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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Post Apocalyptic

Clare Rhoades (of Abnormal, by AJ Mullican)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a genetically-gifted young woman. Unfortunately, her socio-economic background is from lower echelons, marking her as an “abnormal”. She is here to tell us about her world, and about her dangerous struggle for survival against the “Gifted”.


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

I grew up in a poor borough of Heaven’s Light called Undertown. Most of the buildings are older, brick-and-concrete construction, but the roadways are the same electrostatic roads as Uptown Heaven’s Light and other major cities. I went to a public school, but I stayed in the back of the class and tried to keep my head down. The Squads patrol Undertown pretty regularly, so I had to keep a low profile to keep myself out of a camp.

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

My favorite toy wasn’t really a “toy”—it was my own mind. I remember how Mom would sit down with me and teach me to use my telepathy to search for Squads, to read the minds of the neighbors, to manipulate thoughts. She made a game of it, and her mind was bright and golden and full of love. I really miss her…

What do you do now?

I’m kind of…between jobs. I have a “job” of sorts, but it’s not one I chose, believe me. I’ll get out of it…one of these days. Continue reading “Clare Rhoades (of Abnormal, by AJ Mullican)”

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Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the high priestess of a sisterhood dating back fifteen centuries, to the times of Arthur and Merlin.

She is here to tell us about their heirs, and about the post-apocalyptic Britain they must rescue.


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

I grew up in Talinn, Estonia, the youngest of seven daughters. Coincidentally, my mother was the youngest daughter of seven, as well. In some traditions, this is supposed to be the mark of a high adept/holy person. The Sisterhood (The Daughters of Arianrhod, a group that worships and serves the Goddess) doesn’t rely on such things, but I think it was a factor in their choosing me to be High Priestess.

I did not have a pleasant childhood. My father died when I was 6—a plane crash in the Sahara. He was there as part of the World Bank’s outreach to tribesmen. My mother died in a mysterious elevator accident in Talinn when I was 12. I was sent off to study at the Sisterhood’s Goddesshouse in Viborg, Denmark, where my grandmother was High Priestess.

I found it stressful to be in classes there. Everyone expected me to be perfect, and to emulate my grandmother—who I look a lot like. I am a very different person—more impetuous, restless, rash. Or at least I was back then.

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

My family travelled a lot because of the Sisterhood and my mother’s work for the government of Estonia—especially after my father died.  We were in Viborg, Denmark a lot because of my grandmother. A large number of my family lives in that area, and/or works with the Sisterhood.

I am always amazed when I met other people who had perhaps one or two siblings and don’t talk to anyone else (or don’t know their family history). Everything in my life has always been about family, knowing one’s heritage back 60-or-more generations, and the Sisterhood. I know fourth and fifth cousins and all their relatives. I’m never alone when I’m in a new city—there’s always family there.

So I guess my most cherished memory is being with family, anywhere I go.

What do you do now?

I am the High Priestess of the Daughters of Arianrhod, called the Sisterhood. Almost 1500 years ago, the Sisterhood was tasked with observing the heirs to King Arthur and Merlin in case problems developed, and to assist them in The Time to Come when those heirs will be called upon to Heal Britain in its greatest time of need.

Mostly, my job is to oversee the operations of the Sisterhood—whose main goal is to sow the seeds to return worship of the Goddess back into the world. It’s slow going. It’s a world-wide organization, with thousands of priestesses and initiates, hundreds of temples and residences, and all the logistical and bureaucratic challenges of any large international corporation. So I spend a great deal of my time holed up in my glass-walled office of the Danish-Modern masterpiece that is the Motherhouse, working very long hours… when I am not running to the bathroom and hiding because of yet another panic attack.

I do my best. Sometimes, it’s not good enough. Continue reading “Ava Cerdwen (of The Midsummer Wife, by Jacqueline Church Simonds)”

Ryhalt Galharrow (of Blackwing by Ed McDonald)

Dear readers, tonight we print a magazine interview from the world of Valengrad, where the reporter managed to track down a Captain of the shadowy Blackwings – Ryhalt Galharrow.

All we’ll say, is that we’re glad we weren’t sitting in the interviewer chair this time.


I meet Galharrow on a red-sky day in Valengrad, me on a last-minute effort to grab an interview before heading back to the capital, Galharrow on a rare break from work. He’s been hard to find, harder still to pin down. Slightly glazed, he says that he didn’t have to come far from the office, but he looks like he’s been up most of the night. As I sip at coffee that has been brewing for at least the best part of a day, I can’t imagine an organization with Blackwing’s authority and reputation having an office in this part of the city, or why he’d choose to meet in The Bell. It’s not the worst alehouse that I’ve wandered into, but it’s not far off. Galharrow, to my disappointment looks like he fits in, shirt untucked and stained. He still cuts a daunting figure. He’s six-six, at least three hundred pounds and all of it the kind of weight that doubtless puts fear into the deserters he chases down. I ask if he’d like to share my pot of coffee, but the girl at the bar is already bringing him a bottle of brandy. He holds off questions until he has a drink in hand, by which time the clock is chiming ten. In the morning. The brandy goes down, his hand stops shaking quite so much, and for the first time there’s light in his eyes and a smile on his lips.

