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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Steampunk

Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman from Book 2 of the Victorian historical-fantasy Potions and Passions series. We’re always happy when our patrons revisit us!

This volume is her first appearance. She is here to tell us about
Ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic — and about love.


Welcome, Mrs. Fasching. We are so pleased you have accepted this interview with our newspaper. Please introduce yourself for our readers.

Call me Rachael, please. My married name has a host of unpleasant memories associated with it.

Oh, dear me. Yes. Can you tell us something about your background? Who was your husband and what happened to him?

Well. Anyone who reads the gossip rags knows something of the matter. Mr. Fasching was an American potions importer. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up dead. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about it. He was rather a villain, as it turns out.

I must say, you wear your widowhood well. That is a marvelous dress.

Isn’t it, though? I’m sure many would tell me that the neckline is too low to be appropriate for a widow, and the red embroidery likewise improper, but I have never been one to conform to restrictive fashion ideals. I prefer to set the new trends. People may gape and whisper if they wish, but no one can say I lack for beauty or elegance.

Your bold personal style does garner attention. Is that your plan, now that you will soon put your mourning period behind you? Attend parties and show off?

Parties and showing off are always in the plan. But I have far more interesting goals for my life at present. As I have indicated, I do not wish to use Fasching’s name. I intend to remarry to remedy the situation. In fact, I fully intend to woo the most passionate, romantic man in all of England until I have earned his undying love.

How strange. Because your name has recently been linked to that of Professor Avery Cantrell, a man noted for being dull and peculiar.

Ah, dear readers, you know so little about him. I don’t expect you to believe me, but Cantrell is so much more than you see on the surface. He hides himself behind his research, but I am uncovering his secrets and I must tell you they are delightfully intriguing. I do not doubt we will have fantastic adventures together.

Speaking of adventures, what can you tell us about yours?

Well. Certain information is not mine to share, but I can tell you that I have recently learned of strange, ancient curses and deadly potions allergies. I’ve encountered murder by poison and discovered vital clues. I’ve scandalized society by driving steam cars fully as well as any man.

Continue reading “Rachael Fasching (of Not a Mourning Person, by Catherine Stein)”
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Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an agent of the British crown, with a deceptively simple directive: end the magical potions crisis, by any means necessary. He’s here to tell us about how posing as a bodyguard and joining the beguiling potions expert on her continent-hopping expedition led to danger of both life and heart.


Ah, Ainsworth. Welcome. Please sit down.

Sir? It was my understanding that all reports were to be conducted in private. It appears we have an audience.

Indeed. Given the importance of this mission, Parliament has decreed that the information be made available to this carefully selected committee.

I see.

Now, please introduce yourself to these fine people.

Captain Henry Charles MacAlaster Ainsworth, intelligence officer, retired. My current title is that of Civilian Consultant to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. You may also know me as Lord Henry, youngest son of George Ainsworth, Marchese di Murlo. Not that my father’s Italian title puts us anywhere but on the fringes of British aristocracy. His money on the other hand… well, I’m certain you understand.

Tell us a bit more of your background. Your childhood? Your family?

I don’t see how this is especially relevant to my report.

*an awkward pause ensues*

Very well. I grew up traveling often between Italy and England for my father’s business dealings, and Scotland where my mother’s family lives. My father stopped traveling when I was a teenager, and my brothers are happy to remain in Italy growing grapes, but I have never stopped craving travel and adventure. I live in London now, but my occupation takes me all over the world.

Ah, yes. About this occupation of yours. What exactly is a “Civilian Consultant?”

You wish me to be blunt? I’m a spy. What I once did in the army, I now do as a direct agent of the Crown. I sneak into places where I’m not supposed to be to gather intelligence. I’m particularly good at drawing maps from memory and I steal things probably more often than necessary. My sister, Emma, calls it a “disgraceful profession,” but I find it rather suits me.

Continue reading “Henry Ainsworth (of How to Seduce a Spy, by Catherine Stein)”

Julius Brutus Caesar (of The Steam Empire Chronicles, by Daniel Ottalini)

Dear readers, 1800 years after Julius Caesar survived the assassination attempt, the Roman empire sits at the forefront of technological and industrial innovations.

We have made our way to the edge of a forest, where the men of the XIII Germania legion prepare for battle. We are going to interview one of the young officers of the legion, on the cracking facade, espionage, corruption, and revolution that are pulling the empire apart.


Can I help you? You must be one of our new recruits.

You’re Julius Brutus Caesar?

Yes, named after both the great founders of the Empire. My father was a traditionalist, what can I say.

And you’re actually from Brittenburg? I thought everyone there was dead!

Ha! Not a chance. It already felt like a swamp mixed with a giant factory. At least, the part where I lived. Don’t get me wrong, the palaces and marketplaces in Brittenburg are…were…will be beautiful again.  At least, once reconstruction has completed. Nortlander raids and destroyed seagates tend to ruin things, especially when your city is below sea level. That’s what we get for living in Germania Inferior.

I’m sorry, where?

You’ve never heard of it? Uh… It’s opposite Britannia and north of Gaul? The Belgicae used to live there… Anyways, long story short – big city next to the ocean, but big walls to keep out the ocean. Didn’t you study geography in the scholarum? Continue reading “Julius Brutus Caesar (of The Steam Empire Chronicles, by Daniel Ottalini)”

Ember (of The Exiled Otherkin, by D. Lieber)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a half-fae, exiled from the lands of Faerie when her father died. Surprised by the changes in the human world, she takes a job on an airship.

