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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Military

Tomas Piety (of Priest of Bones, by Peter Mclean)

Dear readers, tonight we bring you an interview with a priest more interested in his various businesses, from taverns and gaming houses. He’s a man who came back from fighting one war to find another at his doorstep, living in a grim and dark city.


The Royal Steward Samuel Lan Dekanov to one Mr Tomas Piety, of Ellinburg:

 You’re obviously not a Dannsburg man, Mr Piety. Tell us a little about yourself. Where you grew up, perhaps, and what it was like there?

My name is Tomas Piety. I was born in Ellinburg, and I lived my whole life there save for the war years. My father was a bricklayer, and I grew up in the alleys of the Stink with my little brother Jochan at my side. The Stink’s a poor place, down by the tanneries and the river, and working folk stick together there. Da was a working man, when he was sober enough to work, and Ma died when I had barely six years to me. I’d like to say “times were hard but we were happy”, but that would be a lie. We weren’t happy, Jochan and me, not with what went on in that house of a night.

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

We had no money for toys when I was a lad, but I’ve got a cherished memory alright. That one night, that night I made it right between Da and me for what he had done to me, and what he had started to do to little Jochan. That was the night my cold devil woke, and spoke to me. That was the night I became The Devil Tomas Piety and no mistake. If I were you, my friend, I’d change the fucking subject. Right now.

Right, well. Ahem. Moving on – what do you do now?

I’m a businessman, and I’m a priest. The army made me that, but I’m not exactly what you might call godly. I own a number of businesses in Ellinburg. Various interests that bring in a substantial income. I own inns and taverns and gaming houses, and I have an interest in a number of…  vassal businesses, as you might say, such as factories and tanneries and forges. Those I don’t own, as such, but they pay me a consideration for protection and respect

Mr Piety, that makes you sound like some sort of gangster!

I’m a fucking businessman. You listen to me now. There’s a way that respect works in Ellinburg, and I don’t think that you understand what that is. I’m a prince on my streets. I collect taxes, aye, and I see that they’re paid, but in return for that I look after my people. No one goes hungry on Pious Men streets, not anymore they don’t, and no one robs or steals from my people either. Not more than once, anyway. Anyone tries it, me and my brother go and show them how unwise that was, and they don’t do it again. There was a time a woman couldn’t walk down those streets alone at night, and I put a stop to that too. Those who are sick and can’t afford a doctor are treated at my expense. It’s a closed system, to be sure, and participation isn’t optional, but once everyone understands that it works well enough. It’s just business, do you understand me?

Continue reading “Tomas Piety (of Priest of Bones, by Peter Mclean)”
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Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a retired SEAL who has stumbled on shocking evidence that rogue programmers and Russian mobsters are reprogramming helper androids to take over humanity. He’s here to tell us about his team’s efforts to combat the rise of hive-minded species.


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

I grew up in a small town in the backwoods of Washington State, and my Dad worked for a lumber mill there. He was quite the outdoorsman, and took me hunting and fishing from just about the time I could walk. My mom taught history, and we had conversations around the dinner table about the world outside our little town. She also taught me to be a leader; that it was my responsibility to take care of others when they needed it.

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

My favorite “toys” if you call them that, were my hunting rifles. I was so comfortable in the woods, even as a kid, I would take off for a week just living in a tent and hunting. My mom kept wanting to send out search parties, but Dad said “The kid knows what he’s doing. Let him be.” Sure enough, I’d come home with a nice buck, and we’d keep some of the meat and give the rest to people who needed it.

What do you do now?

I’m a retired Navy SEAL, so after I decided I had “aged out” I looked for the closest thing to that. So, I went to work for Hardwood Security, mainly protecting high-risk targets—like oil company execs in the Middle East and African politicians who were terrorist targets. I’ve gotten in a couple of firefights, but I never ever expected I’d need my SEAL training to figure out how to kill armored killer androids! Continue reading “Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)”

Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)

Joseph Malik - Outworlders banner

Dear readers, tonight with me is a cross-dimensional champion. Taken from Earth to a strange new world, this former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert was tasked to be an adviser to the war council for a magical realm teetering on the edge of collapse.

We wanted to meet Jarrod Torrealday since we first read his book, and finally caught up with him at his castle home in the Wild River Reach at the end of this past autumn, between his two book adventures.

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

I grew up in Connecticut, on an estate called Knightsbridge. Our house was one of these castle homes, with stone turrets and everything. (Laughs) I guess it kind of warped me. My family owns Eastern Technology Bank. We mostly handle hospitals and big tech campuses. We had a few hundred acres of woods that butted up against a huge green belt that went right down to the sea. I was much more into getting into adventures out there than I was ever interested in playing with toys.

