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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Novella

Tayrel Kan Trever (of Octopus Song, by Natalie J. Holden)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a powerful sorcerer on a mission: to find the elusive, underwater race and secure their help in colonizing one of the newly discovered worlds. He’s here to talk about fast ships, pretty sailors, and giant tentacled monsters.


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

When I was born, Dahls was not the superpower it is today. It was just a tiny world, already stretched to the brink of its capacity and connected only with words that were similarly stretched. One of the ways our government tried to save us was by imposing a one-child policy. I guess my parents wanted a daughter, cause they ditched me like an used condom.

I was adopted by Kanven Sandeyron, a corporation that primarily produces technomagic equipment. At that time they tried to branch out into medicine. The problem with it was that they needed to test their inventions somehow. You didn’t think they took me in out of the goodness of their hearts, did you?

So you were something like a guinea pig?

Something. We—there were a few of us—got education, playtime, social contact, even fucking psychologists. None of it meant shit if every day each of us was taken to a special room, strapped onto the chair, and injected with some miracle cure meant to dissolve our brains and remake them to their liking.

Yeah, I know your next question. One of the side effects of their treatment was strong telepathy that I can’t shut off. I know you weren’t going to ask; that’s fine.

You’re already intruding, if you wanted to be tactful you shouldn’t ask about my fucking childhood.

Seriously, did no one teach you to shield your mind?

Yes, that’s better. Thank you.

Anyway, I hated everything that came from them. Their focus at the time was increasing humans’ magical potential, so of course they were trying to get us interested in magic. Everything they gave us, books, toys, etc. was connected to magic-using.

I’d tell them to shove it. Except they didn’t teach me to cuss. Obviously, I made up for it when I left.

What I played with were illusions. I was instinctive, you see. I can use magic as you can use hands, whether it’s because I was born this way or because of Kanven’s bloody experiments. But when I was locked in, surrounded by people I hated, choking on the smell of antiseptic, I could already weave imaginary landscapes around me. Pretend I was somewhere else. Not just in Dahls, but other worlds. Big, open spaces. Organisms other than humans. Animals, plants, all that shit I barely learned about at school. I thought myself pretty clever. Until I actually went outside and realized how woefully limited my imagination was.

As for friends? It was hard to form attachments if you knew that any day one of you could go for testing and not come back. That you could not come back. Yeah, we tried… not to get attached.

No, we don’t keep in touch. We don’t really like anything that reminds us of those times. Put this damn shield back.

You talk about getting out. How did that happen?

If you were imagining some great escape, releasing all of Kanven’s pupils and burning the site to the ground, I have bad news. Once I became an adult they had no legal right to hold me, so I showed them the finger and took off.

What? Dahls is a civilized world. We’re not perfect, but we have laws and even those bastards have to follow them.

And yes, some bastards can do unspeakable evil and get away with it. If you think everyone gets what they deserve and good always triumphs, what bloody world do you live in?

What happened when you left?

At that time Dahls reached critical mass and just when it was about to break, our sorcerers found a way out. A merge between our world and some unknown and uninhabited world we called Sfal. And a couple thousand others beyond it.

But, just like that, we were the only thing standing between the old worlds, all not much better off than ours, and unimaginable wealth. With no way to keep that to ourselves, the geniuses in the government decided to open the way for everyone, no matter their species, culture, or where they were from. All tightly controlled, obviously, but don’t tell anyone that. Anyway, they needed an army of bureaucrats to handle the influx of immigrants and that was my first gig.

How did it go?

Great. My telepathy makes normal socializing painful but allowed me to communicate with people who didn’t speak Dahlsi-é. Or didn’t speak at all, for that matter. Not all of them were humans, did I mention that?

Until my bitch-of-a-boss got smitten and wouldn’t take no for an answer. So she set out to ruin me.

But maybe that was for the best. With nothing to do and a burning grudge against humanity, I set out to explore new worlds. The business was unregulated at the time. There was The Cosmographic Society, using their magic to locate new merges, but after that, anyone could grab the coordinates and set off. A lot of people got themselves killed. Not all worlds are habitable. There are wild beasts, irregular magic, even shitty, inhospitable environments. One world, I shit you not, is completely filled with water, top to bottom.

“Top to bottom”?

Yeah. Like, you know, when a world bubble emerges from the chaos, it starts filling up with the heavy stuff on the bottom until you end up with a world surface covered with sky-dome? So, there is no surface nor sky-dome, just.. world bubble. Filled with water. It’s crazy.

Continue reading “Tayrel Kan Trever (of Octopus Song, by Natalie J. Holden)”

Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)

Dear reader, tonight with us is a prisoner from the far future, one who claims his imprisonment is for good deeds.


It’s very unusual for a person so young to be in such a high-security prison. What did you do?

Never one to be subtle, are you? I suppose all interviewers always cut to the chase. There was a famine crisis in the neutral world of Livina, and the Council refused to give aid, despite it being in their constitution to always offer such help.

We decided to teach them a lesson. So we hijacked their cargo ship carrying supplies to the latest ball for the dignitaries and sent them to Livina instead.

The people got their food, but I was careless and ended up arrested. With the mounting charges to my name, I was thrown in jail for misconduct, hijacking, and thievery.

You’ve been in trouble with the Council before?

Many times, I’m afraid. I would have thought my actions would be enough to change their minds, but alas, they remain as stubborn as ever.

What brought you into the world of crime?

Crime? I would hardly say the things I do are criminal. I admit some of my methods are more… erring on the grey area of the law, but they function well. I only have one purpose, which is to help end the suffering of the innocent in any way I can.

What inspired you to help others?

