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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Satire

Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)

Dear readers, tonight we print a psychiatric assessment of the two protagonists from a novel we loved. With their job entailing rescuing the world from other-dimensional horrors on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder they need regular psych evals.


Assessor: What’s your name?

Morag: You don’t know my name?

Assessor: You’ve been through a traumatic incident. We want to assess your mental state. Just give us some details — name, where you’re from — that sort of thing.

Morag: They do this to you, Rod?

Rod: Oh, aye. Every time I go toe to toe with an unspeakable horror from another dimension.

Morag: [huffs] Fine. Morag Murray. I’m from Inverness, Scotland. I moved down to Birmingham at the beginning of this week. A promotion of sorts.

Assessor: Of sorts?

Morag: There were some problems in the Edinburgh office. I pissed off the wrong god. You know how you can sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time?

Assessor: A social faux pas.

Morag: Exactly, except this one involved a shotgun and the face of a demi-god. Both barrels.

Assessor: But you now work in the Birmingham office?

Morag: Correct. Birmingham consular mission to the Venislarn. You’ve got a city full of demons and faceless terrors, all under the surface. We’re just here to keep them happy and tucked out of sight.

Assessor: How has your first week on the job been?

Morag: [considers the state of her clothes] Well, I’m covered head to toe in a thick layer of chocolate. I wasn’t expecting that when I started the week.

Rod: You fight with a god in a chocolate factory, there’s gonna be some chocolate, right?

Morag: I see you survived the night without a delicious chocolate coating.

Rod: One of the first things they taught us in the SAS: how to avoid getting covered in chocolate.

Assessor: Your first week…?

Morag: Let’s see. Is this some sort of test to see if a fight with Zildrohar Cqulu has given me concussion? Er… I pretty much hit the ground running this week. That’s one of my key strengths. I can adapt to new situations quickly.

Rod: You mean you rush in without thinking about things.

Morag: Hey. I’m impulsive. But that can be a good thing.

Rod: Oh, aye. If you hadn’t flung yourself in, we’d never have caught that Kervy Aldo character.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: Right. Kermit Ascot.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: As I said…

Assessor: Who is Kerfin Edsel?

Rod: Curtain Aswad.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal. A god. A little one. A godling.

Rod: A giant vampiric starfish. We chased him halfway across the city. He eats virgins’ hearts and was feeling peckish.

Continue reading “Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)”

The Audit Team (of The Good Audit, by CP Aiden)

Dear reader, tonight we have something unique for you. The Good Audit happens to be one of the most hilarious, poignant books about corporate life we have ever read, laughing and crying at the same time. We had therefore invited the heroes of the audit, the brave team of The Accounting Firm, to audit our own blog.

You will be getting an unparalleled view into our audit, with a privileged view into what they say out loud vs what they put on messenger. Also, you’ll get used to the HR-based addressing of people as resources in no time.


Three members of an exceptional audit team from The Accounting Firm show up at The Blogger LLC’s office at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Blogger:  Welcome! Come in!

The team enters a small but swanky conference room, drop laptop bags, and set up.

Blogger: I’m so happy you could squeeze me in. I really need my blog audited. Your opinion and signature verifying my follower count will go a long way to building trust in my number of followers!

Manager: We are very excited to be here.

Staff 2: This certainly beats the last conference room we had!

Senior Manager (SM): We hope to be as efficient as possible – our profit margins are better the faster we are. That one special piece of paper with our opinion and signature is really the only reason anyone pays us. Amazing how much we can charge for it really.

Blogger: I agree. I’m surprised you stay so busy with fees like that… You said on the phone you’d just wrapped up on another client. How did that go?

Manager: Yes, we finished our audit of a company called Widget Maker last week! The company itself was not very exciting, but our team experience took us on so many wild and unexpected turns. I would say what we learned about each other as a team was life changing.

SM: The company makes widgets used to create gadgets.

Staff 2: And messes! It was a miracle we ever got done! They were so incompet—

SM (interrupting Staff 2): It was a great learning experience.

SM turns to Staff 2 and adds, “for EVERYONE!”

Staff 2: Yeah, like learning how to fix everyone else’s problems and how to cover up a bunch of—

SM (interrupting Staff 2 again): They were a first-year client. It typically takes a little time to ramp up when we start a new client. We did find several errors, but our interactions with the client team was where the real fun was. Manager even managed to get large pay raises for a couple people over there.

Staff 2: We also managed to get Office Manager fired, but they rehired her, so it worked out.

Manager gets on instant messenger:

Manager pinging Staff 2: Generally, it is not a great idea to talk bad about other clients in front of new clients. It gives them the impression we talk bad about all our clients.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Don’t we?

