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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Matthew Wansford (of The Order of the White Boar, by Alex Marchant)

Dear readers, tonight with me is boy of twelve years, a merchant’s son who always dreamt of being a knight. His chance came in the summer of 1482, when he joined Richard, Duke of Gloucester – the future King Richard III.

He’s here to tell us about his life at court and the deadly games of the Wars of the Roses.


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

I was born, and lived all my life until last summer, in my father’s house on Stonegate, one of the finest streets of my home town of York. My father may not be one of the wealthiest merchants in the city, but to me, it’s a beautiful house. It even has glass-paned casements that you can open in some of the front windows. If you open the one in our second-floor jetty (where I used to share a room with my brother Peter) and lean out as far as possible, you can just see the topmost tips of the towers of our great Minster – the cathedral of our city. Its bells you can hear resounding through the whole house at all hours of the day and night. Perhaps it seems strange, but that’s one of the things I miss most about being away. That and my family, of course, and my friends from the Minster song school.

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

My most precious memories are of my mother – caring for my sister, brothers and me before… before she died. She was always a loving mother, even when our father was stern and seemed unyielding. When we did anything wrong, she would always talk him round so he was less harsh with his punishment. I think he welcomed that. He is quick to anger – and often regretted his swift actions. She would allow him a way out. His grief at her death after the birth of our little sister was painful to witness.

What do you do now?

Since my disgrace last summer, and my expulsion from the choir school, I have been honoured to serve as a page in the household of His Grace, Duke Richard of Gloucester, brother to our sovereign King Edward IV, at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale. As my father says, I have fallen on my feet. Undeservedly perhaps, given the shame I brought upon my family – and I never thought to have such luck.

I have always dreamed of becoming a knight – ever since I first could read the courtly romances and tales of chivalry in the books my father imports from the Low Countries and France. But I thought it would only ever be a dream – that I would live out my days as a clerk in my father’s business, or at best become a cantor at the Minster like my brother John. Yet now I am on the first step to becoming a knight and warrior like my esteemed master. Continue reading “Matthew Wansford (of The Order of the White Boar, by Alex Marchant)”

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Elisheva Miller (of Songs of Earth, by Eugene W. Cundiff)

Dear readers, tonight with me is young woman, a Teller’s apprentice, from the lost colony on Luna.

When the vast and ancient machines that bring rains to the Dust of Luna fail, she – together with a band of fellow travelers – must face a long journey into the forsaken ruins of the Mongers’ abandoned cities, seeking a way to ensure a happy ending for her people.

She is here to tell us about life in the distant future.


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

I was born to New Harlan Camp, one of the five largest Camps. Life was hard, of course, but no harder than it is for anyone born to the Dust. Daddy worked the mines, Mama was the Camp’s senior Yarb-Wife, and my brother,  Enoch, was busy with his apprenticeship to the Engineers’ Union.  I  helped Mama most days, treating sickness and such, until I  neared my seventeenth harvest. That’s  when Jonah came calling and took me on as his apprentice. Reckon I didn’t have too much time for anything but my studies, after that.

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

When I had seen one score and ten harvests, Jonah took me to the Grand Hall. It was the first time I had ever left New Harlan, and I still remember the wonders of it. It was where the Tellers were founded, where the Council of Picard had been held. There were books -so many books! – and carved records, and even great memory-machines scavenged from the cities of the Mongers. That was the day I was given my Teller’s coat and my guitar, the first things I had ever really touched that had been from the Paradise of our Ancestors. I spent two whole harvests there, learning the Ancestor’s tongue, the Old Calendar, and so many other things besides. It was amazing, to have my horizons broadened so far.

What do you do now?

I am the apprentice to Jonah Teller, the Teller of New Harlan. My lessons are mostly complete, though.  Most of my time is spent teaching the youngins of the Camp, helping them learn what they’ll need to know before they join a Union. Continue reading “Elisheva Miller (of Songs of Earth, by Eugene W. Cundiff)”

Katrisha (of Order & Entropy web-series, by K. Quistorff)

Dear readers, tonight with us is an a young mage from the distant occidental land of Avrale – one of the smaller, more secluded nations of the former Empire.

She’s here to give us a unique view of life on her world.


Could you tell us your name?  Seems someone forgot to include it.

