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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Thriller

Darroll Martock (of The Psychopath Club, by Sandra Bond)

Dear readers, tonight we have with us a budding serial killer, a member of a self-styled psychopath club. He’s here to tell us about life, high-school, and the ability to move between alternate realities.


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

Er, no. It was as boring as all hell to live through and it would be as boring as all hell to make you read what some book I had to read in school called “all that David Copperfield kind of crap”. I was born; I was given a stupid name, with an even stupider spelling that nobody ever gets right; I grew up; I reached my teens; my parents divorced and my mom moved to the Midwest. There are probably some good parts of the Midwest. I live in a town called Muldoon. It is not one of those. It’s tiny and it’s cold and it’s boring. I want out so badly.

What do you do now?

I go to high school with an assortment of jocks, fools, inbred assholes and garden-variety losers. You read  books, right? Then you probably went to school with similar types.

But I hope you aren’t like me in other ways. No easy way to say this, so out with it: for years I’ve wanted to kill people. Made plots and plans. They might have worked, too. Only I’m too chicken to follow any of them through.

Or I was.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Okay, here it gets weird. I ran my car off the road and suffered a brain injury. I deserved to have killed myself, but they saved me. Only now… I have this weird thing that happens, where I slip between alternate universes. (Except, guess what, Muldoon still sucks in every single one of them that I’ve seen.) I can’t control when it happens or where I go. I’ve found myself in universes where I died in that accident. People see me and think they’re seeing a ghost. It’s fun to play along with that.

Continue reading “Darroll Martock (of The Psychopath Club, by Sandra Bond)”

Pamela Williams (of May It Please the Court, by Daniel Maldonado)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a private investigator. She’s here to tell us about being drawn into a court case starting with the severe injury of a mother at her daughter’s sweet sixteen party — followed by her even more suspicious death.


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

I’m a military brat.  My father served in the US Army Special forces.  So I’ve lived in various places in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

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

Following in my father’s footsteps, I also served in the military and ultimately became a private investigator when I retired. 

What do you do now?

As a private investigator, I work with law firms and individual clients.  Sometimes, it’s the run of the mill divorce case spying on cheating spouses and catching them in the act.  But when I work for law firms, it can vary depending on the assignment.  I may have to spy on the firm’s clients to ensure they’re on the up and up.  Or I may have to investigate and interview witnesses to a murder scene.  It all depends.  That’s why I love my job.  It varies day by day. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

In my latest adventure, I work with the Mendoza law firm to find out why a hotel guest unexpectedly injured herself by falling down the stairs.  Complicating things is she ultimately died under suspicious circumstances.  Inevitably, I have to investigate in various states including, Las Vegas, NYC, and Phoenix, Arizona.

What did you first think when you when to saw the scene of the accident?

The luxury hotel premises were lush and beautiful.  I wished I was staying there myself rather than working.  But what I found there, wow, it changed the whole investigation.  I’m skilled but sometimes luck plays a big part of it.

Continue reading “Pamela Williams (of May It Please the Court, by Daniel Maldonado)”

Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the owner of a local bookstore. Her knowledge of the Whitechapel murders and of Jack the Ripper bring her to the attention of the police. She is here to tell us about how investigating a current murder brought up a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Emily, the proud owner of Emily’s Lair, a private, non-corporate bookshop in New Vernon, Connecticut, with a wonderful variety of books. There’s an entire wall dedicated to classic literature, for example, sections on art, exploration, science, history, ancient civilizations, even true crime. You can get the latest releases, of course, but most of the shop is made up of books that I find interesting and think other people will too. I’m especially proud of the special section in back that’s filled with books on the European witch hunts. It also features more than one biography on the woman responsible for singlehandedly ending the witch hunts, Liesbeth Jansson.

Liesbeth Jansson? Who was she?

She was a woman from Breda, a city in the Netherlands. She got married to a professor from Leiden, a city that became a beacon of the Enlightenment. He died when the Plague swept through Leiden, and because Liesbeth was smart and strong-willed and refused to conform to what citizens at the time considered to be a “proper Christian woman,” she became a target. At that time, women who were different, or, especially, who weren’t submissive to men, were often accused of witchcraft.

Was Liesbeth Jansson accused of witchcraft?

