(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Pen was written by Pen Gryphon.)
Pen Gryphon stepped out from between the rows of trees lining the gravel-strewn path. With no bustling tourists or venders, Washington DC has fallen far from its former glory. Ivy and plants have overtaken the monuments, growing wildly where before they were meticulously pruned; even the river has risen slightly. As Pen looked up at the Washington Monument, the once-straight monument now a bent and ivy-covered tower, a host of emotions ran through her. And yet to come this far, she had had to bypass the Do Not Enter and other warning signs. With a sigh, Pen set down her small backpack and pulled out a blanket with a couple of sandwiches, in preparation for her meeting.
Kelly passed through the abandoned streets of Washington DC. It was hard to imagine this was the capital of America. She wondered what happened but knew she’d be able to ask soon enough. Meandering through the pathways, Kelly found her way to the meeting spot and found Pen Gryphon had already set out a blanket and settled in as if an impromptu picnic. Kelly approached her and smiled as she lowered herself down to the blanket. She looked around—still amazed by the condition of the city. “I’ve got a ton of questions to ask you about what happened here, but…” She fixed her gaze on Pen once more and smiled, offering her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. It’s nice to meet you. What exactly happened here?” She motioned to their surroundings. She had wanted to get to know Pen as an individual first before going into her story at all, but this surrounding was part of Pen’s story world, and it begged many questions.
Pen smiled as Kelly joined her, shaking her hand before beckoning her to sit. “Thanks for meeting me here. I wasn’t sure you’d make it. It’s a little eery.” Pen’s gaze drifted to take in the overgrown monuments; nature had a way of claiming its own back. “Well, it’s a bit of a long story, but this is what happens when a nation becomes too divided to stand together.”
“Ah, makes sense” Kelly nodded as she looked around. “Quite sad.” More matter how much more she wanted to focus on the actual story, Kelly forced herself to focus on Pen at the moment. “Okay, so, you’re the author of the story that takes place here, meaning you’re from back in my own world. What is it that you do there? In ‘real life’. Does it tie into your writing at all?”
Pen smiled and leaned back on the blanket, shifting to get comfortable. “I currently work as a manager at Petsmart, and am halfway through my Master’s degree to become a certified teacher. That being said, writing has always been in my blood. I can remember writing a story when I was five or six years old, and I never stopped.”
Kelly smiled as she tucked her feet under her to get comfortable on the ground. “So why did you begin writing then? Five or six years of age is quite young. Was it just for fun? Active imagination?” She watched Pen—loved watching writers’ expressions as they thought back to the earliest moments of their writing life.
A peaceful smile and an amused glint passed over Pen’s face at the memory. “I definitely have an active imagination. I think it was also an escape—an opportunity to leave everything behind in an attempt to see what else could happen. Also I loved the way words can create pictures in your head. I think I had fun simply seeing the things I wrote create a picture in my mind. Or maybe it’s just that the pictures in my mind were so vibrant, I had to write them down—heaven knows I can’t draw!” Pen laughed.
Kelly laughed too. “Oh, I can’t draw either, so I know the feeling!” But then she settled down. “Okay, so this story—the one that takes place in world–what’s it about? Who are the characters? Why did the country become so divided?”
Pen grinned, catching Kelly’s enthusiasm. “The basic synopsis is that Fallen Angels have overturned the US Constitution by possessing government officials.” She gestured at the crooked Washington Monument. “The books center around Cody Wesson, the son of the Constitutionalists, who are portrayed as terrorists by the government; Lucien Donnelley—a possessed government official who was originally elected by the Constitutionalists to represent their views before nearly being assassinated; and Sarah Johnson, a girl who sees her own Guardian angel.” Pen paused to take a sip of water before continuing. “The division happened when the government tried to take too much control from the people, and some of the people wanted their control back. They were labeled ‘terrorists’ for inciting terror in people, and then once branded as such, it became really difficult—if not impossible–to gain members. And it spiraled downward from there.”
Kelly frowned when she heard all this. “That sounds freakishly like what is happening in real life right now. I don’t suppose your book has a happy ending?” She raised her brows–knowing she had just asked about the book’s ending. Of course, that was unfair to ask because of spoilers, so she glimpsed around. “So what inspired this story? Real life events or something like that?”
