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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Myths

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.

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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)”

Abaddon (of Fragment by Alvin Atwater)

Fragment - Alvin AtwaterDear readers, tonight with us is the mysterious Abaddon, the antagonist of Fragment. While Jonas Ariel (the protagonist) is out there, trying to impress the gods, Abaddon has stopped by on our interview couch for a little chat.

 

 

Part I: Let’s Start at the Beginning…

What’s your name?

I am Abaddon.

Give me your full name…

You humans ask for sensitive information. If I see any pathetic guards come after me, I will find you. *sigh* Abaddon Terres.

Do you have a nickname? If yes, what is it and how did you come to have it?

The Grim Reaper. A courtesy name of you humans.

What species are you?

Reaper. My original being is a secret.

Where/when were you born?

Olympians called my birth realm The Unknown. I am bound by that book carried by the creator of the universe and it doesn’t allow me to speak or write the true name. Continue reading “Abaddon (of Fragment by Alvin Atwater)”

Zelia the Phoenix of Hope (of Free of Asenten by Zora Marie)

 

Zora Marie - Free of Asenten

Dear readers, tonight with us is a desperate girl facing a harrowing choice. Will she be the rising of hope or despair? Join us as we talk with her about her magical upbringing.

 

 

 

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

“I spent most of my childhood a little south of the Mountain of The Old Ones. It was okay, the land was beautiful and most of the species that lived there were kind to one another. It’s just, it could never have been my home, not with everything that was done to me and the things I was forced to do to others. No, where I truly grew up and learned was before that, even if my time there was comparatively little. I was raised by an elf in The Elven Kingdom of The East, until my first death. After that is when I was bound to that cave, with magic concealing me from the world with only those I was forced to torture and kill being allowed see me. Of course that is with the exception of Asenten since he was the one holding me captive.” Continue reading “Zelia the Phoenix of Hope (of Free of Asenten by Zora Marie)”

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