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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Myths

Gaiso the Stag (of Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale, by Sybrina Durant)

Dear readers, tonight with me a non-human guest. In fact a non-biped, which is why we forgo the usual couch.

Meet the stag who mentored and traveled with the young unicorn foal, destined to save his tribe.


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

First of all, I want to say that I am honored to be chosen for this interview.  I would have never imagined to be doing this since I’m not even a unicorn but you can’t always niggle out the why of some things. I am Gaiso, a stag who lived out most of my life on MarBryn in the Guarded Forest. Back in my younger days, with the rise of that despicable sorcerer, Magh, it was really the only safe place left in the land. But I left the safety of my home to guard and protect a little blue unicorn. My friends thought I was crazy but for me, it was an easy choice to make. I just had this feeling that his quest was of great importance.

Any cherished memories of your first introduction to that little blue unicorn?

It was a fateful day when I first met the little one.  A brutish manticore; thinking to make me his dinner had crept up on me unawares.  We clashed and slashed – him with his claws and me with my antlers. I had just about routed him when he stomped a massive paw down on one tine, pinning me to the ground.  I thought my time was up – when out of nowhere, a little blue creature darted towards us. I thought he might be a unicorn but I wasn’t sure because every unicorn I had ever known had a metal horn and hooves.  This one did not.  He just had some kind of stub sprouting up from the top of his head that seemed to be covered in blue leather.  As I said, he ran towards us, yelling at the top of his lungs. That action so intrigued the manticore (because as everyone knows, unicorn meat is a manticore’s favorite treat), that the hungry fellow stepped away from my antler and I was able to swiftly gouge him in the spleen. He went to his maker, still smiling at the thought of a sweet unicorn meal. If it hadn’t been for Blue’s action that day, I would not be here telling this tale. 

What do you do now?

Now, that Blue’s quest is over I am back home, in the Guarded Forest living a much calmer life. I’m still nursing a few war wounds but I tend to forget all about them when friends and family come by wanting a recounting of the grand adventure that Blue and I shared with our friend Girasol.  She’s a firebird, you know. . .very handy to have around at times.

What can you tell us about that adventure?

We were three amigos – all for one and one for all. . .well, that’s what the Pendragon said about us, anyway. Oh, the things I could tell you about that big waddling bird, but that’s for another story.  Girasol…the Firebird joined up with me and Blue just as soon as we broke through the eastern line of the Guarded Forest, headed in the direction of Smaul Mountain. Now, that’s an amazing place.  They say it’s the highest and coldest place in the world.  But I digress. . .I had yet to make the Firebird’s acquaintance and I’m not ashamed to say that she scared the living daylights out of me when she came hurtling down from the sky at us like a flaming comet.  I do feel a little silly, admitting that I hid behind a bush for protection and that that gave Blue a good laugh at my expense.  Once I got to know Girasol, I was glad for her company.  She saved our hides a few times and when things were at their worst, she was the one to pull us through.

Continue reading “Gaiso the Stag (of Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale, by Sybrina Durant)”

Beatrice Taylor (of Guild of Tokens, by Jon Auerbach)

Dear readers. tonight with me is a master alchemist. She is mentoring another young woman, and is here to tell us about college quest games and telepathic apples.


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

It was terrible. Next question.

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

Cherished memories? The few moments when I wasn’t hiding in fear from my mother’s drunken boyfriend.

What do you do now?

If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you I run a successful tutoring business, but in reality, I’m a full-time alchemist/quester.

You do know what the Quest Board is, right?

Umm, no.

Ugh, fine.

The Quest Board is a message board buried in the bowels of the Internet where people post real-life Quests to complete in exchange for tokens. Get enough tokens, and you level up. The purpose? To dig up and grind out the last traces of magic left in the world for the upper crust. Most Questers spend their entire lives scrounging up enough tokens to earn a couple of bronze tokens, which they pass on to their children so that they can repeat the same thing.

But not me. I discovered the truth early on. So I forged my own path. I learnt the secrets of alchemy and magic, and made coin doing it.

