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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Young Adult

Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)

Dear reader, tonight with us is a prisoner from the far future, one who claims his imprisonment is for good deeds.


It’s very unusual for a person so young to be in such a high-security prison. What did you do?

Never one to be subtle, are you? I suppose all interviewers always cut to the chase. There was a famine crisis in the neutral world of Livina, and the Council refused to give aid, despite it being in their constitution to always offer such help.

We decided to teach them a lesson. So we hijacked their cargo ship carrying supplies to the latest ball for the dignitaries and sent them to Livina instead.

The people got their food, but I was careless and ended up arrested. With the mounting charges to my name, I was thrown in jail for misconduct, hijacking, and thievery.

You’ve been in trouble with the Council before?

Many times, I’m afraid. I would have thought my actions would be enough to change their minds, but alas, they remain as stubborn as ever.

What brought you into the world of crime?

Crime? I would hardly say the things I do are criminal. I admit some of my methods are more… erring on the grey area of the law, but they function well. I only have one purpose, which is to help end the suffering of the innocent in any way I can.

What inspired you to help others?

My home planet, Anguini, is a neutral world. So I suppose I am fortunate I grew up on a planet with relatively unbiased approaches to the galactic political proceedings. Some years ago, before I was born, our planet was ripped apart by civil war.

The High Council stepped in and sent their most elite peacekeeping forces, the Star Corps, to settle the matter. After a few years of a bitter struggle, they finally did, and they helped us recover and flourish as a planet.

I very clearly remember one Star Corps member, then retired, came to our school to talk about the conflict. It was difficult for her to talk about, but she did regardless. I couldn’t help but admire her.

I asked her why she’d risked her life for people she didn’t even know. She said, “The Star Corps is about helping everyone, in any way we can, because it’s the right thing to do, and it makes the galaxy a better place.”

Their selfless assistance for my people inspired me to do the same.

Continue reading “Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)”

The character cast (of Unveiling, by Zel Winter)

Dear readers, tonight we host a rather chaotic interview with five characters out of a novel’s cast. They are here to tell us about a world in which powerful Immortal beings battle for justice in a magical world just beyond the veil of our own — all while continually bickering about spoilers.


Hello everybody, tonight on the interview couch are part of the cast from Unveiling. Could you please introduce yourselves, and helps us know who’s who?

🙋♀️ Hi, I’m Nina. (a little wave)

🦇 Dan. (quick short nod)

🙎🏻 My name is Maya. (curtsy)

🐺 Lupus. (short snort)

🧛🏻 Hey, (speaking in a heavy Spanish accent) I’m Franco. (sits further away from the rest).

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

🙋♀️ My early childhood was with my adoptive parents, and they were great. I wouldn’t say, though, that’s where I grew up. I was in foster care from the age eleven. I’m not gonna lie to you or the fans, it was tough: but I learned how to stand up for myself. I remember Tony, one of my foster brothers, he would get into kids faces and intimidate them to do the most ridiculous things one could think of. He told this one kid to shave our foster dad’s eyebrows. The kid did it. When Ronny woke up, he freaked! We had to run and hide. Three days, (she puts her 3 fingers up), three days I slept outdoors. He tried it on me a couple of times. I told him to get lost. For some reason, he stopped bothering me.

Lupus, do you have any cherished memories?

🐺 Funny you should ask. My generation was the first to start shifting into human form. AncientWeres could, but didn’t. There was no reason. So, when this new thing started to happen, all of us left our parents’ and started our own pack. At that time, we didn’t know we were supposed to walk on two legs, so we walked on all four. We also had no control over it, so when it happened it was both surprising and painful. We were clumsy, slow and hungry all the time. One time, my brother stopped shifting halfway so his right side was human while his left was in wolf form. When we saw him, we didn’t recognize him and ran away. It took him hours to calm down and complete the shift. Sometimes, we still laugh about it. I wouldn’t change a thing, I cherish those memories.

Franco, what do you do now?

