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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Murder

Detective Lisa Paco (of Vital Spark by Leah Devlin)

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Dear readers, tonight with me is a young millennial homicide detective.

While it may seem that this small-town, hashtag-speaking, police offer is too young for it, she had the (mis-)fortune of dealing with some scary serial killers.

She is here to tell about what is now known as the Chesapeake Tugboat Murders.

 

 

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

The name’s Paco.  Sergeant Lisa Paco.  I’m a detective on the River Glen Police Department, the best PD in the best village in America.   Yeah, yeah, I know I look like a sixteen-year-old, but here, if you don’t believe me, check my police ID.  See, right there.  My DOB.  I’m almost thirty.  I was born and raised here in River Glen on the Chesapeake Bay … on the Maryland part of the bay, not the Virginia part.  So we don’t have those stinging sea nettles like the Virginians in the southern bay.  And if some joker tells you that Virginia blue crabs taste better than Maryland crabs, well, he’s just plain delusional.  Okay, back to River Glen.  We have a population 89.  We have a psychic, Cannabis farmers, burnouts from the 60s, moon-shiners, artists, crabbers, and fishermen … all the usual suspects.  Oh, we also have pyrates.  Yeah, yeah, you’re laughing like you don’t believe me.  But I promise, it’s true.  We have pyrates.  Really!  Real-life modern pyrates.  Yep, River Glen was founded by pyrates from the pyrate ship Raven.  Every summer we have the annual pyrate festival, Giles Blood-hand Day.  It commemorates Giles Hale’s slaughter of the deranged Whitby family who stole gold from the village treasury in 1694.  He’s a local hero for returning the treasure.  The festival’s wilder than a Jimmy Buffett- or Grateful Dead concert.  It’s crazier than Burning Man.

So here’s how we got pyrates.  In the late 1600s the Raven was hiding out in today’s Tampa Bay to avoid a hurricane.  After the storm, a Spanish treasure galleon appeared off the coast.  While the crippled galleon was mending her masts, the Raven attacked.  Guns blazing, the Raven’s crew killed the Spaniards, stole the treasure, and made a runner up the eastern seaboard, but not before abducting women prisoners working on a Virginia tobacco plantation.  The Raven slipped behind colonial defenses at the mouth of the Chesapeake and found a remote river to make repairs.  Her hull was rotten with shipworms; the planks crumbled to the touch.  The pyrates and their ladies were stranded on the upper Chesapeake.  So that’s the origins of the tiny village of River Glen.  But what … I ask you … happened to the Raven’s fathomless treasure? Continue reading “Detective Lisa Paco (of Vital Spark by Leah Devlin)”

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Artorius (of Between Worlds by P.J. Roscoe)

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Dear readers, tonight with us is Artorius – the commander of Roman Britannia at the close of the 6th century CE.

Although the circumstances of how we learned about him, and how we came to know his story, are tied to a gruesome modern day murder and missing persons case, there is no doubt in our minds about the veracity of his story.

He is here to tell us about life in 6th century Britannia, and of his adventures.

 

 

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

My early years were spent in Rome, though I have very little memory of it, except the heat and the smells of unwashed bodies and dirt intermingled with the scent of jasmine and Rose oil. My father was a commander in a faraway place called ‘Britannia’ and my mother missed him so badly; she made the journey to be near him.

The differences were immense. The weather being one of them. Within two years, mother died and I suffered badly, but survive. The other was the people. They hated us, but kept their mouths shut in a Roman’s company, but I learned that their eyes could not hide the truth. Even after all these centuries, the native people regarded anyone of Roman descent to be truly evil. We were warned never to venture far alone and when my father was granted lands further north near an old Roman command known as ‘Hadrian’s Wall’ I went with him. Here the hatred was palpable and I feared those who painted themselves blue and cursed us from their hills. But I also learned to live with them and slowly, over time, many came to accept us and I found myself surrounded by friends from all walks of life.

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

My favourite toy was my pony, named ‘Celsus’ which means ‘tall’ in Latin. She had slightly longer legs which seemed a little out of proportion to the rest of her, but I loved her from the moment my father gave her to me as a foal. I helped train her, fed and watered her, cleaned up her mess and groomed her and when it was time to ride her, I fell off countless times as she bucked and danced around to free herself of this unusual burden. However, I persevered and eventually, Celsus became obedient and trust grew.

