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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Science Fantasy

Miss Gladys Dunchurch and the Hon. Edward ‘Charlie’ Decharles (of Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys, by B.G. Hilton)

Dear readers, tonight with us are two people from a steam-powered London. They are here to tell us about dead-eyed assassins, murderous pirates, wingless flying machines, and perhaps even creatures from beyond this Earth.


Tell us a little about your early life.

Charlie: I was born in at the family estate in Lincolnshire, but we don’t go there very often. We mostly live at our townhouse in Pimlico. I went to Harrow School and Oxford, though they are both beastly insistent on making a chap study.

Gladys: I was born in a one-room shack in Sydney, just downwind of the Chippendale slaughter houses. It was hot – but only in the summer, autumn and winter. The spring floods would cool things down, but.

Charlie: My father is Third Lord of the Admiralty and I my mother is a lady detective. I expect this is why we lived in London so very much.

Gladys: My dad drank himself to death after mum died of consumption. My Auntie Madge looked after me, until I got onto the stage via singing on street corners for coins.

What do you do now?

Gladys: I’m on the stage. I sing, I dance. I was queen of the music halls back in Sydney — not that there was much competition. I came to London to seek my fortune, then found out there’d been a gold rush back home. Could have made a packet, without months in bloody steerage. I worked a while as a conjuror’s assistant – that’s how I got involved in all of this nonsense to begin with.

Charlie: I’m a reporter, now, but I used to do… What do you suppose one would call it?

Gladys: Nothing.

Charlie: Yes, that’s right. Basically nothing.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Charlie: The conjuror Gladys works for vanished. Not vanished into thin air — nothing surprising about a magician vanishing that way. Kidnapped. Gladys was looking for him. And I was hunting for a murderer…

Gladys: As you do…

Charlie: …and we decided to work together to solve our respective crimes.

Gladys: He helped me with money, transport and connections. I helped him by grabbing him by the lapels and pointing him in the direction of clues.

And did these mysteries connect in some way?

Charlie: Indeed. They turned out to involve a conspiracy concerning giant Bats from outer space.

Gladys: Thanks for being the one to say it, Charlie. It sounds less ridiculous when you say it in an Oxford accent.

Charlie: But the Bats were only part of the problem.

Gladys: Their human enemies were a handful, too. Cure worse than the disease, as my Aunty Madge always used to say.

Charlie: She said a rather lot, didn’t she? And not all of it helpful.

Gladys: I reckon you and her would of got along like a house on fire.

Continue reading “Miss Gladys Dunchurch and the Hon. Edward ‘Charlie’ Decharles (of Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys, by B.G. Hilton)”

Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman from a near future where magic has returned to the world. She’s here to tell us about life as an experimental subject, growing up at the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction, and now working in a [redacted] department of the US Bureau for Internal Development.


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

Are you really sure it’s okay to answer that question? Like, really sure?

Well, okay, I guess.

I grew up in the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction. My, uh, uncle worked there. It was pretty cool. My best friend Faith still lives there – she’s due to have pups any day now. I’m pretty excited about it! I’m gonna visit and help. I had quite a few adventures there with her.  [Giggles]  She almost blew me up, once!

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

Toys?  Well, I had a toy bow and arrow, but I managed to get the rubber cups off the ends, and attached some weights so it still worked. Mostly though I guess I just hunted and stuff. With Faith.

What do you do now?

You’re really sure I’m allowed to answer that?

[Shrugs]  Basically I kill people. But recently I’ve also been allowed to do kind of little bits of actual spying too.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I really don’t think I’m allowed to talk about the stuff right before I joined the Department. Like, seriously not.

But after that, I had practically a whole year of doing nothing except training and learning how to be a kind of assassin-spy. Some parts of that were really neat; others were so dull you wouldn’t believe!  But then Mother decided I didn’t have enough social skills, so I was sent to this acting school.  Girls can be bitches, you know?  Plus I wasn’t allowed to kill anyone, even if they really deserved it.  So that kind of sucked.  But I met my other best friend, Marcie, there.

Um.  It wasn’t our fault the school burned down and stuff.

That kind of didn’t end too well, so I went off on my own for a bit. Especially when Uncle, when Uncle….