Oh yes. But she fought back. You see, none of the women accused of witchcraft—the accused were almost always women—were actually witches. Many were elderly spinsters, midwives, or rich widows like Liesbeth. If you had money, you were a prime target because a witch’s money was always seized by the state, and witch hunters loved money. But with Liesbeth they had stumbled on someone they never expected to encounter—a woman with real power. She escaped, hunted down each of her accusers, and killed them in a very public and brutal manner. Once people realized there was a chance that they might accuse a woman who could fight back, the witch hunts ended.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I met Will, a homicide detective. I fell for him right away despite that he was questioning me. You see, I was a person of interest in a murder that Will was investigating because I had once dated the man who was killed. Will came in the shop to ask me some questions; that’s how we met.

Continue reading “Emily Kostova (of Emily’s Lair, by Cary Grossman)”

Dayna Chrissie (of the Fantasy & Forensics series, by Michael Angel)

Dear readers, tonight we host LAPD’s best detective, or at least she was until transported to the magical world of Andeluvia. She is here to tell us of applying modern forensics to crime scenes involving centaurs, dragons, and other creatures.


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

I grew up in Pike County, Illinois. Pike County is known for deer hunting, farming, and apple cider, in that order. The kind of place where people say ‘gosh’, ‘darn’ and ‘shucks’. Very wholesome. I couldn’t wait to up stakes for UChicago as soon as I was accepted there as an undergrad.

You didn’t like where you grew up? Surely you have some cherished memories of the place?

It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t fit in. I took a lot after Wednesday Addams. Moody, dressed in more black than my Mom would’ve liked. Put it this way, I was the only kid who looked forward to dissecting frogs in biology class.

As far as memories…one winter when I was seven years old, I found a trail of blood spatters leading from the woods towards my family’s garage. I found my father inside, crying over our open chest freezer. In it was a doe he’d shot. He was a hunter, taking game that was in season, but what shook him to the core was that this doe had spoken to him right before she died.

I don’t know if I’d call that a ‘cherished’ memory…but it was my first encounter with the magical land of Andeluvia.

It wouldn’t be my last.

What do you do now?

Officially?  I’ve been working as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Los Angeles Police Department for the past few years. I’m the one who the cops call in after they find the body, and I also perform the follow-up in the lab.

Un-officially, I’m part of the Andeluvian Royal Court. I do my best to solve mysteries in a land of magic using good old fashioned forensic techniques. I also try to help out whenever a magical creature’s in trouble.

You know, that is kind of wild now that I said that out loud…

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Anything happening with me is like C.S. Lewis meeting modern CSI!

Right now, I’m busy solving a murder case. The Andeluvians believe the Good King Benedict was killed by the ruler of the Centaur Realm, King Angbor Skullsplitter.

I’ve got about three days, max, to solve the case before the two kingdoms go to war. Hey, no pressure, right?

Continue reading “Dayna Chrissie (of the Fantasy & Forensics series, by Michael Angel)”

Blanco and guests (of The Last Circus on Earth, by B.P. Marshall)

Dear readers, tonight rather than an interview we print a short scene describing the circumstances surrounding an interview. While it may sound a bit meta, let us assure you that the interviewees are Circus people from a post-apocalyptic Europe, whose performances usually involve gunfire, bloodshed and some kind of mayhem.”


“A mountain never meets a mountain, but a man may meet a man.”

The lead trailer had pulled to a dusty halt, and the elephants followed suit along with the rest of the circus caravan.

Perched on the now-stopped tractor, Sparrow looked up from her snack, a half-cooked potato, and rested a hand on her pistol. “Oi, Blanco. We might ‘ave trouble.”

Blanco was dozing on a pile of sacks and blankets atop the wagon behind her, Daisy the dog curled up beside him. Blanco lifted his bone-white dreadlocks off his pillowed jacket. “Bollocks.” He pulled himself forward to look, complaining. “Why can’t it be the opposite of trouble for once?”

“What is the opposite of trouble?” Sparrow mused. “Not-trouble? A surprisin’ situation what produces a feelin’ of joy rather than swearin’ and bullets flyin’ every feckin’ which way? Is there a word for that?”

Blanco hopped down onto the pale, rocky track. “I’ll be right back.”

“If it’s not trouble, ask if they got food!” Sparrow yelled, as Blanco’s lanky form ran up the line, past the trucks, horses, vans and elephants.

At the front of the caravan, Baba Yaga’s mountainous bulk, swathed in a dress composed of geological layers of hessian and long-discarded clothing, loomed over a small local gentleman, who wore a worn brown suit and hat, and clutched a pencil and notebook.

Blanco looked around. It was a good ambush point. Mountains rising to their left, the road falling away to dry ravines on their right. “What’s occurrin’, Baba?”

Baba Yaga shrugged. “We is ambush by little man.”

Blanco, still worried, glanced at the man, whose smile was strained, possibly due to the semi-auto Baba held like a toy in one meaty fist.

