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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Urban Fantasy

Luna (of Pink, Not Fanged, by Paige Etheridge)

Dear readers, tonight we interview a young woman who found herself at the clashing point of science and the supernatural. She is here to talk about anxiety, the dangers of the Amazon river, and were-dolphins.


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

I lived in Narragansett,  Rhode Island until I was eighteen. A beach town known as Gansett by locals. Being in New England, it’s cold much of the year. Despite this I walked along the beach all the time, whether it was returning home from school or just to wander while looking at the ocean. Narragansett is also known for it’s Witch’s Altar and Druid’s Chair. Joseph Peace Hazard built the Druid styled burial site for his family. Even though it’s located in a rich and considerably safe neighborhood, I was always too scared to go there. It wasn’t just because of my conflicts over the paranormal at the time. I was terrified I’d run into classmates doing crazy stuff there. It’s the perfect place to have sent my anxiety through the roof. I hated parties and drugs. Add illegal trespassing and satanic rituals? I’m staying as far away as possible. 

So do you believe in ghosts, spirits, the paranormal?

I tried not to for a long time. It scared me too much and anything which spiked my anxiety was something I always ran away from. The science I long studied didn’t give such things much value. Yet this didn’t comfort me. Somehow I knew science didn’t have the real answers for any of this. Answers about the mysterious  woman and Amazon River Dolphins I dreamed about. Answers about the power from the Dolphin tooth I found. Spending years being haunted by the ghost of a Weredolphin and finally having the paranormal literally staring you in the face changed that. I didn’t start to believe, I started to know it’s real.

Do you know how you got your name?

I don’t actually. Yet for years of my life, I very much felt like the moon. Watching others from afar. Living in my own space far from others. Not known well by most. Most of the time people passed me without a thought. Occasionally I would be stared at and it would terrify me. I found comfort being isolated and alone. But overtime, I learned to illuminate through my own light. 

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

There were glow in the dark stars on my ceiling I loved looking at when I couldn’t go outside to look at the real stars. I didn’t have things I was attached to as a child. I loved stargazing. It’s one of the few things which calmed me as a kid. I still take much comfort in it now, even if the constellations visible to me have changed. I don’t remember my family much. We were all ghosts to each other. Barley seeing or interacting with one another. 

Do you have thoughts on Astrology/Astronomy? 

Both are of equal value to me now that I know what I know. But there is still much I need to learn about both. Looking to the stars teaches you a lot, but not everything. There is still much I need to do in order to better understand the Cosmos. But there are also things I won’t understand even in my new life. Yet I can still gaze in awe. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I was in combat training with a Werejaguar. The first Jaguar I ever encountered nearly killed me. Training with a Werejaguar, who can take on both Jaguar and Humanoid form, has given me the advantages I need to survive in the wilderness. I have scars to prove it and I’m proud of them. 

Continue reading “Luna (of Pink, Not Fanged, by Paige Etheridge)”

Alexander Southerland (of A Troll Walks into a Bar, by Douglas Lumsden)

Dear readers, tonight we conduct our interview in a bar, pretending to be the bartender for a private investigator and summoner of elementals.

He’s here to tell us about trolls and shape-shifters, witches and femmes fatales, and murder investigations that take him from dangerous dark alleys to the dazzling lights of downtown Yerba City.


What’ll it be, buddy?

Whiskey. Neat. Leave the bottle.

Here you go.

Thanks. Slow night?

It’s early. It’ll get busy later.

Got time to grab a glass and join me for a drink? Today’s my thirtieth birthday, and I’m in the mood for a party.

Thanks, I believe I will. Here’s mud in your eye! …. I’ve seen you in here before. You’re a private dick, right?

That’s me. Alexander Southerland, P.I. Call me Alex.

Sounds like an interesting racket, Alex.  Is that something you always wanted to do?

What’s with all the fuckin’ curiosity, pal?

Hey, it’s a party, remember? And you’re the guest of honor. I’m just being sociable.

