The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books



Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young man that hunts the things that go bump in the night.

He’s here to tell us about his adventures with his brother and his police detective (unwilling) partner.

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

My brother Trent and I grew up with our Grandfather. He was always pretty cold and distant. So most of my youth was spent getting into trouble of one kind or another to get the poor bastard’s attention. We spent a few years in Massachusetts before setting in Starsboro, North Carolina. I mostly remember acting like an asshole and counting down the days till school was over. I remember this one spring day in Mass. We were goofing off, I think I was ten, so he musta been six. And Trent fell into the river. There was a moment when I realized what happened where everything stopped. I stared at him, his red coat was just below the surface of the water and I knew I had to jump in. The water was so damn cold. It took the breath right out of my chest. Somehow I got to him and we made it to the riverbank. Probably one of the only days in my life I wasn’t a complete screw up. My brother was different. He got the whole school thing. He’s in college now. Going to be a lawyer. He’s going to change the world. I might save it every now and then, but he’ll make it better.

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

I had a dog once. It was an old mutt. Looked kind of like a huge Rottweiler but scruffy. Called him Buddy. I was working on a construction site in high school and this dog came around everyday. He’d growl at the workers and freak them out. I started feeding him hotdogs cause I didn’t want him to eat me. Heh. When the job was done I went back to say my goodbyes and found out his owner was going to put him down. They were moving and the new apartment building wouldn’t allow a big dog like that. So I took him home. My grandfather shit a brick when he found out. That was the best dog though. If I got into an argument with anyone, I’d be focused on em, ready for whatever as things got heated, and he’d nose my hand. Just to let me know I had back up. I don’t know what he would have done if it’d ever actually come to blows but it was nice to know someone had my back.

What do you do now?

I kill things. Pretty much exclusively evil things or things that want to kill people. But yeah. The job title I guess is hunter. I just like to show up and save people. I also drink a lot and sing lead in a band. All those keep me pretty busy. Continue reading “Zurik D’Vordi (of The Starsboro Chronicles, by Cameron J Quinn)”


Dai and Julia (of Dying to be Roman, by Jane Jago and EM Swift Hook)

Dear readers, tonight with me are two people from the modern-day Roman province of Britannia. They are here to tell us about life as law-enforcement officers in the empire that never collapsed.

An unlikely pair, Dai is a Briton and a hard-working Investigator trying to solve a brutal string of murders and Julia, a Roman Inquisitor, sent to pour oil on troublesome provincial waters when a Roman citizen joins the body count.

They are here to tell us about their adventures.

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

Julia: I spent the first five years of my life in the slums that gather around the skirts of Rome. Then my mother died and my grandparents took me in. It still wasn’t a good part of town, but I was loved and I had enough to eat.

Dai: For a Briton, I had it pretty good. My family are well known landowners around Viriconium. No Citizen rights, of course, which meant my education was pretty rustic. But it’s a lovely place when you get out into the hinterland away from the city itself. I did well enough at school to get into the academy in Aqua Sulis – yes, we do have one or two academies in Britannia, even if they are not in the top one hundred recommended.

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

Julia: I suppose my favourite thing was my adoptive brother: he’s twenty years older than me and when he was home he would carry me around on his back. And my grandmother had a little dog called Toto. I would spend hours combing his coat

Dai: I loved running and I still pride myself on my physical fitness. As a boy I was a reader and a dreamer, always trying to hide from chores on the family farm. There was a place I used to love going to – a small valley with standing stones. No one ever went there, so I would run there and sit and read with my back to one of the stones. Continue reading “Dai and Julia (of Dying to be Roman, by Jane Jago and EM Swift Hook)”

Maisie Jaser (of the Glass Vault duology, by Candace Robinson)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a girl gone missing inside of a mysterious museum. The old building appeared overnight in their small town, and people started to disappear. What could be inside? Possibly something glass, since it’s known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault.

Why don’t you slip on an eye-patch as this girl does, and enjoy what lies ahead while she tells us about her adventures into the unknown.

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

Well, I grew up in Deer Park, TX. Me and my cousin Perrie don’t understand how a town could be called Deer Park if there are zero deer here. Maybe I should go into the wooded area and search? I mean, there has to be a reason it’s called this, right? I did make a deer craft out of old mulch one time, maybe I could sit one of those out, and it will call to the deer? We could pretend it’s Bambi, and a mama deer might think it’s one of her babies. I’d snap a pictures, and say aha, so Deer Park does have deer!