What do you do now?

I’m part of an order of knights here in the kingdom of Gateskeep. Our order teaches hand fighting and military science to the troops, but also serves a counterespionage function, as well. We keep an ear to the ground and keep an eye on the fighters in the castles where we train other knights and soldiers. We find spies, and disrupt plots against the crown.

I’m also a Lord Protector of the principality of Falconsrealm, which means that I can be called upon—and have the right—to settle affairs of the crown in personal combat. A lot of the time, here, they’ll settle small wars and grievances with just two guys beating the crap out of each other, sometimes not even to the death. It’s a pre-industrial, mostly feudal society—interlinked fiefdoms of regional lords and magnates operating under privatized rule—but it’s technically possible to take over a castle and lands in a fistfight. Which keeps the afternoons interesting.

It all just goes to prove that we never really know where we’re going to end up, I guess. It’s a good gig.

What do you find most surprising about living here? Compared to Earth?

The number of women in the ranks of the military, especially the knights, and how effective they are. On Earth, we’ve really underrated them. Our brightest military leaders, and some of our toughest knights here, are women. Continue reading “Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)”

Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight we have a mid-week special column, to celebrate the Friday release of the next volume in the Shadows Over Seattle series.

With me is a Gunnery Sergeant from the US Marine Corps — the second character we interview from the series (the first was a lupine – a lycanthrope – which you can meet here).

He is here to tell us about his latest snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory — and the surprising things he ran into during it.


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

I don’t really have many clear memories of the places I grew up in, because we moved around a lot.

My father was deployed all over the states, and sometimes even abroad. That meant relocating everytime he got new orders, and I’ll be honest, I hated it. But he carried so much pride in serving his country that I never questioned why he kept reenlisting at the end of each tour of duty.

The bases all looked alike to me as a kid, with only minor changes, but the stories my father told changed everything. He’d tell me about foreign places and the cultures of their people. Unfortunately there were so many stories he couldn’t tell, because he said there were secrets that should never be told.

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

Because I grew up around soldiers, there were guns around the house, and I begged for one of my own for months. I wanted to be like them so badly, and I’d use sticks in my games when I’d pretend to be one of them.

Sometimes my father would join me in these games, and he finally started to teach me how to handle real guns. He told my mom it was for my safety, and so that I’d learn to respect the danger they represented. Honestly though, I have a feeling he secretly hoped that I’d lose the taste for it after a while.

That never happened.

What do you do now?

I signed up for the Marines Officer Candidate School as soon as I was old enough to do so. It drove my mom crazy for weeks worrying about what would happen to me when I shipped out to Parris Island. She didn’t think I had the strength and willpower to get through boot camp, because I dropped out of college to enlist.

Thankfully, I got through with my brains intact, and a thirst to serve. I finally understood what had driven my father to keep reenlisting.

I’ve been in for just over ten years now, and the tensions in the middle-east have taken us to the edge of another world war. Continue reading “Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)”

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)”

Bart Madison (of Six Minutes Early by Patrick Parker)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an ex special forces officer, trying to detonate a few nuclear devices.

You’ve read that correctly. He’s trying to detonate them, in an act of terror. Once again, we are visited by a novel’s antagonist.

A current member of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), he is here to tell us of his life as a mercenary, his motives, and of his ISIS connections.


Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.

I grew up in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma. Played sports in high school and worked on a farm in the summers much like the other boys. I chased the girls and always had a date on the weekends. Looking back, the jocks got the good-looking girls. I did like to tinker with old cars. Got an old jeep one year. It was all in pieces and I spent a winter putting it back together. It ran like a top when I got it finished. It was indestructible! I always found time to go hunting and fishing.

In school I had a teacher, mentor actually, that was a Green Beret in the US Army Reserves. I looked up to him. He inspired me to be a Green Beret. He was hard on the boys and kept us out of trouble.

After high school, I went on to college in Oklahoma and into the Army as soon as I graduated. I became a Special Forces Officer.

Any cherished memories?

I have several. I will always remember my mentor from school. I did have a very close friend growing up. We had talked about going into the military. He enlisted in the US Marines and I went to college. He was killed in combat about a year or so later and I was devastated.

The proudest day of my life was the day I became a Green Beret. That was years ago and I’m on to other things now.

You’ve given your business title as Military Advisor. How did you get into this line of work?