🧛🏻 Me and my kind, have a grand plan. I can’t talk about it, but we are going to stick it to those other immortals. They won’t even know it’s coming, and then, KABOOM! (he makes a gesture of explosion with his hands).

🙎🏻 KABOOM?

🧛🏻 Well, not really kaboom, but you know what I mean.

🙎🏻 No, I really don’t.

🧛🏻 (He faces the host) See? That means I piqued the curiosity, yet didn’t reveal anything specific. Mission accomplished.

Dan, Lupus, what can you tell us about your latest adventure?

🦇 It was a good fight. We won.

🐺 It was fantastic, and loads of fun. Just imagine bursting into the enemy compound, killing the monsters, freeing the dam…

🦇 Spoiler!

🐺 So much more I can’t tell you about. This guy, (he points to Dan), he goes under the radar, in more ways than one, but mostly because he is dust

🦇 SPOILER!!!

🐺 What did I say?

🦇 You said ‘dust’.

🐺Dust is nothing, it’s dust.

🦇 Dust is a spoiler.

🐺 Fine, I hate being interrupted. Where was I? Oh, ya, this guy, (points to Dan), if you piss him off, it’s your funeral. I saw him once kill eight beasts, before the first one hit the floor. That’s how lethal he is.

Dan, you gonna show us some moves?

🦇 (vaguely smiles) I don’t think so.

C’mon Dan, just a couple of moves.

🦇 I’m not really pissed off. (He turns to Franco). Any volunteers, Franco? No? (Dan shrugs). Sorry.

Maya, what did you first think when you saw Nina?

🙎🏻 I thought I was going crazy. With the ordeal that happened the night before, I still thought I was drugged or hallucinating. It was like looking in the mirror but not. I remember blinking repeatedly and looking around for monsters. It took me a while to compose myself. The cup of coffee helped, along with hearing Nina through my ears and not as a random voice in my head.

Hey Dan, what was the scariest thing in your first mission?

🦇 I thought she might turn. There is nothing worse than accidentally turning someone you ca…

🙋♀️ Spoiler!!

🦇 What? I thought they already knew.

🙋♀️ (quietly) Spoiler.

🦇 Really? (looks around, everybody nods). Fine…that’s why I don’t say much.

Nina, what is the worst thing about your rescue?

🙋♀️ The previous misjudgement of my rescuer.  In my eyes, he went from hero to zero like this, (she snaps her fingers). I had one view of him and then within a blink of an eye, I witnessed a triple murder, got kidnapped again, this time by him, and then thought I’d became a fugitive on the run from the police. Could that day get any worse???

What is the best thing about it?

🙋♀️ I can’t tell you the best part, but, I’m still here, alive and not running from the police. That’s pretty good, right? (looks around, everybody nods).

Dan, tell us a little about your friends.

🦇 I’ve been lucky. I have friends among all species. All present (except one 🧛🏻) are my friends. But, I think you want to hear about those who are not here. (He adjusts himself comfortably in the chair).

Yes?

🦇 What? Oh, you want me to tell you about them? OK, where do I start?

My brother is by far the person I trust the most.

Weres’ Alpha, Lav – a WereLion, is a strong leader and a good friend to have. Weres are great; they can communicate telepathically. They do it when in their beastly form or if they want to keep a secret from Faes. 

Faes are…refreshing and a little odd. I mostly interact with FaeRaven when passing messages. They like to gossip about everything they know. A little funny, a little quirky, but what can you expect when you put birds and magic together, right?

Dragons…they are real beasts and trump everyone—the protectors of the world. The Wise One is the most powerful. He helped me a lot.  

Any romantic involvement?

🐺 Man, I went nuts. I imprinted and it drove me crazy, I couldn’t eat, sleep, hunt, focus, or talk to anyone about it, because we sort of invaded that place, without Alpha’s permiss…

🦇 SPOILER!!!

🐺 and apparently there is never a good time to talk about it, (he turns to the audience) you’ll just have to read about it, guys. Just trust me, I was crazy.

🦇 Yeah, crazy is a good word, you almost mauled me…

🐺 That’s a spoiler!!