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

Hansel and Gretel! That was mine and Perrie’s pretty much main daily activity when we were smaller. I was all about the witch, because come on, it’s a witch! So, we would play this make-believe game and role play it. I always did have fun ideas. Not did—DO!

What do you do now?

I’m all about eye patches. My life goal right now is to liven up the eye of those who have to mourn their eye loss. There’s no need to hide that beautiful hollow space—embrace it. So, I make eye patches to show the support—I wear one pretty much all the time myself. I’ve got a whole chest of them at home, right now I have one that resembles a sheep. You know why? Because it’s Leap year, and when I try to fall asleep, I count sheep as they hop over my pretend cloud. Do sheep even hop? I’m going to say, heck yes they do! Also, I do sleep in my eye-patch! Continue reading “Maisie Jaser (of the Glass Vault duology, by Candace Robinson)”


Nash Xander Korpes (of The Korpes File by J.I. Rogers)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a master technician, formerly with the Korlune Military Research and Development. He is also the first from the diasporan population to win top prize at the prestigious Symposium.

As Nash’s time is limited, I’ve arranged to meet with him between appointments. He indicated that he is willing to answer questions about his early life and talk about some of  the difficulties he’s faced, career-wise, in a country ruled by xenophobic traditions.

Congratulations to you and your team on your recent Symposium win, Master-Tech Korpes. Do you have a moment to share with my readers?

Certainly, it would be my privilege, Assaph. I’m a big fan of your column.

How does it feel to be the first Diasporan entrant to have won this prestigious competition?

That’s not entirely accurate. My Master-Mech, Davis Trent, is also Diasporan but I think I can speak for both of us by saying it feels great.

Can you give my readers a little history about yourself? Where were you born, for instance?

Born? Just kidding. Yes, contrary to popular opinion I wasn’t hatched in a Rec-Gen lab; I had real parents, though I never met my father. He was killed in our last border skirmish with Ankoresh. My great-grandparents were among the first Tyran refugees settled in Diaspora Twelve after the final exodus. Locals referred to D-Twelve as Astel which means ‘hope’ in Tyr; my mother said it actually translated to ‘awful weather.’

By the time I was seven, my mother had become the Master-Mech in charge of the city’s reactor. She, my grandmother, my sister and I lived in a three-bedroom apartment that had been in our family since the settlement. The city was less than twenty kilometers from the coast, so we were constantly being hit by the storms that blew in from the Northern Hotari Sea; our dome maintenance crews deserved medals for their efforts.

Up until ten years ago, Astel had one of the top producing Tellium mines which employed over half the city’s population. Sadly, like most of our equipment, our air filtration systems were outdated and couldn’t handle the level of dust that was generated. The particulates that escaped created a perpetual amber-hued haze. You had to mask-up when they were swapping the filters out, or you’d run the risk of getting a lung infection. Continue reading “Nash Xander Korpes (of The Korpes File by J.I. Rogers)”


Bart Madison (of Six Minutes Early by Patrick Parker)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an ex special forces officer, trying to detonate a few nuclear devices.

You’ve read that correctly. He’s trying to detonate them, in an act of terror. Once again, we are visited by a novel’s antagonist.

A current member of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), he is here to tell us of his life as a mercenary, his motives, and of his ISIS connections.

Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.

I grew up in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma. Played sports in high school and worked on a farm in the summers much like the other boys. I chased the girls and always had a date on the weekends. Looking back, the jocks got the good-looking girls. I did like to tinker with old cars. Got an old jeep one year. It was all in pieces and I spent a winter putting it back together. It ran like a top when I got it finished. It was indestructible! I always found time to go hunting and fishing.

In school I had a teacher, mentor actually, that was a Green Beret in the US Army Reserves. I looked up to him. He inspired me to be a Green Beret. He was hard on the boys and kept us out of trouble.

After high school, I went on to college in Oklahoma and into the Army as soon as I graduated. I became a Special Forces Officer.

Any cherished memories?

I have several. I will always remember my mentor from school. I did have a very close friend growing up. We had talked about going into the military. He enlisted in the US Marines and I went to college. He was killed in combat about a year or so later and I was devastated.

The proudest day of my life was the day I became a Green Beret. That was years ago and I’m on to other things now.

You’ve given your business title as Military Advisor. How did you get into this line of work?

