Hello---today deep in the Locker I have my first guest! Author, Heaven Liegh Eldeen, graciously agreed to stop by for a visit and share her interview with John Divad from The Demon Side. Please share this blog with your friends as we all get to know the many dimensions of The Demon Side.
Please also see Katie Harper's blogspot featuring Heaven's interview with the underworld, Rahovart, the demon pivotal in The Demon Side.
Watch for the release of this intense thriller in just four short days!
And now, the wonderfully talented Heaven:
Today I am sitting down with Master Gunnery Sergeant John Divad from The Demon Side. I have to admit, I am more excited about this interview than any other. Always the rock, trying desperately to hold his family and career together, John handles every situation thrown at him with the grace of a bull in a china shop, but also with the purest of intentions. I can’t help but to feel for the guy and root him on, as he finds himself battling against his invisible enemies; his wife’s alcoholism and his daughter’s Schizophrenia.
Me: “Good morning John. How are you doing?”
John: “I am doing just fine, Ma’am. And yourself?”
Me: “Good, thank you. But please, call me Heaven. Ma’am makes me feel old.”
John: “Suit yourself Ma’am, I mean Heaven.”
Me: “I’m sorry, but I have to ask first and foremost, why did you join the Marine Corps?”
John: “Growing up on a cattle farm in Chino Valley, Arizona doesn’t leave you many options. You either, work the farms, join the rodeo or you move on. I moved to Phoenix when I was 17, shortly after graduating high school, where I got a job at a fast food restaurant.
Working the late shift one evening, my nose was busted to hell, during a robbery of the restaurant. Unable to afford proper health care, I went to a clinic next to a recruiting center. Waiting to see the doctor, I struck up a conversation with a Marine Corps recruiter, who was standing outside smoking a cigarette. Next thing I know, a few days later, I’m walking on yellow painted foot prints, with some guy yelling at me.”
Me: “What is your current occupation with the Marine Corps?”
John: “My current MOS, excuse me, Military Occupational Specialty, is 0171 Manpower Information Systems Analyst.”
Me: “What is that, exactly?”
John: “Typical duties of MIS analyst include research, procedural or system problem solving for reporting units, monitoring completion of class I systems cyclic updates, and conducting educational/training contact visits to both active and reserve reporting units within the regional jurisdiction.”
Me: “That’s a mouthful. Have you always been an MIS Analyst, as you put it?”
John: “No. Originally, I served as a 0369 Infantry Unit Leader.”
Me: “Why did you change jobs in the middle of your career?”
John: “Due to poor decision making, on my part, I was recently demoted to the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant and transferred to my current duty station, Marine Corps Base Quantico. With the new transfer, came a new job.”
Me: “What decision landed you in the military’s hot seat?”
John: “I made a decision that cost the lives of innocent people. That is all the further I will go into the matter.”
Me: “Okay, moving on then. How long ago did your first wife, Etta’s mother, pass away?”
John: “She died eight years ago, in a car accident.”
Me: “How did that affect you and your career?”
John: “Her death destroyed me on the inside. Finding solace in my work, my career flourished.”
Me: “How did you come about to marrying your deceased wife’s best friend?”
John: “I get a lot of disgusted looks for that decision, but the answer is simple. Shortly after my wife’s death, I was deployed to Iraq. Rene took care of Etta, as if she were her own, while I was gone. We talked on the phone and emailed each other as much as I possibly could. We became very close through our grief and love for Etta over those eighteen months.
She knew my life, the sacrifices it required and I knew hers. Most importantly, Etta loved her. Though she lost her mother, she still had a feminine figure to lean on. It only made perfect sense to marry her and bring back a sense a family dynamic to our lives.”
Me: “When you married Rene, did you know she was an alcoholic?”
John: “Rene didn’t drink before we were married. She started with a glass of wine with dinner every night. I didn’t realize there was a problem until our one year anniversary. There had been this restaurant she had been dying to go to, some fancy French place. I made reservations five months in advance, hired a limo, and bought this tennis bracelet that cost me three months wages. She wanted romance and I was going to give it to her.
Unfortunately, the restaurant had quite the wine list. Instead of enjoying a nice, well prepared meal, I watched her drink her dinner. The more I protested the more she knocked back. At the end of the night, I had to carry her out of the restaurant. She was so blitzed, half way home, I had to pull over to the side of the road and force my fingers down her throat to get her to throw up the booze. We spent the rest of the evening in the E.R, while she was treated for alcohol poisoning.”
Me: “And how do you feel about her alcoholism, now?”
John: “I hate it. I have never been much of a drinker. I don’t enjoy not having control of my body or mind. It is hard for me to understand how someone, especially as strong minded as Rene, could give into it so deeply. It doesn’t make the home life any easier either. Between her and Etta, I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.”
