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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Indie Author

Colin (of Punk Novelette, by Nick Gerrard)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man from the seventies, here to tell us about growing up and the ethos of Punk.


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

I grew up in the inner city of Birmingham UK, a grim industrial city. In the early seventies working class people were moved out of the city to smaller industrial towns with new homes. We hated these towns, as there was nothing to do but drink and fight. At least the city had football teams, and with the multi-cultural community there was great food and good music. The towns had nothing but factories, pubs and trouble.

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

Not really, my favourite things as a child was spending time with my Granddad in his garage; a den of interesting knick knacks. Going to the football games and on camping trips.

What do you do now?

I’m still in Portugal, still trying to stay off the drink. And writing books and travelling, doing the stuff I love. And most of all spending time with my son…we go to the footy together and hang out.

Continue reading “Colin (of Punk Novelette, by Nick Gerrard)”

Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man who decided to act against the monsters from beyond encroaching on his world, and has embarked on a quest to restore the barrier – even as he’s accompanied by one of the monsters.


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

Although not born there, I was raised behind the walls of Terratheist castle. While the outside world was struggling to create a peace treaty with a recently usurped neighboring kingdom and battling each other with the monsters summoned from another realm, since the age of six, I was being taught to summon monsters so I could one day venture into that world myself.

Why did you choose the path you took?

The reason I was taken in and taught the ways of a caller is a mystery to me. Having never been exposed to the dangers outside the castle walls, my first glimpse of the surrounding horrors was when my Master of Pacts summoned a Melkai (the monsters from the other realm) and it attacked me, coming bare inches from killing me. I knew would need my own Melkai to protect me, so I summoned Taiba, my Melkai companion.

What do you do now?

I’m an apprentice caller. My ambition is to become an Advanced Summoner who can summon and command Melkai from the second circle of the Melkairen (the realm of the Melkai). After not summoning another Melkai after Taiba, I naively believed that forcing myself out into the world on the quest I’m sent on was the best way to get the experience to become one. However, the barrier to the Melkairen was weakening and the Melkai without pacts were now roaming the lands, so it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So you know that the souls of the monsters (the Melkai) can be taken from their realm (the Melkairen) and put into objects (pact items) to be summoned from them at a callers behest, right? So, when the barrier between the Melkairen and out world weakens, the Melkai without a pact are freed to terrorize the land. Now only those who can summon Melkai like me can survive outside the castle walls, and a magical relic must be found to reseal the barrier. I have one half of this relic, so naturally I have to find other half before the barrier breaks entirely.

Continue reading “Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)”

Luke Ryder (of Death in the Holler, by John Bluck)

Dear readers, tonight with us is an alcoholic game warden, drawn into a police murder investigation when a dead gangster is found on a farm’s food plot.


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

I grew up in the Holler, a small wooded valley in Kentucky. There’s lots of woods, some small farms, but mostly beat up houses, shacks where most folks live. It’s pretty country, but the people are nearly all poor. And now, even in the year 2029, you think yur takin’ a step back in time when you go to the Holler. You’ll see the cinder block saloon next to a gravel road by thick woods and a couple of country stores with gas pumps out front. You’ll notice fields of tall weeds and scrawny trees with plenty of space between the small houses.

Folks usually have vegetable gardens, sometimes well-tended, but there’s the feelin’ that if you take a few too many steps, you’ll be walking into a dump, yur feet crunching down on crumbling, rusty cans between the tall islands of grass. On the edges of their properties people throw out garbage. There’s general junk, broken glass, and maybe some old furniture. They don’t have garbage pickup in the Holler. You have to drive your trash bags to the dump, but some folks don’t do it all the time. There’s the occasional rusty car or old, smashed pickup with rotten, flat tires, just sitting there on overgrown lawns. Folks often leave their clunkers next to their gravel driveways or off to the side of their houses when their vehicles stop working.

The first thing I remember when I think back to when I was a little kid was the rough wooden floor in the living room, if you could call it that. I had to be careful not to get splinters stuck in my fingers when I played with my plastic, toy soldiers. It was the biggest room in the clapboard house. I slept on the old, worn couch with my face against the back, ‘cuz it usually was still light in the house when I went to sleep. My eyes burned from the tobacco smoke. My little sister slept in a crib in the kitchen, and Mama and Paw slept in the only bedroom.