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

🧛🏻 Let me just say…I don’t like humans, but they taste delicious. I despise Nature’s Immortals, and especially the traitor.

🙎🏻 Vampires, for what they did to me.

🐺 The cursed ones (turns to Dan), no offense.

🙋♀️ Tony, and all bad vampires.

🦇 All who disrespect life.

Franco, what’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

🧛🏻 Fresh human blood. Red, and feeding, or planning how to dest…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

 🧛🏻 (Hisses)

What does the future hold for you?

🙎🏻 Well, I’m going to become…

everyone: SPOILER!

🐺 What about when we broke in the headquarters and took…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🙋♀️ I had a dream once…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🧛🏻 Would you like to know about the plan? (wiggles eyebrows)

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🧛🏻 (Hisses) Do you think I would tell the readers with all of you, (he swipes his arm across the cast), listening?

🦇 I spoke to Drezga, and he told me he has a source in Hen….

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🦇 That’s why I don’t say much.

Nina, can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

🙋♀️ Hm…how about if I share a part of a secret? Everything we witness and experience changes us, and I am no exception. In the words of Nada VaZaki, “They’ve broken the wrong parts of me. They’ve broken my wings and forgot I had claws.”


Zel Winter lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two wonderful daughters, two dogs and two cats. She loves nature, animals and children. Zel enjoys cooking and baking, and above all, reading and writing.

You can find Nina, Dan, Maya, Lupus and Franco on the pages of Unveiling.

Join us next week to meet a man playing agent for gods. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Grey (of The Ascension Machine, by Rob Edwards)

Dear readers, tonight we print an in-story interview between two teen superheroes, studying in the Justice Academy, the special school for their kind. We’ll learn about assumed identities, alien races, and friendship.


I’ve been thinking, Grey. After seeing Sunbolt handling those journalists on Bantus, should we, maybe, practice interview techniques?

Hmm? Sorry, Seventhirtyfour, I was light years away. What was that about interviews?

I was just saying I should interview you; I could get extra credits for my superhero journalism course, Choose your Lane 101. Please? We’re still days away from the Academy, I’m bored, you know.

I’m not falling for that, you have a stack of textbooks still to read, and I know how much you love a textbook.

Sigh.

Go on then. Ask me some questions.

Okay, fantastic. Let’s see. You grew up in one of the wealthiest human families in the galaxy. What was that like?

I thought we agreed to pretend I didn’t have money? We definitely said that. Let’s imagine that instead of growing up as a Gravane, I… I don’t know. Just off the top of my head: I ran away from my parents at age eight. I spent the better part of a decade drifting from space station to space station, surviving on my wits, earning money to survive. Legitimately when I could, but less so when I had to.

Can you imagine if that was true? It sounds lonely.

Lonely? That’s not…  I’ve seen the galaxy, met amazing people from dozens of different species and only swindled a relatively small percentage of them. I may not have stayed in one place very long, I guess. Never really formed what you’d call close friendships. Put that against all the places I’ve been to, all the things I’ve learned. You can’t buy an education like that. In this hypothetical backstory.

What about you, Seventhirtyfour? Where did you grow up?

Oh, nothing special really, you know? Once I was let out of the maturation pod, I was posted to Clone Barracks 17 on Brontom Prime and started my five-year boot camp.  Just me and a couple thousand of my closest vat mates. It was a good time, we learned to fight and—wait, I’m supposed to be interviewing you.

Busted.

So, let’s talk about your time at the Justice Academy. What courses are you taking now?

Sure. I’m a Skills student. No Powers of any kind, no super Tech. That means I’m studying to be the best version of me I can be. To, um, fight crime and rescue innocents and the like. Basic superhero defense. Parkour. Grapnel Gun Basics and Maintenance. A couple of Prof Croft’s Criminology and Clue Analysis courses. Gutted I couldn’t get into Superheroics: A History with you, but, clashes, what can you do? I really want to do Rescueology next term, just to find out what it is.

