Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fortnight Of Guests 2012: Bryony Peace

Bryony Pearce author photoWe have a character interview with a difference today, as the amazing Byrony Pearce interviews her characters from Angel's Fury... I can tell you now: it's awesome!!  And, slightly off-topic, how gorgeous is the cover?!  Anyway, I'll hand you over to Byrony, and the characters of her book...

Angel's Fury Character Interview

Harmon Times
Angel's FuryThe local paper

Mount Hermon, the Manor House cum hospital run by the elusive Doctor Ashworth has been a source of both curiosity and controversy for our readers since it was taken over by the private trust in 1956.  Since the terrible drowning of the young Catherine Moss on the edge of the grounds a mere eighteen months ago, locals have been clamouring for more openness, in particular surrounding the nature of the treatments that take place behind its walls.  
Following a number of requests of behalf of the paper, I was finally allowed into the Manor for two hours one murky Monday morning. 
The lowering clouds seemed to follow my car as I drove along the crunching gravel drive.  Once inside the Manor I did not see the Doctor herself, but was introduced to three of the patients by an orderly who sat at the next table and watched me like a hawk, as if concerned that I was going to steal the cutlery. 
These teenagers sat in the Dining Hall nursing cups of coffee.  As I entered they glanced at me from under lowered brows, as if daring me to comment on their caffeine habit.
I was permitted to interview them, under supervision for only half an hour.  The remainder of my time was spent on a tour of the facilities which really are impressive, including tennis courts, a swimming pool and a half completed shooting range. 
If I hadn’t known that Mount Hermon was a hospital, I would have assumed it was some kind of private retreat for celebrities, along the lines of the Hitchin Priory.
The teenagers that I met could best be described as lethargic.  Their exhaustion was apparent and as I progressed through the interview I could see why.  Part of me was overcome with sympathy for their plight, but it was also hard to comprehend why they were so very traumatised.  The children at the Manor suffer from nightmares, but doesn’t everyone?  One of the teens I interviewed had been interred in the Manor for over a year.  Why does something as simple as a nightmare require isolation in such a place?  How can it take so long to clear up such a malady?  Why, in short, are these children not in school?
Perhaps this really is the life of the wealthy – to send your children to a posh retreat for the most minor of issues. 
Was my sympathy for their mental ‘illness’, or for the fact that their parents had so patently shipped them away?
In order to protect their privacy I could not use the childens’ full names, so they will be known as CF (who was a skinny teenaged girl with long brown hair), SA (an older boy, also with long brown hair) and PL (another teenaged girl, this time with short blonde hair and a number of piercings). 

My interview with these children is transcribed below.

So, how long have you three been at Mount Hermon?
CF: I’m new here - I arrived less than two weeks ago.
PL: But you feel like you’ve been here forever, right?
CF: Yes, somehow I really do.
SA: I’ve been here three months now.
PL: Three months too long!
SA: Whatever P.
PL: I’ve been here for 14 months.

Fourteen months is a long time – has anyone been here longer than you?
PL: The Doctor?

So this is kind of a home for you?
PL: Better than home, really. 
SA: You might say she’s on a scholarship.
PL: Shut up S,

And do you feel as if your treatment is progressing well?  I’d have thought 14 months would be more than enough time to cure your … problem.
PL: What would you know about our problem?

(At this point I noticed the younger girl looking disturbed).
You seem to think fourteen months is a long time too?
CF: I – I assumed I’d be out in a few weeks.
PL: (sniggering)  No chance C.  You’re a serious case plus The Doctor loves you.  You’ll be here at least as long as me.
CF: But … what about school … my parents?
PL: Isn’t it more important to get cured?
CF: Well … yes. 
(the boy put his hand over hers’)
SA: Everyone’s different C.  Ignore her.

So, have you known anyone leave the Manor?  What is the average time to discharge?
SA: I – I don’t know.  P, you must have been here when someone was sent home?
PL: No.  I don’t think so.
SA: You can’t have been first in.
PL: No, but … I guess the Doctor was having a lull when I arrived. 
SA: And now there are eight of us.

How old is the youngest of you?
SA: L, he’s ten. 

And you all suffer from the same thing?
(The children nod)

And what is it, exactly, that you have been diagnosed with? 
(There is a pause while the children look at one another and then the orderly)
SA: We … suffer from nightmares.

Well, don’t we all have nightmares from time to time?
PL: Yeah, sure, you have nightmares.  What - do you have to stand in front of your editor naked?  Maybe you’re taking an exam and haven’t done the revision?  Or you’re at a dinner party and you’ve run out of whine (this isn’t a typo, her pronunciation definitely implied this spelling!).
Hey now …
PL: So you wake up a little sweaty once every couple of months, think ‘phew it was only a dream’, roll over and go back to sleep?
CF: He doesn’t understand P.  How can he?

So can you explain it to me?
(It takes a minute of thought, but then the boy takes over)
SA: Have you ever had that lovely warm feeling where you wake up from a good dream and you don’t ever want to get out of bed because you feel so safe and happy?
Well, yes of course.
SA: I haven’t. 
(the girls shake their heads in agreement).
Well, that can’t be true …
SA: It’s true.  You know that feeling where you wake up from a good night’s sleep feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
Yes …
SA: I don’t. 
CF: I’d do anything to have that feeling …
SA: Almost anything.  Imagine your worst nightmare and multiply it a hundred times …
PL: No S, that won’t do it.  (She leans forward).  Do you watch horror films?
Occasionally.  I’m not a big fan.
PL: Can you bring to mind the worst, most terrifying, most violent horror film you know?  Imagine that you’re living it, not just watching it.  Now imagine that you go through that every single time you go to sleep.  EVERY SINGLE TIME.
You think we’re whiney teenagers.  I can tell.  You think we should suck it up and go back to our lives.
Not at all,
SA: Imagine what kind of life you’d have if you never, ever, ever slept.  How would you get through a class at school?  What would your grades be like?  How would you make friends?  Have a social life?
Come on, my wife’s had a baby, I know what sleeplessness is like …
SA: For a few months maybe.  Maybe a year or two if you were unlucky.  Try and picture that for your whole life. 
CF: You’d be a zombie. 

You’re saying you’re a zombie?
CF: I might as well be.  I’m the living dead …
PL: Shut up C!
(C giggles with a kind of hysterical note and ducks her head back into her coffee).

There are rumours that the Doctor is a specialist.
PL: Yeah, so?

In past lives …
PL: She’s a world expert, yeah.

And is that why you’re here - do you think you have … lived before?  ( I look back at the younger girl).  Do you think you’re the … living dead?

I’ll admit that the tone my voice may have offended them.  The boy became quite protective at this point and the orderly stood up to end the interview.
I left Mount Hermon with one clear image in my mind, the eyes of the young girl who thinks she’s one of the living dead.  That is what is at the end of our village dear readers.  Make of it what you will …

---!/BryonyPearce  @BryonyPearce

Thank you so much for this, Bryony!  This was such an awesome guest post - and so original!!  I hope you guys loved it as much as I did!!
Everyone, if you liked this post, make sure you follow all the FoG events on Twitter at #FortnightOfGuests


By Bryony Peace, author of Angel’s Fury.
Angel’s Fury was published by Egmont in July 2011.  The book is about a group of teenagers who have lived before, whose lives are being manipulated by a fallen angel trying to destroy mankind.  Angel’s Fury is long-listed for the Branford Boase and short-listed for the Leeds Book Award.  Bryony lives in a village on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two children and an aristocratic cat who likes to sit on the laptop and thinks she is better than all of us. 

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