Welcome to a special guest post by J. Lincoln Fenn, author of Poe --Coming October 2013!
Interview with a Character
Of course Dimitri didn’t answer on the first ring (he always lets it go to voicemail so he can screen calls - god knows he’s too cheap to get caller ID), but still I thought he’d get back to me sooner. I mean we have history. But what with the media attention from the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (he’s the narrator of POE), plus the unwanted attention from the demonic realm, it’s understandable that he’s trying to keep on the down low.
It took an offer of fresh cronuts and a cappuccino machine (bought at a yard sale), before he was willing to sit down at a small diner in New England to talk about his least favorite subject—himself.
Fenn: So I thought we’d use “Proust’s Questionnaire” to get things started. It’s a little writer’s trick to discover more about their characters.
Dimitri: Are you saying I’m a character? As in “oh, he’s such a character, he’s the life of the party.” Or are you questioning my inherent existence?
Fenn: I didn’t mean—
Dimitri: Because let’s get one thing straight. You got how much money selling my story to Amazon?
Fenn: Technically it was an advance—
Dimitri: And you think cronuts and a second-hand cappuccino machine is my due? By the way I noticed the $5.00 label. Classy touch.
Fenn: Not easy to get cronuts though.
Dimitri: Noted. (eyes the cronuts). It’s like a cross between a donut and croissant?
Fenn: And it’s fried. That’s peanut butter icing.
(Dimitri takes a bite. Looks reluctantly appeased).
Fenn: So let’s dive into our Proust thing. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Dimitri: A new cappuccino machine?
Dimitri: I don’t think there’s such a thing as perfect happiness. I mean, I could say sitting with Lisa on a beach in Miami, drinking something fruity with umbrellas, that’d be nice. Unless there are sharks. And then sand, it gets all up in your bathing suit—you try to wash it off in the bathtub and it clogs the drain. See what I mean? There’s always something itchy about happiness.
Fenn: What is your greatest fear?
Dimitri (snorts with laughter): Other than spleen-eating demons trying to kill me and my girlfriend?
Fenn: Yeah, other than that.
Dimitri: Dying without knowing who I am, or anyone else knowing who I am, really.
Fenn: Ok. That was actually kind of deep. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Dimitri: My insanely gorgeous physique. A constant source of harassment.
Fenn: I take it you’re being ironic?
Dimitri: You should know—you wrote me this way. Of course Twilight’s Edward is so good-looking he sparkles. You think a geeky guy narrator is going to pull in the tweens?
Fenn: Not really the audience I was going for. You might have noticed the strong language.
Dimitri: I’m 23, we swear occasionally. Sue me. But the gore wasn’t my idea.
Fenn: Right, the gore.
Dimitri: Thanks so much for that.
Fenn: Hey, you took the Aspinwall assignment. Maybe staying overnight at a haunted mansion on Halloween wasn’t the best idea.
Dimitri: Again, not my call Ms. Deux ex Machina. Plus it was an opportunity to expand my journalist horizons beyond obituaries, and I needed the money. Some of us writers aren’t living the 47North high life. They gave you a free Kindle, right?
Fenn: You’re completely impossible. Ok, next question. What is your current state of mind?
Dimitri: Recovering from PTSD. I know I’m not supposed to give away any SPOILERS. But thanks to you I now have a phobia of wells, the Tudor style of architecture, antiquarian books, morgues, hospitals, knives, 20th century Russian occultism, séances, punk rock bands, photography, and poetry magnets. Not necessarily in that order.
Fenn: But beaches, beaches are still good?
(scribbles note to self)
Dimitri: I don’t like the way you just said that. You’re not going to ruin beaches for me too, are you?
Fenn: Me? No. You and Lisa are happily ever after and all that.
Dimitri: Because if there’s a sequel I’d appreciate some warning. And a bigger cut.
Fenn: Noted. So, back to Proust. What is your most treasured possession?
Dimitri: I’m wearing it. (Lifts his left hand and flashes a silver ring).
Fenn: That was your father’s ring, right?
Fenn: Right. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Dimitri: Waking up in the morgue would probably be high on the list.
Fenn: You sure? Because…you know…I was thinking there was that moment when you opened the fridge, and you thought there was ketchup leaking…
Dimitri: Do you actually want to sell any copies of this book, or should we just post it all for free now.
Fenn: I’m sorry. My bad.
Dimitri: Thank you. Now, what was I saying…depth of misery. I guess there were technically a couple of bright spots about waking up on the slab in the morgue. A) No one had dissected me yet. Being splayed alive would have really sucked. B) At least Lisa was upset because she thought I’d died. Since my parents passed away…there really hasn’t been anyone who cared, or even gave a f—
Fenn: Language! Please, this is a G-rated blog posting. Okay we’ve got to wrap it up—just so you know, I’m not exactly bathing in dollar bills yet. Got to get up early for work. So let’s see…What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Dimitri: Lisa put you up to that, didn’t she.
Fenn: I might have mentioned to her…
Dimitri: Okay, she is. Lisa Bennet, punk rock drummer extraordinaire is the love of my life. The apple of my eye. The candy of my cone…
Fenn: Insert cliché here.
Fenn: Alright, last question. Please take it somewhat seriously. On what occasion do you lie?
Dimitri: When being interviewed.
(Fenn sighs heavily. Starts roughly stuffing her papers into her messenger bag).
Fenn: You know, next time I’m going to write a biography about someone dead. At least when your subject is DEA D they can’t be such a pain in the—
Fenn (sputters): You…you are so…what’s the word I’m looking for—it begins with an ‘a’.
Fenn (slides bag over shoulder angrily): No, that is so not it. More like 'annoying' to the millionth power.
Dimitri: So does that mean yes, you need a ride? (swings car keys around his finger).
Fenn: In your crap Mustang.
Dimitri: Write me into a Lexus next time, I won’t complain.
Fenn: (sighs). If you’re headed my way.
Thus concluded our interview. Dimitri palmed the cronuts, bummed some gas money off of me, and called me about an hour after I got home to complain at length that the “crappucino” machine was, well, not exactly functional, and before I get any sequel ideas we need to sign a contract and yes, he's got an attorney.
Definitely writing a biography of someone dead next time.