My alchemic buffs range from low-level Adderrall substitutes that I sell to college students to the actual full-strength version that will make you so focused on your task that you’ll probably forget to eat for several days. Or one that will make you feel like you’ve just had the best nap of your life even if you’ve logged three all-nighters in a row.

I’m sorry, but what’s a buff?

It’s what I call my alchemic gummies. They give you a boost when you eat one, depending on what type. There’s strength, vitality, focus, and speed, plus some other ones that I can’t quite reveal just yet.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’m a seasoned solo Quester but the Council’s Raids require a partner. So far, I’ve had a bad string of luck with my trainees. They either don’t respect me or become obsessed with me or try to kill me. Sometimes all three. It was a stroke of luck that I stumbled upon my newest trainee, Jen Jacobs, after she succeeded in fetching a particular batch of apples that when eaten, allow you to read someone’s mind.

Continue reading “Beatrice Taylor (of Guild of Tokens, by Jon Auerbach)”

Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a former painter turned master swordsman. He is here to tell us about his adventures, about swords and sorcery, sabertooth tigers and bizarre blades.


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

I grew up in the frozen wastelands of Shimoshimo. It’s absolutely terrible, especially for me. Everyone is brutish, rude, and primal while I’m… just different. Not saying I’m more artsy and sophisticated but… I am, which has been more of a curse.

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

My favorite toy would certainly have been a paint brush. I grew up with a painter for a father and a kind, intelligent mother who had the job of growing the few types of vegetation possible in Shimoshimo.

What do you do now?

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to have become a Champion and a graduate from the Champions of Arbitration. I, and my team of Champions, help to keep the peace between Bizarre Blade wielders around the world as Champions can be either good or evil.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I recently just ran away from a massive T-rex that was bent on eating me for lunch! It wasn’t her size that scared me the most (which it certainly did scare the crap out of me) but that of her amazing intelligence!

Continue reading “Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)”

Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a chat we overheard, between the stoic trainer of a protagonist and spy and rogue from a planetary colony reminiscent of Asian myths and legends. It takes place during a brief interlude when the characters are in the fortress-city of Shenzhen, heading into the climax of the first book.


Corin Mal-kin: settling comfortably in a seat at the Fire Salamander inn and slurping the froth off an ale. So, what did you want to chat about, Kett? All very cloak-and-dagger, dragging me out to a tavern like this. Afraid Alere might overhear?

Kett Peter-kin: with a level look and a quick, professional survey of the room. Something like that. clears throat Look. You know I’ve been Alere’s shifu and weishi-bodyguard at Xintou House for the last ten years.

Corin: No, really? grins and sips from ale Cut the feihua, Kett. You’re worried about her. You’ve noticed she likes me. You think I’m not good enough for her? Do just ask. Much more dignified than me guessing.

Kett: Fine. I’ll lay it out. I don’t entirely trust you. I want to know you’ll take care of her. Where are you from? Who are your people?

Corin: You sound like a protective older brother. pushes aside an unveiled jiaoji-whore attempting to sit in his lap. Fine! We’ll do it your way. I’m from Asadia – nice little place west of Madina. Full of the more unpleasant branch of the Jun First, Zah-Hill family’s relatives. I was quite glad to leave. They annoyed me. After all, the Zah-Hills slaughtered my family and my fiancé. That kind of thing tends to be a tad irritating.

Kett: Scowling. Jiche, Cor, those gouri kin-child laws! I thought I’d heard the worst of it, but… I’m kin-child, too. So are Alere and Mina. And Rohne. We’re all in danger. But I don’t think the Jun First was entirely to blame. Nor any of the Zah-Hills. Hanna Zah-Hill created the laws, and she married into the family. frowns Do you remember much of Asadia?

Corin: swigs the rest of his ale Not a bad place. Lots of farmers. Not a lot of skullduggery. Boring. Until the Zah-Hill weishi started slaughtering the illegal kin-children, of course. Then it all got very interesting. sighs At one point I was considering joining the Artists House as a musician. Before it all went suilie and I came home to a burnt home full of corpses. Then a life on the road felt like a much safer option.

Continue reading “Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)”

Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is an old slavic goddess from a world where gods and monsters, the heroes and villains of ancient lore, are real.

She is here to tell us about the rise of the gods and the coming war.