Yeah, yeah. Okay, pour me another glass and I’ll tell you my life story. This shit is pretty good. Hits the spot. Anyway, to answer your question, no, being a P.I. isn’t something I ever imagined I’d be doing back when I was a kid. I grew up in a working class neighborhood, the kind of place you spend your life trying to get away from. My old man was a factory worker. When he worked at all, that is. My mother stayed home and did her best to keep me out of trouble. Turns out that I had a special talent. Since before I can remember I’ve been able to summon and command air elementals. Nothing big. No hurricanes or tornadoes or anything like that. Just little funnels of air. I used them to find out things I wasn’t supposed to know about. Still do. I also used them to annoy all the other neighborhood kids. That led to a lot of fights. I liked fighting. I got to be really good at it. Anyway, I was an only child, and as far as my parents were concerned, I was one child too many. I guess I was quite a handful. 

Sounds like a rough childhood.

Not really. I got nothing to whine about. My parents weren’t going to win any prizes, but they weren’t any worse than most. The only thing my old man ever taught me was that after the fourth drink they all taste pretty much the same. And the only good advice I ever got from my mother was to stay away from my old man after he’d had that fourth drink. 

Seems like good advice. 

Yeah. I didn’t always take it, though. When my old man was soused he used to beat me silly! But I kept getting bigger, and one day I ended up bouncing him off the walls. After that he stopped bothering with me. Stopped talking to me, too. That was fine. I learned to get by on my own.

What happened after that?

I quit school and joined the army. Gave three years of my life to the state of Tolanica. All hail Lord Ketz-Alkwat! And so on and so forth. I did some time up-country in the Borderland, mixing it up with the Qusco insurgents. 

That would have been, what, about ten years ago?

Thereabouts.

What unit were you in?

The 27th.

I was in the 33rd about the same time. I heard about this wild-ass sergeant with the 27th named Southerland. They say he was a stone-cold killer, but you could count on him when the pressure was on.

You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Those stories tend to take on a life of their own. Anyway, after spending the better part of two years fighting for the cause, I was rotated into the military police, and a year later I was discharged and sent home. Problem was, I didn’t really have a home.

So how did you become a P.I.?

I bummed around a little, and then I went to see the grandmother of a buddy of mine who didn’t make it out of the Borderland. She was a well-heeled old dame named Mrs. Colby, and she owns a lot of commercial rental property, including some units here in Yerba City. Anyway, she had a rental app from a joe that she had a funny feeling about, and she asked me if I would do a little snooping. I dug around a bit and found out that the guy was a were-rat. Mrs. Colby was impressed with my work, and she not only helped me set up a business, but she rented me an office with some living quarters on the second floor. I’ve been working as an investigator ever since.

A were-rat?  Wow! Those guys give me the creeps! They say that they’re all a little nuts!

Yeah, that’s mostly true. But this guy had trained himself to put a lid on his baser instincts. Turns out he’s a pretty fun fellow. Mrs. Colby went ahead and rented him some commercial space and he turned it into a nice business. I invited him to lunch one day and we’ve been friends ever since. He helps me out sometimes. Rats can go pretty much anywhere, and they see and hear everything. And he’s mostly stable, although he’s hinted at some dark shit in his past that I’m probably better off not knowing about. 

Your racket must be exciting.

It can be. It’s usually fairly routine, and the cash flow is far from steady. I do a lot of background checks, and I find missing people and missing items. I do a lot of investigative work for attorneys and occasionally for big corporations. Some of the cases can get a little intense. Like this one about a year ago when a gorgeous doll asked me to find her little sister.

What happened?

There were three problems with that case. First, the client was trying to use me for her own purposes. I couldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. The dame didn’t even give me her real name! Second, some extremely corrupt sons of bitches in the Yerba City Police Department didn’t want me anywhere near the case. This one detective–a seven-foot tall, five-hundred pound troll–tried to get me to lay off it. I probably should have listened, but I didn’t like the way he asked. So I stuck my nose in, and the troll decided to get physical. Actually, he fucked me up pretty good!

A troll? You’re lucky you’re still breathing!

It could have been worse. But, yeah, he rearranged my face a little and threatened to rip out my eye with an icepick. But I’m better off today than he is. I still have nightmares about that troll, though.

You said that there was a third problem with that case?

That’s right. The third problem was that my client was an adaro.

One of those water nymphs from the Nihhonese Ocean?

