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Distant Early Warning Splash Page Logo by Elizabeth Hirst

Distant Early Warning Splash Page Logo by Elizabeth Hirst

It’s been a hectic summer for a lot of us, including the folks at Pop Seagull. I went through some job upheaval at my 9-to-5 gig, and had a string of family health emergencies. Jenn has also been facing some challenging life circumstances and is taking a break from helping with the business for a while. As for Robin, our main illustrator, he’s doing fine, but he’s kind of been watching all of it happen with his characteristic raised eyebrow.

We’re happy to announce, however, that with fall closing in and the challenges of August a good thirteen hours behind us, my new novel, Distant Early Warning, is in the last phases of editing, and is definitely going to be released on October 17th as part of the festivities at Genrecon in Guelph.

The first thing I want to say about this launch is, of course, that you should go. The launch party is going to be held at the Holiday Inn Guelph hotel and conference centre, from 7-9 pm on Friday, October 17th. We’re kicking off the con in style, with prize packs, contests, and of course, Pop Seagull’s latest novel. If things go especially well between now and then, we may even have a sneak peek at a really special book trailer we’ve got in production right now.

I’m going to do another whole post on Genrecon, the fun I’ve had there in past years, and why you should totally go, but for now I want to focus on the book just a little bit. Since I haven’t posted a ton about this project yet, I thought I would compile a little self-interview/FAQ about the book to let our fans know a little more about it.

Q: What genre is Distant Early Warning? What’s the plot?

A: Distant Early Warning is an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Adventure set in a future Ontario where global warming has taken over. As a result of the imbalance in nature, the dead have begun rising from the grave at night and screaming, causing people to do strange things, and even kill themselves and others. As a result of the ‘Screamer’ invasion, the people living in Northern Ontario flood down into the more populated regions near the border, taxing the already crumbling infrastructure and resulting in widespread homelessness, refugee camps and resource shortages.

The protagonist, Denny, is an academic loner who relies on sporadic visits from her dad to fill the lonely gaps in her life. The Screamer Crisis doesn’t affect her day-to-day life much, until her dad goes missing, and his dog mysteriously shows up at her house one day after work. Denny spends all of her spare time looking for her dad, until one day, she sees him on a TV newscast from the north, dead and screaming. With the most important relationship in her life severed by a mysterious death, Denny sells her job and her possessions, and makes the dangerous trip up north to find her father and solve the mystery of his death. In the process, she encounters wild-west gunfights, rogue journalists, dangerous animals, and a power and awareness that will change her life forever. For she discovers that the Screamers aren’t screaming at all… they’re singing, and only Denny can decipher the songs and put them to rest.

Q: Cool! What was the inspiration for this story?

Surprisingly enough, the inspiration for the story didn’t come from global warming, or any of the climate change elements in the story. I did a lot of research to get those parts of the story right, as well as the geography and features of Northern Ontario, but they came after the initial spark of inspiration. The thing that got the whole concept going for me was the fact that Northern Ontario has a crazy number of unsolved murders and missing people, because there is just so much vast forest and landscape that it’s easy for people to just… disappear. I started to wonder what would happen if all of the energy accompanying those deaths and disappearances were released by a catastrophic event. Around the same time, I learned about the Grimm’s fairy tale of The Singing Bone, where a wrongfully murdered man’s bone sings to a wandering minstrel to bring his murderers to justice. Those two concepts kind of bound themselves up in my mind, and Distant Early Warning was born. In terms of characters, Denny and Geoff (the dog) came first, and then the male lead, Wayne. Wayne came through to me as a joker, with a serious heart and mission, which is largely what he became in the end.

Q: Who is your favourite character, and why?

The dog, Geoff, is by far my favourite character. He’s based off of my old dog, Poe, who passed away a couple of years ago, and Woolie, who is a doggy legend in our family. Woolie was a border collie born without a tail that my mom adopted early on in her teaching career, to keep him from being drowned by the family he lived with. Woolie was a funny, sweet, loyal dog, who grew up to be incredibly smart and well-behaved. He walked without a leash and taught himself to use the slides at the park, among other things. Woolie was eventually done in by his love for rabbits, when he was hit by a car after chasing one across the road. Before he went, however, his charming personality touched my parents’ hearts and cemented their lifelong love of dogs, which they then passed on to me.

Getting back to Geoff, though, he’s my favourite because he’s sweet, and loyal, and participates in the adventure just as much as his human counterparts, only without the verbiage. I love Denny, too, and I definitely think she holds a part of me, but Geoff warms my heart, and I hope he warms your heart, too.

Q: Is there anything else special about the book?

I think the design of this book is going to be very special. Here at Pop Seagull, design is of the utmost importance to us, and this time, we’ve really gone above and beyond adding extras that will make copies of Distant Early Warning feel unique to book collectors. First of all, we’ve got three illustrations lined up for the book by our house illustrator, Robin McLean, and they are looking absolutely fabulous. Robin was really inspired by the play of light and dark seen in many horror comics. Being a monster fan himself, he was super excited to work on this project, and it shows. There are also going to be beautifully designed chapter headings and a splash page illustration by yours truly. It’s going to be a pretty, pretty book, and we’ve tried really hard to make it a special experience for those who buy physical copies.

Q: Okay, this book sounds like fun. What’s the best way to get my hands on a copy?

There are a number of ways to get a copy of the book, depending on how you like to read.

If you prefer e-books, or don’t mind them and want to get a bargain, I suggest Smashwords. Because there is no overhead cost to us, our e-books are always a little bit cheaper than the physical copy, especially if you prefer to buy online.

If you like physical books more, I would highly suggest coming out to a con to buy a copy in person. We can always afford to give a better price in person, plus we have free perks such as autographs, and pretty bookmarks! However, if you live in a part of the world that makes it impossible or very, very expensive to get to a con where we are, you can buy our books through Amazon. (Or, you could bug your local con to make me a guest, wink wink. I love to travel!)

If you are a bookseller or book club, or want to buy copies in bulk for any reason, please contact us at lizmclean (dot) artist (at) gmail (dot) com.

We are also currently compiling a list of reviewers to send copies out to, so please let us know at the above email if you are interested in doing a review on any platform.