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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Urban Fantasy

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)”

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Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight we have a mid-week special column, to celebrate the Friday release of the next volume in the Shadows Over Seattle series.

With me is a Gunnery Sergeant from the US Marine Corps — the second character we interview from the series (the first was a lupine – a lycanthrope – which you can meet here).

He is here to tell us about his latest snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory — and the surprising things he ran into during it.


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

I don’t really have many clear memories of the places I grew up in, because we moved around a lot.

My father was deployed all over the states, and sometimes even abroad. That meant relocating everytime he got new orders, and I’ll be honest, I hated it. But he carried so much pride in serving his country that I never questioned why he kept reenlisting at the end of each tour of duty.

The bases all looked alike to me as a kid, with only minor changes, but the stories my father told changed everything. He’d tell me about foreign places and the cultures of their people. Unfortunately there were so many stories he couldn’t tell, because he said there were secrets that should never be told.

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

Because I grew up around soldiers, there were guns around the house, and I begged for one of my own for months. I wanted to be like them so badly, and I’d use sticks in my games when I’d pretend to be one of them.

Sometimes my father would join me in these games, and he finally started to teach me how to handle real guns. He told my mom it was for my safety, and so that I’d learn to respect the danger they represented. Honestly though, I have a feeling he secretly hoped that I’d lose the taste for it after a while.

That never happened.

What do you do now?

I signed up for the Marines Officer Candidate School as soon as I was old enough to do so. It drove my mom crazy for weeks worrying about what would happen to me when I shipped out to Parris Island. She didn’t think I had the strength and willpower to get through boot camp, because I dropped out of college to enlist.

Thankfully, I got through with my brains intact, and a thirst to serve. I finally understood what had driven my father to keep reenlisting.

I’ve been in for just over ten years now, and the tensions in the middle-east have taken us to the edge of another world war. Continue reading “Garfield Feldman (of Wolves In The Desert, by Timothy Bateson)”

Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a PE teacher from a small Midwestern town – or at least, that’s what he pretends to be. His past lies in a different, magical, land.

He is here to tell us about his relationship with Jen, and life between worlds.


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

I was born and raised in the Lamtu Valley region of Kiamada, in a fairly quiet part of the valley.  There are plenty of mountains and rivers to explore.  There weren’t a whole lot of other people living there, but I had my twin sister Kira to annoy…err…talk with.

When I joined the Tayamu, I mostly stayed on Bar Truga, the island home of the Tayamu.  THAT place is amazing!  The island is sentient.  Yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean.  Bar Truga is alive and conscious, and has complete dominion over itself.  It can do whatever it likes, even change the weather patterns anywhere on the island.  It knows what we need or want, often before even we ourselves know.  I look forward to going back there, especially when Elowyn sees it for the first time.  Knowing how curious she is, I suspect she will spend a lot of time exploring the island.

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

I didn’t really have any favorite toys, no.  My powers manifested at a fairly young age, so I spent a lot of time playing with Nature.  Most Tayamu get their powers a few years after puberty starts, but I got mine when I was five or six.  I spent a lot of time teaching myself what to do and how to use them, all without even knowing what I was.  If I wasn’t playing with Nature itself, I was out exploring the surrounding area.

As for cherished memories, I would say the visits from my Uncle Orlaf and Aunt Cara.  Cara was my mother’s sister, and the inspiration for my twin sister’s name.  Whenever they’d come visit, they would arrive early enough for Uncle Orlaf to bake muffins.  He used an old family recipe of his, and those things were absolutely delicious!  The smell always woke us up, and we knew it meant our aunt and uncle were there to visit.

What are you going to be doing in the immediate future?

At the moment, I’m focused on helping Jen recover her lost memories.  We need her to remember who she is.  I’m also going to rejoin the Tayamu and try to help free our land from that despotic tyrant.  After a very long time, the Uncrowned Queen of Kiamada has returned home.  The Tayamu have to spread the word, and make sure she is ready and willing to claim her rightful place.  I also have to train Elowyn in the use of her powers.  She’s already stronger than she should be, doing things she shouldn’t be able to yet. Continue reading “Alistair Doyle (of The Lost Tayamu, by Ben Cass)”

Alerich Ashimar (of Ties of Blood and Bone, by A.E. Lowan)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a wizard, a man with the soul of a poet and the heart of a demon.