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

Why do you bother me with these silly questions, durak? I am busy and war is coming. No time for nonsense from crazy person. Now you are kidding. You are crying? All right, bezumets, I answer quickly.

My father is Father, all you need to know. My mother was Phoberomys pattersoni. Much like muskrat or beaver, but much bigger. Don’t give me that face, I peel it off your head. That is better. I was born in what is today called Orinoco River Valley, in country now named by the watoto—humans—Venezuela. I have been everywhere in world. Several worlds. I have lived in many places. After last Great War with Asura I lived in lands later called Russia. People knew my Truename, Mokosh, and worshipped me as goddess of weather, water, and protection. Yes I am goddess. Do I not look like goddess?

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

Toys?! I played with sticks and fish when I was young. I ate them. And I threw them at Father. Was fun.

I have enjoyed looking after brat child Fiona Megan Patterson and spending time with her uncle, Edgar. Do not tell them I said that, or I show you lightning from sky to your backside.

What do you do now?

I am answering idiot questions from beshenyy mal’chik! (Mutters again) I am sure u tebia ochen malenki hui

We are on invisible island, Kumari Kandam, to prepare for war. There are many Firstborn here, but not enough. We will probably lose. Mac Gallus plays terrible music. Fiona trains to be Valkyrie. Zeke has made himself stone clubfoot by accident and set his hand on fire. Stupid boy, but sweet. I am happy to have Leshy here now, someone to talk to from old country.

Continue reading “Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)”

Rachel and Adam Deneuve (of Walking Through Fire, by Sherri Cook Woosley)

Dear readers, tonight with us are a woman and her son facing the end of the world. But while ancient gods have come alive and are fighting for supremacy, their world revolves more around Adam’s leukemia.

They are here to tell us about the personal and literal end-of-the-world facing them.


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

Rachel: Before the firestorm we lived in the suburbs north of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m an art historian turned stay-at-home mom. Now we live here, in Johns Hopkins hospital, room 833 in the Pediatric Oncology wing. We’re lucky, I guess, because I saw a fireball land north of us that night. You know, the summer solstice. I’m sure everything back home burned. I only have the clothes I packed and Adam’s scrapbook because I was working on it right before the storm.

Adam: And Dad too. He lived with us.

But your father isn’t here at the hospital, is he?

Adam: No, he dropped me off and then had to go to work.

Rachel (clears throat): We’d recently separated. It’s complicated. But no, he didn’t answer his phone. I called and called. I don’t know how else to reach him.

I’m sorry to hear that. I’m also a little confused. How did you end up at the hospital?

Adam: I had a fever.

Rachel: Ha, yeah, that’s the short answer. Adam is in his second year of treatment for leukemia. A fever is an emergency in an immunocompromised patient so I was driving him here when the firestorm started. Listen, you said you had to take down information for hospital records, but can you talk to Dr. Abramson? Explain to him that we can’t leave.  

Well, I don’t really have any influence with him.

Rachel: I get that the hospital is running out of supplies. They’re running out of food, fuel for the generator, and medicine. That’s the only reason I agreed to let them do surgery on Adam to remove the port in his chest, but we’ve done everything they’ve told us. Don’t let them send us outside. My son…his body can’t take it. I can set up a school here on the hospital campus. I can sweep the floors. I’ll do anything to keep my son safe.

Adam: That’s not why we can’t leave, Mom. You’re afraid the dragon will come back.

Dragon? What does that mean?

Adam: When we arrived in Baltimore another fireball landed. It grew into a tornado, moving down Orleans Street straight toward us, but when it was close I saw a dragon’s face in the flames and she flapped her wings at us. That’s what pushed us into the hospital a moment before the tornado burned through where we’d been.

Rachel: Oh, that’s not true. He’s got a great imagination from all the manga he reads.

Adam: Mom! Why are you lying?

Rachel: Because it doesn’t make any sense. The world has changed so much in only a few weeks. We have to stay focused on the facts. There’s been no communication from outside of Baltimore and we don’t know how widespread the firestorm is. There could be people from other states trying to get to us, to help. There could still be electricity and a government. Or, there could be nothing. I don’t want to complicate it all with wild rumors.