Yeah, the ones that the government herds into the refugee settlement in the northern part of the city. You probably know that female adaros are extremely attractive to men. It’s part of their evolution, something that stems from the fact that female adaros outnumber the males by about ten to one. And we’re not just talking about physical attributes. They emit powerful pheromones that make lugs like you and me want to get down on our knees and beg for table scraps. It wasn’t easy being in the same room with my client. It was hard not to believe her lies. It’s a good thing that I’ve got a lot of willpower. Or maybe I’m just fuckin’ stubborn. In the end, I guess it amounts to the same thing. I still dream about her, too.

How’d that case go?

It was a clusterfuck from beginning to end. I got myself mixed up in a turf war between two drug-running street gangs up in Placid Point. I met my client’s charming but homicidal sister, and I somehow got my hands on a mysterious locked box that a lot of powerful people wanted. The mayor’s own private fixer threatened to frame me for murder if I didn’t sell the box to him. And, of course, I was tortured by a troll. 

What was in the box?

I’m not at liberty to say, and you don’t want to know. Get me?

Gotcha! So what can you tell me about your most recent case? I hear that you were working for the Barbary Coast Bruja.

You hear a lot of things.

I’m a bartender. It comes with the job.

Yeah, I was hired by Madame Cuapa herself, the most powerful witch in western Tolanica. She told me that she had murdered a man, but that he wasn’t dead. 

Come again?

I know. It’s complicated. Anyway, someone had managed to put a compulsion spell on the witch and turn her into a deadly weapon. And when I say deadly, I mean lethal enough to end all life on this planet! That was the only case in which my own client tried to kill me.

The witch tried to kill you?

Twice. The first time, I wound up shooting her in the chest. It didn’t bother her all that much, though. The second time was really weird. I remember following a giant shadowy dog with no eyes right up to the gates of the Azteca realm of the dead. It was a near thing! In fact, lately I’ve been wondering if maybe I actually died. In any case, Madame Cuapa brought me back.

She brought you back? Didn’t you say that she was the one who tried to kill you?

It’s complicated. But that wasn’t even the scariest thing that happened to me on that case. That scariest thing was when another witch tried to sacrifice me to a giant hummingbird.

A…. Sorry, did you say hummingbird?

Well, some kind of spirit in the shape of a winged man with a bright green hummingbird’s head complete with a three-foot beak that was sharp as a spear. Believe me, it was no joke! 

I guess not. Hey, do you want me to break open another bottle? This seems like a lonely way to spend your birthday. 

Sure, let’s drink up. Don’t worry about me. It’s not that I don’t have friends. It’s just that I’m not in the mood for them tonight. Besides, they’re busy with their own shit. Take Lubank, for example. He and I get along fine, but he’s a real pain in the ass. He’s a buck-toothed gnome with the world’s most obvious hairpiece. He’s my lawyer and I do a lot of investigative work for him. Mostly to dig up dirt for his blackmail files. In return, he comes to my rescue when the cops drag me to their downtown clubhouse and cuff me to the iron tables in their sweatboxes. For my money, Lubank is the most corrupt attorney in the city. But his human wife, Gracie, is a treat! She’s an outrageous flirt who will have you howling at the moon if you’re not careful.

Did you and she ever….

Don’t be ridiculous. She may talk a big game, but she’s devoted to her husband. I don’t know what she sees in the slimy rat, but he’s nuts about her, too. They’re an odd couple, but they make it work. 

They sound like a unique pair. Any other women in your life?

Not in the way you’re suggesting. In my last case I became friends with a homicide detective named Laurel Kalama. And before you ask, she’s also happily married. But she proved herself to be a real standup partner when the shit came down. She’s seen it all and isn’t fazed by any of it. She’s rock solid and good with a gat. Too bad she doesn’t have a sister.

Sounds like all the dames you know are married.

Well, there was this one doll I ran into in the bruja case. Cindy Shipper. Looks like an angel, but she’s hard as nails. My kind of sweetheart. The heat between us was real, and if circumstances had been different we might have had some fun fanning those flames. But she may have been involved in the murder of her husband and her stepson. That kind of put a damper on things. Still, you never know.

You sure run into some interesting people. 

Yeah, I do. I haven’t even mentioned the two rock-addicted were-snakes. I hope they’re still alive, but I wouldn’t want to go all in with that hand. And then there’s Cody and his pet manticore. 

Manticore?

