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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Humor

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)”
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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)”

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)”

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