Blanco puzzled. In the middle of Tajikistan or Afghanistan or whatever other –stan they were in, men in suits, holding pencils poised over paper, were generally thin on the ground. Blanco noticed the man’s feet were bare, but his tie was knotted and neat.

“Can we help you, sir?” Blanco asked.

The man seemed relieved. “In fact, it is also a question of how I can help you. I would like to interview you, and provide you with great publicity!”

Blanco shook his head, bemused. “Mate, if I’m not wrong, we’re a long way from anywhere or anyone what might benefit knowin’ about our…um, circus.”

“Famous already you are, sir,” the man assured them. “I am in constant communication with influencers from Eastern Turkistan to the Indian Ocean, and I maintain the journalistic duties of this entire region. Your progress is great news.”

Baba Yaga snorted. “To who? I see only goats and some lizard in this place. Also one snake. I kill and eat. It doesn’t taste like chicken.”

Blanco sighed. “We didn’t say it tasted like chicken, we hoped it tasted like chicken.”

“It tasted like snake,” she sighed, still aggrieved.

Continue reading “Blanco and guests (of The Last Circus on Earth, by B.P. Marshall)”

John Conquer (of Conquer, by Edward M. Erdelac)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a P.I. from 1976 Harlem — the cat you call when your hair stands up, a supernatural brother like no other.


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

I was born in New Orleans but came to New York with my parents when I was seven. We stayed with my Uncle Silas till he passed. I was raised on West 115th in the Foster Projects in Harlem. They call ‘em the MLK Projects now. It was cool growing up. We had the big playground, monkey bars, ball courts…good old PS 170. When my daddy died and my mama got run down by a taxi, I stayed with Consolation Underwood in East Harlem. She was a bookie for King Solomon Keyes, and an Ifa priestess – an Ìyánífá. She taught me divination with the opon Ifa, had me memorize the 256 odu, while other kids were doin’ times tables. Said ‘cause I was born with a caul I ought to learn, maybe become a babalawo some day. She was Mama to just about every orphan in Harlem at one time or another. Always some kid coming or going in her kitchen. Me and her niece, little Phaedra Williams were the ones who stayed the longest. I used to walk Phaedra over to the pool at Marcus Garvey Park in the summer, stand under the monkey bars to catch her if she slipped. That was before ‘Nam.

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

We couldn’t afford much in the way of toys. Played outside most of the time. One of my favorite memories is of sittin’ up late with my Daddy and my Uncle Silas beatin’ on these handmade mahogany Rada drums he had. My uncle taught me to beat the rhythm on the Boula when I was six. My mama would dance till the sweat made her arms shine in the dark.

What do you do now?

I’m a private investigator now, got an office on 33 St. Marks Place. I run down stray husbands and wives mostly, but sometimes folks call me when the hair on the back of their neck stands up, you dig? I got a reputation around town after I took down a rakshasi one night at the Empire Roller Disco in Brooklyn. Brought it in a lot of weird business. Weirder by the day, sometimes I think. Lucky I inherited a library from my godfather, Fish Marmelstein. He used to own a supply company, Brother Hoodoo. My daddy was his top salesman. Anyway, it’s got most everything I need. I got books on Vodoun, Hoodoo, Kabbalah, Hermeticism…you name it. And if I don’t have it, I know where to find it.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I wouldn’t call it an adventure. Adventures are supposed to be enjoyable, right? Where do I start? It’s been an eventful year. I took down a clique of vampires in the Harlem Hospital morgue, helped out my Uncle Silas’…..I don’t know what you call Verbena Mechant, a partner? Husband? Wife? Hell, you call her whatever she wants to be called. I learned that the hard way. Anyway, Auntie Verbena had a boo-hag causin’ problems with her girls in Crown Heights. Let’s see….there was that time Lou Lazzeroni found Genie Jones shrunk and floating in a lava lamp and called me in….there was that thing eatin’ graffiti taggers in the subway. Then there was that other thing running rampant at the Vatican…sorry, that’s what Pope used to call the apartment building where he housed his girls….ugh…sorry, Pope’s the pimp whose ghost haunts my car….eh, that’s a long story. I don’t wanna get into that mess. Let’s see….my last ‘adventure’….finding the dude who shot Preacher dead with an arrow in front of Hekima Books. Preacher, that was Benny Galarza, one of my oldest friends. We started the 167th Street Black Enchanters back in ’69 when we got outta Vietnam see….him and me and Black Adam. It had to do with a butchered gorilla carcass the cops found laying in an intersection in the Bronx. I just got out of the hospital from all that. It was a bad scene. Nearly got my black ass pitched off a roof.