Me: “There are options to help treat her disease. Have you thought about admitting her into a rehab or out-patient program?”
John: “I’ve tried, but as the old saying goes ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it sober up.’ sums up my success with her treatments.”
Me: “At what age was Etta when she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia?”
John: “That’s the beautifully messed up part about it all. I got slammed with Etta’s diagnosis three days after my one year anniversary and a month shy of Etta’s twelfth birthday.”
Me: “What caused you take her in to get diagnosed?”
John: “While I shoved my fingers down Rene’s throat, my daughter was busy chasing imaginary demons with a butcher knife, throughout her babysitter’s house, which I wasn’t made aware of until weeks later, through a friend.
When I picked her up from the babysitter’s, she had been acting strangely. My little girl didn’t run up, arms open for a hug, screaming “My devil doggie!” as she always did since she could talk. Instead, I got a cold “Can we go now?” She wouldn’t let me grab her overnight bag, let alone allow me near her.
I attempted to talk to her, but she would only ramble on about bad demons and ghosts trying to touch her. I first assumed she had been sexually assaulted. Before going to the babysitter’s house and killing everyone in it, I took her into medical for an exam. You could imagine my surprise when the doctor came out saying everything was intact, no abuse occurred, but recommends she see a psychiatrist.”
Me: “Almost twelve, you say? That’s pretty young for such a diagnosis?”
John: “Diseases don’t care how old you are. They don’t care about your race, your religion, the clothes you wear or the amount of money you make. They do not discriminate, period. Man could actually learn a lot from them.”
Me: “There is a scene in The Demon Side in which Rene physically attacks Etta. What are your feelings on that?”
John: “Most of the time…I’m confused about it. With the fire tornado that their diseases create, you would never have guessed that, they were once tighter than two ticks on a dog’s nuts.”
Me: “How do you handle your deployments knowing you’re leaving a wife and daughter alone, together?”
John: “It helps having a support system. Before any deployment, I make sure I have plenty of people checking in on my girls, everyone from friends to social workers. The Marine Corp helps out a lot with this as well. All the different updates can be draining, especially when you have a social worker telling you one thing, and your wife or daughter, telling you another. But, I’m there with a job to do. If I don’t keep my head in the game, I may not come home with one.”
Me: “And Etta’s demons? What do you think of those?”
John: “Demons are the fabrication of a young mind that has been wired differently than most.”
Me: “You don’t believe your daughter sees Demons?”
John: “Absolutely not. I won’t indulge in this line of questioning any further.”
Me: “Alright. I have a question here from Katie Harper. She asks “Describe a perfect day.”
John: “A perfect day consists of waking up, putting on my slippers and being greeted by happy, healthy versions of my wife and daughter.”
Me: “Again this question is from Katie Harper. “If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?”
John: “Just once, I would like to have a perfect day.”
Me: The following questions come from Amy Schmidt. “John, who or what, inspires you?”
John: “Definitely my family. The drive me to be the best husband, father and Marine, I can be. Without them, I’m just a Jarhead on auto-pilot.”
Me: “Does anything scare you?”
John: “There are many things in this world that terrify me. Going to war, losing my family, ruining my perfect credit score, and spiders, are all things that scare me.”
Me: “With all the stressors in your life, what do you do to relax?”
John: “I eat candy, lots and lots of candy.”
Me: “Which candies are your favorites?”
John: “It depends on my mood and what’s going on. Hershey’s Special Dark is good for the days I want to ring someone’s neck. Payday bars are great anytime time of day. Tootsie Pops, I really enjoy when I’m deployed, they don’t melt. If I have to narrow it down to one though, my all-time favorite would have to be Tootsie Rolls. I’ll admit when I get one in an MRE, I get excited like a little boy on Christmas morning.”
Me: “Is there anything you would like to add before we conclude our interview?”
John: “No Ma’am. Nothing comes to mind. I think we covered enough bases for now. Plus, I don’t want to go off ruining the story. The book will be out soon enough.”
When she’s not kissing owies, climbing Mount Dishmore, or obsessing over her Facebook page, you can find Heaven at the computer, revising or editing one of her five works in progress, or with her nose buried in a text book. Eleven years later, still clean, sober, unaffiliated, and happily married, Heaven reflects on her past, using her experiences to inspire her writing. Having lived in many states, she has now settled down in California with her husband, her son and a betta fish named Barry.
Read the musings of the lovely and talented Heaven Liegh here.
Want to know more? Be sure to check out The Demon Side, releasing October 21st, 2011!! Next week, Heaven will be doing a Bio and Interview with the infamously, wicked step-mother, Rene! Have a question you’re dying to ask her? Leave your question in the comment box below or hit Heaven up at:
She would love to hear from YOU!