Manager pinging Staff 2: That’s beside the point. We don’t want them thinking we do.

Manager: Yes. We sharpened our skills at finding errors, we attended to CFO’s request to get the legal department in trouble, we learned quite a bit about plumbing, and we even made a little money selling concert tickets online!

SM: We were also able to charge Widget Maker extra fees. Extra fees get us better performance reviews within The Accounting Firm, so we always try to get more.

Blogger: Well, I’m a new client and we only have this morning, so I hope this goes well. Before we start, I would like to know a little more about you. Would you mind telling me about yourselves?

SM: Sure. I’m SM. I’ve been with The Accounting Firm for about 10 years now.

Manager: Don’t tell him about your JOB. Tell him about YOU!

SM: Is there a difference? (long awkward pause) I guess my ‘fun facts’ can be that I have dogs and do well when I’m hopped up on energy drinks.

Manager: That’s better. Way to branch out SM. I’m Manager. I have a super-hot wife and 3 little kids. I’m teaching my 10-year-old how to trade stocks. He made almost as much net income as Widget Maker this year (which isn’t saying much) and we are having a great time. I also like all things outdoors, except the time I had to go clear up to the middle of nowhere to count huge piles of clay they use in chocolate bars. Yes, you eat dirt.

SM: Manager, Partner doesn’t like it when you talk about your family in front of clients.

Manager: Good thing Partner isn’t here. My wife and kids love me and would love to see more of me.

Blogger: Well, with that, let’s move along with the audit then, shall we? How exactly are you going to audit my blog?

Staff 2 pinging Manager: I didn’t get to introduce myself.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Get over it.

Manager: Well, we basically need to make sure that what you say on your blog is true and accurate. We focus particularly on numbers, not so much on the text.

Staff 2 pinging Manager: Fine. We can’t focus on much else. It is all a bunch of made up Sci-Fi and Fantasy. How are we supposed to validate any of these posts? There’s only one post on the main page that has any numbers and those are Guest 1 and Guest 2. The only real number on here is the number of followers.

Manager pinging Staff 2: Most of the numbers we audit at all our clients are made up. Think of how much was made up at Widget Maker! Those guys were guessing on practically everything and they weren’t even educated guesses!

SM: I do have to say, this is the best blog I’ve read all year!

Manager pinging SM: You work over 60 hours a week year-round, even on vacation. This is the ONLY blog you’ve read all year!

SM pinging Manager: Still makes it a true statement, doesn’t it?

Manager: I believe you wanted us to verify the number of followers. We’ll need to understand what people need to do to subscribe and how that gets tracked. Is there anything else you needed us to do?

Blogger: That is correct, and given you charge by the hour, I think we’d better get going!

Staff 2: I just subscribed, and the number of followers went from 39,038 to 39,039.

Manager: I subscribed and then unsubscribed (don’t worry I will subscribe again – my son could use a lot more Fantasy and Sci-fi in his life. Unfortunately, with me gone all the time, his childhood is becoming the home-school of hard knocks). The count went up and then back down again.

SM: Well, it seems like everything is working then. We’ll just call Partner and get his signature.

Blogger: Wait! That’s it? I thought you’d grill me about my awesome database and tracking system. I thought you’d confirm with some followers that they actually did follow the blog and get the newsletter! I thought you’d actually do something!

SM: We could do all that, but your fee would quadruple. I thought we discussed earlier how it is just our letterhead and signature you were after.

Manager: I just got the newsletter. So exciting – it looks fabulous!

SM: I guess we just confirmed on the newsletter. Look at that! We did extra work. I’d like to charge you extra for it, but my newly found conscience is telling me not to. However, I’m expecting your client satisfaction survey to reflect extremely high marks!

Manager: Staff 2, will you please write the 20-page summary memo detailing ALL the procedures we just did and send it to us for review?

Staff 2: You got it boss!

SM: Partner just confirmed we are good to go! Another great audit down and more fees for the Firm – what a fabulous day!

Blogger: Thanks for coming out and taking care of my audit today! Great to have this all wrapped up so quickly. What is next for you?

SM: Partner also said that Widget Maker just called back and they have some issues with a potential buyer and the financial statements we audited. We’ll be going back there to check it out tomorrow.

Manager: Sounds like a potential restatement. Those are always fun – tons of overtime hours to repeat what we just did thanks to the client screwing up! Buckle up Staff 2. We are in for a long ride ahead.

Staff 2: I thought I was going on vacation next week?!

SM: True. That is what you thought.


C.P. Aiden is an experienced corporate accountant with 14 years of corporate accounting and people interaction. Eight of those years took place at large public accounting firms. C.P.’s vast experience dealing with clients and teams provides all the fuel necessary in imagining up and creating his debut novel, The Good Audit.

