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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Zack Decker (of the Decker’s War series, by Eric Thomson)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a major in the Commonwealth Marine Corps. He is here to tell us about his career as a space-marine, the alien planets he visited, and the lifeforms he found there — at least, tell us as much as he can without needing to kill us afterwards.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?  Why did you leave and what happened them?

I was born on Mykonos.  It’s a nice place, around twenty light years from Earth and very Earth-like, or so I’ve been told.  I never visited the so-called cradle of humanity except in my dreams, and those weren’t nice dreams.  Mykonos is mostly agrarian, mostly temperate and wholly boring.  Humans don’t have to struggle for survival like on so many other worlds, and it means most folks are pretty complacent and self-satisfied.  That was one of the reasons I enlisted the moment I no longer needed my parents’ permission.  I had to get away from that place before I created havoc just to make life more interesting.  Looking back after thirty years away and enough adventures to last most people a dozen lifetimes, I realize now that I was the most useless, ungrateful little bastard growing up.  Sure, my parents were dull.  Whose parents aren’t?  But they gave me everything they could so I would become a decent, upstanding human being.  A pillar of the community.  Instead, just to spite them, I decided to become a rebel without a cause or much of a brain to be honest.  Fortunately I decided the best way to rebel would be joining the Armed Services instead of a local gang, or God forbid something like the Confederacy of the Howling Stars, the biggest mobsters in human history.  Why the Armed Services?  Mainly because my parents were anti-military, a fairly widespread sentiment on Mykonos, by the way.  I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but now I know it was merely the normal result of living in a safe star system, far from the wild frontiers.  I figured enlisting in the Marine Corps instead of the Army or Navy would prove to everyone how tough I was.  Funnily enough, I damn near didn’t make it through basic training because of my smart mouth and my adolescent belief that I knew better than anyone else.  But the instructors figured out a way to get through the dumbass shell and turn my stupidity into Marine smarts.  The rest, as they say, is history.  After a few years in an infantry battalion, I applied to become a Pathfinder and finally found my chosen vocation: jumping out of perfectly good shuttles from low orbit so I could smash into unsuspecting enemies from above.

What do you do now?

If I told you, I’d have to kill you.  I know – the joke’s so old it’s fossilized by now.  But all kidding aside, I’m a Marine on active duty.  It’s what I’ve been since the age of eighteen, except for a few years on the inactive reserve after I took early retirement as a command sergeant on account of my temper.  Clocking an officer in front of the entire squadron, even if he’s an incompetent career-seeking sonofabitch, isn’t what you’d call a career-enhancing move.  The only reason they allowed me to take early retirement instead of facing a court martial was that everyone in the regiment knew I was right.  Of course, that’s when my real problems started.  I spent a few months traveling from planet to planet, drinking heavily, and trying to look for something.  I never found out what that was.  Then a naval intelligence officer by the name Hera Talyn — she’s my partner now, by the way — used me to infiltrate a plot against the Commonwealth.  Unwittingly, of course.  Hera’s a master manipulator.  She figured that my old loyalty to the Corps would ensure I did the right thing.  It didn’t do our early relationship much good.  Once I blew that plot wide open, Hera offered me a return to active duty as a warrant officer.  But by then, I had a good thing going with a lovely lady called Avril.  Sadly the good thing didn’t last.  The folks behind the plot I foiled tracked me down and took their revenge by killing Avril.  They sold me into slavery, which was as painful as you might imagine, but I escaped.  When Hera Talyn caught up with me, I took the offer of a return to active duty, this time as a chief warrant officer, with naval intelligence’s special operations section.  What do we do, you ask?  We run the blackest of black ops against the Commonwealth’s domestic enemies, those threatening our hard-won civil peace.  Hera and I are one of many teams who live most of their lives under assumed identities and faces, crisscrossing the Commonwealth and cleaning up messes left by feckless, corrupt, or thoroughly stupid politicians and their backers.  Sometimes we clean up those messes with extreme prejudice.  I’m a major now, after accepting a direct commission, but the job hasn’t changed in all those years since Hera brought me in from the cold.  I still hunt enemies of the Commonwealth with her. Continue reading “Zack Decker (of the Decker’s War series, by Eric Thomson)”

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Bernard Abbey (of A Footstep Echo, by J.D. Sanderson)

40584848Dear readers, tonight with me is an unwitting time-traveller. Dragged into a series of hops across time by a mute girl, he tries to make sense of her reasons and the mystery behind the fate of humanity.