We didn’t have many close neighbors. Those that lived closest to us ignored us. Most likely that was because of my mama being an immigrant from Naples, Italy. Her accent made her seem even more foreign. She was a Catholic, but Paw was born in the Holler and was a Baptist. Before I was born he was in the Navy working at an airbase in Italy as an airplane mechanic. My parents met in a bar in Naples.

Dad was a drinker and got kicked outta the Navy ‘cuz of it, according to Mama. My guess is he got her pregnant with me. She really didn’t want to move to the Holler, but Paw had inherited an old house and a few acres after his parents died. He got a job fixing cars and trucks. He didn’t make a hell of a lot of money, and there wasn’t much left after he bought his booze. Mama wasn’t innocent, either. She ended up on pills and died of an overdose. Paw’s liver rotted away. They died when I was in my early twenties. Now, fifteen years later, I have a drinkin’ problem. I guess I got a few bad genes from my parents, but that ain’t a good excuse. I’m fightin’ it. It’s tough, but admitting you got a problem is half the battle.

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

I can’t think of a favorite toy, but my favorite thing was a BB gun my Paw gave me. I used to shoot mostly sparrows with it. I even killed a mouse in the shed oncest. After a while though, I felt sorry because I’d killed a bunch of innocent birds. They were gentle, pretty creatures. I had cut their lives short, and I never forgave myself totally for that. I guess that’s why I eventually became a Kentucky game warden.

My favorite memories are from when I was a little older, in middle school. Me and my best friend, Jim Pike, played hooky from school, and fished in the creek.  Later on, in high school Jim wanted to be a psychologist.  Sort of a funny choice for a kid from the Holler, huh? Well, though he got his college degree in psychology, he ended up as the county sheriff. He couldn’t find a psychologist job. But he told me a few times that studying psychology helped him a bunch when he became a peace officer.

What do you do now?

I’m a game warden. Truth be told,  that wasn’t my first choice. I really wanted to write about the animals of the Holler and Kentucky. You know, the deer, the possums, turkeys, fish. To do that, I wanted to be a public affairs officer for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

When I was a kid in school I read a lot. Maybe that’s ‘cuz most kids ignored me except for Jim Pike. Anyway, there was this old bus that the county converted into a library on wheels. I got books from it. Actually, you won’t believe it, but I can write a lot better than I can talk. But writing about wildlife didn’t work out. There aren’t many people doing that job, so I did the next best thing. I became a game warden. We have to carry a pistol. Technically, we are law enforcement officers. But mostly we deal with poachers and people fishing without a license.

Continue reading “Luke Ryder (of Death in the Holler, by John Bluck)”

Lieutenant Colonel Gaston d’Bois (of Mon Dieu Cthulhu! by John Houlihan)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a French Hussar from the Napoleonic Wars, who found out that there are worse horrors than facing Wellington in battle. He’s here to tell, in his charmingly French way of speaking, about his adventures.


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

D’Bois is a child of the forest, and was most fortunate to grow up in the Ardennes and even luckier that it was the French rather than the Belgian part, non, or Lieutenant Colonel Gaston d’Bois (retired) would be a different man entirely!  Mon Dieu, you could not wish for a more idyllic playground, the wooded glades were my play pen, the trees my climbing frame, the birds and the beasts my teachers, and d’Bois learned many of the most important lessons in life underneath that idyllic canopy.

Did you have any cherished childhood memories?

D’Bois was born to be an hussar, a formidable rider, swordsmen, crack shot and lover, although he is equally a most ‘umble and modest man. Yet it was almost before he could walk that he began his lifelong love affair with the cheval—the ‘orse as I believe you Anglais types term them.  D’Bois took to the saddle like he was born there and his père schooled him in the virtues of ‘unting, shooting and swordplay, so he was perfectly prepared for the horse soldier’s life which destiny had chosen for him.

What do you do now?

Alas, d’Bois is long in his dotage now, but the fire still burns, even if it produces more smoke than flame nowadays! Mais, but he is passing the time, in between pursing the delightful if ever elusive widow, by recounting his adventures in Napoleon’s grand armee to a journaliste Anglaise. Normally, these are the most despicable of low life types, who d’Bois would not hesitate to horsewhip on sight. Yet this one seems a decent fellow, enraptured by the many strange occult adventures that befell d’Bois during his time in Napoleon’s armee, as well as being most liberal with the cognac.

Continue reading “Lieutenant Colonel Gaston d’Bois (of Mon Dieu Cthulhu! by John Houlihan)”

Kit Melbourne (of her eponymous series, by Kater Cheek)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman, dragged from her job in a coffee shop into a world of witches and vampires, faeries and enchanted gems. She is here to tell us about her adventures.


