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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Tova Nokes (of The City Screams, by Phil Williams)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman, deaf since childhood. She’s on her way to Tokyo to undergo revolutionary ear surgery, though she isn’t quite aware of what’s in store for her.


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

I’ve been living in Ripton, Ordshaw, since I was born; it’s not the most glamourous part of the city but there’s a lot of people, so it’s never boring. Sure, it’s too far to walk into the centre, and we don’t have major cultural spots like the New Thornton galleries, or big parks, but we’ve got shops and good tube connections and the Gabber Market once a month. There’s also an abandoned railway line they say is haunted; we used to dare each other to run down it. But mostly people go there to do drugs.

Anyway, now that places like Ten Gardens are getting too popular, and prices are going up, it’s all going to swing back to Ripton, and we’ll be the next up-and-coming place to be!

You would have to say that, don’t you work on the Ripton Council?

Well, I’m not a politician, promotion isn’t in my job description – I mostly make sure other people’s numbers add up. But I see the work that goes into the neighbourhood, so I do have a little pride in it.

Then, I also see the where work doesn’t get done. If I was responsible, you’d definitely hear about Ripton’s greatness! We’d change the name to Tova Town.

What’s stopping you?

Um. Besides being a world class mediocrity? Probably the fact that everyone treats me like a charity case, even if I’m better at my job than most people in the office.

They treat you that way because you can’t hear?

That and because I make really bad jokes.

But the hearing, at least, might change soon. What can you tell us about your upcoming adventure?

Now that is an interesting thing. I won a lottery run by Mogami Industries; I’m flying to Japan and they’re going to scramble my brain or something. Miracle Surgery, You Too Can Hear! I wasn’t going to enter, it sounds unreal and there’s negativity about it in Deaf Club, but I missed my bus on a wet Tuesday and filled in this form on my phone while I was waiting, and here we are!

Of course no one really believes the surgery will work.

Continue reading “Tova Nokes (of The City Screams, by Phil Williams)”
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Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)

Dear readers tonight with us are two companions – a lieutenant general, second in command to the general, and an archmage. They are here to tell us about bloody battles, about a world of warriors and magic, and of a war without end.


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

Quain: I grew up in the port city of Halimouth on the southern coast of Valendo. When I got to the age where watching canal barges and ships coming in to dock became dull, Halimouth lost its appeal. Trouble with Halimouth is it’s full of sailors — men. That means too few women to go around and—

Disembodied man’s voice: Just eight heartbeats to start talking about your women conquests. These people are sophisticated intellectuals interested in higher learning. They want to know about Valendo’s snowcapped mountains, the sweeping green valleys, enchanting waterfalls, the history of the Ruberan pilgrim fathers establishing of the Church of the Sun here. They want to know about the civil war that almost happened and the subsequent invasion of the Nearhon army. They want to know about the legendary General of Valendo, Garon.

Quain: Eight heartbeats? You seriously counted eight heartbeats?

Man’s voice: What of it?

Quain: You think that’s normal, to count—

Man’s voice: Shall we get back to the interview?

Quain: Sorry. Anyway, you missed mentioning Valendo’s famous Vale horses. Indomitable beasts but I prefer Ruberan horses. Less hairy, sleek with a much better sense of rhythm.

Man’s voice: Why is a horse’s sense of rhythm relevant?

Quain: It’s way easier to teach them to dance and the way their mane swishes from side to side is enchanting.

Man’s voice: And the relevance?

Quain: It puts on quite a show at the head of a marching arming as I get them singing, and forgetting about the prospect of burning to a lump of greasy goo in mage fire. If they avoid that, it’s swords or whatever necromantic horror Magnar conjures up next. Which reminds me, the Nearhon scout network thinks you’re dead, or at least too sick to function. Aren’t you blowing your cover coming here invisible and gate crashing my interview?

Man’s voice: I might be a lost soul come back from beyond the funeral pyre to torment you for the rest of your life.

Quain: Are you sure I’m the one that would be tormented by that situation?

I’m sorry, I have to interrupt and ask who your unexpected companion is?

Quain: He’s called Jade.

Man’s voice: My name is Zeivite Quarntaker. I am Archmage of Valendo. I would appreciate it if you kept that silly Jade sobriquet to yourself. It’s a girl’s name that thankfully hardly anyone knows.

Quain: What about the five thousand two hundred and twenty-five members of the Valendo army at the last Battle of Beldon valley in 1852? That’s including the ladies of questionable repute, if you take my meaning. Can’t forget to include them.