Uh, what was I saying? Um, the Department really wanted me back though, so we kind of, came to an arrangement?  Then they all thought I was The Breaker, so we agreed I’d hunt him down myself and prove I wasn’t.

So, yeah.  Basically I kill bad guys.

Continue reading “Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)”

Perry Caduca (of The Gifts Of Life, by Oliver Smuhar)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a young man for an IT job — covering such aspects as his ability to teleport, evil armies, and beasts made of smoke.


PERRY: [Crud, am I nervous! I can do this! It’s just a job interview. IT, I know… I know computers! Yeah. I can do this. I marched into the room, my chest heaved, but I was a champion. The manger eyed me down with half a groan.]

MANAGER: Perry! Grab a seat please.

PERRY: Yeah. Cool, cool, cool. No whackers…

MANGER: Shall we begin?

PERRY: Yeah, sure… Oh, dad! How long is this going to take? Cause mum said that you were gonna hire me… and she’s a prophet, so… I’ll just keep my mouth shut. Am hungry though.

MANAGER QUINTEN: Perry, this is an interview, not dinner—

PERRY: But!

QUINTEN: First question! Tell me a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

PERRY: Why do you need to know that? You literally raised me.

QUINTEN: Answer the question!

PERRY: Fine! I grew up in a house with a patio and a cow. And I’m not talking about you dad!

QUINTEN: More detail please!

PERRY: Okay… I grew up in the white city of Oberon a continent on the planet Euphoria.

QUINTEN: Tone it down a little.

PERRY: Anything else?… When I was three my best friend Faith moved next door and when I was younger than that, I met the Princess, Zia. I was blest with the white crest of the wolf, the same as my father and his before him. Its white brand has been on my right wrist since before I could remember. I’ve had a pretty weird childhood being that my mum is the prophet of Kelton Whide. Oh, and that’s the name of the white city by the way. Uh, but I am fortunate! I have great friends like Dally and two sisters I’m very close with. I’m glad Teala came into my life when I was around seven. And I’m safe, under the floral. I’ve always been safe under the Kelton Guard and inside the farmland of the white city! Oh, and Baily, our servant makes pretty great hot chocolates!

QUINTEN: Good. Next question. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

PERRY: What does that have to do with—

QUINTEN: Stop whining!

PERRY: Uh, I guess. I—I shouldn’t really mention it. Especially in front of you. But, Dally. We’d play with that crappy footy his dad bought. You remember Peter, don’t you? Nice guy. Too bad he had to leave after using his powers. It was my fault. But he didn’t have to end up in that trunk, you know?

QUINTEN: Trunk? Perry, I’ve told you countless times. Peter left after breaking taboo using his powers when the beacon was not on.

PERRY: I know. It’s just, your stick was bloody that night… Oh, maybe I was just seeing things. I didn’t like that toy!

QUINTEN: Don’t you mention my staff! It’s a not a toy.

PERRY: Can we move on please?

QUINTEN: Of course… What do you do now?

PERRY: I go to school. I just started year 10. It’s good, my grades aren’t as bad as last year! I only use my powers every Ascension Day, during the ceremony. Lucky Tea gets to be Flower Carrier this year!

QUINTEN: Oh, I didn’t mention. I’m talking with Lord Kelton to get you up as Age Representative this year!

PERRY: You what?…

QUINTEN: We’ll talk about it at home. Can you elaborate on your powers?

PERRY: Dad you—I know, I know. Answer the question… Um I can teleport. Mum says I can walk through walls as well. Said I’ll lose my sense of feelings one day. Eh, funny lady, isn’t she? But, yeah. I can do the same as you, White Wolf!

Continue reading “Perry Caduca (of The Gifts Of Life, by Oliver Smuhar)”

Cassidy and Torr (of Moon Deeds, by Palmer Pickering)

Dear readers, tonight with us are fraternal twins, a sister and brother, from Earth’s future. At least, a future where science and magic clash, the best defense against rampant alien technology is magic, and the only hope for humankind rests in the hands of the legendary Star Children.


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

Cassidy: Well, we’re twins, in case you can’t tell.

Torr: We’re identical.

Cassidy: Haha. You wish you looked like me.

Torr: I do, actually. Your eyes, anyway.

