywhere near me is straight-up bananas.

So, yeah. That’s my most recent adventure. Continue reading “Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)”

Nikki Sotolongo (of Cherry Pickers by Bonnie Milani)

Dear readers, with me tonight is a young woman from the planet Sisyphus. As you may recall, Sisyphus is a particularly inhospitable world, and is home to a woman-only penal colony.

At seventeen years of age Nikki is obsessed about getting her gun to impress her mother, the director of the penal colony. For this she needs to be an adult, which – in her opinion – requires losing her virginity. The only way to do this is to lure and kidnap a man from a passing space ship, to ‘pick her cherry’, as it were.

She is here to tell us of her adventures, together with her adopted native brother.


Tell us about how you grew up.

If you ask Mah – that’s my mom – she’ll tell you I’m still not grown up.  And I’m seventeen already!  I mean, I earned my gun!  Hard way, too, not like some other girls I could name.

Okay, but do tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like in the colony?

You mean SisPenOne?  It’s a penal colony.  Same as every other penal colony in the Commonwealth, I guess.  Well, except it’s all women.  And Mah says Sisyphus got its name ‘cause the whole planet really is out to get you.  But never bothered me… well, ‘cept for that time the toilet vacuum failed and a nosher got through and nipped out a chunk’a my butt.  Got a really great scar from it.  Wanna see?  (She turns, loosening her pants)

No, no, that’s all right, we’ll take your word for it. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Toys?  Oh, those fakey things you give little kids.  Dolls and stuff, yeah?  Saw some of those things in those social studies vids Mah made Sam and me study.  Never needed any myself.  Sam and me – Continue reading “Nikki Sotolongo (of Cherry Pickers by Bonnie Milani)”

Niklas, Eighth Son of Jesse (of Tyrants and Traitors by Joshua McHenry Miller)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a fifteen-year-old shepherd, who spent his whole life dreaming of revolt against the hygiene-adverse Philistines. Recently an all-but-impossible mission is thrust upon him, and he started to rethink the whole hero business. What chance does the daring schemer have when lions, the Mad King, and a literal giant stand in his way?

He is here to tell us of his race to uncover the hidden traitor, conspiracies and armies which converge on the nation — with his hometown directly in the crossfire.


What’s the most vivid memory you have as a child?

I’ve been wrongfully identified as the chief mischief maker in our family. While I’d never deny my penchant for a bit mayhem, one of my older brothers, Abin, is the real godfather of all things chaos. Growing up, he was always seeking the next prank to pull off, and he often used me as patient zero for his ideas. Once, he convinced me to try every spice in our mother’s cabinet. It went alright until I chomped into a blackened mustard seed. My eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, and I spent the next two hours impersonating a waterfall, spewing fluids all over the house. He lovingly referred to it as ‘Abin’s Surprise.’

Tell us a little about where you grew up?

Ancient Israel is a tale of two worlds. On the one side, our countryside is awesome. We’ve got fertile hills, clear rivers, and some of the best wine this side of the mesopotamian peninsula. It’s a dream scenario, except for the tiny fact that every one of our neighboring countries want to wipe us off the map. Every decade or so, another regional war breaks out, and we spend the next five years cleaning up the mess. Plus, my people aren’t exactly known for a surplus in courage. We’re more of the ‘flee in terror’ crowd than the ‘stand up and fight for yourselves’ demographic, which only paints a larger target on our backs. Continue reading “Niklas, Eighth Son of Jesse (of Tyrants and Traitors by Joshua McHenry Miller)”

Emily Branwell (of Plato’s Cave by Russell Proctor)

Dear readers, tonight with me on the interview couch is a young woman who woke up one morning to find reality disintegrating around her.

From a horoscope that is astoundingly accurate, to sausages which keep appearing out of nowhere all around her, to how she can walk through walls.

She is here to tell us about humanity’s search for truth and the meaning of existence, through the eyes of someone who wishes the Universe would just stop bothering her.


We never meet any of your family. What are they like?

My parents are lovely people. My dad works as an accountant and Mum is a registered nurse. She’s a great person, despite boring people to death with her encyclopedic knowledge of the novels of the Brontë sisters. She really should go on one of those quiz shows. Dad collects Star Wars memorabilia, which is kind of cool. I’m an only child. That is, I did have a brother but he died of cancer. I was only four at the time so I don’t really remember much about him.

What do you do now?

What I did before. Study, bitch, drink coffee and indulge my chocolate addiction. But I don’t know…things are different. The sun is…have you ever seen the Sun? I mean, stared at it for ages, felt the warmth of it on your skin—really felt it, like fingers massaging you? My senses seem to have gone up a few notches since…well, since that time. Things just appear different. It’s hard to explain. Continue reading “Emily Branwell (of Plato’s Cave by Russell Proctor)”

Melvin Moose (of The Trouble with Antlers by AJ Culey)

the-trouble-with-antlers-aj-culey

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young shape-shifter, still attending high-school.

He’s here to tell us about life in Shifterville, and the social awkwardness that boys feel around girls – shapeshifting aside.

He’d also like to set the record straight regarding his antlers. It’s not his fault!


Tell us about the shifter town you live in. What’s it like there?

I live in Shifterville. I’m sure you’ve heard of us by now. Yes, we’re that town – the one that invited a human to move there. Well, two humans really. I think that probably tells you everything you need to know about my town. We’re run by a bunch of crazy shifters who actually thought we could keep two humans from discovering the truth about the town they live in. Personally, I think it’s probably a good idea for the shifter world to brace itself. Unless the humans are utterly stupid, I just don’t see how our secret’s going to remain one for much longer.

What do you do in Shifterville?

I go to school, study a lot and play sports like Fangs & Claws and Hoofball. It’s not so bad. Except when the girls are playing. Then it’s a nightmare. You know. Trying to run on two feet with six- foot antlers pulling me off balance. Gravity is not my friend.

Wait. What’s this about your antlers?

They’re a problem – a pain in the rump really. I can’t control them, okay? I don’t know why, but every time I see a girl, smell a girl, whatever, out pop my antlers. It’s not like I completely shift or anything. No, that would make too much sense. Instead, it’s just my antlers making an appearance. Which makes my life awfully complicated because now I have to avoid Amelia. She’s the new human at Shifter High. Up to now, my antlers haven’t been that big of an issue. Well, I guess they have been, but they weren’t a life and death issue. But now that there’s a human girl wandering around the school, they’re a real problem. What if she sees them? I’ll be the shifter responsible for outing us to the human world! Continue reading “Melvin Moose (of The Trouble with Antlers by AJ Culey)”

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