Zeivite: The one’s that aren’t dead have probably forgotten about it now.

Quain: And anyone reading this interview?

Zeivite: Shut up.

Quain: You will go around wearing a dress—

Zeivite: It’s a robe and—

Quain: It’s very important to your station as Archmage. It has pockets and everything. Because you need somewhere to keep your tea making supplies.

Continue reading “Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)”

Dargoth (of Children of the Dead City, by Noor Al-Shanti)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview, gathered while eavesdropping on one character in the book interviewing another. It seems like a case of mistaken identity — a boy thought to be an orphan and taken to the palace. We’ll let you judge for yourself.


Sit down, son, I just want to talk to you.

I’m not your son! Who even are you? Just let me go!

I apologize. I should not have addressed the King’s adopted son in such a way. Please forgive an old man’s habit. My name is Hiraku and I am only a second captain in the Palace Guard. I was tasked with ensuring your safety.

I… I… didn’t mean. Don’t do that. Don’t talk to me like I’m some kind of royalty. I’m not… I just want to go back home. Why won’t you people understand?

Perhaps you can help me understand. I would like to know why you are so eager to escape the palace. Tell me about the orpha-

I’m not from the orphanage! Listen to me, I live with my mother in a little house by the Shining Lake. Why don’t you just let me take you there and you’ll see?

You understand how dangerous it is out there, don’t you? With the Sorcerers and…

I understand that better than any of you cowering here in the palace behind your huge walls! I need to go home and make sure my mother is alright! She was injured by the men that kidnapped me! She… she’s all alone now without me or father!

Very well, Dargoth. I will speak with my Lord Commander and ask for permission to take you wherever you want to go myself. It will certainly be easier than trying to protect your while you are so bent on escape. Just tell me a little about your home and about the King’s City.

The King’s City? Why do you people call it that here? The King’s this and the King’s that… you know what we call him in Dalaiabeth? We call him the Weak King. He ran away from the Fortress City to hide in this palace and he just hides here while the sorcerers attack Dalaiabeth again and again!

Tell me about Dalaiabeth, then.

It’s… it’s a beautiful city. Especially when all the ships are in the dock with their sails open. Father used to let me climb the rigging on the ship, I could climb higher than the old clocktower. And when there’s a celebration we always make little boats and see whose boat can stay afloat the longest. The boatmaster’s son won last year, but that doesn’t even count. My boat was the second best. And the bakery… you must have passed mother’s bakery when you were in the city, it’s the best bakery there is. She makes the most delicious sweets and the best hot bread for everyone at the school when we pass our exams.

Continue reading “Dargoth (of Children of the Dead City, by Noor Al-Shanti)”

Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Halea, a priestess in the service of the dragon goddess, roaming the land hunting demons and sealing tears caused by the Chaos Dimension.


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

I don’t remember much about where I was born, but I was brought to the holy city of Ruinac after my father died when I was quite young. I’m one of very few born blessed by the dragon goddess, Tiamet, which means I’m far faster and stronger than an average human, and I also have the power to purify evil.  That was a bit much for my poor mother to handle all on her own, and it just so happened my paternal grandfather is a cleric of Tiamet who lived and worked in Ruinac, so we joined him, and he mentored me on the path to becoming a priestess. Tiamet worshippers are tasked with fighting the evil of the Chaos Dimension that seeks to converge with our world. As for Ruinac, it wasn’t so great, just a crowded seaside city and it was hard to fit in because there weren’t many children like me. Sadly, when I was about twelve years old, a convergence destroyed the city, killing everyone in it, including my mother, and at the time, I thought it had killed my best friend Varg too. A convergence is a massive dimensional tear that can only be banished by sacrificing the life of a priestess, and let’s just say the ritual didn’t go as planned.

Did you have any cherished memories from your youth?

My fondest memory will always be of the day I first met my best friend, Varg. He was in the form of a wolf when I first saw him, and then he turned into a scrawny little wolf boy and threatened to eat me. Those were good times.

What do you do now?

These days I am an official oath-sworn priestess of Tiamet. Priestesses are given immortality in exchange for serving the goddess. We roam the land hunting and slaughtering demons and using our powers to seal dimensional rifts called tears. The work hours are kind of crazy and we’re not allowed to put anything or anyone above our duty, so no marriage, love, children, or anything else that can distract us from our calling. Kind of a thankless job, but it pays well, and if the demon’s don’t kill you or you don’t get chosen as a blood sacrifice, you get to live forever, so it’s not all bad.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it would seem my long term career plans didn’t turn out as I expected and I’ve been unwittingly thrust into a managerial position for which I’m vastly under-qualified. I’ll make the best of it – somehow.