Cassidy: Awww, that’s sweet.

Torr: We grew up in Mt. Shasta, in California.

Cassidy: Land of the crazy shamans. We got out just in time.

Torr: Or, we left too soon. Depends on how you look at it.

Cassidy: True. The shamans protected us from the Tegs. If we were in Shasta right now, we’d be safe on Earth, instead of on this god-forsaken rock.

Torr: The moon’s not so bad.

Cassidy: [eye roll] It sucks. Just sayin’. So, what questions do you want to ask us?

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

Cassidy: My favorite toy was Grandma Leann’s mirror.

Torr: A dangerous weapon.

Cassidy: [Laughs] I used to be able to move things with it. It was awesome.

Torr: I saw the flaming monster woman in it once when I was a kid. I wouldn’t go near that thing for years afterward.

What do you do now?

Torr: We’re refugees on the moon. I feel kind of useless. There’s not much to do here.

Cassidy: We’re supposed to save the world. Earth, that is. And the other planets too, I guess. Seems kinda ridiculous.

Torr: People think we’re the Star Children, and we’re supposed to find our ancestors on a lost planet across the galaxy. The golden Star People. But nobody knows where the home planet is. It’s kind of stressful having everybody look at you with this burning hope in their eyes. I mean, you’d think we were magical saviors or something.

Cassidy: We need to learn magic.

Torr: Yeah. We need to go to the planet Muria.

Cassidy: But then we’d have to leave here.

Torr: I thought you wanted to leave.

Cassidy: I do. I don’t.

Torr: Errgh.

Continue reading “Cassidy and Torr (of Moon Deeds, by Palmer Pickering)”

Em 19 (of Guardian Blood, by Nicholas Hoy)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a smuggler from a world where magic and technology interact freely. She is here to tell us about living in the shadows of the underworld, about high-rise conspiracies, and about the times humans still ruled the world.


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

Crescent City’s been called paradise on Earth, as you well know, with Mage-grown skyscrapers that climb for miles, all connected by breathtaking, nature-encrusted skywalks. But that’s not exactly where I grew up. Throw yourself over the edge of any one of those buildings and eventually you’ll end up in Low-Town, a red stain on darkened streets, if you don’t smash into one of the countless sun-blotting skywalks first. Low-Town, a place of perpetual darkness, if not for the neon glow of a million signs, will slit your throat just to watch you bleed out. It’s a hard place to grow up, but I’d rather be forged in Low-Town than pampered in paradise with the rest of the sheep.   

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

Favorite toy? Not so much. Cherished possession? Yeah, my retractable palm blade. You see, Black Leaves, one of the more ruthless gangs, get off by preying on helpless girls. They would often loiter outside the orphanage, waiting for one or two of us to head to the store. Their mutilated victims almost always ended up dead or wishing they were. I can’t tell you how many times that old piece of steel saved my life.

What do you do for a living?

Dealing in Magical Technologies (Tech) is one of the more lucrative businesses on the planet. However, as all Tech is required by order of the Administration to be licensed, and all licenses are traceable, it falls to me to find buyers willing to pay for the anonymity unlicensed Tech affords them. Does that make me a Tech smuggler? Sure. Could it get me killed? Sure. But they gotta catch me first.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Breaking about six separate border laws, I bypassed security and portaled up to the world above for what was supposed to be an easy score. Have I mentioned how much I hate going topside? Well, I do—a lot. It rarely goes well, but the payoff is almost always worth it. Fleeing the authorities in Low-Town is a simple thing, given the intense overpopulation and cramped spaces, but up there, where the corporations create laws and machinations to subjugate the weak, the Aquilae have a much easier time of snuffing out crime and either arresting or executing criminals right there on the spot, especially some illegal Townie no one would miss.

