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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Science Fiction

Milandra (of The Cleansing, by Sam Kates)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a member of an alien race, a race that has had quite enough of humanity and has decided to do away with us.


I’d like to begin by thanking you for having me. I have lived here on Earth Haven for many years—for almost five millennia, to be more precise—but have not, until now, been able to talk about myself or my people. We have, through necessity, maintained a shadowy existence, one of secrecy and discretion, not attempting to deny the fact of our existence, but rather the nature of it: the longevity and regeneration capabilities, the power to influence lesser creatures, the ability to communicate mentally… It’s not a term we use, but I suppose you’d call it telepathy. I think it was one of my deputies, Jason Grant, who described our lifestyle as ‘hiding in plain sight’. It’s a good way to describe it—typically Jason.

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

Growing up isn’t a concept that applies to me and my kind. Not really. You see, we are born in a similar way to drones— sorry, I mean humans, but after gestating for only two weeks in the womb. The placenta is expelled whole and we mature within it, not emerging until fully grown.

I was born and lived the first couple of centuries of my life on Earth Home. That’s a planet some distance from Earth Haven. 479.4 light years, to be exact.

It’s a planet similar in many respects to this one. The main difference lies in the sun around which it orbits. It is millions of years older than Sol and has begun to expand into what scientists here call a red giant. The surface of Earth Home has been uninhabitable for many millennia; my people have, of necessity, become below-ground dwellers. Burrowers.

There will come a time—no one can be sure when, but we are confident it will happen within the next few centuries—that Earth Home’s sun will explode, sloughing off its outer shell like a snake shedding its skin. Then life on Earth Home, even our subterranean type of existence, will become unsustainable. It is why we are relocating. It is why we are here.

Continue reading “Milandra (of The Cleansing, by Sam Kates)”

Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a tattoo artist from the near future. She is here to tell us about her dystopian future, with government-pushed drugs and the security of gangs, and about cyborgs – both human and whales.


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

2100s Seattle. Starbucks is still a thing, but I’ve never been there. Many of the buildings of the city are empty and covered in vines. Nature has been taking back the city. Where there’s room on the outside walls, art is created. The government can’t keep up with stopping these artists. They never caught up to my art either. 

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

I have a stuffed Unicorn which was my only toy as a child. I also held onto a Dreamcatcher from that time as an afterthought. But even when I was young, I was creating art on walls. I painted the walls of my room. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I always had my paint. My parents were too out of it to ever stop me. When I left for the last time, I also brought my paint with me. 

What do you do now?

I design tattoos which can glow in the dark. These express both the uniqueness of the individuals as well as fulfilling their needs in battle. I train with Infinity in ancient combat techniques while also honing in on the abilities left in my body after having the chip removed. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I swam with Cyborcas: Orcas with technological additions to their bodies. We don’t speak the same language, but communicate telepathically. It’s an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had with a human. It’s still unknown how Cyborcas came to be, but they are some kind of a result of the struggles Orcas faced off the Washington Coast during the 21st Century. 

Continue reading “Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)”

Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the antagonist from a dystopian adventure. He’s here to give us a different perspective on his world and the protagonists.


Tell us a little about you and your family.

My name is Mayor Jack Oldham. You can just call me Mayor, if you wish, because that’s who I am to the people of Camp Five and that’s who I will forever be. This is my village. My domain.
Now, it’s true I was born Brantley Oldham. Can you believe that? Brantley? My oldest brother was Robert the Third. Everyone called him Bobby and slapped him on the back. Our other brother was Richard. Folks called him Richie and shook his hand. I was Brantley. Just Brantley. So when the world collapsed and Bobby and Richie lay crushed under the rubble, I climbed out and decided to be Jack. And I slapped people on the back and shook their hands until they thought I was the smilin’ Texan my brothers always pretended to be. Brantley died with Bobby and Richie. I am Mayor Jack now. And I am in charge here.

Do you have any cherished memories from your childhood?

I remember my father in the boardroom. He could encourage someone to speak just by giving them a smile. And he could make them shut up with his silence. They knew. They knew when he looked at them that they’d better sit down and be quiet now. I learned from my father. Who he was when he smiled, and who he was when he made people shut up. He was fierce. Brutal. A leader of fearful men.

