Search

The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Tag

Mystery

Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the owner of a local bookstore. Her knowledge of the Whitechapel murders and of Jack the Ripper bring her to the attention of the police. She is here to tell us about how investigating a current murder brought up a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Emily, the proud owner of Emily’s Lair, a private, non-corporate bookshop in New Vernon, Connecticut, with a wonderful variety of books. There’s an entire wall dedicated to classic literature, for example, sections on art, exploration, science, history, ancient civilizations, even true crime. You can get the latest releases, of course, but most of the shop is made up of books that I find interesting and think other people will too. I’m especially proud of the special section in back that’s filled with books on the European witch hunts. It also features more than one biography on the woman responsible for singlehandedly ending the witch hunts, Liesbeth Jansson.

Liesbeth Jansson? Who was she?

She was a woman from Breda, a city in the Netherlands. She got married to a professor from Leiden, a city that became a beacon of the Enlightenment. He died when the Plague swept through Leiden, and because Liesbeth was smart and strong-willed and refused to conform to what citizens at the time considered to be a “proper Christian woman,” she became a target. At that time, women who were different, or, especially, who weren’t submissive to men, were often accused of witchcraft.

Was Liesbeth Jansson accused of witchcraft?

Oh yes. But she fought back. You see, none of the women accused of witchcraft—the accused were almost always women—were actually witches. Many were elderly spinsters, midwives, or rich widows like Liesbeth. If you had money, you were a prime target because a witch’s money was always seized by the state, and witch hunters loved money. But with Liesbeth they had stumbled on someone they never expected to encounter—a woman with real power. She escaped, hunted down each of her accusers, and killed them in a very public and brutal manner. Once people realized there was a chance that they might accuse a woman who could fight back, the witch hunts ended.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I met Will, a homicide detective. I fell for him right away despite that he was questioning me. You see, I was a person of interest in a murder that Will was investigating because I had once dated the man who was killed. Will came in the shop to ask me some questions; that’s how we met.

Continue reading “Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)”

Robinson Lubank (of Alexander Southerland P.I. series, by Douglas Lumsden)

Dear readers, tonight we revisit the world of Alexander Southerland, P.I., whom we visited before. This time we reprint a magazine interview with his gnomish lawyer, that lovable scamp Rob Lubank. Caution: foul language ahead.


Welcome to Community Outreach. Today’s guest is one of the most well-known defense attorneys in Yerba City. Could you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Glad to. I’m Robinson Lubank, attorney at law. What th’fuck d’ya wanna know about me?

You’ve been described as someone who has his finger on the pulse of Yerba City. Would you say that this is an accurate assessment?

You kidding me? I’ve got this town by the balls! I’ve got the dirt on every important person in the metropolitan area, and that includes the judges. That’s why I’m the best defense attorney in the city.

Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?

I’ve always wanted to make a lot of dough, and I figured out pretty early in the game that making it as a mouthpiece would be a hell of a lot less risky than robbing banks. As you can see by my big adorable round ears, I’m a gnome. I don’t pack a lot of muscle into this three-and-a-half-foot body of mine. I’ve got more brains than brawn, and the law is a good racket for a mug like me.

Gnomes are known for their financial success, aren’t they?

Hey, that’s a stereotype! Not all gnomes are rich, but, yeah, a lot of us are. We tend to have good heads for business. When the Dragon Lords stormed out of Hell, they brought trolls and dwarfs along to slap their enemies around on the battlefield. They brought us gnomes along because they needed people with intelligence to build their economic infrastructures. We gnomes prefer to do our fighting across a table in the boardroom, or in the courts.

What was it like growing up in Yerba City?

I had it pretty good. My father was a bank manager. Very fuckin’ respectable. He taught me the value of money, which is something I’ve never forgotten. School was okay. I made some dough helping some of the guys get through it, you know, doing their homework for them and “convincing” some of the teachers to alter their grades.

How did you do that?