Yeah, advisor or consultant, your choice. That seems to be a bit more palatable these days and doesn’t raise eyebrows as much as mercenary does.

My Army training is how I got into this line of work. I’m an expert in small unit tactics, guerrilla warfare, explosives, and on and on. When I left the Army, I had all these skills and experience. I knew of several corporations that hired ex-service members for their skills. I did a short stint with one. The money was Ok. I discovered the FARC was looking for an advisor. I had met Franco Trujillo when he was a Panamanian policeman then later, heard he joined the FARC, so I contacted him. He offered me a better deal and I took him up on it. He pays me well and I have a number of perks. Continue reading “Bart Madison (of Six Minutes Early by Patrick Parker)”

Dydre Rowyn (of War Merchant by Patrick Parker)

war-merechant-patrick-parker

Dear readers, tonight with me on the interview couch is a woman trying to escape from the black-market arms trade.

Her risky plan went wrong, and she found her – and her son’s – life in danger from her former boss, his mercenaries, a double-crossing businessman, terrorists, the FBI, and a man from the Defense Department.

She is here to tell us about her suspenseful adventures in a world of corrupt politics, a ruthless greedy opportunist, terrorists, and a pawn with deadly skills.


Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.

I lived in Hanau, Germany until I was about thirteen when my parents were killed in a car wreck. I was put in a foster home, and about a year later, I ran away. I couldn’t make the adjustment, too young I guess.

I met Johanna Zsigmond in a Frankfurt park not long after I ran away, and she hired me as a live-in domestic and assistant to her. We got along great. Sometimes we’d talk for hours. She convinced me to go back to school and on to Cambridge. She treated me as if I was her daughter and I loved her dearly. I still miss her to this day.

Johanna was such a wonderful person. She was more than a mother to me, she became my best friend. She got me interested in theatre and martial arts, focusing on jujitsu in high school. In my spare time, Johanna taught me the romance languages.

After I moved in with Johanna, I kept quite busy with school and, of course, she kept me busy with language lessons. I liked Frankfurt better than Hanau. There was so much to do in Frankfurt and I loved the markets and festivals. Johanna stressed the arts and we were always going to plays, concerts, and museums.

Any cherished memories?

I miss Johanna. She didn’t have any children of her own and I filled that void. Johanna died of cancer during my junior year at Cambridge. I was devastated and took the rest of the year off. I returned to school the following year as that is what Johanna would have wanted.

I became pregnant during my senior year at Cambridge and was to be married just before graduation. Michael Barron, an army captain, was a very handsome man and a wonderful person. He would be any woman’s dream. Unfortunately, he was killed in Bosnia a week before the wedding.

David, my son, looks just like Michael. David is my world now. Continue reading “Dydre Rowyn (of War Merchant by Patrick Parker)”

Jamie Kendrick (of Bad Decisions by EM Smith)

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Dear readers, tonight with me is a man who managed to break free of his white-trash background littered with bad decisions, and is now a valued members of a special black-ops unit in the army.

What is it like to wear an ankle bracelet?

It sucks. It rubs all the hair off that spot, you have to bag the monitor up whenever you take a shower, and if it’s a drug monitoring bracelet like mine, you can’t even use mouthwash or it will spike your alcohol measurement and set the damn thing off, then BOOM, jail time. Also, you got to pay for the delight of wearing it out of your own pocket. You can’t go swimming or wading or hand fishing, either, which used to be my favorite ways to waste time with my brother.

What was the scariest situation you’ve been in?

I guess I probably oughta say something like “getting shot at by human traffickers,” but the truth is that wasn’t near as scary as standing on the ground, watching the helicopter of one of those sex traffickers lift off with my nieces in the cockpit. I still have nightmares about that. Continue reading “Jamie Kendrick (of Bad Decisions by EM Smith)”

Marie (of Marie by Ana Elise Meyer)

Marie - Ana MeyerDear readers, tonight on the interview couch is Marie, off the pages of her eponymous novel. Marie is a special person, the picture of physical perfection. Let us find out what mind lies inside a body that can heal at rapid rates. 

 

What was it like growing up at the institution? Did you have a favourite toy?

How do you think it was? I lived in a sterile building. I had my friends and that was all, but they turned out to be pricks.

What the fuck is a toy?

Did you have any one there that you felt close to, like a parent?

That is none of you damn business!

What does your extreme healing power feel like? Do wounds hurt less?

It feels like healing, and yes it does fucking hurt. I am not some superhero or something. Continue reading “Marie (of Marie by Ana Elise Meyer)”

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