Continue reading “Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)”

Jarvis Mann (of his eponymous series, by R Weir)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young private detective from Denver. In a classic hard-boiled style, he tangles with anything from small-time gangsters to serial killers.


Tell us a little about what you were like growing up?

I was a good kid for the most part, until I hit my teen years. Then all hell broke loose and I was constantly getting in trouble; stealing items when I thought I could get away with it and getting into fights with my older brother. It got to the point where my father had a Polk County Sheriff friend of his lock me up in the county jail for a few hours to give me a taste of what prison life was like. And I didn’t care for the incarceration at all, the restrictive confinement getting my attention.

What did you enjoy doing as a child? Any cherished memories?

Cherished memories were of playing little league baseball, shooting hoops with friends and occasionally throwing around the pigskin, at least when I wasn’t getting into trouble. Even though I was athletic, it was too bad I wasn’t proficient at any of those sports. Going pro would have been an exciting career choice, and infinitely less dangerous than the one I chose.

What do you do now?

After I got my life straightened out, thanks to being scared out of my wits by the Sheriff, I decided I wanted to be a detective. Not one who worked for the city, county or federal government. But a private detective. I wasn’t the best at following orders and being my own boss became the logical choice. I was always good shadowing people as a kid; lurking and stalking to see what they were up to. And best of all I would get paid for it, though not a lot for the first few years.

Continue reading “Jarvis Mann (of his eponymous series, by R Weir)”

Riwenne (of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts, by Kristen S. Walker)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a utopian floating city, dreaming of serving the gods as a priestess. Armed with the power of the sea goddess, she must fight Mechanical beasts which are attacking innocent people on the streets at night.


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

I grew up in a city that’s floating in the sky. It’s scarier than it sounds. We have high walls so you can’t see the ground. We get clean air, but there’s also not a lot of open space and everything has to be flown in by airship. Some people say city dwellers are snobs, but I just think we’re different, y’know? The gods choose the best places for everyone, so we’re just suited to here, and I’m sure people on the land have things they like about it.

Anyway, I think it’s exciting to live in the city because there are so many things. I can hop on a cable car and be at the bookstore in a few minutes. A few stops away, there’s a chocolatier and pastry shop. I can buy cute clothes from all over the empire, and see my favorite singer at the concert hall. There’s always something fun to do!

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

I have a rag doll. We’re supposed to give up our toys when we leave school, but I held onto her. She’s a little ratty but my best friend, Nexita, she fixed my doll up nice. So I couldn’t give it up.

Nexita has been my best friend for years, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. We were roommates in school, so she was the one who always made sure I cleaned up our room, got to class on time, and helped me with homework. I know it sounds like she does everything for me! But I try to be a good friend, too. She’s really shy, so I help her talk to other people and I stand up for her. We’re really close. We don’t know who our parents are (no one knows their family), but we pretend that we’re sisters.

We were supposed to be apprenticed together . That’s what we dreamed of, being priestesses. It’s so weird that I got to be a priestess and she’s an engineer. It’s tough to be separated, but I visit every chance I get.

How do you like studying to be a priestess?

It’s not really what I expected. I thought we’d be able to talk to the gods, y’know, since we’re supposed to be serving them. How do we know that we’re doing the right thing if the gods aren’t speaking to us? And there’s so much work. Like, not just learning about priestess stuff, we have to do all our own chores like cooking the food and cleaning the temple. Since priestesses are so important, I don’t know why we have to waste time on chores. But the Sister says we have to be self-sufficient.

But being a novice isn’t all bad. My favorite part of the day is when we’re in the temple first thing in the morning, at the dawn ceremony, and everyone sings together. We all pray to the sun goddess and she grants us her power for our city. It’s hard because we can’t have breakfast until after, so I’m always starving, but the connection I feel to the gods is incredible. It’s almost like they’re right there in the room with us, and when I open my eyes, I’ll see them standing there…

What makes you think you can speak to the gods?

Well, don’t tell anyone else I said this, but I think it may have already happened. I had a dream about Sawycha, the sea goddess. Okay, it was a dream, but it felt real. And the weird thing is, she warned me about this giant wolf machine thing. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it was really scary.

I know I have a wild imagination—Nexita says I read too many novels—but then my dream came true. Not the part about talking to the sea goddess, but the part about the wolf. Wait, let me back up. So first this bird started talking to me. Sounds crazy, right? But she told me she’s a messenger from the sea goddess—she’s a sandpiper, I guess that makes sense—and she could give me magic. I thought I was still dreaming. Until I jumped out the window and didn’t even get hurt! So Tika, that’s the bird, she led me to the giant wolf which was attacking Nexita.