Oh, sorry about that.  Probably just Mercu being clever.  He likes to make opportunities for me to introduce myself.  I am Katrisha, daughter of the moonlight and the winter frost, mage of Avrale, and a woman of…a certain faith.  Sorry to be elusive, it’s oddly problematic. I am however a little weary of these games, and you seem like the sort who might appreciate the truth of things, even when hidden in plain sight.

Is that a title?  The bit about moonlight.

Honestly, I’m not sure.  It’s Sylvan in origin, and something my father used to call me when I was very little.  I don’t quite remember the Sylvan phrase for it. ‘Lunka,’ I think might be their word for moonlight, but that’s about all I can remember.  Father would call Kia, ‘daughter of summer glades, and the passing storm.’ Mercu loves to encourage us to use them like titles. Says it sounds properly mystical for young twin mages in training.  Which is a bit silly really, mages don’t generally care for mysticism as a rule. Still, it reminds me of father, so I guess I have my own reasons.

Continue reading “Katrisha (of Order & Entropy web-series, by K. Quistorff)”

Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)

Dear readers, it took us a while, but we were able to secure a meeting with the legendary necromancer Tyir of Irene. We sit in the chambers of the Jaal of Valare himself, where Tyir called a servant over to bring us iced milk sweetened with honey.

He’s here to tell us about the dark and disturbing forces that shaped him to the necromancer he is today.


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

Hah! What was it like there? Do you really want to know? It was a shitehole. Miles upon miles of poverty, rocks and shite fields where nothing could grow. Irene was the wasteland where the refuse of the world was sent to die. No wonder so many people emigrated north. I was very young when my family joined the latest band of refugees.

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

Toys? Do you really think I had toys as a child? It’s as if you think I had a happy childhood. Most days we lived off crushed acorn paste, which tastes like dying shite, my friend. I do recall making a friend with a rabbit, once. That happy relationship lasted for just a day, before my father chopped it up for our rare meal of meat. It wasn’t the worst relationship I’ve ever had.

So….what do you do, if it’s not being a good-hearted soul?

Please, I’m pretty well known for my kindness. Just ask the Pharos Order, the Quellion family…the two thousand odd Order soldiers I’ve killed during the Sorn Rebellion…the Redure quisling scum…okay. That was meant to be a joke.

You could say I am a sculptor of man. I like studying, you see. There is so much knowledge trapped in the bowels of the underworld, laws that we cannot understand because the only ones who did understand it were dead centuries ago. If only the Order were so willing to accommodate that, but they have less intelligence stuffed into their one brain cell then Horse does when he’s on a good day. I also enjoy cutting up dead bodies and finding out how they work. I’m known as the Peddler of Flesh. If I did not know how bodies work, I would make an even poorer necromancer then I do already. Continue reading “Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)”

BJ Armstrong (of The One: A Cruise Through the Solar System, by Eric Klein)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man, on his way back from an interplanetary cruise. This journey came as a bit of a shock to this unassuming systems engineer — to say nothing about what actually happened aboard ship.

He’s here to tells about his solar-system wide cruise.


Tell us a little about growing up in the Big Apple. What was it like there?

Well, everyone knows what it is like under the dome, I mean they film the tridees there all the time. Actually, it is a bit funny that as new as most of the city is there are still parts that are really old. For example, when the climate controls are working you would not notice, but in the summer, it frequently breaks down. That is when you notice that there are two hundred and fifty-year-old steam pipes that are still used. You notice when they start to leak, adding humidity to the air. Funny think that there are still companies that use it to power their manufacturing or buildings that use it for heating.

But you asked about growing up in the city. It was nice, when the weather control worked it was always a little warm. Enough so, that the first time I went out of the dome on a class trip some of my classmates were frightened of the small white flakes that were falling. They thought that it was ash from a fire. Boy were they surprised when the teacher explained that it was snow. One of my classmates commented “but it is not zero degrees.” The teacher explained that at ground level it could be as high as two degrees and there could still be snow.

But the best part of growing up in the City was when my grandfather would take me to see the old airplanes and space ships at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. He always dreamed of going up, but was never able to afford the time off from work, or the price of a ticket to go into orbit, and my grandmother got deathly motion sickness. So they could not go to colonize. He would have really loved to go on the cruise with me.