My home planet, Anguini, is a neutral world. So I suppose I am fortunate I grew up on a planet with relatively unbiased approaches to the galactic political proceedings. Some years ago, before I was born, our planet was ripped apart by civil war.

The High Council stepped in and sent their most elite peacekeeping forces, the Star Corps, to settle the matter. After a few years of a bitter struggle, they finally did, and they helped us recover and flourish as a planet.

I very clearly remember one Star Corps member, then retired, came to our school to talk about the conflict. It was difficult for her to talk about, but she did regardless. I couldn’t help but admire her.

I asked her why she’d risked her life for people she didn’t even know. She said, “The Star Corps is about helping everyone, in any way we can, because it’s the right thing to do, and it makes the galaxy a better place.”

Their selfless assistance for my people inspired me to do the same.

Continue reading “Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)”

Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight we have a mid-week special column, to celebrate the Friday release of the next volume in the Shadows Over Seattle series.

With me is a Gunnery Sergeant from the US Marine Corps — the second character we interview from the series (the first was a lupine – a lycanthrope – which you can meet here).

He is here to tell us about his latest snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory — and the surprising things he ran into during it.


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

I don’t really have many clear memories of the places I grew up in, because we moved around a lot.

My father was deployed all over the states, and sometimes even abroad. That meant relocating everytime he got new orders, and I’ll be honest, I hated it. But he carried so much pride in serving his country that I never questioned why he kept reenlisting at the end of each tour of duty.

The bases all looked alike to me as a kid, with only minor changes, but the stories my father told changed everything. He’d tell me about foreign places and the cultures of their people. Unfortunately there were so many stories he couldn’t tell, because he said there were secrets that should never be told.

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

Because I grew up around soldiers, there were guns around the house, and I begged for one of my own for months. I wanted to be like them so badly, and I’d use sticks in my games when I’d pretend to be one of them.

Sometimes my father would join me in these games, and he finally started to teach me how to handle real guns. He told my mom it was for my safety, and so that I’d learn to respect the danger they represented. Honestly though, I have a feeling he secretly hoped that I’d lose the taste for it after a while.

That never happened.

What do you do now?

I signed up for the Marines Officer Candidate School as soon as I was old enough to do so. It drove my mom crazy for weeks worrying about what would happen to me when I shipped out to Parris Island. She didn’t think I had the strength and willpower to get through boot camp, because I dropped out of college to enlist.

Thankfully, I got through with my brains intact, and a thirst to serve. I finally understood what had driven my father to keep reenlisting.

I’ve been in for just over ten years now, and the tensions in the middle-east have taken us to the edge of another world war. Continue reading “Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)”

Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young man that hunts the things that go bump in the night.

He’s here to tell us about his adventures with his brother and his police detective (unwilling) partner.


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

My brother Trent and I grew up with our Grandfather. He was always pretty cold and distant. So most of my youth was spent getting into trouble of one kind or another to get the poor bastard’s attention. We spent a few years in Massachusetts before setting in Starsboro, North Carolina. I mostly remember acting like an asshole and counting down the days till school was over. I remember this one spring day in Mass. We were goofing off, I think I was ten, so he musta been six. And Trent fell into the river. There was a moment when I realized what happened where everything stopped. I stared at him, his red coat was just below the surface of the water and I knew I had to jump in. The water was so damn cold. It took the breath right out of my chest. Somehow I got to him and we made it to the riverbank. Probably one of the only days in my life I wasn’t a complete screw up. My brother was different. He got the whole school thing. He’s in college now. Going to be a lawyer. He’s going to change the world. I might save it every now and then, but he’ll make it better.

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

I had a dog once. It was an old mutt. Looked kind of like a huge Rottweiler but scruffy. Called him Buddy. I was working on a construction site in high school and this dog came around everyday. He’d growl at the workers and freak them out. I started feeding him hotdogs cause I didn’t want him to eat me. Heh. When the job was done I went back to say my goodbyes and found out his owner was going to put him down. They were moving and the new apartment building wouldn’t allow a big dog like that. So I took him home. My grandfather shit a brick when he found out. That was the best dog though. If I got into an argument with anyone, I’d be focused on em, ready for whatever as things got heated, and he’d nose my hand. Just to let me know I had back up. I don’t know what he would have done if it’d ever actually come to blows but it was nice to know someone had my back.

What do you do now?

I kill things. Pretty much exclusively evil things or things that want to kill people. But yeah. The job title I guess is hunter. I just like to show up and save people. I also drink a lot and sing lead in a band. All those keep me pretty busy. Continue reading “Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)”

Remiel Vesarus (of First Words: Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the sole heir to the throne of the kingdom of Linmus. However, being the illegitimate son of a mage and a human makes life complicated.

He’s here to tell us about his quest to resume the throne and restore his kingdom to its former glory.


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

I was born in the kingdom of Linmus within the world of Adrylis, sole heir to the throne. Linmus itself is rather unique from the nature-inclined world, as we have more industrial landscapes. The castle? Extravagant on the outside, vibrant and full of life due to those that walk along the polished floors, but no different from a prison, at least for me. But that is particularly because of my lineage, and I’m not referring to the royal title.

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

In addition to being a prince, I am what you would call a Bloodlinch, so growing up wasn’t easy no matter how you swing it. A Bloodlinch is the illegitimate child of a prolific mage and an average human, my mother and father respectively. I didn’t really have any toys or games that I liked to play, and my favorite pastime was probably when I got to leave the castle. I was always running away from the servant that was sent to watch over me, and I would hide in the local pastry shop. I got punished a lot by my mother for it, but it was because of that reckless behavior that I later met my best friend Solus. Continue reading “Remiel Vesarus (of First Words: Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn)”

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