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

I grew up in shitty mildewed apartments in New Jersey, several different cities, always in the cheap area of town. My childhood memories are full of yelling and fighting, at first with my mom and dad and then later with my mom and stepdads. I left as soon as I graduated high school and never looked back. The only positive memories I have were of my brother, and of the dojo. Now I live in Seabingen, a medium-sized city in the far Northwestern corner of the U.S.

What do you do now?

I’m the Dayrunner to the Vampire Guild Leader. It’s like an executive assistant, but with a lot more violence and magic. For a long time I was trying to make ends meet by selling the trees and floral arrangements I made, in addition to working at my brother’s coffee shop, but the Vampire Guild pays real money and has good benefits. That will come in handy if I get shot or break my arm again.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So much has changed since I inherited the jewel from my uncle Fred! Who knew that something as simple as being able to see magic would change my life that much? But it’s saved my life a few times. Learning how to make myself invisible has also saved my life. And being able to make stakes that kill vampire—it’s not supposed to even be possible. If that faerie hadn’t taught me how to do it, I’d probably be dead by now. I think I can credit some of that to the blade that Yseulta gave me.

Continue reading “Kit Melbourne (of her eponymous series, by Kater Cheek)”

Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman from a near future where magic has returned to the world. She’s here to tell us about life as an experimental subject, growing up at the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction, and now working in a [redacted] department of the US Bureau for Internal Development.


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

Are you really sure it’s okay to answer that question? Like, really sure?

Well, okay, I guess.

I grew up in the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction. My, uh, uncle worked there. It was pretty cool. My best friend Faith still lives there – she’s due to have pups any day now. I’m pretty excited about it! I’m gonna visit and help. I had quite a few adventures there with her.  [Giggles]  She almost blew me up, once!

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

Toys?  Well, I had a toy bow and arrow, but I managed to get the rubber cups off the ends, and attached some weights so it still worked. Mostly though I guess I just hunted and stuff. With Faith.

What do you do now?

You’re really sure I’m allowed to answer that?

[Shrugs]  Basically I kill people. But recently I’ve also been allowed to do kind of little bits of actual spying too.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I really don’t think I’m allowed to talk about the stuff right before I joined the Department. Like, seriously not.

But after that, I had practically a whole year of doing nothing except training and learning how to be a kind of assassin-spy. Some parts of that were really neat; others were so dull you wouldn’t believe!  But then Mother decided I didn’t have enough social skills, so I was sent to this acting school.  Girls can be bitches, you know?  Plus I wasn’t allowed to kill anyone, even if they really deserved it.  So that kind of sucked.  But I met my other best friend, Marcie, there.

Um.  It wasn’t our fault the school burned down and stuff.

That kind of didn’t end too well, so I went off on my own for a bit. Especially when Uncle, when Uncle….

Uh, what was I saying? Um, the Department really wanted me back though, so we kind of, came to an arrangement?  Then they all thought I was The Breaker, so we agreed I’d hunt him down myself and prove I wasn’t.

So, yeah.  Basically I kill bad guys.

Continue reading “Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)”

Lucia Rhodanus Fortem (of The Last Gladiator: prequel to the Steam Empire series, by Daniel Ottalini)

Dear readers, we all love to see blood spilled for our entertainment, cheer for the brave gladiators as they fight in the arena. Tonight we have a unique chance to hear from a woman who dedicated her life to this amazing sport, so beloved by our empire’s citizens.


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

Neapolis: A shining city on the coast. Number two city in the empire, or so I like to think. You may have heard of Mt. Vesuvius? That’s our most famous landmark to the northeast of the city. Or perhaps, Pompeii? Yes, we remember it. I’ve even been into the ruins!

 When I was a kid I’d run around with the workers’ children. How I loved racing up and down the hills of Neapolis. The black sand between my toes as we lounged on the beach. Those are some of my happiest memories, even when my father banned me from playing with the ‘chaff’.

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

My wooden swords, without a doubt. Perhaps my carved toy soldiers as well. I loved watching puppet shows as a child, and I would help put them on for my friends using my toys. It was fun to be the center of attention that way. Probably seems a bit selfish of me, but when you’re born into a family with clear expectations of what you should be doing with your future, you feel the need to do anything else. 

What do you do now?