Hey, teachers aren’t any cleaner than anyone else. They’ve all got something to hide. Maybe from their spouses, or maybe from their bosses—maybe even from the coppers! Once you’ve ferreted out their little peccadilloes, they become very willing to make deals.

So blackmail is the key to your success?

Watch it, pal! “Blackmail” is such an ugly word. It’s not my fault that so many people have skeletons in their closet, or that I’m so good at discovering them. Once my operation started to grow, I began hiring investigators to get the dirt for me. There’s this hard number named Alex Southerland, for example. He’s done a lot of good work for me. We have a nice copacetic little arrangement. He tends to get himself into a lot of hot water with the boys in blue, and it’s my job to get him out it. For a price, of course. I make sure that I rack up a lot of billable hours keeping him free to operate, and, as a result, he’s into me deep. He pays some of it back by doing investigative work for me, but the poor bastard will probably die owing me money. And the way he operates, that could happen sooner rather than later.

Continue reading “Robinson Lubank (of Alexander Southerland P.I. series, by Douglas Lumsden)”

John Conquer (of Conquer, by Edward M. Erdelac)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a P.I. from 1976 Harlem — the cat you call when your hair stands up, a supernatural brother like no other.


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

I was born in New Orleans but came to New York with my parents when I was seven. We stayed with my Uncle Silas till he passed. I was raised on West 115th in the Foster Projects in Harlem. They call ‘em the MLK Projects now. It was cool growing up. We had the big playground, monkey bars, ball courts…good old PS 170. When my daddy died and my mama got run down by a taxi, I stayed with Consolation Underwood in East Harlem. She was a bookie for King Solomon Keyes, and an Ifa priestess – an Ìyánífá. She taught me divination with the opon Ifa, had me memorize the 256 odu, while other kids were doin’ times tables. Said ‘cause I was born with a caul I ought to learn, maybe become a babalawo some day. She was Mama to just about every orphan in Harlem at one time or another. Always some kid coming or going in her kitchen. Me and her niece, little Phaedra Williams were the ones who stayed the longest. I used to walk Phaedra over to the pool at Marcus Garvey Park in the summer, stand under the monkey bars to catch her if she slipped. That was before ‘Nam.

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

We couldn’t afford much in the way of toys. Played outside most of the time. One of my favorite memories is of sittin’ up late with my Daddy and my Uncle Silas beatin’ on these handmade mahogany Rada drums he had. My uncle taught me to beat the rhythm on the Boula when I was six. My mama would dance till the sweat made her arms shine in the dark.

What do you do now?

I’m a private investigator now, got an office on 33 St. Marks Place. I run down stray husbands and wives mostly, but sometimes folks call me when the hair on the back of their neck stands up, you dig? I got a reputation around town after I took down a rakshasi one night at the Empire Roller Disco in Brooklyn. Brought it in a lot of weird business. Weirder by the day, sometimes I think. Lucky I inherited a library from my godfather, Fish Marmelstein. He used to own a supply company, Brother Hoodoo. My daddy was his top salesman. Anyway, it’s got most everything I need. I got books on Vodoun, Hoodoo, Kabbalah, Hermeticism…you name it. And if I don’t have it, I know where to find it.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I wouldn’t call it an adventure. Adventures are supposed to be enjoyable, right? Where do I start? It’s been an eventful year. I took down a clique of vampires in the Harlem Hospital morgue, helped out my Uncle Silas’…..I don’t know what you call Verbena Mechant, a partner? Husband? Wife? Hell, you call her whatever she wants to be called. I learned that the hard way. Anyway, Auntie Verbena had a boo-hag causin’ problems with her girls in Crown Heights. Let’s see….there was that time Lou Lazzeroni found Genie Jones shrunk and floating in a lava lamp and called me in….there was that thing eatin’ graffiti taggers in the subway. Then there was that other thing running rampant at the Vatican…sorry, that’s what Pope used to call the apartment building where he housed his girls….ugh…sorry, Pope’s the pimp whose ghost haunts my car….eh, that’s a long story. I don’t wanna get into that mess. Let’s see….my last ‘adventure’….finding the dude who shot Preacher dead with an arrow in front of Hekima Books. Preacher, that was Benny Galarza, one of my oldest friends. We started the 167th Street Black Enchanters back in ’69 when we got outta Vietnam see….him and me and Black Adam. It had to do with a butchered gorilla carcass the cops found laying in an intersection in the Bronx. I just got out of the hospital from all that. It was a bad scene. Nearly got my black ass pitched off a roof.

