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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Humour

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.

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)”

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)”

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)”

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)”

Characters Speaking Out

SM - Minis 1 - Copy

Dear readers, while we are taking a short break due to the holidays, I thought we’d include a recent full post done by our very first guest.

As part of Virtual FantasyCon (that awesome event where Felix and Murder In Absentia received an unprecedented five awards), we did a blog hunt. Readers jumped from blog to blog – and as an introduction to our corner of the blogosphere, Felix got a chance to speak for himself.

Of course, the bastard went ahead and started to curse me for making him work. Apparently he’s not big on doing self-promotions without immediate pay.

This post was originally published on Diane Riggins site. I’ll let you read Felix’s words for yourself.


Salve omnibus. My name is Spurius Vulpius Felix, sometimes known as Felix the Fox, but almost everybody calls me just Felix. It means Fortune’s Favourite in my language, though I’m afraid I am more like Furtuna’s favourite butt for practical jokes.

Actually, you may know my language as Latin. Years ago I visited your world, quite by accident. I came to a city named Rome, which was hauntingly similar to my own home in Egretia. Language, artists, philosophers all seemed familiar – yet there were some glaring differences. It was on a river, not on the seashore for one.

And everybody talked about gods and magic, but no one seemed to know how to properly practice it for another.

Anyway, I was approached by one of your world, one by the strange name of Assaph Mehr, and asked to collaborate on my memoirs. I would tell him my life’s stories, all the interesting mysteries I solved, and he promised to publish them to adoring fans in your world.

So far, the mentula hasn’t paid me a single denarius in royalties.

He says it’s a matter of time, that critical review has been exceptional, and that my memoirs are being sold all across your world. I would be paid, eventually, once he has finished repaying all the scribes and artists that have assisted him in the production of the scrolls. Or codices, as it appears your world prefers to bind sheets together, rather than stitch them in a scroll like civilised people.

So here I am, brought here to promote my own memoirs to increase my “fan base”, whatever that may be.

While I am here, I did check out what Assaph has been writing. Mostly true, just embellished a little. For example, there was this one case of a young woman who was haunted by the most dreadful dreams. It turns out that the cellars of her home were infested by lemurs. These are not, as Assaph says, cute and cuddly little creatures who “like to move it”, but rather than animus of unburied dead. They have the resemblance of what might have once been humans, but are now devoid of life and colour; grey shade of the dead.

As the story goes, I had to lure them away from the house and into the Mundus, the gates to the underworld. I distinctly remember that I told Assaph that I counted 44 of the evil spirits chasing me, but he insisted on making it fifty. He said that writing a story called Fifty Grey Shades would help him sell my memoirs, though I didn’t quite understand why.

So I will be here all week, always happy to answer questions and do everything to help Assaph increase our “fan base”. You can read the story about the Fifty Grey Shades on Assaph’s “website” (I won’t even pretend to understand what that is) here: https://egretia.com/short-stories/, together with a few more other short adventures. My first important case has been published as Murder In Absentia, and is available here: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1. You can buy it for less than the price of a half-decent glass of wine (Assaph insists that that is the only way to go; you people do not seem to appreciate authors as a respectable profession). And lastly, Assaph has, apparently, been talking to other characters from fellow authors’ scrolls. You can find them on TheProtagonistSpeaks.com.


If you like to read more of Felix, you can read the (free) short stories he appears on at his home of egretia.com. You can also find him on the pages of Murder In Absentia, where his memoirs swept the amazing five awards at Virtual FanatsyCon.

We will resume our regular interviews next week, when we will be hosting a woman whose music moved heaven and earth. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Friedrich Nietzsche (of Operation Cosmic Teapot by Dylan Callens)

operation-cosmic-teapot-dylan-callensDear readers, tonight with us is one of history’s most famous philosophers – if the not the most famous of them all. He was a philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist, Latin, and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.

He’s here to tell us about his seminal work about religion and god – and what happened to him after death.

 


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

I grew up in a small German Village named Rocken with my family.  It was pleasant.  My Dad was kind of a hero in the village, being the pastor.  Then he suddenly died when I was six.  Six months after that, my little brother died.  I couldn’t understand what was happening to my family at the time, but it did seem to be a glimpse into the chaos that was life.

After that, we had to leave Rocken because the house was paid for by the church.  So, my mom took my sister and I to Naumberg.  We lived with two of my aunts and Grandma.  That is, until I was sent to boarding school.

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

Toys?  Hahaha, who has time for toys?  My favorite items as a child were pens and paper.  I always knew that I would be an intellectual of some kind.

As for cherished memories, I suppose there is one that I would call ironic and amusing.  My baptismal prayer included a line from Luke 1 and asked the question, “What child is this?”  Of course, the answer that many people now know, is that I am the one who will question the validity of religion.  Later in my own writing you will see that I called myself the Antichrist.  But probably not in the way that you would normally think of antichrists.

What do you do now?

Currently I am the CEO for Heaven Inc.  I know, it’s an ironic job to hold, given my feelings on religion.  But my life really is filled with irony.  My job is to make sure that Heaven’s call center runs smoothly.  It hasn’t, though.  Continue reading “Friedrich Nietzsche (of Operation Cosmic Teapot by Dylan Callens)”

Lydia Bell (of One Fling to Rule Them All by Deanna Dee)

One Fling To Rule Them All - Deanna DeeDear reader, tonight on the interview couch with us in a young woman, an avid role-playing gamer who found love in the most unexpected and unusual of circumstances.

 

 

What was your childhood like? Any favourite toys or memories?

It was pretty awesome, actually. I had a decent spread of toys, but I mostly enjoyed taking my mom’s electronics apart and putting them back together. She wasn’t too thrilled when I’d do this, but it’s evolved into a computer science major. So there’s that, at least.

Does Craig share your love of Tolkien? Does Scott?

Craig has a general geeky respect for Tolkien. Scott, on the other hand, is as in love with it as I am. It makes for some awesome moments. Continue reading “Lydia Bell (of One Fling to Rule Them All by Deanna Dee)”

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