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

Well, as I just mentioned my grandfather used to take me to the Intrepid at least three or four times a year. He would read me stories about space travel and make a special day out of every twentieth of July, he called it Neil Armstrong day in remembrance of when Neil and Buzz landed on the moon. Google know that I loved hanging out at their apartment. But they seemed to always have something breaking down or not working. So when I was real young I would help my grandfather fix things, later he would help me. He really liked to work with his hands, but had moved into a supervisory role where they would not let him touch any of the actual tools anymore.

I guess that is how I chose my studies and career.

Oh, what is it that you do?

Me? I’m a SET, a Systems Encyclopedic Troubleshooter. I get called in to diagnose and solve strange or complex computer and systems problems. You see, most people study a topic in depth and have little capabilities in related areas. I studied several areas: programming, AI psychology, basic chip design and repair, and a bunch of stuff that I may never use.

But the combination means I get called in on a variety of different problems that pop-up either in AIs or where AIs and humans interact. This has given me the opportunity to travel around the Earth to many places for work, but until this trip I never left the actual planet. Continue reading “BJ Armstrong (of The One: A Cruise Through the Solar System, by Eric Klein)”

Gairynzvl (of the Dark Fey trilogy, by Cynthia A. Morgan)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a Fey of the Light, captured at a young age and taken to live amongst the Dark Fey – the Reviled.

He’s here to tell us of his adventures.


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

My life has been dichotic.  I spent my first seven years in the village Hwyndarin with my family and the Fey of the Light. It is a place of simple beauty and communal living, where each villager shares life’s responsibilities and burdens.  I was very young, but remember playing with friends and learning to fly amid the forests, streams and meadows bathed in sunlight.

When I reached 7 ½, I was abducted by the Reviled Fey and spent the next 15 years of my life trying to survive the gloom and shadows of their dark realm, the Uunglarda.  No sunlight warms their barren dominion and the skies are choked with soot and poisonous fumes.  I suffered the Integration; five years of neglect designed to turn childfey into monsters and each day was a torment of hunger, thirst, cold, and abuse.

Gosh, that sounds horrible.  How did you manage to hold onto hope?  Was is a cherished memory, a favourite toy you clung to, a friend?

We had no toys in the Uunglarda, and very few friends, but I was determined not to forget the ones I had and to see them again.  I kept the Light alive any way I could, mostly by repeated prophecies I had already learned and secretly studying others.  Although I had to keep it completely hidden, which was not easy in a place where you are forced to do horrible things every day, as time went on, I formed a few secret alliances with Dark Ones who wanted to escape as much as I did and our mutual dream of freedom kept hope alive.

What do you do now?

Even though I have returned to the Light and live in Hwyndarin once again, I spend much of my time training with an exclusive unit of Fey Guards dedicated to the covert operation of returning into the Uunglarda at undisclosed times to rescue younglings and those Dark Fey who wish to escape.  Continue reading “Gairynzvl (of the Dark Fey trilogy, by Cynthia A. Morgan)”

Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young man that hunts the things that go bump in the night.

He’s here to tell us about his adventures with his brother and his police detective (unwilling) partner.


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

My brother Trent and I grew up with our Grandfather. He was always pretty cold and distant. So most of my youth was spent getting into trouble of one kind or another to get the poor bastard’s attention. We spent a few years in Massachusetts before setting in Starsboro, North Carolina. I mostly remember acting like an asshole and counting down the days till school was over. I remember this one spring day in Mass. We were goofing off, I think I was ten, so he musta been six. And Trent fell into the river. There was a moment when I realized what happened where everything stopped. I stared at him, his red coat was just below the surface of the water and I knew I had to jump in. The water was so damn cold. It took the breath right out of my chest. Somehow I got to him and we made it to the riverbank. Probably one of the only days in my life I wasn’t a complete screw up. My brother was different. He got the whole school thing. He’s in college now. Going to be a lawyer. He’s going to change the world. I might save it every now and then, but he’ll make it better.

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

I had a dog once. It was an old mutt. Looked kind of like a huge Rottweiler but scruffy. Called him Buddy. I was working on a construction site in high school and this dog came around everyday. He’d growl at the workers and freak them out. I started feeding him hotdogs cause I didn’t want him to eat me. Heh. When the job was done I went back to say my goodbyes and found out his owner was going to put him down. They were moving and the new apartment building wouldn’t allow a big dog like that. So I took him home. My grandfather shit a brick when he found out. That was the best dog though. If I got into an argument with anyone, I’d be focused on em, ready for whatever as things got heated, and he’d nose my hand. Just to let me know I had back up. I don’t know what he would have done if it’d ever actually come to blows but it was nice to know someone had my back.