Other people have also claimed that fantastic creatures are roaming through the area. What do you think about that?

Rachel: Look, I’ve heard about the giant golden bull that races through the sky and eats souls, but I don’t have time for that. Honestly, it sounds like something from an ancient story or piece of art. Mesopotamians, for example, featured many supernatural animals in their mythology. They had lions, bulls, dragons, all kinds of hybrid creatures.

But, that is history, not relevant today. My primary concern will always be Adam. How do I take care of my son when modern medicine is gone? I look out that window right there and I see people starving. Tent camps set up where the Walters Art Gallery used to be. People with burns that don’t heal. Gangs looting collapsed houses. It’s scary and it makes my mind spin with anxiety. I’m trying to hold it together for Adam, but I don’t understand why this happened.

Without Craig, you must feel very alone.

Rachel: Well, I have Nurse Lauren. I wouldn’t have my sanity without her. She and I became best friends over the course of Adam’s treatment because I spent more time here than I did at home. And, when I was home, none of the other moms knew what it was like to have a child go through what Adam is experiencing. He can’t use the swimming pool on certain days, depending on his blood counts.  He could wake up and need an emergency trip for platelets or blood. And the medications. It’s like learning a whole new subject at school. Certain ones like methotrexate mean he can’t be out in the sun while a steroid protocol means he’ll be an emotional mess. I would be lost without Lauren’s friendship, but you know what she’s like.

Uh, I’m not really sure. Black hair? Short?

Rachel: No. Not at all. How do you not know Nurse Lauren? She runs this floor.  

There’s a lot of people. Maybe I’m bad with names. So, Adam, what do you do to relax? Do you play with toys? Have a favorite stuffed animal?

Adam: I’m eleven years old. No, I don’t play with toys. This interview is stupid. I’m going to the teen suite. 

<The hospital room door closes behind him. >

Rachel: Sorry, he’s used to being treated like a third adult in our family. I guess he took your question the wrong way.

I’m not offended. I just wanted to know more about him. He looks like a regular kid. Why is he so special?

Rachel: Excuse me?

The interview is over. Thank you for your time.

Rachel: Wait a minute. Why are you so interested in my son?

Tell me a secret and I’ll tell you mine. Make it a good one, Rachel.

Rachel: Fine. You know what? I saw the dragon, too. The night of the firestorm. She was in the flames. It was just like Adam said. She extended her wings. I thought it was to kill us, but the rush of air pushed us into the hospital before the buildings around us burst into a fiery inferno. I don’t know how to process that information. What the hell is the firestorm?

Was that secret good enough? What’s yours?

I AM that dragon.


Sherri Cook Woosley has an M.A. in English literature with a focus on comparative mythology. Her short fiction has been published in Pantheon Magazine, Abyss & Apex, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Walking Through Fire is her debut novel, a combination of her interest in Sumerian mythology and her experience as a mother to a child with cancer.

You can find Rachael and Adam on the pages of Walking Through Fire.

Join us next week to meet a man woken after 50 years of cryogenic sleep, to find the human race nearing extinction. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Eno the Thracian (of his eponymous series by CB Pratt)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a hero out of the ancient Greece. Eno is a Hero for Hire, with a swift sword and reasonable rates.

Nobody is better at out-witting a sphinx, charming a goddess, or swinging a sword than Eno the Thracian. Armed with a dry sense of humor, a body like living rock, and a wide experience of love, death, and olive oil, Eno is just what the philosopher ordered… if you can afford him.

He’s here to tell us about his adventures.


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

I grew up in the mountains of Thrace, with the sheep, the shepherds, and the wolves. My tribe is the Maedi. While our womenfolk live in huts year round, the men follow the herds, going up to the high country for the summer grasses and returning in the winter. We worship the same gods as the Greeks; some claim that Ares first came from our lands. While I love my home-land, I haven’t been back much. I grew up bigger than most and when I was about 16, I came down to the ‘civilized world’, where I’ve met more scoundrels, dangers, and lies than I would have met in a lifetime in the hills. Oh, well. I was never all that crazy about sheep. Not the greatest conversationalists.