Yeah, advisor or consultant, your choice. That seems to be a bit more palatable these days and doesn’t raise eyebrows as much as mercenary does.

My Army training is how I got into this line of work. I’m an expert in small unit tactics, guerrilla warfare, explosives, and on and on. When I left the Army, I had all these skills and experience. I knew of several corporations that hired ex-service members for their skills. I did a short stint with one. The money was Ok. I discovered the FARC was looking for an advisor. I had met Franco Trujillo when he was a Panamanian policeman then later, heard he joined the FARC, so I contacted him. He offered me a better deal and I took him up on it. He pays me well and I have a number of perks. Continue reading “Bart Madison (of Six Minutes Early by Patrick Parker)”


Dana McCarren (of The Hook, by Kathleen Doler)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a globe-trotting journalist making the journey back to her childhood town, a place she has been running away from all her life.

She is there to reconnect with her family, her drug-addicted brother, and the town’s tight-knit surfing community. In the process she runs into a gang war, a violent drug kingpin, the FBI, and a whole new family crisis.

She is here to tell us about facing her ruinous childhood, her inability to sustain relationships, and her struggle to move on with her life. 

Tell us a little about growing up in Half Moon Bay and learning to surf?

When he was a thirteen-year-old grommet, my older brother, Shane, started learning to surf with his buddy, Craig. I was always determined to do anything Shane did. So, I’d ride my bike out of the neighborhood and hunt them down — I had the makings of a journalist even as a tween. I’d pedal as fast as I could…away from that house, away to anywhere. Finally, Craig got tired of seeing me sitting alone on the foggy damp cliffs, watching. For my twelfth birthday, he gave me his old yellowed and dented surfboard, coated with dirt-encrusted surf wax. It was waterlogged, heavy and hideous, but it smelled like coconuts and it was mine. I started trying to ride it, getting drilled into the sand regularly. I was hooked. Surf rushes. It fills my ears and quiets my brain. It washes off the shame.

Do you have any cherished childhood memories?

Cherished? Not a word I’d ever use in the same sentence as “childhood.” I ran away from my fucked-up family (sorry, journalists always have potty mouths) as soon as I’d graduated from high school, when I was just seventeen. I rarely visit my hometown of Half Moon Bay. It can suffocate me worse than a collapsing wave. Craig helped me make my escape to college…at the time, Shane was already self-medicating, escaping in another way.

What do you do now?

Although I’m a business journalist with a well-respected newspaper I like to tell people I’m a professional gossip. Really, what do I do? I get people to tell me things they’re not supposed to say and I’m not supposed to know. If I ask the right question, the person I’m interviewing squirms. That tells me I’m on the right track. I’m a road warrior; I travel frequently for work. It’s a great way to avoid having a real life, one with relationships and commitments. I don’t have pets; hell, I have a hard time keeping house plants alive.

Continue reading “Dana McCarren (of The Hook, by Kathleen Doler)”


Aurelia Mitela (of Aurelia by Alison Morton)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman from Roma Nova, the sole remnant of the Roman Empire to survive into the 20th century.

A former Praetorian, she is sent to investigate who is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood. Mysterious smugglers, lethal traps, gang bosses, and back-stabbing countrymen are only the beginning.

She is here to tell us about her thrilling adventures.

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

Roma Nova? It’s in my blood and bones. Mountains, a big river, alpine pastures, vines, olives and grain fields, the smell of pines, the blue skies and the snowfields to the north, towards New Austria and west to the Italian Confederation. Then there’s Roma Nova city, the ‘urbs’. Gods, it’s beautiful; marble forum, statues, temples – our new Rome. Well, (grins) new since AD 395! Oh, and for my first adventure, it’s the late 1960s.

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

I loved my first gladius. Our estate carpenter out at Castra Lucilla made it for me. She polished and polished the oak until it almost shone like metal. Maybe that’s why I was so keen to become a soldier. I spent a lot of time at the farm as a youngster as my mother was busy as senator and the imperatrix’s advisor as well as running her businesses. I swam in the lake, rode, helped with the lambing and grape picking as long as I finished my schoolwork, and sometimes not. Continue reading “Aurelia Mitela (of Aurelia by Alison Morton)”


Dydre Rowyn (of War Merchant by Patrick Parker)


Dear readers, tonight with me on the interview couch is a woman trying to escape from the black-market arms trade.