Wait, where did the mechanical wolf come from?

I don’t know, we’re still trying to figure that out. I was able to break the machine with the sea goddess’s magic and save Nexita. We got away, but when we went back to look for clues, the mechanical wolf was gone! And everyone just acted like it never happened. It’s so weird, but we’ll figure it out. Nexita’s helping me and she’s really smart.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures so far?

Everything! I’m not, like, good at running or climbing things. I’m usually clumsy and I tend to fall down a lot. These days I’m jumping from one building to another, fighting these giant mechanical beasts, trying to save people and solve this mystery. It would be exciting if I were reading it in a book but it’s way scarier to deal with it for real. Some days, I don’t want to get out of bed! But the worst part was something I don’t want to talk about. I still can’t believe it happened. People are worse than the monster machines.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Besides Nexita, I’m lucky to have a lot of good friends. My new roommate, Kyra, didn’t like me at first but I think she’s coming around. She’s very critical every time I mess up, but she’s just looking out for me in her own way, y’know? And then there’s Janera, she’s a guard at the temple, and she’s really nice. We swap books and she shares my taste in music. Tika, the messenger bird, she’s strict but I like having her around to give us advice. I wouldn’t understand any of this magic stuff without her. Then there’s this guy I keep bumping into, Deryt, he’s an engineer apprentice with Nexita. He’s annoying and he’s probably hiding something, but I didn’t hesitate to save his life because I think he’s a good person. Finally, we found out that Amena, my favorite singer, is actually a warrior like us! I’ve never met a celebrity before and I don’t know if we can be friends, but she’s part of the team now, so I’m going to try.

Any romantic involvement?

Um, I’m afraid it’s way too obvious, because I’m always staring at her… I have this huge crush on Kyra. It’s really awkward because we share a room, so I see her all day long. I’ve crushed on girls before, but this feels different. I can’t get her out of my head. I bet she’d be mad if she found out.

Whom do you really hate?

Whoever is building these mechanical beasts is a real creep. They’re hurting innocent people, but they don’t seem to care at all. And they have to be powerful, because the constables in the city seem like they’re covering it up. There’s nothing in the news about the attacks. When I find out who it is, I’m giving them a piece of my mind!

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

I love to drink chocolate and I’ll eat anything sweet! Or fried. Or full of garlic. Or… I really like food. I’ll try anything once, as long as it doesn’t have too many soggy vegetables. My favorite color is pink, like my hair. Besides eating and sleeping, I love to read, especially romance novels. My favorite part is the happy ending.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s hard to say. I guess I’m stuck as a warrior for the gods, at least until we figure out how to help them. It seems like the sun goddess is hogging all the worship, so we have to get people to pray to worship the other gods again. It feels like a lot of work. There’s a lot of people in the empire and they don’t change their minds easily. Even when we summoned a goddess to show them how powerful she was, they didn’t believe she was real. And if you’ve ever seen a god in person, you know that’s not easy to fake. So we have to think of something else.

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

A secret? I’m not good at keeping secrets, especially from my friends. I tell Nexita everything…

Except…

I’m afraid of what I’m capable of. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t choose to become a warrior. But if someone was trying to hurt my friends…

I’d kill them.


Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. She lives in northern California with her family and a rescue cat.

You can find Riwenne on the pages of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts.

Join us on Friday to meet a private-eye from Denver, tangling with gangsters and serial killers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Reeni Dutta (of Klone’s Stronghold, by Joyce Reynolds-Ward)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a teacher, but not a regular school teacher, She specialises in teaching cryptid children. She’s here to tell us about the supernatural world and the mysterious Stronghold in the remote Oregon mountains.


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

I grew up in Tualatin, Oregon. I didn’t do much outside of my home because my parents kept me very isolated. If I wasn’t studying, in church, or in school…I really didn’t have much to do outside of those things. I was a good girl and did what my parents and Pastor Ananda wanted, mainly because I had seen demons and dragons as well as woods elementals and was frightened of them for a while.

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

My parents were second-generation Indian immigrants who converted to Pentecostalism along with my uncle Jayanesh, as part of a splinter church under the direction of Pastor Ananda. Ananda had a ministry converting halfling humans who were part-supernatural to his brand of Christianity and “exorcising” their supernatural abilities to make themselves appear human. My parents were really strict and I didn’t get to date or do much until I went to college. Otherwise, I studied, went to church, and…well, that was it. In high school I was a teacher assistant in a self-contained special education classroom and that got me hooked on working with special needs children.