After a few years, I settled in Athens. It’s an up-and-coming town, where the temples are slowly being replaced with stone, the king doesn’t get into much trouble or charge high taxes, and the weather’s good. I get a lot of clients from word of mouth but also from my sign in the agora:

Hero for Hire. All monsters dispatched from carnivorous geese to Minotaurs. Special rates for multiples. Eno the Thracian at the sign of the Ram’s Head, one flight up.

Continue reading “Eno the Thracian (of his eponymous series by CB Pratt)”

Niklas, Eighth Son of Jesse (of Tyrants and Traitors by Joshua McHenry Miller)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a fifteen-year-old shepherd, who spent his whole life dreaming of revolt against the hygiene-adverse Philistines. Recently an all-but-impossible mission is thrust upon him, and he started to rethink the whole hero business. What chance does the daring schemer have when lions, the Mad King, and a literal giant stand in his way?

He is here to tell us of his race to uncover the hidden traitor, conspiracies and armies which converge on the nation — with his hometown directly in the crossfire.


What’s the most vivid memory you have as a child?

I’ve been wrongfully identified as the chief mischief maker in our family. While I’d never deny my penchant for a bit mayhem, one of my older brothers, Abin, is the real godfather of all things chaos. Growing up, he was always seeking the next prank to pull off, and he often used me as patient zero for his ideas. Once, he convinced me to try every spice in our mother’s cabinet. It went alright until I chomped into a blackened mustard seed. My eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, and I spent the next two hours impersonating a waterfall, spewing fluids all over the house. He lovingly referred to it as ‘Abin’s Surprise.’

Tell us a little about where you grew up?

Ancient Israel is a tale of two worlds. On the one side, our countryside is awesome. We’ve got fertile hills, clear rivers, and some of the best wine this side of the mesopotamian peninsula. It’s a dream scenario, except for the tiny fact that every one of our neighboring countries want to wipe us off the map. Every decade or so, another regional war breaks out, and we spend the next five years cleaning up the mess. Plus, my people aren’t exactly known for a surplus in courage. We’re more of the ‘flee in terror’ crowd than the ‘stand up and fight for yourselves’ demographic, which only paints a larger target on our backs. Continue reading “Niklas, Eighth Son of Jesse (of Tyrants and Traitors by Joshua McHenry Miller)”

Nicola Crandall (of Too Wyrd by Sarah Buhrman)

too-wyrd-sarah-buhrmanDear readers, tonight with me is a simple woman, living a quiet life – a single mother, a herbalist, and a heathen witch. When she discovered her step-sister disappeared after joining a cult, she went after her – and was not quite prepared for what she found out.

She is here to tell us of her adventures, and all the things she found out becoming an accidental hero.

 

 

 

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

I grew up in English, a small town south of Indianapolis, near Jasper. It was a quiet place in the Hoosier National Forest, with few people and fewer things to do. We moved there because my father worked in manufacturing and was supervisor for a Toyota plant. Mom worked as an office manager (read: secretary) for various offices in the area. She bounced around from job to job. In retrospect, it may have been because she didn’t want people to know too much about her and the fact that she was more black than the Hispanic she passed for. It was a pretty racist area, so I never did get the full genealogy of her side of the family. She became even more withdrawn after the divorce, but we ended up stuck there. I got used to the racial crap and the evasion game that came with dark features, and I ended up moving back that way after more than a decade in Indianapolis.

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

I don’t remember having any favourite toys – a second-hand easy bake oven that popped out muffins still raw in the middle, a Glo-Worm doll with a dirty-green body from my carrying it (and leaving it) everywhere, a Game Boy with Tetris that I played until the screen broke, a modest collection of My Little Ponies and Pound Puppies, a View Master with only two cards (Mickey Mouse and the Jetsons)… Mostly, I explored the wooded area behind our house. I would run around for hours with a backpack full of dehydrated soup mix (I would chew on the crunchy veggies), a military surplus canteen of water, and a 4 foot stick sharpened to a rough point to use as a walking stick and a spear, if I ran into any bears. Fortunately, I didn’t see any wildlife more dangerous than a whitetail doe. Continue reading “Nicola Crandall (of Too Wyrd by Sarah Buhrman)”

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