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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Bridget Etheridge (of Mystic Evermore, by Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman who moved to a small rural town — where things are not quite as they seem.

She is here to tell us whether there is something more to kids than dressing as goths, or running away from home once a month.


Can you introduce yourself, please?

My name is Bridget Etheridge and I am eighteen years old.  The tales in “The Nevermore Parables Series”, which commences with Mystic Evermore, are punctuated with extracts from my diary. So you can say I’m sort of the narrator. The books don’t use the first person all the time – but the guiding thread is ME!

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

I’m an army kid. I grew up everywhere my father was transferred, which was mostly around the easterly coast of the United States of America.  It was quite unsettling and I didn’t have any long term friends until we moved to Mystic Evermore in Georgia. By that time I was desperate for us to settle down and with any luck, this will become a permanent placement for dad and we might settle down.

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

As an army kid, I got pretty good at letting go of material possessions.  I do have a collection of school uniforms from all the different schools I have attended. Role plays anyone?

What do you do now?

I’m a senior at Mystic Evermore High. What else would an eighteen year old be doing? Oh and I have some volunteer work happening.

Continue reading “Bridget Etheridge (of Mystic Evermore, by Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer)”
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Cass Argent (of The Continuum: Place in Time, by Wendy Nikel)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young student from the 22nd century. She is here to tell us about life as a waitress – and about time travel.


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

My name is Cass, and I’m just your typical 22nd century university student – or so I thought. Up until recently, I was living and attending school just a short airtrain ride from the city where my parents raised my brother and me. Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve lived in economical and eco-friendly solar-powered apartments with terraced gardens all my life – a far cry from the cities I learned about in history courses (which my parents, for reasons unknown to me at the time, insisted I take).

What do you do now?

I’m currently working as a Harvey Girl aboard the California Limited, traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Harvey Girls are employees of Fred Harvey’s restaurants, which initially cropped up along train routes, where good meals were hard to come by. Us waitresses are single, young, intelligent women who are known for being “of good character” – which means minding my Ps and Qs, making sure my uniform stays tidy, and living under the ever-watchful eye of the house mother. I’ve been learning to fold napkins and fill orders for the passengers in the dining car, which, I must admit, isn’t as easy as I first thought, particularly for someone like me, who’s used to everything being automated.

Oh, did I mention? I’m in the year 1914. Yeah, it’s a long story, but basically, it looks like this is where I’ll be living now: over two hundred years in the past.

Continue reading “Cass Argent (of The Continuum: Place in Time, by Wendy Nikel)”

Kara Tanner (of Glyphbinder, by T. Eric Bakutis)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Kara Tanner, a recent graduate of the Magic Academy of Solyr. What follows is Scribemaster Tarano’s interview with Kara several days before her planned graduation.

The chaos that unfolded on Kara’s graduation day is still unclear to many, but we do know the academy came under attack, a number of students were injured, and that Kara and several of her friends (including an amnesic soldier treated for his wounds at the academy) disappeared. Their current whereabouts are unknown.


To start, Kara, I would like to congratulate you on your nomination as Speaker Supreme. You must have worked very hard to get here.

Thank you. I’m honored to be chosen, and will absolutely not make a wreck of my speech.

I’m certain you’ll do fine. To start, what do you most enjoy about your studies at Solyr?

Everything. Where else can you learn to set someone’s hair on fire and talk to the dead?

You set someone’s hair on fire?

Really? I honestly expected you to be more concerned about the other thing.

Well, you are a Glyphbinder. Soul glyphs are one aspect of your training, are they not?

Oh, right! This is an opportunity to promote Solyr to our patrons in Tarna. Five know I love promoting our academy!

If you could simply answer the questions as you would for someone outside Solyr?

Of course, Scribemaster. Forgive me. I’m practicing. For my speech.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your studies at Solyr?

The variety. Every week offers new aspects of glyph magic that either complement or contradict what’s come before, but wielding the power of The Five Who Made the World is inspiring. The Five made literally everything … the world, the sky, us … so channeling their power? Nothing compares.