A society contact from up there got word to me that a low-level engineer for Corporate Technologies (CorTex) found out that he was about to get the axe, and decided to be proactive by squirrelling away several pieces of high-end Tech before they could let him go. The plan was simple; meet the engineer, inspect the stolen Tech, offer him half of whatever he was hoping to get, secure the Tech, and get my happy-ass back to Low-Town. Well, like every other arrogant topsider, he screwed me over. An entire squadron of Aquilae were waiting when I got there. Overkill, if you ask me. Even one Aquilae is usually more than enough to contend with a Prime Mage, let alone some Townie smuggler like me. It’s a rare thing to catch me off guard, though, and so I unloaded everything I had on ‘em and was barely able to slip through a portal. The only reason I’m still alive at all was because I was wearing a Prime Infernal Ring. Watching half a dozen Administration enforcers turned into so much ash was almost worth all the Tech I had to use up just to save my own neck. To this day, I still don’t know who sold me out, but I never heard from that contact again. Is that what you meant by adventure? For me, it was just another day at the office.

Continue reading “Em 19 (of Guardian Blood, by Nicholas Hoy)”

The Directors of the Honourable Company of Cunning (of The Censor’s Hand, by A.M. Steiner)

Dear readers, tonight a step back in time, as we reprint an excerpt from Lundenwic’s earliest newspaper: The Exchange Gazette. The publication was widely read before the Great Terror and (unbeknownst to its hapless journalist) this interview contains one of the few surviving examples of words directly spoken by those most responsible for that great suffering: The directors of that infamous company which sought to turn magic into an industry.


From the Exchange Gazette – Maatday 98th, Malchus III

THE FIRST INTERVIEW RECORDED BY HEKAMAPHONE

A TALK INTO THE INSTRUMENT WITH MASTERS OF THE HONOURABLE COMPANY OF CUNNING

The interview below is the first of its kind ever published; one in which the interviewer had no work to do beyond the propounding of the questions. The apparatus through which it was conducted, demonstrated to me at the Hon. Co.’s Lundenwic office, appeared little more than a modest construction of brass and oak, newly manufactured, yet powered by only drops of my own blood it astounded my ears, relaying distant voices with effortless ease. For a few precious minutes I conversed like a god, unhindered by distance or time. The words I shared are here reproduced in my faithful report.

Hello. Can you hear me?

Very clearly.

With whom am I speaking?

Gustav Gleame, chairman of the Honourable Company of Cunning, and his two most recently appointed colleagues: Masters Maximillian and Miranda Solitaire.

And where are you situated?

(M. Maxim-) At the Convergence, in Seascale Bay, centre of all magical industry in our fair isles, no less than three hundred miles north of your present location.

Extraordinary. Could you explain to our readers how a hekamaphone works?

(Ch. Gleame) I’m afraid it is quite impossible for a layman to comprehend the mysteries of the cunning arts, and the Honourable Company must be jealous of its secrets, for reasons which I hope are obvious. But let me offer this: the hekamaphone operates upon the principle of a sympathetic connection between the bloods of the communicants, and is powered by a modest construct invested here at the Convergence.

That does sound complicated. When will these wonderful machines be made available to the public?

(M. Maxim-) I’m afraid that for now the Hekamaphone is an invention for a privileged few. But I foresee a day when every armiger’s house will contain one. The progress of the Honourable Company in rationalising the production of magic is unending. Every day we consider new ways to make the process safer and more efficient. Our ultimate ambition is to have a magical device in every nobleman’s home.

Continue reading “The Directors of the Honourable Company of Cunning (of The Censor’s Hand, by A.M. Steiner)”

Fionn and Harland (of The Withered King, by Ricardo Victoria)

Dear readers, tonight we are privy to something unique. We are lucky to get a glimpse at how these interviews are conducted in the myriad alternate universes of books.

From a fantasy world where magic and science intermingle and anything is possible, please meet a immortal hero and his interviewer.


Fionn entered the room. He was still nursing a headache, even after the shower. The past days had been, to put it mildly, an odyssey. The worst part hadn’t been the fight, but dealing with the aftermath of all what happened. Mostly because of the bureaucrats. Damn bureaucrats. He was still dubious this whole justicar for the Crown would work. But he needed the money to support the little girl currently sleeping in the next room. He had to be thankful that Harland had been nice to offer them a place in his family’s state.

I could swear, no matter the century, middle management remains a bane of the world.

Harland was already there, sitting on a comfortable leather chair. His legs dangled from the edge of the seat, understandable given his condition and the short stature resultant of it. He was nursing a black eye and a probably broken nose. Harland was drinking a cup, probably some red wine. It meant that he was trying to be serious with this. If Harland wanted to get wasted with him, he would have just brought applelime ale.  Fionn dropped into the seat opposing Harland put the cup on the table to his right and then grabbed a notepad and a pen.