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

RG: If you don’t know the story, then I’m not going to go into it in detail and it’s better left that way for everyone. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it was a good place, in a lot of ways. My family had money. A lot of money. I didn’t want for anything. I was always encouraged, which I guess passes for love in some families. There were a lot of expectations. I’m not sure that I ever lived up to any of them.

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

RG: Toys were frowned upon, as a rule. I had the usual things that boys my age get given when they’re expected to serve on the Range as an officer. Practice swords, horses, strategy games. There were a lot of lessons, but I didn’t dislike them. I enjoyed learning, and I was competitive. I had an older brother, and he was always going to inherit the estate, so I tried to better him in other ways.

I don’t find it healthy to hold onto memories and call them good or bad. The days were what they were. Most of them are better left buried.

Me: Can you tell the people back in the capital a little of what you do as a Blackwing captain?

RG: If people are fortunate, they never need to see, or know what Blackwing does, but there are a lot of unfortunates out here on the Range. Not every soldier is good, and not every man is a man. Blackwing is tasked with rooting out the sympathizers that side with the enemy, military deserters, the Cult of the Deep, the Brides that corrupt men’s minds, that kind of thing. If it doesn’t belong here, it’s the captain’s job to find it and neutralize it. Continue reading “Ryhalt Galharrow (of Blackwing by Ed McDonald)”

Kira and Jed Jenkins (of The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young couple, excited to have been selected for procreation by their city’s all-controlling corporation.

They have started to suspect things when their friends started to fall pregnant naturally. How long has Corporation been lying to them?  Is it really toxic outside the wall?

They are here to tell us about their shocking discoveries.


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

Kira: Well, we both grew up here, in City 42. My family lived quite near Archive whereas Jed’s were – are – up in the Northern part of the city. The posh part *laughs*.

Jed: Yeah, I mean we sometimes get visitors from City 15 but I’ve never gone out there. Kira and I met at school, we both worked really hard and it was a busy time but we had fun too, right hon?

Kira: We did. I mean school was school, same old same old, but Jed had all the latest tech at his apartment so there was always something to explore. That’s what encouraged your sister to join Corp Tech wasn’t it?

Jed: murmurs agreement

Kira: I mean our childhoods were the same as everyone else’s really, assigned a family at birth, school, friends and then getting funneled into our professions. I had to fight a little for Junior Historian, they wanted me to go into Corp Medical but you were always going to go to Force weren’t you?

Jed: Yeah, I mean it’s good that we all get this standardized education but I think it’s great we can really stretch ourselves when it comes to career. Continue reading “Kira and Jed Jenkins (of The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss)”

Malia Poole (of Shadow of the Hare by Donna Dechen Birdwell)

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Dear readers, tonight with me is someone we don’t normally see – an author. But don’t worry, she is also the protagonist in her own novel, set in a world where books have ceased to matter and barely exist.

She is here to tell us about how things changed through the 21st century, and how after fifty years of self-imposed exile, she returns to a world far more terrifying than the one she fled. In Dallas, Nigeria, and India she doggedly pursues the truth her heart demands.

 

 

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

I was born in 2015 and grew up in a world that no longer exists. We were living in Dallas, Texas, which was still part of the United States then, and I was named after one of the daughters of the President. I always believed—and I suppose this is true of most children—that my family and everything we did was normal and natural. We were neither poor nor privileged, or at least we didn’t think we were. Mine was the last generation to grow to adulthood in the world before the youth miracle drug Chulel and before they started sending children to boarding colonies to be raised by professionals.

Wait. If you were born in 2015, how old are you now?

Yes, well, you would want to ask, wouldn’t you? I’m 111. Most people my age still look about 22, but for various reasons, I was never as devoted to Chulel as most people. I took it for maybe 30 years, but then I quit. So, yes, I look old. But not as old as 111 used to look, right? Continue reading “Malia Poole (of Shadow of the Hare by Donna Dechen Birdwell)”

Eden Maas (of Aeon Infinitum by E. Rachael Hardcastle)

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Dear readers, for those who are blissfully unaware, the Harmony Grid has just been activated. As you know, ever since the large meteor NORA hit Earth and threw it into six months of darkness, the remainder of humanity has been living out on Titan, that purpose-built underground ark. But now that the Harmony Grid is activated people are panicking…

With us is a young lady, who will tell us about her fight for survival as she and her friends crossed a post-apocalyptic world in search of a newer, better sanctuary.

 

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

I grew up in Titan, a dank underground ark built by our ancestors. It sits beneath Ad Infinitum, which is our governor Czar’s name for what was once the Earth. Titan was intended to be a sanctuary to protect future generations from the aftermath of a meteor named NORA. Although Titan is my home, I’ve been in and out of prison my entire life for petty crime, probably spending more time either working or locked up than in my dorm.

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

My earliest memory is at five years old – that’s fourteen years ago. At least I think I was five. I can’t be sure; I’ve been hit in the head a lot during my imprisonment, you know? The memory is of my mother handing me a small brown teddy bear whose name I forget. For a while that bear was the only friend I had, but we were inseparable.

What do you do now?

Before my imprisonment I worked in Serenity, the back office faction of Titan. I worked alongside a man named Ginny Bede who ran Rehab. We were in partnership with the prison warden to assign orphans and offenders new factions. I helped to rehabilitate and merge them with Titan’s community. Now I’m behind bars and serving a death sentence shortly, I’m out of work. Continue reading “Eden Maas (of Aeon Infinitum by E. Rachael Hardcastle)”

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