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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Mystery

Dana McCarren (of The Hook, by Kathleen Doler)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a globe-trotting journalist making the journey back to her childhood town, a place she has been running away from all her life.

She is there to reconnect with her family, her drug-addicted brother, and the town’s tight-knit surfing community. In the process she runs into a gang war, a violent drug kingpin, the FBI, and a whole new family crisis.

She is here to tell us about facing her ruinous childhood, her inability to sustain relationships, and her struggle to move on with her life. 


Tell us a little about growing up in Half Moon Bay and learning to surf?

When he was a thirteen-year-old grommet, my older brother, Shane, started learning to surf with his buddy, Craig. I was always determined to do anything Shane did. So, I’d ride my bike out of the neighborhood and hunt them down — I had the makings of a journalist even as a tween. I’d pedal as fast as I could…away from that house, away to anywhere. Finally, Craig got tired of seeing me sitting alone on the foggy damp cliffs, watching. For my twelfth birthday, he gave me his old yellowed and dented surfboard, coated with dirt-encrusted surf wax. It was waterlogged, heavy and hideous, but it smelled like coconuts and it was mine. I started trying to ride it, getting drilled into the sand regularly. I was hooked. Surf rushes. It fills my ears and quiets my brain. It washes off the shame.

Do you have any cherished childhood memories?

Cherished? Not a word I’d ever use in the same sentence as “childhood.” I ran away from my fucked-up family (sorry, journalists always have potty mouths) as soon as I’d graduated from high school, when I was just seventeen. I rarely visit my hometown of Half Moon Bay. It can suffocate me worse than a collapsing wave. Craig helped me make my escape to college…at the time, Shane was already self-medicating, escaping in another way.

What do you do now?

Although I’m a business journalist with a well-respected newspaper I like to tell people I’m a professional gossip. Really, what do I do? I get people to tell me things they’re not supposed to say and I’m not supposed to know. If I ask the right question, the person I’m interviewing squirms. That tells me I’m on the right track. I’m a road warrior; I travel frequently for work. It’s a great way to avoid having a real life, one with relationships and commitments. I don’t have pets; hell, I have a hard time keeping house plants alive.

Continue reading “Dana McCarren (of The Hook, by Kathleen Doler)”

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)”

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)”

Characters Speaking Out

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Dear readers, while we are taking a short break due to the holidays, I thought we’d include a recent full post done by our very first guest.

As part of Virtual FantasyCon (that awesome event where Felix and Murder In Absentia received an unprecedented five awards), we did a blog hunt. Readers jumped from blog to blog – and as an introduction to our corner of the blogosphere, Felix got a chance to speak for himself.

Of course, the bastard went ahead and started to curse me for making him work. Apparently he’s not big on doing self-promotions without immediate pay.

This post was originally published on Diane Riggins site. I’ll let you read Felix’s words for yourself.


Salve omnibus. My name is Spurius Vulpius Felix, sometimes known as Felix the Fox, but almost everybody calls me just Felix. It means Fortune’s Favourite in my language, though I’m afraid I am more like Furtuna’s favourite butt for practical jokes.

Actually, you may know my language as Latin. Years ago I visited your world, quite by accident. I came to a city named Rome, which was hauntingly similar to my own home in Egretia. Language, artists, philosophers all seemed familiar – yet there were some glaring differences. It was on a river, not on the seashore for one.

And everybody talked about gods and magic, but no one seemed to know how to properly practice it for another.

Anyway, I was approached by one of your world, one by the strange name of Assaph Mehr, and asked to collaborate on my memoirs. I would tell him my life’s stories, all the interesting mysteries I solved, and he promised to publish them to adoring fans in your world.

So far, the mentula hasn’t paid me a single denarius in royalties.

He says it’s a matter of time, that critical review has been exceptional, and that my memoirs are being sold all across your world. I would be paid, eventually, once he has finished repaying all the scribes and artists that have assisted him in the production of the scrolls. Or codices, as it appears your world prefers to bind sheets together, rather than stitch them in a scroll like civilised people.

So here I am, brought here to promote my own memoirs to increase my “fan base”, whatever that may be.

While I am here, I did check out what Assaph has been writing. Mostly true, just embellished a little. For example, there was this one case of a young woman who was haunted by the most dreadful dreams. It turns out that the cellars of her home were infested by lemurs. These are not, as Assaph says, cute and cuddly little creatures who “like to move it”, but rather than animus of unburied dead. They have the resemblance of what might have once been humans, but are now devoid of life and colour; grey shade of the dead.