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

Oh, I’ve spent most of my life in a mid-size city in Western New York. Tough sometimes for an old man like me. Used to be a really nice building, but now half of the tenants probably have criminal records. They’re always harassing people who walk by the main entrance. It’s a damn shame. I used to walk at night with my wife, God rest her soul, and my dog. Wouldn’t do that nowadays!

A few streets over, that’s where you want to live. All these kids came in a few years ago and bought all the empty buildings. Now there’s coffee, food…There’s a British-themed restaurant too! My wife was from Lancashire, not sure if I mentioned it. That’s why we went to London on our honeymoon years back. Anyways, yeah the kids bought up all the property near where the city paper used to be. I worked there until it closed…That’s where we met, Marie and I.  She’d just moved here to the states to be a reporter, and I was a record clerk. Of course, that place closed down years ago. People just don’t like papers anymore, I suppose.

What do you do now?

Well, after Marie passed on and my dog Maverick got off leash and got away, I just mostly kept to myself. I go to that diner over there down the street, have tea and eggs. I work part-time at the library to help pay the bills. Ruth is the Head Librarian. Also my neighbor. Sweet lady, always nice to me after Marie passed.

I put the books back on the shelves and try to help out best I can. I felt more useful in the records office, but I at least get out of the house a few times a week. When I’m home I mostly try to just keep up on my reading. At least, that’s how it all was until she entered the picture… Continue reading “Bernard Abbey (of A Footstep Echo, by J.D. Sanderson)”

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)”

Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the high priestess of a sisterhood dating back fifteen centuries, to the times of Arthur and Merlin.

She is here to tell us about their heirs, and about the post-apocalyptic Britain they must rescue.


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

I grew up in Talinn, Estonia, the youngest of seven daughters. Coincidentally, my mother was the youngest daughter of seven, as well. In some traditions, this is supposed to be the mark of a high adept/holy person. The Sisterhood (The Daughters of Arianrhod, a group that worships and serves the Goddess) doesn’t rely on such things, but I think it was a factor in their choosing me to be High Priestess.

I did not have a pleasant childhood. My father died when I was 6—a plane crash in the Sahara. He was there as part of the World Bank’s outreach to tribesmen. My mother died in a mysterious elevator accident in Talinn when I was 12. I was sent off to study at the Sisterhood’s Goddesshouse in Viborg, Denmark, where my grandmother was High Priestess.

I found it stressful to be in classes there. Everyone expected me to be perfect, and to emulate my grandmother—who I look a lot like. I am a very different person—more impetuous, restless, rash. Or at least I was back then.

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

My family travelled a lot because of the Sisterhood and my mother’s work for the government of Estonia—especially after my father died.  We were in Viborg, Denmark a lot because of my grandmother. A large number of my family lives in that area, and/or works with the Sisterhood.

I am always amazed when I met other people who had perhaps one or two siblings and don’t talk to anyone else (or don’t know their family history). Everything in my life has always been about family, knowing one’s heritage back 60-or-more generations, and the Sisterhood. I know fourth and fifth cousins and all their relatives. I’m never alone when I’m in a new city—there’s always family there.

So I guess my most cherished memory is being with family, anywhere I go.

What do you do now?

I am the High Priestess of the Daughters of Arianrhod, called the Sisterhood. Almost 1500 years ago, the Sisterhood was tasked with observing the heirs to King Arthur and Merlin in case problems developed, and to assist them in The Time to Come when those heirs will be called upon to Heal Britain in its greatest time of need.

Mostly, my job is to oversee the operations of the Sisterhood—whose main goal is to sow the seeds to return worship of the Goddess back into the world. It’s slow going. It’s a world-wide organization, with thousands of priestesses and initiates, hundreds of temples and residences, and all the logistical and bureaucratic challenges of any large international corporation. So I spend a great deal of my time holed up in my glass-walled office of the Danish-Modern masterpiece that is the Motherhouse, working very long hours… when I am not running to the bathroom and hiding because of yet another panic attack.