Continue reading “John Conquer (of Conquer, by Edward M. Erdelac)”

Tillman Rosenbaum (of the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series, by Debbie Burke)

Dear readers, tonight in an interesting twist we have both a character — and his author! He’s a lawyer assisting the protagonist, and has his own style of doing things.


Debbie Burke: Tillman Rosenbaum is the brilliant, arrogant, cynical attorney who elbowed his way into
the first book in the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series and refused to leave. Today, I’m interviewing Tillman for The Protagonist Speaks. Thank you for talking with me, Tillman.

Tillman Rosenbaum drinks Glenfiddich single malt scotch while his intense dark eyes pin.me to my barstool. His baritone sounds like God in a cave.

TR: Get this straight right up front—I didn’t agree to this interview. Tawny did.

DB: You seem hostile?

TR: We can talk all day about landmark cases, precedents I’ve set, innocent people I’ve
gotten acquitted. But nothing personal. Understand?

DB: Uh, okay. Since Tawny is one of the innocents you saved, why don’t you tell us how
you first met?

TR: Tawny had unwittingly gotten involved with a terrorist (Book 1 – Instrument of the
Devil
). Feds were after her, seized her bank account. She was in deep shit and her only crime
was trusting the wrong guy. I like a righteous cause.

DB: You’re the crusader hero?

TR: I’m the asshole who backed down Goliath. Afterwards, I offered her a job. She was
broke from her late husband’s medical bills, doesn’t have much education, dyslexic—helluva
time reading, can’t spell. But she’s really bright and has this gift. People open up to her. Clients
tell her the secrets they’re afraid to tell me.

DB: You’re six-seven, aggressive, and sarcastic. Can’t imagine why clients would be scared
of you.

TR (snorts): I scare prosecutors and judges, too. Underneath this gruff exterior beats a heart
of stone. In more than twenty years of practice, I only lost three cases.

DB: Your style of questioning differs from Tawny’s.

TR: Hell yes. I jump on ’em with both feet. She just smiles, like the sun breaking through
clouds, and then she listens. Finds out the damnedest shit that way. (shakes his head in
amazement
)

DB: So your skills complement each other?

TR: Oh yeah. Like when my old man was targeted by this sexy con artist (Book 2 -Stalking
Midas
). He’s a smart financier, made millions, but an unprincipled prick. Serial womanizer.
Drove my mother to suicide. Suddenly he’s broke. Refuses to talk to me. But damned if Tawny
doesn’t get him to open up. She cracked the scam. Unfortunately, the con artist almost killed her
in the process. (looks away, blinks hard, and swallows)

Continue reading “Tillman Rosenbaum (of the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series, by Debbie Burke)”

Alexander Southerland (of A Troll Walks into a Bar, by Douglas Lumsden)

Dear readers, tonight we conduct our interview in a bar, pretending to be the bartender for a private investigator and summoner of elementals.

He’s here to tell us about trolls and shape-shifters, witches and femmes fatales, and murder investigations that take him from dangerous dark alleys to the dazzling lights of downtown Yerba City.


What’ll it be, buddy?

Whiskey. Neat. Leave the bottle.

Here you go.

Thanks. Slow night?

It’s early. It’ll get busy later.

Got time to grab a glass and join me for a drink? Today’s my thirtieth birthday, and I’m in the mood for a party.

Thanks, I believe I will. Here’s mud in your eye! …. I’ve seen you in here before. You’re a private dick, right?

That’s me. Alexander Southerland, P.I. Call me Alex.

Sounds like an interesting racket, Alex.  Is that something you always wanted to do?