Continue reading “Grey (of The Ascension Machine, by Rob Edwards)”

Taliesimon Tothrangan (from Shadow of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter)

Dear readers, tonight we print the secret files about the first female Dragoon warrior. We get a peek into the entry exams of two very remarkable young girls.


Highlord, as you requested, I have enclosed all records we could find of the Dragoon, Taliesimon Tothrangan. I am afraid nothing here appears to give any indication of her current whereabouts, but it makes for interesting reading nonetheless. She and her friend were apparently quite the pair, even then.

What follows is a fragmentary copy of the entrance exam transcripts for Taliesimon Tothrangan (age: 9) and Okara Dorgauna (age 7), the first girls to be accepted into the Dragoon Order in recorded history. Although normally these exams are processed singly, in this case it was thought best they interview the pair together. [ink blots obliterate a note following this line, a new note following the blots reads:] To ensure no accusations of wrongdoing came at the dragoon conducting the interview.

Where did the two of you grow up?

O: On the smooth side of your mother’s–

T: Okara! [clears her throat] I grew up on a farm just outside a small village called River’s Edge. My pa raised sheep and grew grapes that he made into wine that we sold in town and, sometimes, we would even go as far as Cuularan!

O: [sighs] okay. I grew up in a village with no name that I know of. It’s very small. When my family lost favor with the dragoons, we became destitute and were forced to take whatever menial jobs were available.

I see. What possessed you to enter the Gauntlet?

T: [laughs] You say this as if girls entering the Gauntlet is unusual.

O: [sniffs]

It is!

O: [scoffs] You see, Taly? I told you they don’t get out much.

T: Not so, Ser. Girls enter every year. It is only that either they never make it through the Gauntlet, or they are “disqualified” in The Combats.

Clearly you do not know what you’re talking about. We are Dragoons. We would never disqualify any entrant who did not earn such.

O: If you say so.

T: So you think, what? That girls are just naturally inferior and so never manage to join? Not ever? What kind of rock have you been living under, exactly?

Enough! We need to address this entrance exam. What were your favorite playthings as children?

T: Well, you see, I used to have this ceramic doll…

O: Be serious, Taly. I think I speak for both of us when I say that for as long as I can remember the only things I ever played with were implements of combat. The sword I fashioned from a broken slat fence was my favorite to practice with.

What do you imagine is in store for you as a new recruit?

O: Honestly? Torment, pain, and unfair treatment.

T: Now who needs to be serious? Training will be hard, I have no illusions about that. I expect we will be pushed harder than any of the male recruits, at least for a while. I don’t see as there will be any way around that. But eventually we will prove ourselves and that’s when I think the real training will begin. I can’t wait to start learning the sword for real.

Continue reading “Taliesimon Tothrangan (from Shadow of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter)”

Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man who decided to act against the monsters from beyond encroaching on his world, and has embarked on a quest to restore the barrier – even as he’s accompanied by one of the monsters.


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

Although not born there, I was raised behind the walls of Terratheist castle. While the outside world was struggling to create a peace treaty with a recently usurped neighboring kingdom and battling each other with the monsters summoned from another realm, since the age of six, I was being taught to summon monsters so I could one day venture into that world myself.

Why did you choose the path you took?

The reason I was taken in and taught the ways of a caller is a mystery to me. Having never been exposed to the dangers outside the castle walls, my first glimpse of the surrounding horrors was when my Master of Pacts summoned a Melkai (the monsters from the other realm) and it attacked me, coming bare inches from killing me. I knew would need my own Melkai to protect me, so I summoned Taiba, my Melkai companion.

What do you do now?

I’m an apprentice caller. My ambition is to become an Advanced Summoner who can summon and command Melkai from the second circle of the Melkairen (the realm of the Melkai). After not summoning another Melkai after Taiba, I naively believed that forcing myself out into the world on the quest I’m sent on was the best way to get the experience to become one. However, the barrier to the Melkairen was weakening and the Melkai without pacts were now roaming the lands, so it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So you know that the souls of the monsters (the Melkai) can be taken from their realm (the Melkairen) and put into objects (pact items) to be summoned from them at a callers behest, right? So, when the barrier between the Melkairen and out world weakens, the Melkai without a pact are freed to terrorize the land. Now only those who can summon Melkai like me can survive outside the castle walls, and a magical relic must be found to reseal the barrier. I have one half of this relic, so naturally I have to find other half before the barrier breaks entirely.