Her risky plan went wrong, and she found her – and her son’s – life in danger from her former boss, his mercenaries, a double-crossing businessman, terrorists, the FBI, and a man from the Defense Department.

She is here to tell us about her suspenseful adventures in a world of corrupt politics, a ruthless greedy opportunist, terrorists, and a pawn with deadly skills.

Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.

I lived in Hanau, Germany until I was about thirteen when my parents were killed in a car wreck. I was put in a foster home, and about a year later, I ran away. I couldn’t make the adjustment, too young I guess.

I met Johanna Zsigmond in a Frankfurt park not long after I ran away, and she hired me as a live-in domestic and assistant to her. We got along great. Sometimes we’d talk for hours. She convinced me to go back to school and on to Cambridge. She treated me as if I was her daughter and I loved her dearly. I still miss her to this day.

Johanna was such a wonderful person. She was more than a mother to me, she became my best friend. She got me interested in theatre and martial arts, focusing on jujitsu in high school. In my spare time, Johanna taught me the romance languages.

After I moved in with Johanna, I kept quite busy with school and, of course, she kept me busy with language lessons. I liked Frankfurt better than Hanau. There was so much to do in Frankfurt and I loved the markets and festivals. Johanna stressed the arts and we were always going to plays, concerts, and museums.

Any cherished memories?

I miss Johanna. She didn’t have any children of her own and I filled that void. Johanna died of cancer during my junior year at Cambridge. I was devastated and took the rest of the year off. I returned to school the following year as that is what Johanna would have wanted.

I became pregnant during my senior year at Cambridge and was to be married just before graduation. Michael Barron, an army captain, was a very handsome man and a wonderful person. He would be any woman’s dream. Unfortunately, he was killed in Bosnia a week before the wedding.

David, my son, looks just like Michael. David is my world now. Continue reading “Dydre Rowyn (of War Merchant by Patrick Parker)”


Detective Lisa Paco (of Vital Spark by Leah Devlin)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young millennial homicide detective.

While it may seem that this small-town, hashtag-speaking, police offer is too young for it, she had the (mis-)fortune of dealing with some scary serial killers.

She is here to tell about what is now known as the Chesapeake Tugboat Murders.



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

The name’s Paco.  Sergeant Lisa Paco.  I’m a detective on the River Glen Police Department, the best PD in the best village in America.   Yeah, yeah, I know I look like a sixteen-year-old, but here, if you don’t believe me, check my police ID.  See, right there.  My DOB.  I’m almost thirty.  I was born and raised here in River Glen on the Chesapeake Bay … on the Maryland part of the bay, not the Virginia part.  So we don’t have those stinging sea nettles like the Virginians in the southern bay.  And if some joker tells you that Virginia blue crabs taste better than Maryland crabs, well, he’s just plain delusional.  Okay, back to River Glen.  We have a population 89.  We have a psychic, Cannabis farmers, burnouts from the 60s, moon-shiners, artists, crabbers, and fishermen … all the usual suspects.  Oh, we also have pyrates.  Yeah, yeah, you’re laughing like you don’t believe me.  But I promise, it’s true.  We have pyrates.  Really!  Real-life modern pyrates.  Yep, River Glen was founded by pyrates from the pyrate ship Raven.  Every summer we have the annual pyrate festival, Giles Blood-hand Day.  It commemorates Giles Hale’s slaughter of the deranged Whitby family who stole gold from the village treasury in 1694.  He’s a local hero for returning the treasure.  The festival’s wilder than a Jimmy Buffett- or Grateful Dead concert.  It’s crazier than Burning Man.

So here’s how we got pyrates.  In the late 1600s the Raven was hiding out in today’s Tampa Bay to avoid a hurricane.  After the storm, a Spanish treasure galleon appeared off the coast.  While the crippled galleon was mending her masts, the Raven attacked.  Guns blazing, the Raven’s crew killed the Spaniards, stole the treasure, and made a runner up the eastern seaboard, but not before abducting women prisoners working on a Virginia tobacco plantation.  The Raven slipped behind colonial defenses at the mouth of the Chesapeake and found a remote river to make repairs.  Her hull was rotten with shipworms; the planks crumbled to the touch.  The pyrates and their ladies were stranded on the upper Chesapeake.  So that’s the origins of the tiny village of River Glen.  But what … I ask you … happened to the Raven’s fathomless treasure? Continue reading “Detective Lisa Paco (of Vital Spark by Leah Devlin)”


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