She’s here to tell us about faeries, pirates, and traveling players as she tries to cope with feelings long forgotten and a past that still pursues her.


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

When I was really young, my mother was murdered, so my father took me to live with him in Faerie. As a place, it’s very pleasant. There’s no separation between nature and the inhabitants. For instance, plants and animals are part of your household; they grow and go where they please.

I really loved it there when I first arrived. I got to spend a lot of time with Papa, and Liam and I became great friends. However after Papa married Helena, she destroyed my life bit by bit. The only thing she ever gave me was my little brother, Pika. He is my light in the pit that Faerie is to me now.

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

Most of my cherished memories as a young child where from spending time with my parents and Liam. My parents loved each other so deeply, and I always wanted that for myself one day. I had hope for a while, but it turned sour when Liam betrayed me. After Papa married Helena, I couldn’t afford to cherish anything. If she found out, she’d destroy it.

What do you do now?

I recently got a job as rigger on a merchant airship in the human realm. It’s my job to climb around the envelope of the airship and check it for leaks. Continue reading “Ember (of The Exiled Otherkin, by D. Lieber)”

Fitzsimmons Noakes (of Amster Damned, by Nils Nisse Visser)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Fitzsimmons Noakes, the modest captain of the airship ‘The Centennial Kestrel’, the fastest Channel-Runner in business I am told. 

We were actually hoping to interview Miss Alice Kittyhawk about her adventures, but she  had pressing obligations in London and sent Captain Noakes in her stead.

Captain Noakes has a peculiar way of speaking which might sound a bit odd to modern ears, and we suspect that this particular interview is NSFW. You have been warned.


No offense, but I was expecting one Miss Alice Kittyhawk… erm… Mister…?

Cap’n Fitzsimmons Noakes, at your service. Alice asked  me to come, said I’d be better at it cause I never shut me sauce-box. Damfino why,  I am more quiet than a nun what took vows of silence, ‘onest Guv, you’ll find me jaws are locked tighter than the creamy thighs of a……

Yes, quite, so you can tell us something about Miss Kittyhawk? How long have you known her?

Since she was a nipper, used to perch on me knee and I’d sing her a ditty or two, didn’t I? Not that dull patriotic rubbish, mind you, proper songs like ‘Ere’s to the Grog and Lily White Thighs. I’ve ‘eard Alice whistling the tunes aboard the Kestrel, proud as a peacock I were, to know I been such a good influence.

By the light of a candle I happened to spy
A pretty young couple together did lie
Said Nelly to John if you’ll pull up my smock
You’ll find a young hen full as good as your…..

I get the gist of the song, thank you. Was this in the village of Rottingdean?

Yarr, Rottingdean in Sussex. I were crewing for Alice’s old man, you see, on The Salty Mew, the fizziest aerocraft on the south coast at the time. ‘Er dad were John ‘Awkeye, you must ‘ave ‘eard of ‘im? Course you ‘ave, everybody ‘as!! Cap’n ‘Awkeye being famous in…..erm…..the business of logistics. Continue reading “Fitzsimmons Noakes (of Amster Damned, by Nils Nisse Visser)”

Nikola Tesla (of Tesla’s Signal by Laura Woodswalker)

TESLA'S SIGNAL - Laura WoodswalkerDear readers, tonight with me is a special person, one who has turned into a cultural icon of our generation. The Protagonist is honoured to welcome Nikola Tesla to the interview couch!

Tonight he will tell us about his amazing discoveries, and his almost unnatural connection to electrical currents.

 

 

Can you describe to us your affinity to electricity? How does it feel / look?

As a child I could feel the lightning building up to strike, and I ran to touch it. Miraculously, instead of being killed, I felt as if my body and soul had come alive. The sensation was like you might feel the wind in your face, or a spray of water. I did not realize that others didn’t feel this and that I was something of a freak.

Because of my extreme sensitivity to currents and light, I developed what others might call Phobias. I did not like to look at women’s jewellery because of how it bent the light. I started trying to control this sensitivity through calculations. Numbers, especially the number 3, were like an invisible structure that I wove around the world. I always had to do everything by 3’s. After I nearly died of cholera, I became terrified of germs and reluctant to shake hands. I obsessively washed my eating utensils. People thought I was quite an eccentric! Some even thought I was mad…a ‘mad scientist’ if you will.

How did this affinity affect your scientific work?

My brain was like a finely tuned receiver. I could visualize the inside of devices…and when I built them, they worked perfectly! I could travel to imaginary places and speak with the people I met. My sensitivity became so painfully intense that I thought I would surely die…and that was when I received a communication from a race of energy beings who spoke to me in currents. This was not a hallucination: the Aon were from the dimension of ‘subtle matter’. They spent their lives studying the universe, and now they wished to study and exchange knowledge with me.

This meeting stimulated my brain to make new connections, and I was struck by a most  transcendent vision of the rotating magnetic field, which would become the 3-phase alternating current motor. This was the breakthrough which led to the gift of electrical power for all of the world. Continue reading “Nikola Tesla (of Tesla’s Signal by Laura Woodswalker)”

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