My most treasured memory is of our first ride together. Her long legs flew across the vast fields of Britain, faster than any other pony. She was sadly missed when old age took her from me eleven years ago. I had become too big to ride her, after four years together, but she remained within my father’s stables, where I continued to love and care for her. Continue reading “Artorius (of Between Worlds by P.J. Roscoe)”

Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)

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Dear readers, tonight with us is a combat medic, servicing in the legions assigned to one of the Roman Empire’s most notoriously dangerous provinces – Britain. He’s here to tell about his adventures, and accidental involvement in crime.

How does a Roman army medic end up solving murders?

I’m glad you asked that, because the answer is: reluctantly. I’m supposed to be in the business of making people feel better, so despite what anyone tells you, I’m not keen on stirring up trouble. I wouldn’t have gone near that business of the dead girl back in Deva if anyone else had been willing to deal with it. Oh, and if the lady who is now my wife hadn’t been quite so insistent.

(Of course as the head of the household, I’m the one in charge. Not my wife. I want to make that clear, because some of the people reading this may be Britons, who often have trouble remembering the proper order of things. I know this because my wife, Tilla, is a Briton. On the other hand, since very few of them see the point of reading and writing, this paragraph may be redundant.)

To return to the subject of murders—I certainly don’t go looking for them, but in the course of my work I stumble across suspicious injuries, and now word seems to have got round that if you’ve found an unexpected body, Ruso’s the man to deal with it. My author tells me that in the future there will be a specialist unit called the Police Force who are called in to sort out these things, while doctors can get on with seeing their patients and writing reports for the Treasury administrators. I’m sure she must have got the second half of that wrong. No-one in their right mind would pay a doctor to work as a scribe. Continue reading “Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)”

Jerry (of What One Leaves Behind by Regan O’Leary)

What One Leaves Behind - Regan O'LearyDear readers, in a bizarre and somewhat worrying turn of events, our little interview couch is now participating in a crime across international borders.

You may recall the interview about two weeks ago with Bane Shaw. It seems that his dark past is not yet done with him. Revenge killings never end, and now the son of the man Bane murdered to protect his family is after him. We tracked him down on his murderous path, and asked him some hard questions.

 

 

Tell us about growing up in Glasgow, about your involvement with the street gangs

Gangs in Glesgae – that’s just the way of life. Gang life’s been around for hundreds of years! Hell, Glesgae has mair gangs than London – I’ll bet you didnae ken that! But, the only street gang that matters are my boys! The Billy Boy from Bridgeton. They’ve goat my back – always have, always will. We’re family! My da and my uncle were members – it’s who we are. We stick together against them Shanley Boys in Bridgeton and those Peel Glen Boys in the Drum. *Curses* Fenian Tims! We will always threaten their shops, piss on their churches, and force their kids from our cinemas! It’s status! I’m feared and respected because of my gang.

How did you know Bane Shaw was back in Glasgow? Did it take you to track him down?

I knew that big-heided arse would come back to Glesgae eventually. He was easy enough to find, an’ aw! Those stupid PGB blabbed all over Glesgae that the Bane Shaw was coming home – like he was some bastard hero! Coming back to marry his yank hoor! He wisnae that hard to find!

I understand you threatened Bronagh?

Aye! That I did! Unlike my da and my uncle, I know how to hurt a man! And it isnae killing whit family he left behind in Glesgae, no! I’ll take his soul from him – I’ll take his woman! Continue reading “Jerry (of What One Leaves Behind by Regan O’Leary)”

Lisa (of The Dark Colony by Richard Penn)

SONY DSCDear readers, tonight with us is an interplanetary colonist. As we ask the questions, we ask our readers patience – it takes time for the communication beam to make it out to the asteroid belt and back with Lisa’s answers. 

 

 

Why did you chose to become an interplanetary colonist, despite the isolation from the rest of humanity?

Good mornsol, Assaph. Sorry to take so long answering, I’m twenty light-minutes away from you. I know you Earthlings aren’t used to that. It’ll take 40 to answer each question. I didn’t choose to come out to the belt, my parents were born in the Moon. They joined the colony expedition for Terpsichore when I was two. So I’ve never known any other kind of life. That said, I love it, and I’d leave Earth in a heartbeat, if only to get away from the gravity. As for isolation, I’m part of a community of 200, living in each others’ pockets. From the videos, I’d say Earthlings have a lot less real contact with people.

What is your role on the Terpsichore space station?

I’m a cop. I was a lowly constable when all this kicked off, then I got thrown into situation where I had to take charge. I’m captain of my own ship now, but I’m still a cop, with a boss on Phobos. Continue reading “Lisa (of The Dark Colony by Richard Penn)”

Bane Shaw (of Closer to Home by Regan O’Leary)

Closer to Home - Regan OLearyDear readers, tonight with me is a Scottish musician, now living and working in Hollywood South (that’s the south Louisiana film industry, for those not in the know).