Continue reading “Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)”

Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the Lord Sorcier of Regency England. Most people find him handsome, strange, and utterly uncouth—but gossip says that he regularly performs three impossible things before breakfast. We’re here to find out the truth.


“Lord Sorcier” is a French title, isn’t it? How does one go about becoming the Lord Sorcier of England?

It wasn’t my choice, thank you very much. The Prince Regent suggested it, for some mad reason. He thought it was fitting, given that I supposedly defeated Napoleon’s Lord Sorcier in an epic magical duel.

…Supposedly?

You should really exercise more scepticism in your daily life. The ton also believes that I do three impossible things before breakfast every morning.

Three impossible things! Who has time for that sort of nonsense? I limit myself to two impossible things per day, at best.

You spent at least some of your life in the workhouses. What were they like?

I see you have indeed been listening to idle gossip. I would be happy to answer your inquiry in lengthy detail—in fact, I have described the hideous conditions of the workhouses to the House of Lords on more than one occasion. I am sure you could find a record of it. Would you like to hear about the lice, the influenza, or the boy who had his hand cut off from gangrene? I could go into the rampant abuse, the lack of food, or the constant, awful smell—

Er, how fascinating! We really must move on, I’m afraid, since we haven’t that much time.

I somehow suspected as much.

And what are the duties of the Lord Sorcier of England?

Primarily, I am told, I am supposed to defend King and country against black magic of all sorts. In practice, there is little black magic to be found, and I must say, I grow tired of noble ladies insisting that their larder has been looted by faeries.

Continue reading “Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)”

Harry Ferguson (of The Princess Who Forgot She Was Beautiful, by William David Ellis)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an old man, who somehow found himself taken out of his 13th century home to ride dragons across time. He’s here to tell us about princesses and living with a dragon in East Texas.


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

I grew up in Latvia, in the late 13th century. My father was a village elder and we herded pigs. It was a very prosperous vocation. Pigs are much cleaner than most people realize. I worked hard and learned to read at my mother’s knee. My Father taught me how to use a staff. We could not afford a sword. When a large will Pig got loose in the market I caught it and also met the Princess.

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

My family was very loving and was one of the first Christian families in our village. My favorite events were listening to the stories of my ancestors, and learning to read. I did have a treasured possession it was a family ring my father gave me when I turned 16.

What do you do now?

That’s a good question. I am a Dragon Rider. It is my job to police the time streams. I find events and people who are disturbing the time streams and I stop them. Sometimes it is easy. Most of the time it is not. Recently I stopped the Nazi’s from conjuring a fallen angel they intended to use as a means of energizing their elite soldiers. I died and found myself on the backside of that critter as it tried to force its way through the hole my death had caused in the wall that held it back. I literally grabbed it by the tail and hauled it back through the portal.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it started as a story…

…but a mysterious little girl changed everything.

Then a dragon  came to East Texas and they need a hero.

At the time I was an  old man and thought my glory days were over but I was wrong. My life had just started…again.

There was  princess Sarah back in my life again,  and a bossy know it all  sword and the  evil dragon I thought I had killed and a library full of  snaggled-tooth crayon eating munchkins.

Something had risen from my past and it was  coming for the people I loved.

Continue reading “Harry Ferguson (of The Princess Who Forgot She Was Beautiful, by William David Ellis)”

Prince Ravel (of Sand Dancer, by Trudie Skies)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a prince of the Bright Solara, a graduate of the academy experienced with everything from swordsmanship to strategy. He’s here to tell us about his life — including dealing with raiders in the sandy deserts of his future kingdom.


