As a writer, it is my pleasure to bring the reading public opportunities to experience things that they would never have been able to access otherwise. In that ‘spirit’, our guest here today is just one of the unique interviewees that you’ll find here, and only here, on the Pop Seagull Blog. I reached across time and space to talk to the one, the only, Felicia “Denny” Dennigan, star of the upcoming book, Distant Early Warning. Denny is quite the elusive character, since she hails from, well, the future. I think I’ll let her take it from here.
Elizabeth Hirst: So, Denny, you’ve come a long way to be here. Tell me about what it’s like to live in your time and place.
Denny: Honestly? It’s total crap a lot of the time. There’s way too much water and rain everywhere, and a lot of stuff is broken down and badly maintained. I remember a time before the super storms, and the flooding, when people had way more tech and everybody drove cars… but that was when I was really little, and even then, I think we knew it couldn’t last. I’m from a place along the border called St. Catharines. Liz, I think you grew up there too, didn’t you?
EH: Yep. It’s got… character.
D: Well, you complain about it now, but try living in my time. We’ve got refugees, beggars everywhere, and only a select few people ever get the kinds of jobs that they want. I was lucky enough to have a teaching job for a while, but I had to give that up after some… major life upheavals. The Screamers threw things badly out of whack for a lot of people.
EH: Tell me about the Screamers. I don’t think anybody from our time and place has ever experienced anything like one, barring a really bad drug experience.
D: There’s still a lot of fear and disbelief surrounding the Screamers here too… but they’re no legend. Society lost our special effects capabilities a long time ago. I don’t know if anything I say can really fully capture them, but I’ll give it a shot. Picture an animated corpse. Let your imagination run wild with the gruesomeness of the injury, and the state of decay. Now picture it on fire… but it’s not normal fire either. It can be green, or blue, or red… any colour you can think of, and blinding. Sometimes they have smoke, or ribbons of mist reaching out from them. Now that you’ve got the visuals in your head, picture the harshest, most dissonant heavy metal song you’ve ever heard in your life, so loud that you can’t tune it out, and mixed with a bit of brake squeal, earthquake and dog whistle. These things come out all night up North. It’s no wonder people were going crazy and doing awful things. I feel sorry for the people up there. They had no choice but to come down south, and there was nothing to support them when they got there. My friend, Mrs. Mandrake, who lived in my old backyard…
EH: Whoa, hold on a second. You weren’t kidding about it being a different world out there! I think you’ve set the scene pretty vividly for our readers, so maybe we should get a little more personal at this point and talk about your Dad. What kind of relationship did you guys have?
D: Wow… you’d think this would get easier to talk about over time, but it’s still pretty fresh for me. My Dad was my world. For the longest time, I felt like we had each other, and we didn’t really need anybody else. I’m pretty sure nobody would understand him like I did anyway. We were our own brand of crazy, he and I, a legacy that I carry forward proudly. (Laughs) I think if the Dennigan family had a crest, it would have a big ol’ cracked pot in the middle of it, front and centre!
EH: Like all of us, he had a darker side, though, didn’t he?
D: Dad didn’t have an easy life. There was tension in his home as a kid, and he had to make some pretty hard choices at a young age. He didn’t always make the right ones. He did all right, though, until my step-sister Kendall died in a car accident while he was driving. After that, he just kind of fell apart. He had PTSD, and he found it hard to stay in one place for very long. People he met in his travels just saw a shabby guy, a bum with mental problems, but nobody who really knew him could think that. He was sweet, and funny, and always supported me when he could. That’s why, when he went missing, and his dog, Geoff, showed up at my house alone, I knew I had to do whatever it took to bring him back. Even after I saw him on TV as a Screamer, and I knew he was dead… I just couldn’t let him suffer like that after everything he’d been through.
EH: So you risked everything. You packed up, and took off, and ran after him to try and solve not only the mystery of his death, but the mystery of the Screamers themselves. How did that make you feel?
D: I was equal parts terrified, determined, and certain that he would have done the same for me, if he’d been able. There was also this weird lawless feeling, like I’d just cast off all the moorings of the civilized world, and I didn’t know any of the rules anymore. I think just about everybody has a map of where they think their life should go, and mine kind of got blown away in a gale of supernatural disaster. I’m still making it up as I go along at this point, but I’ll never regret making that first leap into the unknown.
EH: What do you hope people will get out of reading your story?
D: I know it sounds corny, but a lot of my story is about coming to terms with yourself. I think, looking back, that the most important thing I learned through everything that happened is that you can’t run from the parts of yourself that you don’t like, or that scare you. They’re still a part of you, and will follow you wherever you go. Repressed memories and personality traits are the real ghosts, because they never really die. I also learned that you can’t run away from other people forever, either. People need other people. We need help, and somebody to open up to. I mean, Geoff is a great guy, but I’ve learned that we all need people as well as pets around us to really thrive.
EH: What do you say to the people who think this interview is a book spoiler because we’ve just proven you don’t die at the end?
D: Give me a break. Having a viewpoint protagonist die at the end is so pretentious.