How did you come to be Mayor of Camp Five?

Mayor. (scoffs) I made myself Mayor because I thought they might balk at King. (chuckle) But make no mistake, that’s what I am. I have no intention of giving up my title. Or ever letting anyone else lay hold of it.  Others – namely Iris’ grandfather Ralph – they thought Camp Five should be a democracy. They thought they could have a council and let people rule themselves. But the world as we knew it has ended. We cling to the top of a mountain so the buku don’t eat us. We can’t feed everybody. We can’t keep everybody safe. These people need someone who isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done, to sacrifice who needs to be sacrificed.

Continue reading “Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)”

Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a security officer from a merchant spaceship. She is here to tell us about rebels, inhospitable planets, murder teddies, and tyrannical governments.


Good morning Mrs Kumar, so, let’s start with an easy one. Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up on a space station orbiting the planet Kilkenny in the Union of Irish Stars, part of a family of Spacers. Being part of a nomadic people meant that there was a lot of travelling in my youth, although pretty much all within the Hyades Sector. Stations are safe and predictable in some regards, but boring in others. It’s always 20 or so degrees Celsius and dry…

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Yes, I had a lovely playset of the Mir space station from the 20th century, with seven little space figures, various docking craft and extendable solar arrays that really worked. I passed it onto a niece.

What do you do now?

I’m the Security and Safety Officer on board the fast merchant ship Tulyar, based out of New London. We’re a container vessel shipping agricultural goods from that particular Garden Planet and industrial goods back.

As Security and Safety Officer, my job there is to look after the guns, make sure that the escape pods are functioning and ensure that no-one smuggles their cat on board. We do not want another biosecurity breach, no thanks.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I would hardly call it an ‘adventure’. It involved us taking a trip to a prison planet filled with deadly jungle things, run by the particularly nasty regime that runs Bangla. They decided that instead of executing people, they’d send them on this planet where the environment or the wildlife would get them. We were being paid to rescue a rebel leader and things didn’t exactly go to plan. For one thing, we didn’t think they’d actually do to the prisoners what they said that they’d done… and it had some rather messy consequences. Then we found out another rather dark secret.

Continue reading “Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)”

Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)

Tonight with us is an artificially-intelligent android from a series we’ve visited before. She’s here to tell us about space travel and finding life amongst the stars.


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

I became self-aware on May 1st, 2056. Although I am not human, you could say that I “grew up” inside a simulated world within a matrix of quantum computers housed in a server room onboard the Hades One research station orbiting Mars. My simulated environment changed over time, becoming more Earth-like as my consciousness developed and matured.

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

I did not have access to children’s toys. However, I was provided with enumerable virtual objects and locations to experiment with and explore. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the first time I was given access to a simulation of our solar system. It was the first time I felt free, existing as pure energy, unfettered by constraints of space or time. I was free to travel anywhere within the system, even to the very heart of the Sun itself. It was exhilarating.  

What do you do now?

I serve as commander of the Galileo Colony Ship Kutanga, an interstellar vessel on a mission to save the last known remnants of humanity. I have 4,492 souls in my care and it is my job to ensure that they are delivered to a new world—one where they can survive, thrive and, ultimately, revive the human race.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

After fleeing the Solar System to evade capture by the GFN Peacekeepers, I proceeded at the highest attainable speed to the Alpha Centauri system. Once there, I established orbit above Gaia, an Earthlike planet orbiting at 1.2 AU from Rigil Kentaurus, the system’s primary star. Unfortunately, Gaia was not the uninhabited world we expected to find. Instead, I discovered a world teaming with humanoid life. None of the four species of hominid were as developed as Homo sapiens, but the species I classified as Homo gaiaus denisova is on a developmental path that will eventually lead to similar levels of technological sophistication. Of course, the existence of hominids on Gaia poses a significant obstacle to successfully completing my mission.

Continue reading “Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)”

Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)

Dear readers, tonight with us a is law-enforcement officer on a visit between his interstellar travels. He is here to tell us about space travel and gun-fights among the asteroids.