What do you do now?

I kill things. Pretty much exclusively evil things or things that want to kill people. But yeah. The job title I guess is hunter. I just like to show up and save people. I also drink a lot and sing lead in a band. All those keep me pretty busy. Continue reading “Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)”

Sweetnettle the Lobli (of The Malevir Series, by Susan B Marcus)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a little sprite, from a faraway fantasy world.

He is here to tell us about the dangers that afflict his world, about the return of dragons, and about the other wonderful and wondrous creatures that inhabit it. 


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

I am a Dragonwolder sprite called a Lobli, about 18 inches high. I see the world from the height of your knee cap. Dragonwolder is my world, a broad and varied land mass surrounded by seas. I was born in dark times, and I don’t mean at night. A destructive force, the Malevir, was burning farms and towns and killing people’s herds. I left my family of house sprites early on to apprentice with the magician giant Rocànonom who was planning to rescue Dragonwolder from the Malevir by reviving its exiled dragons.

Do you have cherished memories from your childhood?

Before I left home, my parents, sister, and I lived in the wall behind a cottage hearth in the village of Anonom. We helped clean, cook, and care for the indwellers. Secretly, of course, but they always left savory porridge and milk out at night. We all liked that very much. I remember those calm and cozy times with pleasure.  I also remember my father’s saying as I parted for Rocánonom’s tower, “Someday, they’ll all be talking about you and how you made peace between the people of Dragonwolder and its long-hidden dragons.” Imagine how my two hearts leaped at the thought.  

What do you do now?

What don’t I do? I am on Rocánonom’s team, helping him restore order and safety to Dragonwolder. I am small, but loyal and adventurous. You should have seen me bite into the Malevir’s shin—ah, I shiver at the thought, how the beast poisoned me the first time. Anyway, I wanted to protect my giant friend and fellow Loblin from the Malevir’s attack after the beast discovered our secret refuge under a town. Everyone thought the poison killed me, but I came back to life in the dragons’ lair.  All that is in our scribe’s account, Malevir: Dragons Return. Continue reading “Sweetnettle the Lobli (of The Malevir Series, by Susan B Marcus)”

Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a foul-mouthed cynical mercenary. He was hired to lead his rag tag troop to the capital city, infiltrate the Palace, and take down the decadent and indifferent Emperor.

He is here to tell us about the Yellow Empire, about ordinary soldiers and gritty heroes, epic battles and blood-soaked revenge.


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

I grew up in village in Immish. Immish is rich country. My village is piss-poor. I lived with my mum and my grandma, and if you ask about my dad I’ll lamp you one. My mum and my gran were weavers. Gods, the cloth they could make you. Silk and cotton. Patterns in the weave: flowers, faces, luck charms all woven in. And I was a damn good weaver myself. Lovely bit of cloth, I could make you. Top notch.

Then Garet the dyer died, and his dyeing secrets died with him. And that’s a pun that never gets stale, even after I’ve nicked it off someone else. And now the village is poor as piss.

Lovely country, though, Immish.  Black soil, rich bloody soil, there’s bits of southern Immish where you can get in three harvests a year. Fruit and veg like you wouldn’t believe.  Borders on the Bitter Sea, and nice beaches, even, some of them, if you like that sort of thing. White sand and all that.  The city of Alborn: now that’s a place worth seeing.  All made of white marble, the city walls are white marble and silver, the Great Gate is white marble and gold.  Flashy? Hells, yeah. New money, all of it, and its bigwigs feel kind of insecure. So it’s not exactly what you’d call refined. And the back streets stink of bloody sewage, like anywhere, and half the kids have got worms and lice  and rickets and gods know bloody what. Price of progress, as they say. But it’s a place worth seeing, if you ignore all that.

May we just only visit the nice bits?

The rest of Irlast, the wider world …  Well, now.  I’m well-travelled (perk of the job), I’ve seen quite a lot of it, mostly when it’s on fire and drowning in blood, admittedly, but hey. Different building styles still look different when they’re on fire. Desert and forest and corn-land look …  actually, you know, desert and forest and corn-land look bloody identical once they’ve been burned and trampled and soaked in the blood of innocents, and I can’t pretend otherwise. We walk through the unburned bits, though, to get to them to burn them, and they’re all pretty enough in their way.  Continue reading “Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)”

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