What’s with all the fuckin’ curiosity, pal?

Hey, it’s a party, remember? And you’re the guest of honor. I’m just being sociable.

Yeah, yeah. Okay, pour me another glass and I’ll tell you my life story. This shit is pretty good. Hits the spot. Anyway, to answer your question, no, being a P.I. isn’t something I ever imagined I’d be doing back when I was a kid. I grew up in a working class neighborhood, the kind of place you spend your life trying to get away from. My old man was a factory worker. When he worked at all, that is. My mother stayed home and did her best to keep me out of trouble. Turns out that I had a special talent. Since before I can remember I’ve been able to summon and command air elementals. Nothing big. No hurricanes or tornadoes or anything like that. Just little funnels of air. I used them to find out things I wasn’t supposed to know about. Still do. I also used them to annoy all the other neighborhood kids. That led to a lot of fights. I liked fighting. I got to be really good at it. Anyway, I was an only child, and as far as my parents were concerned, I was one child too many. I guess I was quite a handful. 

Sounds like a rough childhood.

Not really. I got nothing to whine about. My parents weren’t going to win any prizes, but they weren’t any worse than most. The only thing my old man ever taught me was that after the fourth drink they all taste pretty much the same. And the only good advice I ever got from my mother was to stay away from my old man after he’d had that fourth drink. 

Seems like good advice. 

Yeah. I didn’t always take it, though. When my old man was soused he used to beat me silly! But I kept getting bigger, and one day I ended up bouncing him off the walls. After that he stopped bothering with me. Stopped talking to me, too. That was fine. I learned to get by on my own.

What happened after that?

I quit school and joined the army. Gave three years of my life to the state of Tolanica. All hail Lord Ketz-Alkwat! And so on and so forth. I did some time up-country in the Borderland, mixing it up with the Qusco insurgents. 

That would have been, what, about ten years ago?

Thereabouts.

What unit were you in?

The 27th.

I was in the 33rd about the same time. I heard about this wild-ass sergeant with the 27th named Southerland. They say he was a stone-cold killer, but you could count on him when the pressure was on.

You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Those stories tend to take on a life of their own. Anyway, after spending the better part of two years fighting for the cause, I was rotated into the military police, and a year later I was discharged and sent home. Problem was, I didn’t really have a home.

So how did you become a P.I.?

I bummed around a little, and then I went to see the grandmother of a buddy of mine who didn’t make it out of the Borderland. She was a well-heeled old dame named Mrs. Colby, and she owns a lot of commercial rental property, including some units here in Yerba City. Anyway, she had a rental app from a joe that she had a funny feeling about, and she asked me if I would do a little snooping. I dug around a bit and found out that the guy was a were-rat. Mrs. Colby was impressed with my work, and she not only helped me set up a business, but she rented me an office with some living quarters on the second floor. I’ve been working as an investigator ever since.

A were-rat?  Wow! Those guys give me the creeps! They say that they’re all a little nuts!

Yeah, that’s mostly true. But this guy had trained himself to put a lid on his baser instincts. Turns out he’s a pretty fun fellow. Mrs. Colby went ahead and rented him some commercial space and he turned it into a nice business. I invited him to lunch one day and we’ve been friends ever since. He helps me out sometimes. Rats can go pretty much anywhere, and they see and hear everything. And he’s mostly stable, although he’s hinted at some dark shit in his past that I’m probably better off not knowing about. 

Your racket must be exciting.

It can be. It’s usually fairly routine, and the cash flow is far from steady. I do a lot of background checks, and I find missing people and missing items. I do a lot of investigative work for attorneys and occasionally for big corporations. Some of the cases can get a little intense. Like this one about a year ago when a gorgeous doll asked me to find her little sister.

What happened?

There were three problems with that case. First, the client was trying to use me for her own purposes. I couldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. The dame didn’t even give me her real name! Second, some extremely corrupt sons of bitches in the Yerba City Police Department didn’t want me anywhere near the case. This one detective–a seven-foot tall, five-hundred pound troll–tried to get me to lay off it. I probably should have listened, but I didn’t like the way he asked. So I stuck my nose in, and the troll decided to get physical. Actually, he fucked me up pretty good!