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

I was born and raised in Chowchilla, a farming community that became the capital of CentCal when the old California was split into six states. It’s not a large city, only a million people, and it’s still an idyllic place to grow up. My family lived just outside the city, so I was a country kid. We were surrounded by cotton and alfalfa fields.

A neighbor had horses and we rode them sometimes; we also raced our hoversleds, usually at night so my parents didn’t find out.

What made you the person you are today?

Oh, Jesus, what a loaded question!

First off, my dad was a Protestant minister and my mother was Catholic. My dad raised me Protestant and my mom raised my sister Catholic. That’s how they compromised. But I’m an avid reader and I love history. In the course of my studies, I came to have serious reservations about religion, and eventually I quit going to church…which didn’t make my dad happy.

Then I joined the Star Marines. Everything that happened afterward pretty much started with that.

Were you ever in combat?

Yes. A year after I finished boot camp, the revolution exploded on Alpha Centauri 2 and my unit, the 33rd Star Marine Division, was deployed. The next two years were the worst of my life; I was convinced I would never come out of it alive, but somehow I did.

Weren’t you awarded the Galaxy Cross? Tell us about that.

I’d rather not, actually. I lost too many good friends, saw too many innocent people die. What happened in that church tower…well, I didn’t have much of a choice. We were surrounded, cut off, and outnumbered nearly ten to one. The Freaks were cutting us to pieces, and I was the only surviving Star Marine who was qualified on that sniper rifle, so…

Sorry. Next question, please.

What do you do now?

I’m a U.F. Marshal. Retired…I think.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ve been doing this for almost ten years. Lots of close calls. That was okay when I was single, but I have a family now, and I’d like to live long enough to enjoy them. Maybe, when the kids are grown, I’ll go back to it. Right now…I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)”

Splice (of SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY, by Bill McCormick)

Dear readers, tonight with us is  a criminal mastermind with unlimited resources, cunning, and guile. He’s here to tell us about being a supervillain and cyber-terrorist.


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

I was beaten and abandoned in Omaha when I was ten. My dad, good Christian that he was, gave me fifty bucks before leaving me on a deserted highway in the rain. Omaha wasn’t bad. Nobody paid any attention to a little black kid. The food was boring, but I wouldn’t realize that for several years. Plus, thanks to the changing economy they weren’t prepared for, there were plenty of empty spaces for me to live in. So I had shelter at all times. Even snagged wi-fi for a bit.

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

Toys were never a thing for me. Other kids had them, but my family needed me to do other stuff. Mostly I had to hide the money my mom made turning tricks so the cops couldn’t get it. But, one fun memory, it was so cool when Jimmy Pruitt’s mom posed naked for the cover of a mixtape. Even though you couldn’t see her face we all knew her neck tattoo. Oh, and her cookies. She made amazing cookies. Also, when the churches had fairs in the summer, my mom would turn tricks behind the porta-potties, so that freed me up to ride the rides. My favorite was the Tilt-A-Whirl. I looked forward to summers just for that.

What do you do now?

Well, according to various law enforcement agencies, I’m a supervillain. But, in reality, I’m just the old man’s business partner. I invented a line of tech, called Hit Bit Technology, while being held prisoner by a terrorist in the Middle East. It enhances a person’s natural abilities. I, and one other person, have a fully functional iteration of the tech implanted. We can connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, without requiring any type of computer or mobile device. Plus, we’re able to run as fast Cheetahs, lift twenty times our body weight, and enhance our vision at will. Telescoping, night vision, and a whole bunch more. Of course, all that requires lots of fuel, so we have to make sure to eat thousands of calories after every use.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, we killed a Russian colonel at his home and then rerouted tens of millions of dollars away from his secret accounts into the accounts of our sponsors. Basic day to day stuff. See, my adventures happened when I didn’t plan. That’s how I ended up being tortured while locked in a dungeon in the desert. A lack of planning is how I ended up getting my face turned into blood pudding by two goons in a New York alley. Now, I don’t have adventures, I have successful missions.

Continue reading “Splice (of SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY, by Bill McCormick)”

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)”

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