Think two-hundred pound flying jungle cat with huge bat wings and a scorpion’s tail. He and Cody have this strange mental link. You’d know Cody if you saw him. Six five, solid muscle. Likes to dress in skin-tight leather with purple trim. He’s training to be a butler. 

Well, it’s been interesting, but I need to get ready for the evening crowd. Are you working on anything currently?

Not yet, but do you see that troll back over there in the corner booth? The one in the suit that would cost you three-month’s salary and tips? He’s been following me all day. I suspect that he’ll follow me when I leave. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I have a hunch it might have something to do with the supposed suicide of that good-looking nightclub torcher, the one who called herself Zyanya. The scuttlebutt is that the canary had something goin’ on with our own Mayor Teague. Looks like I might have to miss out on poker night with the boys. 

Best of luck to you, buddy.

Thanks, pal. Finish off the bottle. You’re a right gee in my book.


Dr. Douglas Lumsden is a former history professor and private school teacher. He lives in Monterey, California, with his wife, Rita, and his cat, Cinderella.

You can fix Alex Southerland on the pages of his first case A Troll Walks into a Bar, and his next case, A Witch Steps into My Office.

Join us next week to hear from a tattoo artist from a dystopian, cybernetic near-future. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Kit Melbourne (of her eponymous series, by Kater Cheek)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman, dragged from her job in a coffee shop into a world of witches and vampires, faeries and enchanted gems. She is here to tell us about her adventures.


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

I grew up in shitty mildewed apartments in New Jersey, several different cities, always in the cheap area of town. My childhood memories are full of yelling and fighting, at first with my mom and dad and then later with my mom and stepdads. I left as soon as I graduated high school and never looked back. The only positive memories I have were of my brother, and of the dojo. Now I live in Seabingen, a medium-sized city in the far Northwestern corner of the U.S.

What do you do now?

I’m the Dayrunner to the Vampire Guild Leader. It’s like an executive assistant, but with a lot more violence and magic. For a long time I was trying to make ends meet by selling the trees and floral arrangements I made, in addition to working at my brother’s coffee shop, but the Vampire Guild pays real money and has good benefits. That will come in handy if I get shot or break my arm again.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So much has changed since I inherited the jewel from my uncle Fred! Who knew that something as simple as being able to see magic would change my life that much? But it’s saved my life a few times. Learning how to make myself invisible has also saved my life. And being able to make stakes that kill vampire—it’s not supposed to even be possible. If that faerie hadn’t taught me how to do it, I’d probably be dead by now. I think I can credit some of that to the blade that Yseulta gave me.

Continue reading “Kit Melbourne (of her eponymous series, by Kater Cheek)”

Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman who speaks to the dead and dates gods out of slavic myths. She’s here to tell us about her unique gifts, about saving the world, and about tea.


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. It’s pretty hard for zines on this side of the Veil to get interviews. You weren’t born in Ljubljana. Where are you from originally and do you go home often?

It was the accent that gave it away wasn’t it? I’ve never been able to banish that little bit of Southern twang. I grew up in Chattanooga in Tennessee in the American South. Chattanooga isn’t a bad place to be from but it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to stay. I took the first opportunity to leave that was presented and eventually I wound up in Slovenia, in Ljubljana. I can’t really imagine being anywhere else now. Chattanooga isn’t really home anymore, so I don’t visit very often if I can help it. Some ghosts are best left to rest.

Any cherished memories from home?

(Laughs softly) Does leaving count? Aside from that, there’s a lot to be said for growing up next to a river. I’ve always felt a connection to water wherever I go. I think that’s what made me stay in Ljubljana, but I didn’t know until much later that you could step into the same river twice. And that they would both share the same snarky river god.

What do you do now?

Well, when I’m not slinging tea and making fancy sandwiches at the punk rock teahouse I own with my two closest friends, I talk to and for the local dead folk. Well, that and try to keep a couple steps ahead of my ex and his grand plans. Never underestimate the trickery of your average ancient dark deity and, trust me, don’t ever date one and definitely don’t have a kid with them.

You said you talk to and for dead people? You did say dead people right?

 It isn’t a very common “gift,” being a Voice of the Dead. The people who like to keep track of those of us who live behind the Veil thought my mother and my aunt were the last ones as all the other lines of Voices had died out. Then—surprise—it didn’t skip me after all. There’s nothing quite like finding out you’re a freaking “dead whisperer” way past your brooding Chosen One sell-by date. It isn’t like a parlor trick or anything though, it’s a job. Or more accurately, a duty.