What do you do now?

Now I teach cryptid construct children in an isolated Eastern Oregon community. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun too, because these kids want to learn. It’s just finding what works to help them learn. I don’t know everything about what it means for them to be cryptid constructs—only that they’re part Sasquatch—but give enough time and I will.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, since I now know for sure that my ex-husband Karl isn’t just stalking me, but is a blood elemental, I’m really, really invested in making sure that this position pays off. I mean, 40k for six months’ work, and Karl’s supposed to be leaving me alone! I think that’s great. Now if only my uncle and Pastor Ananda don’t find out where I am….

Continue reading “Reeni Dutta (of Klone’s Stronghold, by Joyce Reynolds-Ward)”

Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a wizard. He is part of an adventuring group (because he’s broke), and he’s here to tell us about dungeons, dragons, quests, and bad attitudes.


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

Well I lived in Trestfall with my parents, two brothers Vine and Berek, and my sister, Shana. It was nice I suppose. My father was a baker and I always hoped to become a baker myself, or perhaps an accountant. Unfortunately, when I discovered that I had the ability to mess with the elements and blew my father’s kitchen to pieces I was shipped off to the local witch, Our Sharon, to be assessed. After that it was off to the Elementalists School for me.

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

I used to have a couple of wooden dolls that I would play ‘entrepreneurship’ with. Essentially one of the dolls would come in and ask for a loan to start up his own turnip producing business. The other was an investor who would advise him that there was no money in turnip production and had he considered killing dragons instead. But it would turn out that the investor had a scam running with the local dragon who, being in on the deal, would lie in wait for the former would-be turnip magnate and eat him. After getting him to sign over all his capital to a Hoard Based Currency System that is.

Endless fun.

What do you do now?

Well at the moment I’m involved in a questing group. They are an absolute shower. Andreton, typical warrior, as dumb as rocks, five times as hard and ten times as stubborn. There’s this Ranger, you know, nature type. Noble, brave, clueless. A wretched woman named Daisy, I ask you, Daisy, and she’s a fighter. Watch out for your head, she has a habit of removing them. The Cleric, Valeran, as you can probably imagine has his head so far up his own backside he probably needs an Elixir of Nightseeing just to find his own shoes. And a Rogue, Donalt. He’s always behind you. Doesn’t matter where you are.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So, under absolutely bloody false pretenses I got dragged into this group of sociopathic idiots and now we are faced with angry townsfolk, angry Trolls and angry Demons. I have no idea why but everywhere I go everyone is either very stupid or mad at something, and they naturally take it out on me. God’s save us. Everywhere I go, ‘Why don’t you have a pointy hat?’ or ‘Have you arrived precisely when you mean to? Because you’re bloody late.’ That’s what I get all the time. Look. WITCHES have pointy hats, OK? Wizards can wear whatever headgear they like. And I don’t use a wand either. That’s all marketing. I can point a cake at you and do the same spell.

Continue reading “Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)”

Jorrie (of Jorrie and the Skyhorse, by Zoë Landale)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a girl that ran away from home, only to discover a world of strange creatures and dark magics. She is here to tell us about her bond with a wolfhound and about an ancient skyhorse.


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

I grew up in Cimarron, the capital of the Salish Federation. It’s a port city, very old, with lots of stone buildings. My mom and I live, or maybe I should say lived, on the third floor of a house overlooking St Stephen’s square, right downtown. My mom’s still there. Right now I’m staying with my auntie and uncle and cousin on Satter Island, the furthest of the Outer Islands.

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

My favourite toy was called Donks. He was a donkey. Kids aren’t supposed to display any seithr abilities, any magic, that comes on, or not, until puberty. But after my dad disappeared when I was four, I was really upset. And Donks tore apart another favourite toy, a tiger. True story! I was there, with a High One who took me back to my past. It was really weird watching this four-year-old version of myself. The older version of me couldn’t speak, couldn’t affect anything.

What do you do now?

I’m waiting to apprentice as beast-T, a beast-Talent.  All my life I’ve been this weird kid and now it turns out, I actually some ability. Which is such a relief. I’m going to get training and I’ll be with a bunch of people who practice seithr and I’ll have friends. It’s taking awhile because most Ts only want to take on younger kids. I’ve already have a bond, a gorgeous wolfhound called Narvi.

Continue reading “Jorrie (of Jorrie and the Skyhorse, by Zoë Landale)”

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