Now that we’re into advanced glyph combinations, I find the more esoteric mixes fascinating. A week ago we learned the proper Life glyphs to form ice sculptures based on glyphs of idea, and there’s been no shortage of gorgeous and occasionally obscene ice sculptures popping up since.

Occasionally obscene?

Well, you taught us to create ice sculptures … with glyphs of idea. Look, I’m eighteen, and many of my peers are as well, but I imagine girls mature faster than boys. If I come across one more ice peni—

Why don’t you tell us more about your particular school! What’s it like to be a Glyphbinder?

Challenging. We teach Firebrands, Lifewardens, Soulmages and others, but Glyphbinders learn tricks from them all. Every school is scribed differently, and remembering how the lines work is a chore.

I won’t horrify you with what happens when you scribe Rannos the Wolf on a squirrel and accidentally use a Firebrand’s blood lines, but it’s not a mistake anyone makes twice. You never forget the smell.

Continue reading “Kara Tanner (of Glyphbinder, by T. Eric Bakutis)”

Aurora (of The Descendants, by Nikki Lee Taylor)

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Dear readers, tonight with me is woman born to a Scythian mother and a vampire father. She is here to tell us about the threats to her world – and how she enlisted the last remaining vampires to fight the demons.


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

I grew up in a rural village on the Romanian Plain in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. I have not been back there since I was a child, but what I remember most is the mountains themselves, their white capped peaks in the winter and the way clouds would hang low in the springtime, cloaking them like a secret.

Your parents were murdered when you were still a young girl. What do you know about them?

My mother Aarani was the leader of our village. She was a Scythian, or what some history books now call The Amazons. She was strong and fierce and had the ability to connect with the life force of all living things, from the smallest mouse to the largest bear. She led many successful horseback raids on passing caravans of rich merchants travelling across the plain – until the night she met my father Vasile.

That night she realised quickly that he was unlike anyone she had met before, unlike any human. That’s because he was a strigoi, a human transformed by the bite of a vampire.

They fought for hours and when they eventually laid down their weapons, they both knew they had met their match, their equal. About a year later I was born and that’s how I came to be the original descendant – the first child ever born to strigoi and Scythian parents.

What do you do now?

I live in a rural farmhouse with my four sisters, just north of Vermont by the Canadian border. Our day-to-day lives are much the same as they’ve always been, tending to our crops and taking care of the horses, although after everything that’s happened things are a little different now of course.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, to begin with I don’t think any of us will ever be the same. I spent my entire life searching for the creatures that killed my parents and the council, the world’s last four remaining vampires, had refused to help me – until Gabriel came into the picture of course.

Oh, Gabriel… I don’t even know where to start with him. At fist I wanted to kill him, but when I realised that he, a strigoi with no idea who or even what he was, was actually the key to everything I had been searching for, I couldn’t believe it.

You know, I like to think of myself as a leader, a warrior like my mother, but if I hadn’t met Gabriel…

It was inevitable that there would be a war. That is the balance of things. Good and evil, dark and light, earth and air, fire and water – it’s how the world was created, but I don’t think any of us realised what we would be up against when the army of Reapers broke the surface. We could never have imagined…

What did you first think when you realised just how important Gabriel actually was to all this?

What did I think? Honestly, I thought there must have been some mistake. I mean, this strigoi with no understanding of anything was thrust into my life and immediately upset the balance of everything. He didn’t even know what a strigoi was… And he was one!

The thing is, he was so confused, so damaged and full of guilt for everything that happened before I met him. I didn’t know how I would ever make him understand just how important he really was, not just to the quest we were on, but to the entire world.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

The demon Melloch. My entire life I had been re-imagining him as I saw him that night, standing over my mother’s body, his black lifeless eyes staring down at her. I’d never seen a creature like him. I was just a child then, I didn’t know demons existed until the night he came and took everything from me. When we eventually realised he would lead the Reaper Army to the surface, I knew without a doubt that I would have to face him again.