A troll? You’re lucky you’re still breathing!

It could have been worse. But, yeah, he rearranged my face a little and threatened to rip out my eye with an icepick. But I’m better off today than he is. I still have nightmares about that troll, though.

You said that there was a third problem with that case?

That’s right. The third problem was that my client was an adaro.

One of those water nymphs from the Nihhonese Ocean?

Yeah, the ones that the government herds into the refugee settlement in the northern part of the city. You probably know that female adaros are extremely attractive to men. It’s part of their evolution, something that stems from the fact that female adaros outnumber the males by about ten to one. And we’re not just talking about physical attributes. They emit powerful pheromones that make lugs like you and me want to get down on our knees and beg for table scraps. It wasn’t easy being in the same room with my client. It was hard not to believe her lies. It’s a good thing that I’ve got a lot of willpower. Or maybe I’m just fuckin’ stubborn. In the end, I guess it amounts to the same thing. I still dream about her, too.

How’d that case go?

It was a clusterfuck from beginning to end. I got myself mixed up in a turf war between two drug-running street gangs up in Placid Point. I met my client’s charming but homicidal sister, and I somehow got my hands on a mysterious locked box that a lot of powerful people wanted. The mayor’s own private fixer threatened to frame me for murder if I didn’t sell the box to him. And, of course, I was tortured by a troll. 

What was in the box?

I’m not at liberty to say, and you don’t want to know. Get me?

Gotcha! So what can you tell me about your most recent case? I hear that you were working for the Barbary Coast Bruja.

You hear a lot of things.

I’m a bartender. It comes with the job.

Yeah, I was hired by Madame Cuapa herself, the most powerful witch in western Tolanica. She told me that she had murdered a man, but that he wasn’t dead. 

Come again?

I know. It’s complicated. Anyway, someone had managed to put a compulsion spell on the witch and turn her into a deadly weapon. And when I say deadly, I mean lethal enough to end all life on this planet! That was the only case in which my own client tried to kill me.

The witch tried to kill you?

Twice. The first time, I wound up shooting her in the chest. It didn’t bother her all that much, though. The second time was really weird. I remember following a giant shadowy dog with no eyes right up to the gates of the Azteca realm of the dead. It was a near thing! In fact, lately I’ve been wondering if maybe I actually died. In any case, Madame Cuapa brought me back.

She brought you back? Didn’t you say that she was the one who tried to kill you?

It’s complicated. But that wasn’t even the scariest thing that happened to me on that case. That scariest thing was when another witch tried to sacrifice me to a giant hummingbird.

A…. Sorry, did you say hummingbird?

Well, some kind of spirit in the shape of a winged man with a bright green hummingbird’s head complete with a three-foot beak that was sharp as a spear. Believe me, it was no joke! 

I guess not. Hey, do you want me to break open another bottle? This seems like a lonely way to spend your birthday. 

Sure, let’s drink up. Don’t worry about me. It’s not that I don’t have friends. It’s just that I’m not in the mood for them tonight. Besides, they’re busy with their own shit. Take Lubank, for example. He and I get along fine, but he’s a real pain in the ass. He’s a buck-toothed gnome with the world’s most obvious hairpiece. He’s my lawyer and I do a lot of investigative work for him. Mostly to dig up dirt for his blackmail files. In return, he comes to my rescue when the cops drag me to their downtown clubhouse and cuff me to the iron tables in their sweatboxes. For my money, Lubank is the most corrupt attorney in the city. But his human wife, Gracie, is a treat! She’s an outrageous flirt who will have you howling at the moon if you’re not careful.

Did you and she ever….

Don’t be ridiculous. She may talk a big game, but she’s devoted to her husband. I don’t know what she sees in the slimy rat, but he’s nuts about her, too. They’re an odd couple, but they make it work. 

They sound like a unique pair. Any other women in your life?