Continue reading “Jo Wiley (of the Voices of the Dead series, by Victoria Raschke)”

Runa (of Sovereign, by Anne Schlea)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a wayward valkyrie with a habit for causing trouble. She’s here to tell us about her relationship with a vampire, and the constant internal struggles between their clans and external dark threats.


Valkyrie News: Introducing the new High Queen of the Valkyrie, Runa. Tell us a little about yourself.

Runa. Seriously, this High Queen stuff is going to get irritating. I died because my idiot brother married a woman who had way more ambition than he did; I was raised from the dead by Freyja; I wandered around causing general trouble and mischief for a while; met this totally hot vampire name Kristoff and found out to keep him I had to do this battle thing with my sisters. Somehow, I accidentally ended up Queen after that.

Tell us about your world

I live in the Retribution Universe, and while I’m the coolest part of the second book, Contrition, Sovereign is really my story. I live in Atlanta, Georgia for the most part with a lot of vampires, a few Sirens, and these nasty guys called nosferatu. It’s not the greatest city, but it has an airport. Paris and New York aren’t that far away.

There are a lot of strong women in your world. Are you friends or frenemies?

Antonia’s okay. She’s pretty soft and not really much fun at all. She’s rather hang out at home watching The Hallmark Channel than go out and do something fun. Stephanie, now that’s someone you can hang out with. She likes to shoot, she does magic, she’s got great sense of style…too bad about that baby thing. But, hey, we’re all immortal. Sooner or later she’s have the Witch-in-Training and we can be back to the good times again.

Continue reading “Runa (of Sovereign, by Anne Schlea)”

Hemlock Connal and Morgan Burns (of Another Dead Intern, by Joel Spriggs)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a preternatural investigator (a private investigator specialising in the supernatural), and her latest intern.


Hemlock: Hi, I’m Hemlock Connal, Preternatural Investigator.

Morgan: I’m Morgan Burns, Professional Intern.

Hemlock: We first work together in Another Dead Intern, hopefully no spoilers, but also working together in a short Holiday ditty called Little Drummer Boy.

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

Hemlock: My mother is Queen Fand, of the Sidhe Shadow Court. So I grew up in the castle, training with the court. That is up until I was thirteen, when I played a trick on an Earl of the Summer Court at a party. I put an enchantment on him to make him fall in love with a pine tree. It was funny at first, until he started cramming pine cones up his rectum. They said he got six, but I counted seven!

Anyway, rather than have me executed, the Queen had mercy and I was banished for 13 years, stripped of most powers, and lost my beautiful voice. They basically made sure I was cursed to sound like I’d been gargling acid and broken glass for a lifetime. After that, I lived with dad. Old Man Connal was the private investigator, but he was an independent practitioner of the magical arts, so he dealt with investigations in the magical community. When he died a year or so ago, I took over the family business.

Morgan:  I grew up in an Indiana town, had a good lookin’ mama who never was around. I but I grew up tall, and I grew up right, with them Indiana Girls on them Indiana Nights

Hemlock: Damnit Burns, that’s the lyrics to Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty.

Morgan: … it’s mostly accurate.

Hemlock: Fair enough.

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

Hemlock: I had a Curious George doll. Got it from my dad one time when I visited him before I got banished. I kept it with me after, which seemed dumb, but it was a comfort thing. Unfortunately, I had it with me when dad dragged me along on a job. A monastery was having an issue with a yokai that followed some new monks over from Japan. One thing led to another, and he had to trap the spirit in the Curious George doll. I still have it, but now it has a vengeful spirit bound to it. He does help with tasting blood for quick analysis when I need random facts about something.

Morgan: My dad didn’t believe in furthering the capitalist ideals of major toy corporations. So, I had to make the toys I had in his woodshop. I wasn’t really good at making action figures or most things like that, but I did have a knack for furniture. Honestly, the thing I loved most was this one old fashioned wood plane he had in the shop. That thing could take a see through layer of wood off the surface, oh so smooth.

Hemlock: Burns?

Morgan: Yeah?

Hemlock: You are a complete and utter dork.

What do you do now?

Hemlock: We are Preternatural Investigators. Well, I am, Burns is just an intern.