His family is bound to a demon in a geas of murder and mayhem, or risks losing his father. He is here to tell us about his conflicted love life, his estranged relationships, and about deals one might strike with a demon.


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

I grew up at Ashimar House just outside of Guildford in Surrey in the U.K.. Ashimar House is a respectable old pile, with a great library, but it’s drafty, and Ashimars have been continuously replacing the roofs for centuries. At 13, I boarded at Eton College in Hertfordshire, just west of London. I loved everything about Eton—the sporting fields, rowing, and of course beaks who taught me my mind was more important than my money.

What was your favorite pastime as a child?

My favorite thing about Ashimar House was its library. My favorite days were the ones I could spend with a book in front of the fire. My father was an exacting man, and often found fault with a lot of what I did, but never with my love of books. Stories or knowledge, I love them both.

What have you been up to since University?

I have been living a life of parties, women, and fast cars. My mates and I have become quite the fixtures at wizard parties all over Europe. We spend our time in every part of Europe except home. My father has plans for me to take up the family business, and eventually I’ll have to, but I’ve been steering clear of Ashimar House and its secrets for as long as I can. Continue reading “Alerich Ashimar (of Ties of Blood and Bone, by A.E. Lowan)”

Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman, with a unique heritage.

With two dads and a year she was locked up in a basement and forced to practice her music, she has a very intriguing tale to tell.


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

Hey, I’m Cora, I’m nineteen and excellent. I’m from a little, angry, wet island called Wilson’s Well. It never stops raining and everything is grey. It’s a population of workmen, cafes and pubs. We’re all just getting by.

Living there is miserable for people who aren’t – well – umbrella salesfolk, I guess.

That seems harsh; the Well isn’t so bad. It’s just not great.

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

Favourite toys? I don’t think so. I was a loud kid with some hyperactivity issues. I never settled down with toys. I was doomed to be a musician. Way before I can remember, I pulled a whole load of pots and pans out of a cupboard and hit them as hard as I could until my dad came to shut me up. He’s since told me how brutally hungover he was that day and that he ‘felt like chucking me out the window.’ I heard that story so much growing up it must’ve subconsciously forced me into drums. Parents fuck you up.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Oh man. Right. You ready? I got black-out drunk one night – which was my brand at the time – and woke up in a basement with four other incredible musicians. With me? Cool. So, there was this ridiculous, eight-foot-tall cyborg who kept us there under orders from a lunatic in tartan trousers who needed the best musicians in Wilson’s Well to perform at his “Gala” where he planned to blow everything up. This guy is an A-grade prick, just FYI. His name is Judge Rabbit. Elsewhere, Judge Rabbit, who is responsible for electing the honest-to-God GRIM REAPER for our island, fucks up and brings my real dad – who I didn’t know about – back from the dead to do the job. He gets help from my step-dad, who I thought was my real dad, and they go on an adventure to rescue me. But they’re both incredibly useless men and the crap they go through to get anywhere near me is straight-up bananas.

So, yeah. That’s my most recent adventure. Continue reading “Cora (of Grim, by Gavin McCallion)”

Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a lupine – a werewolf, one of many breed of shape-shifters – from Seattle. He’s here to set some things straight, what is true and what is merely myth in our understanding of lycanthropy.


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

Seattle’s an amazing city, but then most people would say that I’m biased in my opinion. Because I lost both of my parents before I as even in my teens I grew up on the streets, crashing with friends, or occasionally fellow lupines. Sure, the streets can be a tough place to grow up, so I ran with one of the gangs, and lived off petty crime and handouts.

Now, you may think I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the streets or went hungry a lot, but thanks to my lupine heritage that didn’t happen often. I could head out to the hunting grounds on Cougar Mountain, and hunt down a rabbit or two and spend the night in wolf form.