Many thanks to our crown heir, Prince Ravel, for taking time out of his many appointments to speak with us today. How fares Bloodstone Keep, my Prince?

The honor is mine. The Keep is currently at rest whilst we await the arrival of new students for the Academy which always brings fresh tutors and a spate of Council meetings for our visiting Housemen. Of course, it doesn’t quite compare to the end-of-year celebrations. One can still walk the halls of the Keep without being hailed at every turn.

You’ve spent your entire life in the palace of Bloodstone Keep. How would you describe life as a prince under our great King Khaled’s reign?

Challenging, but I eagerly await the next challenge. The life of a prince isn’t all fine wine and art. From birth, my father has ensured that I am constantly learning and seeking to learn. I attended my first Council meeting at the age of five to understand the duties ahead of me. My father believes that one may only learn by doing, and that is something I push for; to get hands-on experience of aiding our kingdom. My father hasn’t always agreed with my methods! Safety comes first for a Solaran prince, but now that I have become a man, he’s willing to accept my role as a doer, not just a thinker. A king who can only philosophize and not act is no good for our people.

Quite so. You’re soon to graduate the Solaran Academy. What is life like in the Academy?

The Academy is the greatest of our educational institutions. I myself was named after its founder. I am honored to train under great men, and also beside the future Housemen and leaders of our kingdom. Our Masters don’t shy from pushing us hard and forging us into the best men we can be, and I’m not just speaking or our grueling physical routine! Yes, we learn the fighting arts and mounted combat, but a sharp mind is as valuable as a sharp blade. One day I will need to defend Sandair from her enemies, and so I take my military strategy and history lessons seriously. I’d encourage any man to pick up a book and learn how our great kingdom became so prosperous, and what we can all do to protect it.

That is most wise. What great Housemen have you been tutored under?

Our Academy is blessed with excellent tutors from the Great Houses. I have received personal tuition from the legendary Sword of Solus, and I believe he will be teaching others at the Academy this year, which will be a great boon to our new students. I’ve often wished for the Protector of the Path to teach, but he’s not ready for retirement yet. A pity.

Continue reading “Prince Ravel (of Sand Dancer, by Trudie Skies)”

Mara (of The Chronicles of Agartha, by Sherif Guirguis)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a teenaged girl, originally from 11th century Khorasan but now roaming a strange land where all the myths of our planet found a home. She and her friends must follow a prophecy that is guaranteed to change the face of the land — one way or another.


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

Who’s asking? I don’t take lightly to questions about my origins, you might be a purple mage for all that I know.

But if Ethan says that you are to be trusted, I will answer all your questions.

I am from Khorasan, the city that spreads culture and art to the whole world. My father is a master trader and a world traveler, everybody who is anybody in the twelfth century have heard of him, Amar El-Khorasani, but you should know that he is very famous.

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

I think that Ethan really has faith in you, you can’t give this information to anybody, I will be immediately banished from Agartha.

As a child, my father brought for each of us, his children, a toy of the finest porcelain when he traveled to China, mine was a very nice doll, she had a silk dress and held a small umbrella. I used to take her with me all over the place, but then my mother took her away to concentrate on the house duties, I am a very good cook because of her.

As for memories, I think it was the day my father brought the astrologer to the house, and he started to explain to me and my ten siblings the stars in the heavens and how to use them to guide our ways in the night; I think this the most cherished memory of my childhood, this is when I decided that I wanted to travel, like my father.

What do you do now?

What kind of question is that? I thought that Ethan must have told you. We are traveling the land of Agartha in search of the chronicler, he will give us our next destination, I hope.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Let’s see, I have mysteriously ended up in this strange and magical land, Agartha, although I don’t have any memory of how I came to be here.

I met this very nice young man, Ethan, you know him. I also met Darren, he is not as nice, but he is good, in his own savage way.

There is also this crazy army leader, the green lady, who is chasing us for some time, but we are two steps ahead of her.

It has been a very thrilling experience thus far.

Continue reading “Mara (of The Chronicles of Agartha, by Sherif Guirguis)”

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