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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Humor

The Audit Team (of The Good Audit, by CP Aiden)

Dear reader, tonight we have something unique for you. The Good Audit happens to be one of the most hilarious, poignant books about corporate life we have ever read, laughing and crying at the same time. We had therefore invited the heroes of the audit, the brave team of The Accounting Firm, to audit our own blog.

You will be getting an unparalleled view into our audit, with a privileged view into what they say out loud vs what they put on messenger. Also, you’ll get used to the HR-based addressing of people as resources in no time.


Three members of an exceptional audit team from The Accounting Firm show up at The Blogger LLC’s office at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Blogger:  Welcome! Come in!

The team enters a small but swanky conference room, drop laptop bags, and set up.

Blogger: I’m so happy you could squeeze me in. I really need my blog audited. Your opinion and signature verifying my follower count will go a long way to building trust in my number of followers!

Manager: We are very excited to be here.

Staff 2: This certainly beats the last conference room we had!

Senior Manager (SM): We hope to be as efficient as possible – our profit margins are better the faster we are. That one special piece of paper with our opinion and signature is really the only reason anyone pays us. Amazing how much we can charge for it really.

Blogger: I agree. I’m surprised you stay so busy with fees like that… You said on the phone you’d just wrapped up on another client. How did that go?

Manager: Yes, we finished our audit of a company called Widget Maker last week! The company itself was not very exciting, but our team experience took us on so many wild and unexpected turns. I would say what we learned about each other as a team was life changing.

SM: The company makes widgets used to create gadgets.

Staff 2: And messes! It was a miracle we ever got done! They were so incompet—

SM (interrupting Staff 2): It was a great learning experience.

SM turns to Staff 2 and adds, “for EVERYONE!”

Staff 2: Yeah, like learning how to fix everyone else’s problems and how to cover up a bunch of—

SM (interrupting Staff 2 again): They were a first-year client. It typically takes a little time to ramp up when we start a new client. We did find several errors, but our interactions with the client team was where the real fun was. Manager even managed to get large pay raises for a couple people over there.

Staff 2: We also managed to get Office Manager fired, but they rehired her, so it worked out.

Manager gets on instant messenger:

Manager pinging Staff 2: Generally, it is not a great idea to talk bad about other clients in front of new clients. It gives them the impression we talk bad about all our clients.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Don’t we?

Manager pinging Staff 2: That’s beside the point. We don’t want them thinking we do.

Manager: Yes. We sharpened our skills at finding errors, we attended to CFO’s request to get the legal department in trouble, we learned quite a bit about plumbing, and we even made a little money selling concert tickets online!

SM: We were also able to charge Widget Maker extra fees. Extra fees get us better performance reviews within The Accounting Firm, so we always try to get more.

Blogger: Well, I’m a new client and we only have this morning, so I hope this goes well. Before we start, I would like to know a little more about you. Would you mind telling me about yourselves?

SM: Sure. I’m SM. I’ve been with The Accounting Firm for about 10 years now.

Manager: Don’t tell him about your JOB. Tell him about YOU!

SM: Is there a difference? (long awkward pause) I guess my ‘fun facts’ can be that I have dogs and do well when I’m hopped up on energy drinks.

Manager: That’s better. Way to branch out SM. I’m Manager. I have a super-hot wife and 3 little kids. I’m teaching my 10-year-old how to trade stocks. He made almost as much net income as Widget Maker this year (which isn’t saying much) and we are having a great time. I also like all things outdoors, except the time I had to go clear up to the middle of nowhere to count huge piles of clay they use in chocolate bars. Yes, you eat dirt.

SM: Manager, Partner doesn’t like it when you talk about your family in front of clients.

Manager: Good thing Partner isn’t here. My wife and kids love me and would love to see more of me.

Blogger: Well, with that, let’s move along with the audit then, shall we? How exactly are you going to audit my blog?

Staff 2 pinging Manager: I didn’t get to introduce myself.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Get over it.

Manager: Well, we basically need to make sure that what you say on your blog is true and accurate. We focus particularly on numbers, not so much on the text.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Fine. We can’t focus on much else. It is all a bunch of made up Sci-Fi and Fantasy. How are we supposed to validate any of these posts? There’s only one post on the main page that has any numbers and those are Guest 1 and Guest 2. The only real number on here is the number of followers.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Most of the numbers we audit at all our clients are made up. Think of how much was made up at Widget Maker! Those guys were guessing on practically everything and they weren’t even educated guesses!

SM: I do have to say, this is the best blog I’ve read all year!

Manager pinging SM: You work over 60 hours a week year-round, even on vacation. This is the ONLY blog you’ve read all year!

SM pinging Manager: Still makes it a true statement, doesn’t it?

Manager: I believe you wanted us to verify the number of followers. We’ll need to understand what people need to do to subscribe and how that gets tracked. Is there anything else you needed us to do?

Blogger: That is correct, and given you charge by the hour, I think we’d better get going!

Staff 2: I just subscribed, and the number of followers went from 39,038 to 39,039.

Manager: I subscribed and then unsubscribed (don’t worry I will subscribe again – my son could use a lot more Fantasy and Sci-fi in his life. Unfortunately, with me gone all the time, his childhood is becoming the home-school of hard knocks). The count went up and then back down again.

SM: Well, it seems like everything is working then. We’ll just call Partner and get his signature.

Blogger: Wait! That’s it? I thought you’d grill me about my awesome database and tracking system. I thought you’d confirm with some followers that they actually did follow the blog and get the newsletter! I thought you’d actually do something!

SM: We could do all that, but your fee would quadruple. I thought we discussed earlier how it is just our letterhead and signature you were after.

Manager: I just got the newsletter. So exciting – it looks fabulous!