He will tell us of his move, and of some dark secrets from his past that haunted him across the Atlantic.

 

It’s rumored that you drink a lot of whisky, is that true?

Aye, well I suppose the answer depends on your definition of “a lot.” Let’s just say I enjoy whisky like the true Scotsman I am.

What is the story behind your nickname ‘Bane’?

(Wry laugh.) Well, it means ‘Bone’. The week I turned eighteen I got a job at the public house of the Hill’s Hotel. I worked as a barman. But, bartending at night at The Rigg sometimes required breaking up fights, especially during football matches between the Rangers and Celtics. The rivalry is as old as Glasgow itself and has more to do with religious bigotry than football so things often got intense inside the pub. My manager gave me the nickname, “Bane,” because, more times than not, anyone I had to throw out of the pub left with a broken bone. Continue reading “Bane Shaw (of Closer to Home by Regan O’Leary)”

Josie Tucker (of The Bride Wore Dead by EM Kaplan)

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Dear readers, tonight with me is the renowned food-blogger and critic Josie Tucker. She is here to tell us about some of the hair-raising, Agatha Christie adventure – only vaguely related to food – which she had recently. 

 

Where did you grow up? When did you decide to become a food critic, despite your digestive issues?

I spent some formative years growing up in Tucson, Arizona—partly in high school, the rest in what you might call the school of hard knocks. I’m not bragging or anything—sometimes I think I’m lucky I’m still here. Those chollas, man, can eat you alive. Do not mess with teenage girls of the Latina variety. Though one of them saved my butt. More than once.

And my job…Like a lot of jobs, I fell into being a food critic accidentally. I mean, my mother used to have a restaurant, so I have a blue collar knowledge of the food industry first hand. But when I applied as an intern to the now-defunct newspaper that was my first job, I was just supposed to be a human interest researcher. You know, follow up on names and places and dates. Get a few pictures if no one else was around to do it. Long story short, I ended up ghostwriting the food column for the psycho-columnist-in-residence. By the time the psycho imploded and they found out I didn’t have any formal training—no degree from the Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute, nothing like that—my readership had increased enough that I was safe from being fired. The people had spoken and they liked me, for whatever reason. Luckily.

As for the digestive issues, no one knows about that, so I’d appreciate it if you keep that off the record. I’m in denial myself. Continue reading “Josie Tucker (of The Bride Wore Dead by EM Kaplan)”

Daina Harrow (of Skeletal by Katherine Hayton)

SkeletalDear readers, tonight on the guest couch we have Daina Harrow. Daina has been a victim of a terrible crime, and is here to impart a powerful message. 

 

 

What was your favourite toy as a child?

I used to own a fluffy blue duck which accompanied me everywhere. Even when my mother wrenched it from my hands to wash it, I’d stare at the washing machine and the clothesline to make sure it was safe. When my brother died my father boxed up my duck with his belongings by mistake. Dad retrieved it but the duck didn’t feel the same afterwards. For some reason, it wasn’t as fluffy or as comforting.

How do you feel about not ageing while seeing your old friends get on with life?

Considering the poor choices my old “friends” made with their lives, it hasn’t been upsetting. I still have my true friend with me here, and he’s not getting any older either. Besides, it’s not like I’ve been sitting still, watching them the whole time. I came back for the inquest because it’s all about me. If it were only them, I wouldn’t bother. I’m sure the reverse applies. Continue reading “Daina Harrow (of Skeletal by Katherine Hayton)”

Felix the Fox (of Murder in-absentia by Assaph Mehr)

Web Cover-miniDear readers, tonight we will be interviewing Felix the Fox. Felix comes to us from the far off magical city of Egretia. Felix is an interesting character, with quite an extraordinary career. His specialist services have saved the lives and property of many of his clients.

 

How did you get your nickname?

My name, just like my father’s, is Spurius Vulpius – but nobody uses it these days. I got the nickname Felix [ed: “lucky”] as a child, but as I grow older I’m less sure it means I’m Fortuna’s favourite. More like her favourite butt for practical jokes.

Fox is, of course, a reference to what I do for a living. It’s much nicer that ‘ferret’, which is almost what I got stuck with.

What do you do for a living?

I studied to be an incantator, a wizard. I got booted out of college, however, and never completed my studies. I worked a while for the firm of Gordius et Falconius, where I learned the art of investigation.

Now I work for myself as a fox – a sniffer of troubles, and resolver of predicaments. The kind of messes where there’s often a corpse involved. Continue reading “Felix the Fox (of Murder in-absentia by Assaph Mehr)”

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