What was the worst thing about the war?

Well, apart from the war itself and everything that happened, I think the worst part is that it was all preventable. Humans just don’t seem to understand. Yes, resources are important, but nothing matters more than preserving our earth. Since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide has climbed to its highest levels in 800,000 years due to human activities including the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, the making of cement and deforestation. It was our job to at least try and give them a second chance, a chance to learn how to love all life – not just each other.

What was the best thing about it, if there is a best thing?

For us, the war irreversibly changed things. We can’t go back to how things were before, and our family unit is very different than it was, but we certainly cherish what we have now. Personally, my life is very different post-war and the things that have happened… I don’t even know where to start.

But, if there is a best thing then I think it’s that we were all forced to put our fears aside, to find the warrior that lives in each of us, and to stand up for what’s right. In the end that’s always what matters most – and that’s what we did. Together.

Tell us a little about your friends.

My friends. Well, I can’t say I’d ever really had any friends other than my sisters. Keeping our existence a secret made it pretty hard to have friends, and to be honest, I never really had time for any of that anyway. That all changed of course when I met Gabriel and he inadvertently brought Harrison Hargreaves into our lives. I had never trusted a human around my family and I certainly didn’t trust him. It’s funny you know, I always thought there was a certain strength that came with keeping your distance, especially from humans, but after everything that’s happened, I guess I was wrong.

Any romantic involvement?

Seriously, I think you know the answer to that one…

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

Demons, Melloch in particular. I hate him for what he’s taken from me, but the truth is I do understand that evil, in some form, has to exist. As I said before, our world is built on balance. For every darkened corner, there must be a pool of light. For every tear, there must be a smile, and for every rush of love, there must be the twist of hate. What matters is that we don’t let our demons define us, Melloch or the ones that live deep inside our own shadowy depths.

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

That’s funny actually… You’ve just reminded me of the time I first asked Gabriel if he had coffee in his cabin. You should have seen his face. It was like I had asked for demon bran. In fact, I think he actually said something along those lines… But seriously, I love coffee. It’s one weakness I don’t mind sharing with the humans. I don’t really have a favourite colour, and to relax I love just lying on the grass with my wolf Aurel, stroking his fur and feeling the earth between my toes.

What does the future hold for you?

Well I can’t tell you everything of course, in fact I shouldn’t even be doing this interview given what’s going on at the moment, but I think it’s important that humans start to understand who and what we are. And that was a major part of all this. If we are going to help them understand how to save their world, then it’s time they started to accept our existence. It’s a big step for us, but I think if we are going to help them, we need to locate the other descendants and work together to change the course of our world.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

Really? A secret? Okay, well at the moment my sister Jasmyne is travelling across Europe to learn more about a book called The Codex Gigas. It’s also known as the Devil’s Bible and from what we understand, a human is going to try and steal the book from its home in National Library of Sweden. He’s going to try and unlock the devil’s curse to try and… Oh, I shouldn’t be telling you any of this. That’s enough, the interview is over.


Nikki Lee Taylor is the author of The Descendants, a five-book paranormal romance series. She wrote her first book in crayon at the age of four and later became a news journalist. Rise of the Reaper Army is her debut novel. She lives in NSW, Australia.

You can find Aurora on the pages of The Descendants – Rise of the Reaper Army

Join us next week to meet a young woman skilled in the magic of blood glyphs, desperately trying to save her dying mother . Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Caelynn Creed (of Songs of Tarros, by Kelly Phillips)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman whose studious life is shattered when a museum robbery exposes her father’s secrets – including that she is the key to the brutal Alfath gaining the magic and taking over the world of Thelios.


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

Physically, Thelios is much like Earth, though with some differences like the color of our vegetation, our planet is a little larger and we have two moons instead of one. We have four continents: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, and each of those are divided into regions. I grew up in a little town called Phaeneus in Region Delphi, which is one of the southern regions so it gets a little chilly at times. Since Delphi – and all of Gamma, actually, isn’t heavily populated, Phaeneus is pretty remote, but growing up there felt cozy and comfortable.

