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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Witches

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)”

Molly Blue (of A Bagful of Dragon, by Sakina Murdock)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a psychic, battling the forces of darkness. She is crucial to the protagonist’s quest, as she channels messages from the latter’s granddad.


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

Grew up, eh? Bit of a long while since then y’know, why’d you want to know that?

Just a way for your fans to get to know you better, nothing suspicious.

Ooh, I’ve got fans? Why didn’t you say? Grew up on a council estate in Seacroft, Leeds, nothing too exciting. Just your usual school of hard truths and worse prospects. Passed a couple of CSEs, got married, had kids, that kind of thing. Never been out of work. Never. Always worked. Mum’s normal, dad passed away – still see him from time to time – pretty normal upbringing, really.

So what wasn’t ‘normal’? How’d you become a psychic guide fighting dark forces for fun?

Now look here, sunshine, get your facts straight. I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but you can’t just go around saying things like that. For starters, I’m not a guide for anyone. If I made money out of it, you’d call me a medium, but that’s just a posh way of saying I see dead people. All the time. There’s a few here right now. Know him, do you? Flat cap, smell of cigarette smoke? Your uncle? Granddad?

So you’re not a guide?

I just get given a lot of messages for the living. I don’t generally pass ’em on. Folks don’t really want to know. They want to know their loved ones went to heaven, not that they’re hanging around waiting for the next incarnation. He’s saying he hopes you’re happy now. Acrimonious relationship, was it? Flat cap guy?

Continue reading “Molly Blue (of A Bagful of Dragon, by Sakina Murdock)”

Herta Tanner (of Der Reizen, by E. Lynn Cormick)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a liaison with a supernatural community, though on occasion she has been referred to as a vampire pimp. She is here to tell us about her Bavarian inheritance and the unusual job that came with it.


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

I grew up in downtown Toronto, Canada. I lived on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown, having friends in both groups. I learned a lot about the cultures from my friends (and a few swear words).  It was a riot living there. My sister, Rae-Lynne, wasn’t too pleased about it, but I loved the diversity. And better food than any restaurant ever served didn’t hurt. I dined out for Italian and Chinese and my friends came to our house for German food. We had a lot of fun. Christmas time was great. We kids would celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, and Epiphany as well as the Chinese New Year. It was great until just after I started university. My parents were killed by a drunk driver when I was about eighteen.

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

I think my best friend growing up had to be my notebook. Mei-Lin, Hannah and Toni were fun to play with, but it was my notebook that received all of my confidences and secrets. I started writing stories when I was about eleven and never seemed to run out of ideas. I hid the notebook from my younger sister in the only safe place I knew – a huge panda bear that my father won at the CNE for me one year. It was, at the time, bigger than I was. Rae was afraid of Panda. I told her once that it came to life every night and ate bad children. She believed me.

What do you do now?

What I do depends on who you talk to. There are those who are convinced I’m a pimp for vampires but it’s more like a liaison between two different countries. I don’t know as I’d call it a fun job, but it most certainly has its moments. I’m not sure which amuses me more, the naivete of the Tiele or the outrageous stories the Germans tell of Tielen. Those are the same two things that irritate me, too, come to think of it. I’ve written a dozen or so travel articles for my editor/sister on hunting Walpertingers in Bavaria, but the Hugelgartens really captured my attention. I wrote a few articles on those for various magazines. Rae-Lynne wasn’t impressed that I would freelance for someone else, but I had a story to write, a tale to tell, that her small newspaper didn’t cover. Right now, I’m working on the boxes of notes that my great-grandfather left me. Some of the information would do well in a book about wartime Germany and the rest of the information would have to be published as fiction in our world. No one would believe that there were Gates between worlds in actual fact. Continue reading “Herta Tanner (of Der Reizen, by E. Lynn Cormick)”

Dr. Skylar Santangelo (of Healing The Witch Of Adelaide Glen by J.C. Stockli)

JC Stockli - Healing The Witch Of Adelaide GlenDear readers, tonight with me is one of our leading legal prosecutors. As it turns out, his grudge against the paranormal and supernatural lies with some dark secrets in his past.

 

 

Tell us about where you grew up and studied. How did you get from slums to academia? What is your PhD about?

[chuckles] Mamma moved to the States when I was real young. I grew up in a housing project in the south end of the city. I never aspired to leave the hood. I liked it there. I was someone to be known there, but every smart-ass punk has it coming to him, I guess. I chose academia over incarceration. My boys from back on the day found their path on the straight and narrow and guided me along. I’d be dead without those guys, no doubt. In terms of my PhD, the only subjects that made sense were theology and demonology. I’m what you’d call a “subject matter expert.”

Tell us about those tats – what made you get them? Is there an overall design?

[turns head down with a furrowed brow] There’s a method to every man’s madness. Some of my ink is just the result of being a stupid punk. Others…? Yeah, they mean something… but we’re not getting into that here. Next question, man. Continue reading “Dr. Skylar Santangelo (of Healing The Witch Of Adelaide Glen by J.C. Stockli)”

Talasara (from Tribrid by Tracy Palmer)

Tracy Palmer - TribridDear readers, tonight is a full moon, but we were promised that we are quite safe in hosting this young woman on the interview couch. She has only recently come out of thee hundred years of seclusion, keeping her nature secret while studying witchcraft.

 

 

When were you born? What do you remember of your childhood?

I was born in 1703 a few miles outside of Glasgow, Scotland. As for what I remember from my childhood… everything. For some reason, I can remember nearly every minute of my life and the things that have happened. I can even remember the sound of my mother’s voice. Even though she technically died before I was born. Sometimes that ability comes in handy. Other times… well… it can be a burden. Especially when I think about the people that I have lost in my lifetime. Continue reading “Talasara (from Tribrid by Tracy Palmer)”

Jesse (of Seasons of Pain by Imowen Lodestone)

Cover_SeasonsOfPainDear readers, tonight with us is a young witch, straight out of the deep south.

 

 

 

When did you first know that you were a Witch? How did you study magic?

I am a born Witch, if that’s what you mean?

That’s what I meant. If I understand correctly, if two supernaturals produce children, they children will be Supernatural as well, right?

Yes! Also if a mortal and Supernatural get together all their children will be Supernatural. Now let me answer your second question. How did I study Magic? I studied Magic with my mother she trained me in the Arcane ways.

Do you mean male magic?

Magic doesn’t have gender labels my friend. And I am not going to discuss it. I don’t have books to give you an over standing on what Arcane Witch discipline is. Continue reading “Jesse (of Seasons of Pain by Imowen Lodestone)”

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