Morgan: C’mon, I’m a bit better than that.

Hemlock: That doesn’t mean we go around killing vampires for people or looking for ghosts in resold haunted houses. It just means we do private investigations for the preternatural community. Which means doing a lot of the same stuff a PI would do, a lot of cheating spouse cases, insurance fraud, white collar crime discovery, that sort of stuff. Just, with, y’know, vampires, witches, warlocks, mages, werewolves, sometimes the Sidhe, and other various species and members of the preternatural community of Boston.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Hemlock: There were stolen memories that led us to the murders, the murders led us to the drugs, and more drugs led us to the nightmares.

Morgan: Ah, don’t forget, it was me taking more drugs that led us to the nightmares.

Hemlock: Semantics, don’t try to be a glory hog, Burns.

Continue reading “Hemlock Connal and Morgan Burns (of Another Dead Intern, by Joel Spriggs)”

Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a gifted martial artist, a non-human, shape-shifting Kin who fights the supernatural elements in our world.


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

Well, not to be evasive, but a lady should never discuss her age. And while I’m really no lady, I’ve been around for more than a few normal human lifespans, me not being human and all. Well, not all human, anyway. So where I grew up is hard to describe. It was rural in a way nowhere really is any more, on the west coast of Scotland. My childhood was one of pastoral bliss, really, with my mother. I never knew my father, but if I ever find him, I plan to kill him. My early years were spent crofting, living with the land, and I had no idea of the greater world out there. I heard talk of the English and how they weren’t our friends, but I was too young to really understand. Too young to care, I suppose. It wasn’t until I hit puberty that what I am became apparent and then my mother sought help. We ended up in London and that’s when Joseph found us, and explained what the Kin are. What I was. In truth, that’s the point at which I really grew up.

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

I never had much as a child, we were dirt poor. But I did have a carved wooden cat and I think that maybe I was so drawn to that toy because of my inner nature. I didn’t know it yet. But every Kin has a preferred shape. Mine turned out to be feline, a kind of panther is the best way to describe what I shift into, and I think somewhere deep inside I knew that. I’ve always had an affinity for cats. There was an old tabby at the croft and when I was only about 5 or 6 years old she had a litter right under the hay in one corner of a small barn. I didn’t tell anyone, just protected her, and watched those kittens grow. So very long ago, but I still miss that cranky old tabby like a lost limb. Not counting my mother, she was the first thing I ever loved. When Albert, a crofter across the valley, heard about my love of cats, he carved me that wooden one and I treasured it, made it smooth and shiny with handling.

Do you still have it?

I do, but I’ll never tell another soul where it is. Actually, that’s not true. Alex knows where it is, because he saw it when I moved down to the south coast with him. He asked about it and I told him what I’ve just told you, then I put it safely away. It’s the only thing from my pre-Kin life and it’s special.

What do you do now?

Well, since we signed up with Armour, every day is a new adventure! That’s not entirely true, of course. I mean, I know you’re really interested to hear about the great Alex Caine, right? He’s all stubborn and not especially talkative, which is why you’re talking to me. But I’m afraid that whether it’s about me or Alex, I can’t tell you much. I shouldn’t even admit that we work for Armour, but you already knew so it seems pointless to deny it. But let’s just say the threats that occasionally rise up, the weird and supernatural stuff that regular police and governments can’t handle, are infrequent but all too real. Alex and I are among many who deal with them, as best we can.

Continue reading “Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)”

Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)

Dear readers, tonight we print a psychiatric assessment of the two protagonists from a novel we loved. With their job entailing rescuing the world from other-dimensional horrors on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder they need regular psych evals.


Assessor: What’s your name?

Morag: You don’t know my name?

Assessor: You’ve been through a traumatic incident. We want to assess your mental state. Just give us some details — name, where you’re from — that sort of thing.

Morag: They do this to you, Rod?

Rod: Oh, aye. Every time I go toe to toe with an unspeakable horror from another dimension.

Morag: [huffs] Fine. Morag Murray. I’m from Inverness, Scotland. I moved down to Birmingham at the beginning of this week. A promotion of sorts.

Assessor: Of sorts?

Morag: There were some problems in the Edinburgh office. I pissed off the wrong god. You know how you can sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time?

Assessor: A social faux pas.