Pen’s eyes glinted mischievously. “All I’m gonna say is that you’d be surprised what a group of determined people can do.” Pen glanced around as well. “Well, would you believe me if I said that the origin of this story came about because I got into a heated argument with a science teacher about global warming? It started with the aspects of truth and lies, and of someone who could see straight through them. Then I drew in other characters. It just so happened that every time I sat down to write, something would inevitably come up on the news that related to what I was writing. It’s kind of eery, and is probably why I’ve stalled so long on finishing the entire project.”
“Well, write a happy ending, and everything will be awesome!” Kelly smirked but then got serious once more and leaned forward. “But that is so very interesting. Is this set in a specific year or so? Or would you rather not have a year attached to it…in case what you’re writing actually happens?” She furrowed her brows.
Pen shrugged. “I think that’s the interesting part of the story. I’m debating about putting a year to it—in the late 2030s—but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t particularly matter what year it is. It’s probably just a matter of 20 or 30 years into the future for it to happen. But then keep in mind, I started writing this back in 2007, and that was almost 8 years ago…” Pen drifted off, musing for a bit. “I suppose though that if I did attach a date to it, future readers could always look back at the history logs and see what was transpiring at the time when the book was written—then again that is what the publishing date is for. So for plot purposes, I don’t usually include the date, unless I feel it’s really important. Plus…this is probably not the best thing to admit to, but I’m terrible at History—and I had to do so much research to get my facts straight about the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
“Writing has a way of making us of historians of small pockets of history.” Kelly smiled. That was true for her and the Crusades at least.
Then Kelly looked at her watch. They had time, but not a lot. She pursed her lips but went on to her next question. “So, I know there are other stories out there about the future of America and another civil war and such.” She locked eyes with Pen. “But what makes your story so unique? What makes it different from them?”
Pen grinned, eyes glinting, as if she’d been waiting for this question all along. “What makes it different? I mentioned fallen angels and guardian angels, so while it is a story about an impending civil war in America, spiritual warfare is involved too between the angels. So between the angels and the involvement of mankind in the fate of the United States, it’s a pretty massive playing field with a lot of interesting twists and turns.” Pen snorted. “After reading Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, I have to say it’s only a little bit like it, but on a national scale instead of a small town—and aimed at readers from teens through adult.”
“That is very interesting! Bringing spiritual warfare into a story is difficult, so I admire you for doing so! I love it already!” Kelly grinned. “Okay, last question before I, unfortunately, must go. What’s the one lesson—or thought—that you’d like your readers to walk away from after reading your story?” She tilted her head to a side as she observed Pen.
Pen pursed her lips for a moment, considering. “I think the sole point of the story comes down to security versus freedom. Since the events of 9/11, we’ve lost a lot of our previous freedoms, and it feels like we’re losing more each day. I also think it’s important that people learn what they stand for, and then make that stand and do something about it. But ultimately, it’s deciding whether you want to live in a free environment where you don’t need rules governing everything, or giving up that freedom for a self-imposed security–which may be an illusion anyway. It’s to make the reader think about what they stand for and if they really believe it.” Pen considered for a moment and nodded. “At least, that’s my hope.”
Kelly nodded. “I like it. It has a lot of potential, and I hope you the best. What’s it titled again? And any idea when it’ll be released?”
Pen smiled. “Scion of Truth is the title, and I’m hoping to get it published in the next year or so. Fingers-crossed. I have a publisher interested, I just need to finish the manuscript and send it to them.”
“Then you need to get back to writing!” Kelly grinned as she finally rose to her feet. “Unfortunately it’s time for me to go, but stay in touch with me, all right? I hope you the best with your story. You’ve got a good one!”
Pen rose as well. “Thank you so much for meeting with me today. And thank you; I’ll take all the luck I can get.”
“Loved meeting with you! I’ll see you around!” With that, Kelly waved then headed back to her own world. A smile lingered on her face. That was a good interview.
Pen Gryphon’s story, ‘Scion of Truth’, is set to be published sometime in 2017, but be sure to follow her on social media for more updates!