“So you are serious with this? I told you already, I don’t want people to know that… well…”

“That the legendary Greywolf, the hero of the Great War is back? Or that you are basically immortal?”

“Both. Neither. I don’t know. I just want to be left alone. The last thing that little girl needs is to be in the spotlight after what happened.”

“You mean the little girl that is technically your great-granddaughter?” Harland pointed with his pen to the direction of the room next door. “Exactly what happened is why we need to do this because sooner or later is bound to happen.”

“What?”

“You, saving the day. No offense, but I’ve read pretty much every text mentioning you. I’ve been with you since the first day you came back to the land of the living, or the awaken… or the unfrozen. I’m not sure of the correct terminology…

“It was a spell that…”

“Nevermind. Bottom line, you, my friend have this chronic need to be the hero. Sooner or later, you will end saving the world but the aftermath won’t be contained, everybody will find about you, and speculation will start. So I prefer that you have your story ready to tell, written by someone of your entire trust, like a friend, to keep the narrative with the public under our control. That’s a good way to keep Sam out of the spotlight.”

“So we are friends now?” Fionn shook his head.

“I would like to think so.” Harland smiled.

“Go on. Shoot.” Fionn smiled back. He signaled Harland to continue.

“I have a set of questions ready for you here?” Harland grabbed a piece of paper.

“Where did you get them? Did you download it from… how do you call it? Aethernet?”

“No… yes… I downloaded it from a blog I follow.”

“What’s a blog?” Fionn asked, confused.

“That doesn’t matter. Let’s start. First question: Where did you grow up? Or where you were born? I don’t think I have seen that mentioned in any text.”

“For a good reason.”

“Humor me,” Harland pointed to his face. “You owe me as much.”

Fionn sighed.

“Fine. I was born around 120 years ago I guess, in a freefolk settlement north of the World’s Scar, into the Mistlands, around the Humbagoo forest. My dad, Fraog, was a human, a wanderer that fell in love with my mother, Dawnstar, a freefolk for the Wind Tribe. We had a good life until the tribe got almost destroyed in a sneak attack. I was too little to recall who attacked us. I only know my dad died giving us a chance to me, my mother, my grandfather and other families to escape. We were protected by his best friend, a Kuni demonhunter named Hikaru. After some wandering, we arrived at Skarabear, in the northern part of the Emerald Island. There we settled in. I was basically raised by my mother and Hikaru, who was a great warrior. I really admire her.”

“So you were raised by two women.”

“Freefolk don’t have the hang-ups about gender roles that humans tend to have. And they were two of the three strongest women I’ve ever met. I’m lucky I had them and my grandfather to teach me all I know.”

“Hmm, let’s move into something less heavy-handed.”

“That’s better,” Fionn replied, as he got up to pour some red wine in a cup for himself.

“Did you have a favorite toy growing up? Or any other memento you still have with you?”

“Really?” Fionn looked at a Harland. “Fine, it was a small wooden dragon wolf with wheels that my dad carved for me. As for memento, my only current possession is Black Fang,” Fionn pointed to the curved fangsword, currently resting next to the couch, safely sheathed in its black lacquered sheath.

“Ah! The legendary Tempest Blade. You will have to tell me one day how did you get it.”

“The one and only. And I thought you had read all there was about me.”

“Which is not much, truth be told. So what is your current occupation?”

“A friend of mine convinced me to get a license as Justicar for the Crown, which seems to be a special agent in charge of solving odd cases involving magick and the supernatural.”

“You are welcome by the way. A good form to put your skills to good use. Like a few days ago. Wanna talk about that?”

“What’s to talk? I just went to find about my descendants and I found my granddaughter and her husband murdered by an insane cult and I had to rescue their daughter, my great-granddaughter from those guys.”

“You seemed to really enjoy beating them to an inch of their lives. Your smile was like that of a wolf savoring the prey. I’m pretty sure you killed a couple.”

“Good. No one messes with my family or friends. Ever. I don’t enjoy fighting. I do enjoy putting scumbags in their place. And if a friend is ever in need of help, I will be there to help them. It’s what I have always done and I will keep doing. Next question.”