Morag: Exactly, except this one involved a shotgun and the face of a demi-god. Both barrels.

Assessor: But you now work in the Birmingham office?

Morag: Correct. Birmingham consular mission to the Venislarn. You’ve got a city full of demons and faceless terrors, all under the surface. We’re just here to keep them happy and tucked out of sight.

Assessor: How has your first week on the job been?

Morag: [considers the state of her clothes] Well, I’m covered head to toe in a thick layer of chocolate. I wasn’t expecting that when I started the week.

Rod: You fight with a god in a chocolate factory, there’s gonna be some chocolate, right?

Morag: I see you survived the night without a delicious chocolate coating.

Rod: One of the first things they taught us in the SAS: how to avoid getting covered in chocolate.

Assessor: Your first week…?

Morag: Let’s see. Is this some sort of test to see if a fight with Zildrohar Cqulu has given me concussion? Er… I pretty much hit the ground running this week. That’s one of my key strengths. I can adapt to new situations quickly.

Rod: You mean you rush in without thinking about things.

Morag: Hey. I’m impulsive. But that can be a good thing.

Rod: Oh, aye. If you hadn’t flung yourself in, we’d never have caught that Kervy Aldo character.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: Right. Kermit Ascot.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal.

Rod: As I said…

Assessor: Who is Kerfin Edsel?

Rod: Curtain Aswad.

Morag: Kerrphwign-Azhal. A god. A little one. A godling.

Rod: A giant vampiric starfish. We chased him halfway across the city. He eats virgins’ hearts and was feeling peckish.

Continue reading “Morag Murray and Rod Campbell (of Oddjobs, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant)”

Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the mother of the protagonist. She is here to tell us about life behind the Iron Curtain, about spies – and about a magical ring inherited from the famed John Dee, which she passed to her daughter.


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

Well, I was born in Prague, Czechia, between the two World Wars. It was exquisitely beautiful and yet terrifying at the same time. We lived in a grand old flat in Novy Svet, an old quarter of Prague up near the Castle. From an early age I was steeped in a culture of mystery. I used to love wandering around the old quarters of the city, especially the Jewish Quarter, and reading about old legends like the Prague Golem. There always seemed to be an air of unseen reality behind everyday life. A sense of the occult at work. It was sinister, in a way, and yet there was also a lot of laughter in our lives. That must be where I got my anarchic sense of humor! And my nose for the occult at work in public institutions.

What would you say were your defining memories as a child?

I seem to remember we read a lot, went to the theatre, and like most families in that part of the world we had a log cabin in the  forest where we spent weekends and holidays. You have to remember hardly anybody went abroad on vacation in those days.

My favorite memories are of sitting by the log fire at our cabin and reading fairy stories with my grandmother. It seemed idyllic, until  the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Then my whole reality changed forever. I guess that’s the origin of my contradictory personality. And why I became a spy. I witnessed Nazism and then Communism in only a few years. The point of all this, for me, as I say, is to understand the occult aspects of power and institutions.

Even in your life today?

Well, on the face of it I’m now just a retired, respectable grandmother, living in England, where my daughter Sylvia was born, and being a granny to my grandson Rusty. He’s quite a character. Takes after me in many ways! My daughter was pretty angry with me for a long time, on account of my spying career, which took me away from England a lot, but of course I couldn’t tell her about it.

Sometimes people tell me I’m just being paranoid, but I think I know better. It’s hard for me now, though, in a way, having to sit on the sidelines and just watch it all playing out, all over again. This time it isn’t a sudden cataclysmic event. It’s a slow creep. I could see my daughter Sylvia being sucked into this false reality of today and I meant to help her by giving her the ring, but in the end it just made her life more complicated.

So what, then, is this ‘wizard ring’? And what’s playing out all over again?

It was a gift from a dear friend of mine called Stanislav, who found it in Prague and I gave it to my daughter Sylvia. I meant it to enhance her consciousness. It was made in the Prague workshop of the famous English alchemist, John Dee, who lived in Czechia for a few years with his family. I completely underestimated its magic powers, as it turned out. But then perhaps I also underestimated my daughter. Parents often do. What’s playing out all over again? The colonization of our minds with propaganda. Misdirection about what’s really going on. The dark arts of money.

Continue reading “Svetlana Smetana (of Wizard Ring, by Clare Blanchard)”

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