I do my best. Sometimes, it’s not good enough. Continue reading “Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)”

Tierney J’Arzan (of Dracones Awakening, by Sheri-Lynn Marean)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview from an alternate Earth. The young woman interviewed, an empath, will tell us about life with shape-shifting dragons and fallen angels.


Tierney walks into the room, and I’m stunned speechless. She isn’t really tall, maybe five-foot-five, but she’s slender, and holds herself as if ready to spin into action and put someone flat on their back. Her long wavy black hair reaches her back, but it’s the purple eyes scanning the room, a room that’s been set up just for this interview, that really catch my attention.

“No cameras,” I say, then remember my manners and smile.  “Tierney, it’s good to finally meet you. Will you have a seat?”

“Yes, it’s good to meet you as well,” she says, noting my handheld recorder.

“Would you like some water or coffee?” I ask as she sits down. I notice a bulge under her black leather jacket, telling me she’s carrying. Under the jacket is a black tank top. Then I spot the knife strapped to her jean clad hip and smile. She’d mentioned she would have weapons and that they didn’t trust easily.

“No, I’m good, thank you.”

“Well then, shall we get started?” I ask.

Tierney nods, then grins, and while she is beautiful, there is a presence about her that is just stunning. I tear my eyes from her, and glance at my notes. “So, can you tell me a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?”

“Sure. I was born on Tartaria twenty-one years ago. It’s a beautiful planet filled with color and the most incredible topography I’ve ever seen, though I’ve not been to all the other realms. Oh, and there is an abundance of magic as well. Tartaria has 3 suns and 2 moons. It’s 1 of the 52 realms, and unlike earth, all the different supernatural beings who live there don’t have to hide what they are. Or, actually, that isn’t quite true.”

“What do you mean? I ask, noting the anger on her face.

“What I should have said was that everyone is aware of them. On Tartaria, the population of humans is rather small compared to everyone else, so being a Supe isn’t a big secret like it is on Earth. Unfortunately, everyone still has to be careful because the Ilyium hunt anyone supernatural. Continue reading “Tierney J’Arzan (of Dracones Awakening, by Sheri-Lynn Marean)”

Coppélia (of The Girl With Acrylic Eyes, by Greg Krojac)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an android from the early 22nd century.

She is here to tell us about life in the future, about the place of android in human society – from various assistants to sex-bots. She is currently evaluating her purpose in life, and what makes her different from both humans and other androids.


You have an unusual name, Coppélia. Do you know why you were given that name?

I’m named after a character in the ballet Coppélia, a life-size and lifelike mechanical doll. I suppose that’s how some people might describe me, since I’m an android.

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

I didn’t grow up. From what my human friends have told me, I think I would like to have had a childhood, but I was constructed in a laboratory. I don’t think humans would like to grow up in such an environment – there were no toys and nobody to be friends with, just assembly equipment and technicians.

Do you want to be human?

Not really. Why should I? I’m far more durable than any human and my physical abilities outweigh those of humans. My needs are fewer than those of humans – I don’t need oxygen as I don’t breathe, and I don’t need food or water as I draw my power from solar energy. Physically, humans are weaker than I am. I can’t see any advantage in trading in my nano-coated silicon carbide fibre reinforced composite body for an organic one.

What do you do now?

I’ve had lots of jobs. I’ve done everything from working in a bar, to an assistant nurse in a hospital. I’ve worked as a travel guide in foreign countries. I’ve taught in schools and have worked as a sales representative. Basically, I’ve worked anywhere that allows me to interact with humans. My most recent job was as a sexbot. However, I said ‘no’ and ran away. That’s how I met my friend Karen. Continue reading “Coppélia (of The Girl With Acrylic Eyes, by Greg Krojac)”

Rhuna (of Keeper of Wisdom, by Barbara Underwood)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman who grew up on the fringes of the empire of Atlantis. 