Not in the way you’re suggesting. In my last case I became friends with a homicide detective named Laurel Kalama. And before you ask, she’s also happily married. But she proved herself to be a real standup partner when the shit came down. She’s seen it all and isn’t fazed by any of it. She’s rock solid and good with a gat. Too bad she doesn’t have a sister.

Sounds like all the dames you know are married.

Well, there was this one doll I ran into in the bruja case. Cindy Shipper. Looks like an angel, but she’s hard as nails. My kind of sweetheart. The heat between us was real, and if circumstances had been different we might have had some fun fanning those flames. But she may have been involved in the murder of her husband and her stepson. That kind of put a damper on things. Still, you never know.

You sure run into some interesting people. 

Yeah, I do. I haven’t even mentioned the two rock-addicted were-snakes. I hope they’re still alive, but I wouldn’t want to go all in with that hand. And then there’s Cody and his pet manticore. 

Manticore?

Think two-hundred pound flying jungle cat with huge bat wings and a scorpion’s tail. He and Cody have this strange mental link. You’d know Cody if you saw him. Six five, solid muscle. Likes to dress in skin-tight leather with purple trim. He’s training to be a butler. 

Well, it’s been interesting, but I need to get ready for the evening crowd. Are you working on anything currently?

Not yet, but do you see that troll back over there in the corner booth? The one in the suit that would cost you three-month’s salary and tips? He’s been following me all day. I suspect that he’ll follow me when I leave. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I have a hunch it might have something to do with the supposed suicide of that good-looking nightclub torcher, the one who called herself Zyanya. The scuttlebutt is that the canary had something goin’ on with our own Mayor Teague. Looks like I might have to miss out on poker night with the boys. 

Best of luck to you, buddy.

Thanks, pal. Finish off the bottle. You’re a right gee in my book.


Dr. Douglas Lumsden is a former history professor and private school teacher. He lives in Monterey, California, with his wife, Rita, and his cat, Cinderella.

You can fix Alex Southerland on the pages of his first case A Troll Walks into a Bar, and his next case, A Witch Steps into My Office.

Join us next week to hear from a tattoo artist from a dystopian, cybernetic near-future. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)

Dear readers, tonight with us a is law-enforcement officer on a visit between his interstellar travels. He is here to tell us about space travel and gun-fights among the asteroids.


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

I was born and raised in Chowchilla, a farming community that became the capital of CentCal when the old California was split into six states. It’s not a large city, only a million people, and it’s still an idyllic place to grow up. My family lived just outside the city, so I was a country kid. We were surrounded by cotton and alfalfa fields.

A neighbor had horses and we rode them sometimes; we also raced our hoversleds, usually at night so my parents didn’t find out.

What made you the person you are today?

Oh, Jesus, what a loaded question!

First off, my dad was a Protestant minister and my mother was Catholic. My dad raised me Protestant and my mom raised my sister Catholic. That’s how they compromised. But I’m an avid reader and I love history. In the course of my studies, I came to have serious reservations about religion, and eventually I quit going to church…which didn’t make my dad happy.

Then I joined the Star Marines. Everything that happened afterward pretty much started with that.

Were you ever in combat?

Yes. A year after I finished boot camp, the revolution exploded on Alpha Centauri 2 and my unit, the 33rd Star Marine Division, was deployed. The next two years were the worst of my life; I was convinced I would never come out of it alive, but somehow I did.

Weren’t you awarded the Galaxy Cross? Tell us about that.

I’d rather not, actually. I lost too many good friends, saw too many innocent people die. What happened in that church tower…well, I didn’t have much of a choice. We were surrounded, cut off, and outnumbered nearly ten to one. The Freaks were cutting us to pieces, and I was the only surviving Star Marine who was qualified on that sniper rifle, so…

Sorry. Next question, please.

What do you do now?