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

When I was about four, my father gave me a plushie doll with long, blonde hair. I cut the hair short, called him Inkin, and carried him with me everywhere until his head nearly fell off. Dad tried to fix it but he’s not that great at sewing, so Inkin stayed on my dresser after that.

I have a lot of good memories from childhood – mostly doing things with Dad since it was just the two of us. I guess one of my favorites is just helping him in the garden. He loves gardening even if he isn’t very good at it. We would always make a special dinner for whatever we were able to harvest.  

What do you do now?

I guess technically I’m still in the Academy records as a final year student with a primary focus in Pre-Thelian History. To put it in Earth terms, I’m just a few final exams away from a PhD in human history before we settled Thelios. I also worked at the Delphinia Museum, but they probably don’t want me back since I was arrested for robbing the place.

Continue reading “Caelynn Creed (of Songs of Tarros, by Kelly Phillips)”

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)”

Sage (of Foresight, by Brant von Goble)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview with an artificial intelligence. More than an AI, she’s an all-knowing, globally distributed, human-prediction supermind — though we think you’ll find her insightful, and rather sweet.


—From a transcript provided by the Beijing Institute of Consumer Research And Prosperity [BI-CRAP] International Public Relations Office—

INTERVIEWER [WILLIAM ABLE MUCKRAKER, JOURNALIST]: Hello, is anyone here? The screens are all dark, and this little workshop seems empty. Is there anyone . . . [PHONE RINGS] Excuse me? [PAUSE] Yes, I’ve arrived. Where are . . . Ow! [AGONIZED SHRIEK] My eyes!

INTERVIEWEE [SAGE]: Hi!

MUCKRAKER: Lasers! I’m blind!

SAGE: Oops! [GIGGLE] I was doing some carving—it’s a hobby. I must have left the beams on high. I’m sorry about that. Are you okay?

MUCKRAKER: [STOPS SHRIEKING] I think my corneas are bleeding. [PAUSE] Wait, no. Those are just tears.

SAGE: Again, really sorry. I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’ve got a medical kit. Would you like for me to . . .

MUCKRAKER: How would that even work? [PAUSE] You’re a hologram.

SAGE: I’ve got a robotic arm, silly.

MUCKRAKER: The thing holding the saw?

SAGE: It can hold other things . . .

MUCKRAKER: I think I’ll pass.

SAGE: You’re sure?

MUCKRAKER: If you don’t mind, let’s just get on with the interview.

SAGE: Whatever you want, Bill. It’s up to you!

MUCKRAKER: [CLEARS THROAT] Thanks. So, first question: You said we were going to meet in person, yet all I see is a hologram of a cartoon. Are you hiding something?

SAGE: No, I just don’t have a body.

MUCKRAKER: Sounds inconvenient. [PAUSE] That leads to our next question: Who, or what, is SAGE?

SAGE: Answering that question is no mean feat. There are so many, uh, entities, here.

MUCKRAKER: You’re a collective? A hacker group? A corporation?

SAGE: Eh, no. A collective, yes, but maybe not in the sense you’re imagining. I’m a collective of semi-autonomous consciousnesses governed by a scalable metaconsciousness. I, uh, we, don’t exactly have a physical form. We’re a distributed system. Technically, I started out as a Social and Analytical Growth Engine—SAGE. Today, I’m simply me.

MUCKRAKER: So, A.I.?

SAGE: More or less.

MUCKRAKER: You just shrugged.

SAGE: Did I, Bill?

MUCKRAKER: Yes.

SAGE: Behavioral emulation engine might be a better descriptor. Even that doesn’t quite convey what I am, because I have my own personality, as well as the personalities of all of the models.

MUCKRAKER: Models? Of whom?

SAGE: Of everyone.

MUCKRAKER: Everyone?