Well at this moment I’m in training to be a gladiator, here at the Ludus Magnus. It’s the greatest gladiator school in Rome and the empire. I’ve wanted to join the fighters in the arena since I was ten, and spent as much time as possible reading about them, watching events in the coliseum, and training with one of my father’s servants. When I turned sixteen, I was told about an arranged marriage to one of my father’s….friends. “All about the business” he said. 

I said “goodbye” a week later. Here I am, in Rome, following my dream. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Being a gladiator isn’t exactly the same as it used to be. Incomes are down, attendance is down, and we’re about to be replaced by mechagladiators. The Emperor wants a big fancy spectacle. I mean, honestly, so do I. So do the owners. Everyone wants a spectacle. That’s why you attend the games at the Coliseum in the first place! Humans versus giant mechanical gladiators, with the Emperor, his family, and his brother watching… How can you not want to see this?

Continue reading “Lucia Rhodanus Fortem (of The Last Gladiator: prequel to the Steam Empire series, by Daniel Ottalini)”

Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman who speaks to the dead and dates gods out of slavic myths. She’s here to tell us about her unique gifts, about saving the world, and about tea.


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. It’s pretty hard for zines on this side of the Veil to get interviews. You weren’t born in Ljubljana. Where are you from originally and do you go home often?

It was the accent that gave it away wasn’t it? I’ve never been able to banish that little bit of Southern twang. I grew up in Chattanooga in Tennessee in the American South. Chattanooga isn’t a bad place to be from but it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to stay. I took the first opportunity to leave that was presented and eventually I wound up in Slovenia, in Ljubljana. I can’t really imagine being anywhere else now. Chattanooga isn’t really home anymore, so I don’t visit very often if I can help it. Some ghosts are best left to rest.

Any cherished memories from home?

(Laughs softly) Does leaving count? Aside from that, there’s a lot to be said for growing up next to a river. I’ve always felt a connection to water wherever I go. I think that’s what made me stay in Ljubljana, but I didn’t know until much later that you could step into the same river twice. And that they would both share the same snarky river god.

What do you do now?

Well, when I’m not slinging tea and making fancy sandwiches at the punk rock teahouse I own with my two closest friends, I talk to and for the local dead folk. Well, that and try to keep a couple steps ahead of my ex and his grand plans. Never underestimate the trickery of your average ancient dark deity and, trust me, don’t ever date one and definitely don’t have a kid with them.

You said you talk to and for dead people? You did say dead people right?

 It isn’t a very common “gift,” being a Voice of the Dead. The people who like to keep track of those of us who live behind the Veil thought my mother and my aunt were the last ones as all the other lines of Voices had died out. Then—surprise—it didn’t skip me after all. There’s nothing quite like finding out you’re a freaking “dead whisperer” way past your brooding Chosen One sell-by date. It isn’t like a parlor trick or anything though, it’s a job. Or more accurately, a duty.

Continue reading “Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)”

Magus Draeson (of Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a mage, one of those defending the realm. He’s here to tell us about his life, and about his recent role in solving magical murders.


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

I grew up in Kalanon but not like it is now.  We’re talking four hundred years ago so a lot has changed.  The gold mines at Sandilar hadn’t been found yet.  Obviously Valda was still the capital city and not much of one at that.  People today don’t get how much effort was put into building this country.  They know about the war but ask them about the years before that and they know nothing. 

I know I have a bit of a reputation as a grumpy old man but, well, appearances aside I AM old.  And not always entirely patient when it comes to fools.  There’s a tiredness that comes with that, no matter how much power you have.

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

Toys weren’t really a part of my childhood.  You have to understand what’s necessary for someone to become a mage.  It’s not like wanting to be a baker or a soldier when you grow up.  The dedication required is…relentless. Magic has a price and that price is sacrifice.  I prefer not to dwell on it.  Nobody truly understands anyway.

What do you do now?

I’m the magus of Kalanon.  I’ve done more to defend this country than anyone – both during the war and before it.  These days I’ve been tasked to help Sir Brannon Kesh solve a series of unusual and magical crimes.  I suppose I’m a consultant and a guide for him.  A soldier grunt can’t be expected to know about the true mysteries of the world so he needs my guidance.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The Djin shamans are a dangerous lot who work with elementals and death magic.  So when a member of the royal family is murdered in what looks like a Djin ritual…well, it’s either them or the Nilarians, in my view and both of those options are bad!

Continue reading “Magus Draeson (of Kalanon’s Rising, by Darian Smith)”

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