She is here to tell us about her travels across oceans and ancient worlds (from Atlantis to Ancient Egypt), her inherent mental powers, and her mysterious visions.


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

I grew up on a small island called Chinza.  It’s in the middle of the world’s biggest ocean and far away from any other place.  I didn’t even know that there was anything beyond the big blue horizon until I was about 12 solar cycles in age and met Tozar, who was hiding in my cave and told me he came from a land far away.   Up to that point, I lived outside the village with my mother who was always unhappy and picking on me for everything.  It wasn’t really a nice a place, and everyone thought I was strange because my skin was paler than everyone else’s.  People sort of avoided my mother and me, so I grew up playing by myself in the caves.  Chinza is a volcanic island and has lots of caves, so I used to explore those and play in them.  It was a dull and boring place until some strange people wearing white robes came to Chinza and began making huge stone statues that looked like people.  I spied on them once and saw that they used strange and special powers to make the big stone statues.

What was the most important thing that happened in your life?

Tozar – the man I found hiding in a cave on Chinza – took me away from that depressing place and told me about the Atlan Empire and the beautiful City of Atlán, where he lived.  The Atlan people have advanced knowledge and technology, as well as special abilities that enable them to transform elements such as sand to stone and metal to gold, just with the power of their minds!  They can also summon visions of faraway places and people using the reflection of a still body of water.  But the most exciting thing is that I found out that my father was an Atlan with such powers, and that I inherited those abilities from him!   At first I couldn’t believe that a plain girl like me could learn to summon visions of distant places, transform sand into stone, make heavy stone blocks almost weightless and then build my own small pyramid to harness lunar and cosmic energies!

What do you do now?

When I became an adult, I went to the City of Atlán to be with Tozar, and that’s where I attended a school to learn about healing and herbs.  Besides being a Healer, I also became part of the High Council of Atlán, alongside Tozar, helping to solve people’s problems, big and small.  But the biggest challenge was when the Dark Master started subverting our way of life, causing death and suffering among poor and helpless people.  That’s when we discovered that I had extra special powers of summoning visions, and this helped us stop the Dark Master…at least we thought so at first. Continue reading “Rhuna (of Keeper of Wisdom, by Barbara Underwood)”

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)”

Shawn Kleiner (of The Blue Bells Chronicles, by Laura Vosika)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the world famous trombonist, Shawn Kleiner. He is here to tell us of his recent trip to Scotland with his girlfriend Amy – and what happened when she stranded him in a Scottish castle tower overnight.


Tell us about your life—back before this whole story started.

At the time, I had it all. Or I thought I did, anyway. I was rich. Well, I still am. More money than I know what to do with—except of course, provide for James—that’s my son, he’s just over a year old now—and make sure he’s well prepared for what’s coming if I can’t stop it.

But look, I’m already thinking ahead. You’re asking about the past. At least, the recent past, not the past I’m talking about. Yeah, before this whole thing started—it seems like centuries ago. I was the featured soloist in this small Midwestern orchestra, and I made them great. Not bragging, just saying how it is.

So we were playing all over the country and all over the world, you know? I was onstage, girls loved me. And I was throwing these great parties and women were throwing themselves at me, I was having a great time and I had this reputation for incredible luck. Until I gambled my trombone away, just before a major concert on our tour in Scotland. I thought I couldn’t lose. And somehow I did. And Conrad was going to have a fit if I didn’t get it back and it just went downhill from there.

I lied to Amy—that’s my girlfriend—or was, it’s hard to say now—to get the trombone back and cover up and one thing and another, we ended up in the half-ruined tower of Glenmirril. I was going to completely win her over with a midnight picnic and instead, she got all pissed and took off, left me there in all this mist. And I woke up—well, I woke up in the wrong century.

You know most people don’t believe that. They know you have a reputation for making up stories. But if we did believe you—what century?

Yeah, well, God’s got a sense of humor, doesn’t He? One time I ever tell the truth is the one time no one will believe me. I woke up in 1314. June, to be exact, about two weeks before the Battle of Bannockburn. Continue reading “Shawn Kleiner (of The Blue Bells Chronicles, by Laura Vosika)”

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