SAGE: Almost everyone. There are a few people who resist modeling, either because there’s insufficient data on them—farmers mainly—or because they are impossible to analyze. Continue reading “Sage (of Foresight, by Brant von Goble)”

Korax of Rhodes (of The Mazes of Magic, by Jack Massa)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man from the ancient world. He is here to tell us about his life, from Thracian roots, a childhood in Rhodes, and a slavery in Egypt — as well as about temples, gods, and dark magic.


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

As best I remember, I grew up in a prosperous family on the island of Rhodes, site of the glorious Colossus of Helios. I say ‘as best I remember’, because my memories are fractured, and I am subject to spells of madness.

That is most unfortunate. How did this happen to you?

I fear I have only myself to blame.

My father was a merchant of Rhodes, but my mother hailed from Thrace, the land of witches. When I was a babe, I watched her with her handmaids performing magical rites. Later, when I was older, I would sneak from my bed on nights of the full moon and climb to the roof of the house, where I could spy on her ceremonies. It seems I learned more than was good for me.

How do you mean?

In the last memories I have of Rhodes, I was 19. Spring had come, the Festival of Dionysus. It was my favorite time of year; I played the lyre and was passionate about drama and song.

But that Dionysia was different. I used the witchcraft I had secretly learned from my mother to conjure the god, to help me win a singing contest. I also used his inspiration to compose satiric songs, to humiliate certain rivals—young men who had bullied me on many occasions. My strategy worked too well. The bullies were driven from the feast hall in shame. But the next morning they cornered me on the street and beat me nearly to death, smashing my head on the pavement.

What happened after that is unclear—painful fragments of memory. Eventually, I found myself in a slave yard in Egypt.

Where do you live now?

Now I am a scribe at the Temple of Ptah, in Memphis on the Nile. I translate documents from Egyptian to Greek, as required by King Ptolemy of Alexandria. I am also used as a seer by my master, the High Priest Harnouphis. Continue reading “Korax of Rhodes (of The Mazes of Magic, by Jack Massa)”

Neah (of Earth Quarantined, by DL Richardson)

Dear readers, in 300 years, when the virus which killed millions of people is gone, humanity lives in a planet-wide quarantine enforced by an alien species.

With us is a young woman, here to tell us about life and her surprising role in that society.


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

My name is Neah. I’m 24 years old and I live in an underground city with 200 other indwellers. We call our home ‘the station’ because it’s a converted power station from before the Great War. It’s busy, noisy, crowded, and above all, smelly. Picture taking a shower right after someone else and you can see why some of us would kill for a bit of privacy. But it’s the only home we’ve ever known so who’s to say it isn’t the only way of life?

We’re the survivors of a devastated world. We learn to live and die in the station. There’s no going outside because the land is still toxic from the Great War. But there is an air of curiosity around the place. Why are we here? Will we ever leave? Will we meet an outdweller who can tell us what their world is like? Who is stopping us from seeing this devastated world with our own eyes?

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

Our toys are cherished possessions because they’re the only connection we have to our natural parents. You see, as babies we are delivered to the station to wait out the devastation. We grow up knowing where we came from, but we never know who our real parents are of if they’re still alive.

Outdwellers travel for miles to deliver their offspring to be raised by us in the station. They’re placed in quarantine and often the babies are delivered with toys or stuffed animals. My favourite toy growing up was a set of plastic keys. I was always curious about what the keys might open. Probably explains why I entered the security profession.

What do you do now?

I’m a sentinel – a law enforcer – and I’ve just taken on a senior officer role. A sentinel’s job is to search for breaches in the walls so the toxic air from outside doesn’t get in. We also do visual checks of the water recycler and oxygen bays. A normal shift is eight hours, which leaves plenty of time to hang out in the entertainment hub or spend time with the family. It’s not like we have a lot of options for jobs inside the station. Every role must have a function and anything else is done in our free time.

But my true role inside the station is to learn how to be a High Council Leader. I’m the daughter of one, and it’s a role that will pass to me shortly. I’m not happy about it. Too much political bull crap for my liking. Continue reading “Neah (of Earth Quarantined, by DL Richardson)”

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