As the story goes, I had to lure them away from the house and into the Mundus, the gates to the underworld. I distinctly remember that I told Assaph that I counted 44 of the evil spirits chasing me, but he insisted on making it fifty. He said that writing a story called Fifty Grey Shades would help him sell my memoirs, though I didn’t quite understand why.

So I will be here all week, always happy to answer questions and do everything to help Assaph increase our “fan base”. You can read the story about the Fifty Grey Shades on Assaph’s “website” (I won’t even pretend to understand what that is) here: https://egretia.com/short-stories/, together with a few more other short adventures. My first important case has been published as Murder In Absentia, and is available here: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1. You can buy it for less than the price of a half-decent glass of wine (Assaph insists that that is the only way to go; you people do not seem to appreciate authors as a respectable profession). And lastly, Assaph has, apparently, been talking to other characters from fellow authors’ scrolls. You can find them on TheProtagonistSpeaks.com.


If you like to read more of Felix, you can read the (free) short stories he appears on at his home of egretia.com. You can also find him on the pages of Murder In Absentia, where his memoirs swept the amazing five awards at Virtual FanatsyCon.

We will resume our regular interviews next week, when we will be hosting a woman whose music moved heaven and earth. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Valya Svetlova (of Soul of the Unborn by Natalia Brothers)

soul-of-the-unborn-natalia-brothersDear readers, tonight with me is Valya Svetlova, a young Russian student with a side job of a folklore tour guide. But not any tour. Valya’s flier asks: “Vishenky’s Legends and Supernatural Phenomena: Are you brave enough to experience them?” – a premise we know our readers would love to explore!

She is here to tell us about all the wonderful culture and attractions that Russia has to offer tourists, including her guided tours based around legends of supernatural phenomena.

 

 

 

Nice to meet you, Valya. Is everything okay? You look a little…pale.

A long and stressful day after a sleepless night. My guests have no idea what it will take for me to keep them alive.

I thought you were a folklore tour guide. What makes your excursions so dangerous?

“Tour guide” is my cover story. In real life, I’m a postgraduate student. I had to invite a group of Americans to stay in my summer home. I promised them a folklore tour in a quaint village not far from Moscow. But Vishenky is a perilous place.

In what sense?

Supernatural occurrences. I knew my plan was dangerous. What I couldn’t foresee was how quickly everything would whirl out of control, or how much effort it would take to ensure my visitors’ safety.

Then why don’t you send your guests to Moscow?

This is my only chance to prove I’m not a soulless monster destined to perish in another dimension. Continue reading “Valya Svetlova (of Soul of the Unborn by Natalia Brothers)”

Hank Mossberg (of Murder in the Boughs by Jamie Sedgwick

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Dear readers, tonight with us a in a paranormal detective – but not of the usual kind. Even though he lives in San Francisco, it’s not quite the one we know. Hank calls himself and his business a Private Ogre. We are here to learn of the darker underside of his world.

 

What can you tell us about the supernatural underbelly of San Francisco? How do the fae stay hidden from humans?

Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t answer this question. If you were kindred it wouldn’t be a problem, but humans aren’t supposed to know about the undercity. You found out about it somehow, so I guess you’re okay. All right, here’s what I’ll tell ya;

The undercity is located in a cavern below San Francisco. It’s a miserable dark, damp, cold place; filthy and humid and filled with the dregs of society. The undercity is about the same.

You’re pulling my leg.

All kidding aside, I like San Francisco and the undercity. I just hate the way humans have influenced the fae. I think it all began with the undercity. For some reason, the fae thought it would be a good idea to transport parts of their ancient cities to the cavern underneath San Francisco. I suppose there were numerous reasons for this, but ultimately it probably comes down to commerce. Goblins, for example, are extremely capitalistic. High elves also crave wealth and power. And gadgets. Everybody loves gadgets. So the fae have certain needs to interact with humans, yet must conceal their true nature for their own protection. Hence, the undercity. It allows fae and kindred (humans with fae ancestry) to remain close and yet safely concealed. Naturally, they use magic to enhance that concealment. When an elf or some other creature wants to go “topside,” he can use a number of secret access points disguised as mundane things like closets or sub-levels of parking garages. Continue reading “Hank Mossberg (of Murder in the Boughs by Jamie Sedgwick”

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)”

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