I’m a U.F. Marshal. Retired…I think.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ve been doing this for almost ten years. Lots of close calls. That was okay when I was single, but I have a family now, and I’d like to live long enough to enjoy them. Maybe, when the kids are grown, I’ll go back to it. Right now…I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)”

Annabella Cordova (of Initiated to Kill, by Sharlene Almond)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a deaf art student, who was dragged into a trail of murder, revenge and vengeance spanning centuries and countries.


What was it like living in London, then moving to Spain with your Aunt and Uncle?

For some reason, I don’t remember much about living in London. Snippets of events pop up here and there, they just don’t seem real. I remember our house in London. It always felt so cold, impersonal. I felt I had to tip toe around everywhere.

My father had inherited the house from some long lost relative. I think a part of me blocks out a lot of my earlier childhood.

It felt so different when I moved to Spain when I was 10. My aunt had made sure to make her house a home. Everything in their house felt like it had meaning. My bedroom actually felt like a sanctuary, instead of some place just to sleep in.

I missed my mother; however, for the first time, I felt safe, I felt part of a family.

What is your most cherished memory, and how does the bad memory of your father haunt the good ones?

Going to the Art museum with my mum is one of my most cherished moments, I guess one of the only times I can clearly remember from back then.

My nightmares always involve that museum, and would rapidly take me to the night the car crashed. In my nightmare, I clearly remember hearing my mum call for me, and then I see my body falling down the stairs, my father watching from above…

I don’t know if my nightmares cloud my actual memories, I struggle to picture what happened.

Yelling, threats, my fear of my father all felt so real at the time. When I wake, I just don’t know what is real, and what is imagined… Except that Art Museum.

This is a pretty personal question, how does being deaf affect what you are doing now?

Being deaf has both advantages and disadvantages. I don’t hear if someone is behind me, I sense it, I guess. When I was younger, I was terrified something bad would happen, I couldn’t ‘hear’ it coming.

So, I guess I fine-tuned my other senses. Trained myself to sense a change in the way the air flowed around me when someone was close.

The way nature and objects moved, birds suddenly scattering when something or someone disturbs it.

The smell of cologne or perfume, a hint of curry, tobacco or coffee.

Smelling, tasting, seeing small disruptions to create a more detailed picture around me. Learning to understand how to interpret those small changes.

Now, I use that to watch people. Watch how their lips move when they talk, how their feet are positioned, the way they hold their hands, small ticks that indicate to me they are holding back.

I can’t hear the tone of voice, I can’t hear if they’re angry or sad. Instead, I watch their face, learn the intricacies of their expressions.

That gives me the confidence. I don’t have to rely on others, that’s important to me.

Which is why, I guess, I love Art. I was studying Art History at Seville University, taking after my mum, in some ways. The picture holds so much depth; we only need to understand what we are seeing. Like body language, art has many interpretations to one single image; you just need to understand the workings behind it.

Continue reading “Annabella Cordova (of Initiated to Kill, by Sharlene Almond)”

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)”

Natasha Bernard (of The Masada Faktor, by Naomi Litvin)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the child of a holocaust survivor. She is here to tell us about life in both the USA and Israel, and about how horrible things that should have been buried in the past refuse to stay dead.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who grew up in America. My identity became meshed into hers as I was deeply affected by her experiences, some of which are manifested in The Masada Faktor. Eventually I became Mother’s caregiver until her death.

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

Favorite toys? That would imply that I had fun as a child? Hmmm. I remember toy guns being my favorites to play with. I fought Nazis with my little brother in war games.

What do you do now?

I follow my gut looking for clues to a mystery that Mother left me with. A mystery with deadly consequences for Israel. I live with past, present, and future adventures that seem to control me in an odd way. I am a writer in the book.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The mystery of The Masada Faktor had taken me to Israel. The case was left for me after Mother’s death and not only is it a hard trail, certain personal issues have arisen that are forcing me to look inside myself. Was I really affected by Mother’s experiences in World War II? Why is it up to me to save Israel? What did I do to deserve this? Well, I am a Jewess and I have a responsibility to fulfill. So I accepted that and got on with it.

Continue reading “Natasha Bernard (of The Masada Faktor, by Naomi Litvin)”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