“What can you tell us about your adventures? What do you think about the things you have faced?”

“First of all, I go with the mentality of trying to not die. It’s a risky business y’naw? My experience had been full of meeting new people, traveling to interesting, sometimes mysterious places in search of clues. The downside is the kind of creatures I have faced. Some are truly the stuff of nightmares. Eldritch abominations…”

“Incursions you mean?”

“Yes. Nasty creatures.”

 “Have you ever been afraid? Of the monsters I mean.”

“Always. But the key is to use that fear to keep your ego from extending checks your body won’t be able to cash. And after a while, you get used to dealing with outsiders and other nasty creatures from the Infinity Pits, or Hell as you call it. If you don’t deal with them, innocent people will suffer. And someone has to stop them. I do admit that possessions can get nasty, the smell is unbearable and there is no way the body can be recovered. Once I saw a whole family turned into a patchwork hanged in a wall…”

Harland grimaced at the thought of that.

“Let’s move on. What has been the best thing about your adventures?”

“Sharing them with my friends. No matter how dangerous they were, knowing I had my friends next to me always helped me to survive another day.

“Wanna talk about them? Your friends I mean?”

“Currently I have only one living friend,” Fionn pointed back at Harland. “I’m not keen on talking about what happened to Izia and Ywain. Let’s just say that Izia was the best friend and wife a man could have. And Ywain was like my little brother. Annoying but always there, willing to help. I’ve been wondering how it would be to meet his descendants. But he died before having one.”

“As far as I recall, his body was never found. Who knows? Maybe he survived and something kept him from coming back, got himself a family and maybe his descendants are somewhere, maybe on the other side of the world, maybe in a town nearby.”

“Wouldn’t be that nice? But right now I prefer to focus on my living friend. You. I can’t be thankful enough for all you have done for me… for us. Taking me in, guiding me through a century of changes in a few weeks, for helping me find Sam and offering a roof. You are a good man.”

“It’s the least I could do. I was the one that awoke you from that spell so it’s my responsibility and that of the Foundation to help you.”

“Yeah yeah, still thanks though. I think Izia and Ywain would have liked to meet you.”

“I hope the feeling would have been mutual. Ok, next question…” “You know what? I will better skip that one.”

“Why?”

“It’s about romantic involvements. I think its poor taste to ask that right now.”

“I see. Look. I was happily married to Izia for almost a decade, we had a beautiful girl that I’m sad we didn’t get the chance to see her grow up. She was a special lady. And a kick-ass shaman.”

“Would you ever consider to date again?”

“No. Dunno. I still love my wife, even if she is not here anymore. Maybe if someday I meet someone special and strong and kind I might consider it. But right now I have to focus on taking care of my only surviving relative.”

“Ok, this is a tough one. Do you hate someone?”

“Byron,” Fionn replied. He tightened his grip so hard that he could feel the glass cup almost cracking under the pressure.

“The former crown prince? I thought you were friends!”

“He was an asshole. He betrayed us, killed all my friends and comrades just because his father thought he was not ready to be king. He sold his soul to a demonic entity and my wife died sealing him in a mausoleum, trying to save me from being killed as well. Good thing he is gone or I would…”

“I think is better if we go back to the frivolous questions: favorite drinks, colors, pastimes?”

“Appleline ale. Grass Green. I like reading interior design magazines and making miniature models of houses, siege engines, and wooden toys.”

“Interior design? I didn’t see that coming,” Harland replied taken aback.

“What? It’s good for a former soldier with admitted PTSD. It helps me to relax and fall asleep. And to improve my fashion sense.”

“Too much information… next question. What do you think the future does hold for you?”

“Right now? I just want to raise Sam. Knowing my luck, I will probably end, sooner or later, embroiled in some crazy adventure trying to stop an old monster and traveling from one point to another in a race against time. The bright side is that I might get to know new people. That always brightens the quest.

“And who knows? You might get a mentee or two. The world would benefit from your experience.”

“Tried that, didn’t work. Not gonna happen again. Next question?”

“What’s your secret? How do you do what you do? How do you survive?”

“Off the record?”

“Off the record.”

“At the end of the Great War, I obtained something the legends call ‘The Gift”

“I have heard rumors of it. What’s it?”