You can find the audit team on the pages of The Good Audit.

On a personal note, this is one of the funniest books we’ve ever read. If you’ve ever been exposed to corporate life (accounting or otherwise), we’d urge you to go read it! A full review has just been published on our sister blog.

Join us next week to hear from a protagonist’s mother, talking about cold war spies and magical rings! Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)

Dear readers, tonight with me are two characters that sprang out of their books to confront their authors. One, a handsome rogue, is the last chauvinist left in the feminist fantasy realm; the other is a space defender, struggling to be a strong female protagonist in books written by a pulp-fiction author.

They are here to tell us about their adventures.


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

Xander: My background is of little importance.

Lyra: *glares*

Xander: Oh, all right.

I was born in the village of Scrubbleypot, a three-day trek from the Landrian capital. My father was a knight in the old king’s royal guard, and died a warrior’s death on the battlefield, leaving behind his wife with child, a farm, and a cow. I was the child, and I had a miserable upbringing. My mother thought little of me because I reminded her of Father. I, in turn, think little of her.

Lyra: I was born on Terra in the year 5740. After years of rigorous training, I was inducted into the prestigious League of Space Defenders, a special force that protects the galaxy from alien threats.  In ’75, I and a team of seven other Space Huntsmen were dispatched to the Jerome Moon Outpost, in preparation of a future civilian colony.  Unfortunately, there was a … devastating incident on the base that left everyone but myself dead.  With our comms destroyed, I had no way to call home and report what had happened; instead, I’ve taken it on myself to identify the culprit and avenge my team.

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

Xander: A great warrior does not require such … intricacies…. Actually, we were too poor to buy toys, and I hadn’t a father to carve gewgaws and baubles from fallen branches as the other lads did. I never did learn to carve my own, but perhaps I shall when I meet a woman worthy of bearing my children.

My most cherished memories are those of solitude. When I’d finish milking the cow and letting it out to pasture, I would run to the untamed forests surrounding our land and listen to the birdsong. It is possible to lose track of time in there, for it is always dark beneath the canopy of trees. Thus ends the cherishable portion of any such memories, for Mother detested when the cow got out from being left unattended.

Lyra: My favorite toys growing up were my model starcruisers and VR headset.  We all got them as space cadets for training simulations, but I figured out how to add a variety of entertaining games to my system….

What do you do now?

Lyra: I may have no contact with the League of Space Defenders, but I’m still a Space Huntress through and through.  I’d dreamed since childhood of going to space, colonizing the moon, and expanding our access to the world as much as I can.  I just hope I’ll make it back to Terra with my findings someday.

Xander: At this time, I am my own master. After a brief juncture in the Landrian army, I took up service as a rogue mercenary.  I serve whomever I please, but unlike many, I am still a man of great honor.  And alas, my heart belongs the fair ruler of Landria, Lady Jen Mondegreen. Continue reading “Xander Portmanteau & Lyra Jones (of Cliche, by Allison Rose)”

Friedrich Nietzsche (of Operation Cosmic Teapot by Dylan Callens)

operation-cosmic-teapot-dylan-callensDear readers, tonight with us is one of history’s most famous philosophers – if the not the most famous of them all. He was a philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist, Latin, and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.

He’s here to tell us about his seminal work about religion and god – and what happened to him after death.

 


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

I grew up in a small German Village named Rocken with my family.  It was pleasant.  My Dad was kind of a hero in the village, being the pastor.  Then he suddenly died when I was six.  Six months after that, my little brother died.  I couldn’t understand what was happening to my family at the time, but it did seem to be a glimpse into the chaos that was life.

After that, we had to leave Rocken because the house was paid for by the church.  So, my mom took my sister and I to Naumberg.  We lived with two of my aunts and Grandma.  That is, until I was sent to boarding school.

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

Toys?  Hahaha, who has time for toys?  My favorite items as a child were pens and paper.  I always knew that I would be an intellectual of some kind.

As for cherished memories, I suppose there is one that I would call ironic and amusing.  My baptismal prayer included a line from Luke 1 and asked the question, “What child is this?”  Of course, the answer that many people now know, is that I am the one who will question the validity of religion.  Later in my own writing you will see that I called myself the Antichrist.  But probably not in the way that you would normally think of antichrists.

What do you do now?

Currently I am the CEO for Heaven Inc.  I know, it’s an ironic job to hold, given my feelings on religion.  But my life really is filled with irony.  My job is to make sure that Heaven’s call center runs smoothly.  It hasn’t, though.  Continue reading “Friedrich Nietzsche (of Operation Cosmic Teapot by Dylan Callens)”

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