Continue reading “John Conquer (of Conquer, by Edward M. Erdelac)”

Sydney Mason (of Sophie is Scarlet, by Greg Neyman)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a college students, doing normal things — taking classes, dating, thinking about a Masters Degree, helping in her community, and being a witch. She is here to talk about witchcraft, vampires, and fighting tech conglomerates.


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

I spent my entire childhood in Paisley, Scotland. It’s – what do you want me to say. It’s a town. You’ve seen one Boots the Chemist, you’ve seen them all. These days, most people can’t agree where Glasgow ends and Paisley begins. I have some memories of living with my mum and dad in a Council Estate, but then I was able to live with my Gran in her house when I started school, and it was a bit more posh.

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

So not to brag, but when you’re as potent a Sister as myself, you find very few toys that work as expected, all the time. Until you learn to control your Skill, of course. That’s why I loved the old drum set that I got second hand. Nothing that can really go wrong with it. It’s how I got into punk rock. I remember my first Christmas, when I had my hair all blonde, and spikey. You know Christmas is a big thing. But I couldn’t get the Christmas crown to stay on my head! I just had to drench it in hair spray until it stood. And then the turkey just reeked of the spray, I could barely get it past my throat!

What do you do now?

So this was my chance to see something other than Scotland, so I decided to go to a Yank Uni. Apparently the first place to give ladies degrees in the States, so of course you know Sisters soon followed. I getting to meet a lot of new Sisters, and learning to solve people problems without my Gran hovering over my shoulder. And the Uni is on me to pick a major.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

It’s hard to talk about. My everlasting shame. Did you know vampires could go tame? Live a normal life, find willing Meals, that sort of thing? Well, I wish someone told me before I vapourised three of them with a bolt of lightning without so much as a ‘how do you do’.

Continue reading “Sydney Mason (of Sophie is Scarlet, by Greg Neyman)”

Tillman Rosenbaum (of the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series, by Debbie Burke)

Dear readers, tonight in an interesting twist we have both a character — and his author! He’s a lawyer assisting the protagonist, and has his own style of doing things.


Debbie Burke: Tillman Rosenbaum is the brilliant, arrogant, cynical attorney who elbowed his way into
the first book in the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series and refused to leave. Today, I’m interviewing Tillman for The Protagonist Speaks. Thank you for talking with me, Tillman.

Tillman Rosenbaum drinks Glenfiddich single malt scotch while his intense dark eyes pin.me to my barstool. His baritone sounds like God in a cave.

TR: Get this straight right up front—I didn’t agree to this interview. Tawny did.

DB: You seem hostile?

TR: We can talk all day about landmark cases, precedents I’ve set, innocent people I’ve
gotten acquitted. But nothing personal. Understand?

DB: Uh, okay. Since Tawny is one of the innocents you saved, why don’t you tell us how
you first met?

TR: Tawny had unwittingly gotten involved with a terrorist (Book 1 – Instrument of the
Devil
). Feds were after her, seized her bank account. She was in deep shit and her only crime
was trusting the wrong guy. I like a righteous cause.

DB: You’re the crusader hero?

TR: I’m the asshole who backed down Goliath. Afterwards, I offered her a job. She was
broke from her late husband’s medical bills, doesn’t have much education, dyslexic—helluva
time reading, can’t spell. But she’s really bright and has this gift. People open up to her. Clients
tell her the secrets they’re afraid to tell me.

DB: You’re six-seven, aggressive, and sarcastic. Can’t imagine why clients would be scared
of you.

TR (snorts): I scare prosecutors and judges, too. Underneath this gruff exterior beats a heart
of stone. In more than twenty years of practice, I only lost three cases.

DB: Your style of questioning differs from Tawny’s.

TR: Hell yes. I jump on ’em with both feet. She just smiles, like the sun breaking through
clouds, and then she listens. Finds out the damnedest shit that way. (shakes his head in
amazement
)

DB: So your skills complement each other?

TR: Oh yeah. Like when my old man was targeted by this sexy con artist (Book 2 -Stalking
Midas
). He’s a smart financier, made millions, but an unprincipled prick. Serial womanizer.
Drove my mother to suicide. Suddenly he’s broke. Refuses to talk to me. But damned if Tawny
doesn’t get him to open up. She cracked the scam. Unfortunately, the con artist almost killed her
in the process. (looks away, blinks hard, and swallows)

Continue reading “Tillman Rosenbaum (of the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series, by Debbie Burke)”

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)”

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