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

My father left after I started showing signs of having inherited my mother’s lupine abilities. Somehow, she’d kept this side of her life from him even after they married, and she ended up having to raise me on her own. It was a tough time, because she sank into the bottle, blaming herself for my father leaving and she was in and out of jobs for a long time.

I had to learn to hide my shifting abilities, as well as hunt in wolf form just so the two of us could eat. But I’ll never forget those lessons, or the day I lost my mother while we were hunting.

What do you do now?

I miss those simpler days. Running with the gangs didn’t leave me much time for school, and I barely graduated. For someone like me it was hard getting a job or keeping it. I’ve never dealt well with authority, and I’ve had more than my share of run-ins with the police. Somehow, I can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and I know that’s partly how I ended up in my current predicament.

In the space of one night I went from having a great woman in my life, to a drunken brawl which somehow resulted in me being blackmailed into something I should never have agreed to. I couldn’t face being trapped in a cell for what happened, so I made a devil’s bargain and agreed to join a taskforce that investigates and hunts the criminal elements in the supernatural community. Continue reading “Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)”

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)”

Anastasia Savoy, aka Tazia (of the Written by Birds trilogy, by S M Henley)

Dear readers, tonight with me is half-demon, Tazia of Savoy.

After a century and a half of servitude, she’s finally managed to shake off her shackles and wants to celebrate her freedom. But a psycho angel has interrupted her plans, and instead of a life of tequila on the beach, she’s been forced into an alliance to save the demon who was her jailer.

With a father in Hell, a dead lover, and a demon gangster on her tail, Tazia is here to tell us of her complicated life.


Erm, Tazia, tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Seriously? It was a hot stinking cesspit of a place where the melted fat of the dead ran down the walls and mixed on the floor with the blood of my father’s victims. Surprise! It was actually hell–in Hell. I was brought up in the Cells of Permanent Incarceration until I was thirteen years old when my father sealed up my soul with magical tattoos to cut me off from my humanity. The Red River flowed less than half a mile from my door. Most of the times I was chained to the wall. Fun times! Just cos I’m a half-demon doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have liked a comfy chair or clean clothes occasionally. Things are better now. I have my own place in Turin. And Netflix. I like Netflix–Billy hacked it for me. Though, that Supernatural show makes me laugh my arse off. Salt? Really? Ha!

Not sure I should ask this… Did you have any favourite toys as a child? I’m so sorry, I’m just reading what’s here…

My first toy was my knife. I love my knife. Got it when I was eight. It’s a Bowie. Come closer, I’ll show it to you. Continue reading “Anastasia Savoy, aka Tazia (of the Written by Birds trilogy, by S M Henley)”

Denman Malkuth (of Dance of the Butterfly, by Scott Carruba)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man from an old European family. He swears that he is protecting humanity from a great threat, but is refusing to divulge details – for our protection, it seems.

So secretive, in fact, that we believe we have an antagonist on our hands.

He is here to tell us of his competitive and clandestine family.


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

I grew up in a small town in Germany, one you’ve likely never heard of. It was very nice, privileged. It is a town that is fairly ensconced by my family.  It’s not exactly an incubation, but we do need more than the usual amount of privacy.  Of course, as you may imagine, we wanted for nothing. Do not mistake this with being spoiled.  We are far from that. Education and training become vitally important at a very young age, very young.

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

I did, but I was thankfully disavailed of such.  Those can be a weakness.  My family is somewhat competitive, and if you want to have a decent place in it, then you must be strong. It’s all for the greater good. I have an enormous amount of cherished memories, and I will keep those so by not sharing them.

What do you do now?

Oh, I do many things.  My most ‘formal’ work, as it were, is as a psychiatrist, consultant, and professor.  As you may note from this, I am interested in protecting and furthering humankind.  We really are a fragile, threatened species, and it will take strength to protect us. Continue reading “Denman Malkuth (of Dance of the Butterfly, by Scott Carruba)”

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