“No one knows for sure. It’s like this energy generated inside me that grants me improved senses, greater stamina, and reflexes. And some special abilities. Those vary from people to people. In my case, it helps me with enhanced healing.”

“So that’s why you don’t look injured. Do you know where I can get some of that for me?”

“I wouldn’t recommend it. It also has several drawbacks and to get it you have to be dead. Or almost dead.”

“That’s… that’s grim.”

“Y’naw what? Let’s leave it here and continue tomorrow. Both of us could really use a good night of sleep.”

“Agree. Besides at this pace, I will have enough material to write your biography.”

“Ahh, we are moving from interview to biography.”

“Maybe even a movie someday.”

“Ha! Well, I admit this was fun, to have someone to talk about… things. Thank you.”

“No. Thank you for trusting me.”

“Harland, as an old story said: this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

“I drink to that.”


Born in the (formerly) frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom and working in a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction. He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his two dogs where he works as an academic at the local university. He has short stories featured in anthologies by Inklings Press, Rivenstone Press, and Aradia Publishing. He was nominated to a Sidewise Award for the short story “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon”, co-written with his arch-nemesis, Brent A. Harris. He also won a local contest for a fantasy short story during college. But hey! That one doesn’t count, does it?

You can find Fionn on the pages of The Withered King.

Keep an eye out for our mid-week special SPFBO interviews! Join us next week to meet a girl who ran away from home to discover a world of strange creatures and dark magics. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

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)”

Origon and Rilan (of Tales of the Dissolutionverse, by William C. Tracy)

Dear readers, tonight we publish the transcript of a recorded interview from another universe.

They are adventurers, magicians, and technomancers, and we have a unique opportunity to learn about their fascinating world.


“…ing on? …about now? Alright, Ori. Now it’s working. “

A majus would see the swirl of color as Rilan adjusted the audio and visual recording system. She’d forgotten she and Ori made this interview back when the recording Systems were introduced. The Council of course thought each maji should have one, to be able to communicate with each other in an emergency. Now, they mostly sat unused in maji’s apartments.

They’d done the little mock interview back when she and Ori were a thing, at the height of their adventures across the ten homeworlds. When they’d gone separate ways, she on the Council and him trudging about wherever, the crystal containing the recording sat in the back of one of her closets. But now that he was back in her life…

Rilan sat down in a chair to enjoy the old recording.

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

O – “I am to be from Asbheriton. It is a small village in the mountains of the Syra province of Kiria. But I would rather not be talking about touchy family matters such as this. Ever since my brother departed for the ancestors, I have had little reason to be going back. The ancestral house was given to my third cousin, you know. A dreadful bore. She would talk about anything and everything that was to be coming into her head.”

R – “Not like you at all.”

Rilan tempered her retort with a smile, but Ori’s crest still spiked in aggravation. Good she was here to prick his pride.

R – Just one more question about your family home and then we’ll move on. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

O –“Toys? No. But, I was to be having a pet wingdrake. Delphorus and I begged our father for it for most of a cycle. Father was quoting the old fright-tale that it would steal the souls of your ancestors, but even he was not so entrenched in his religion that he really believed it. Eventually he relented and was letting us have it. Delphorus and I trained the drake to be taking grubs from our hands, and to be fishing for swimmer larvae in the nearby pond. Delphorus took over care of the beast when I was to be leaving for finishing school. Eventually we had to set it free to find a mate and complete its lifecycle before joining its ancestors. Wriglifon was a good pet.”

R – “I’ve never heard that before, Ori. That was a nice story.”

Rilan cleared her throat. She didn’t imagine this would really get Ori to talk about his past.

R – So, what do you do now?

O – “You are knowing this, Rilan.”

R – “Yes, Ori. It’s for the recording. Just play along.”

O – “Ah, I am seeing now. After retiring from my philosophy position at the university, I was able to be traveling across the ten homeworlds full time. I would not be alive if you were not saving me on many occasions, Rilan.”

Rilan saw her recording blush. It would only be a few cycles after this that she joined the Council of the Maji and she and Ori went separate ways.

Continue reading “Origon and Rilan (of Tales of the Dissolutionverse, by William C. Tracy)”

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