SM: I guess we just confirmed on the newsletter. Look at that! We did extra work. I’d like to charge you extra for it, but my newly found conscience is telling me not to. However, I’m expecting your client satisfaction survey to reflect extremely high marks!

Manager: Staff 2, will you please write the 20-page summary memo detailing ALL the procedures we just did and send it to us for review?

Staff 2: You got it boss!

SM: Partner just confirmed we are good to go! Another great audit down and more fees for the Firm – what a fabulous day!

Blogger: Thanks for coming out and taking care of my audit today! Great to have this all wrapped up so quickly. What is next for you?

SM: Partner also said that Widget Maker just called back and they have some issues with a potential buyer and the financial statements we audited. We’ll be going back there to check it out tomorrow.

Manager: Sounds like a potential restatement. Those are always fun – tons of overtime hours to repeat what we just did thanks to the client screwing up! Buckle up Staff 2. We are in for a long ride ahead.

Staff 2: I thought I was going on vacation next week?!

SM: True. That is what you thought.


C.P. Aiden is an experienced corporate accountant with 14 years of corporate accounting and people interaction. Eight of those years took place at large public accounting firms. C.P.’s vast experience dealing with clients and teams provides all the fuel necessary in imagining up and creating his debut novel, The Good Audit.

You can find the audit team on the pages of The Good Audit.

On a personal note, this is one of the funniest books we’ve ever read. If you’ve ever been exposed to corporate life (accounting or otherwise), we’d urge you to go read it! A full review has just been published on our sister blog.

Join us next week to hear from a protagonist’s mother, talking about cold war spies and magical rings! Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

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)”

Tova Nokes (of The City Screams, by Phil Williams)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman, deaf since childhood. She’s on her way to Tokyo to undergo revolutionary ear surgery, though she isn’t quite aware of what’s in store for her.


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

I’ve been living in Ripton, Ordshaw, since I was born; it’s not the most glamourous part of the city but there’s a lot of people, so it’s never boring. Sure, it’s too far to walk into the centre, and we don’t have major cultural spots like the New Thornton galleries, or big parks, but we’ve got shops and good tube connections and the Gabber Market once a month. There’s also an abandoned railway line they say is haunted; we used to dare each other to run down it. But mostly people go there to do drugs.

Anyway, now that places like Ten Gardens are getting too popular, and prices are going up, it’s all going to swing back to Ripton, and we’ll be the next up-and-coming place to be!

You would have to say that, don’t you work on the Ripton Council?

Well, I’m not a politician, promotion isn’t in my job description – I mostly make sure other people’s numbers add up. But I see the work that goes into the neighbourhood, so I do have a little pride in it.

Then, I also see the where work doesn’t get done. If I was responsible, you’d definitely hear about Ripton’s greatness! We’d change the name to Tova Town.

What’s stopping you?

Um. Besides being a world class mediocrity? Probably the fact that everyone treats me like a charity case, even if I’m better at my job than most people in the office.

They treat you that way because you can’t hear?

That and because I make really bad jokes.

But the hearing, at least, might change soon. What can you tell us about your upcoming adventure?

Now that is an interesting thing. I won a lottery run by Mogami Industries; I’m flying to Japan and they’re going to scramble my brain or something. Miracle Surgery, You Too Can Hear! I wasn’t going to enter, it sounds unreal and there’s negativity about it in Deaf Club, but I missed my bus on a wet Tuesday and filled in this form on my phone while I was waiting, and here we are!

Of course no one really believes the surgery will work.

Continue reading “Tova Nokes (of The City Screams, by Phil Williams)”

Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a wizard. He is part of an adventuring group (because he’s broke), and he’s here to tell us about dungeons, dragons, quests, and bad attitudes.


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

Well I lived in Trestfall with my parents, two brothers Vine and Berek, and my sister, Shana. It was nice I suppose. My father was a baker and I always hoped to become a baker myself, or perhaps an accountant. Unfortunately, when I discovered that I had the ability to mess with the elements and blew my father’s kitchen to pieces I was shipped off to the local witch, Our Sharon, to be assessed. After that it was off to the Elementalists School for me.

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

I used to have a couple of wooden dolls that I would play ‘entrepreneurship’ with. Essentially one of the dolls would come in and ask for a loan to start up his own turnip producing business. The other was an investor who would advise him that there was no money in turnip production and had he considered killing dragons instead. But it would turn out that the investor had a scam running with the local dragon who, being in on the deal, would lie in wait for the former would-be turnip magnate and eat him. After getting him to sign over all his capital to a Hoard Based Currency System that is.

Endless fun.

What do you do now?

Well at the moment I’m involved in a questing group. They are an absolute shower. Andreton, typical warrior, as dumb as rocks, five times as hard and ten times as stubborn. There’s this Ranger, you know, nature type. Noble, brave, clueless. A wretched woman named Daisy, I ask you, Daisy, and she’s a fighter. Watch out for your head, she has a habit of removing them. The Cleric, Valeran, as you can probably imagine has his head so far up his own backside he probably needs an Elixir of Nightseeing just to find his own shoes. And a Rogue, Donalt. He’s always behind you. Doesn’t matter where you are.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So, under absolutely bloody false pretenses I got dragged into this group of sociopathic idiots and now we are faced with angry townsfolk, angry Trolls and angry Demons. I have no idea why but everywhere I go everyone is either very stupid or mad at something, and they naturally take it out on me. God’s save us. Everywhere I go, ‘Why don’t you have a pointy hat?’ or ‘Have you arrived precisely when you mean to? Because you’re bloody late.’ That’s what I get all the time. Look. WITCHES have pointy hats, OK? Wizards can wear whatever headgear they like. And I don’t use a wand either. That’s all marketing. I can point a cake at you and do the same spell.

Continue reading “Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)”

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)”

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)”

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