Daeios: 140 Feet Down by Colleen Eccles Penor Genre: Dystopian Thriller
Print Length: 340 pages Publication Date: November 9, 2019
They believed Daeios would be a safe haven.
They were wrong.
Fleeing apocalyptic weather, a young survivalist woman and her family seek safety deep underground. But a new danger awaits them.
When the leaders of the shelter announce their plans to repopulate the earth using all fertile females, Shea knows she will be forced to become a breeder. Horrified at her impending fate, Shea must make the gut-wrenching decision whether to breed with an elderly, sadistic man and bear his child, or to fight the breeding, knowing that defiance will endanger her life and that of those she loves most.
A dystopian thriller with overtones of The Handmaid’s Tale, Shea’s chilling story will appeal to readers with an interest in family and survival.
The sisters assemble behind me to observe the results in the mirror, looking only at me, as if their reflections weren’t showing in the looking glass. They exclaim at my beauty and declare my makeover a success. I see a deranged Barbie doll with small boobs. Maybe they’re too flat to be called boobs. They turn me in the chair with a small mirror in my hands so I can see the back of my hair—it’s pretty in curls, and has grown a few inches since we came here. They beam at me, they caress me, they play with my hair, they gloat over the results. All except Mother. I catch one glimpse of her face in the mirror. She’s not elated or disapproving of my appearance—her face is etched with angst. She disappears again behind the bevy of women, but I’m reassured that she’s here.
The women seat me in a plush, high-backed white chair that reminds me of a throne. I’m facing a mirrored door opposite the one through which we arrived. It surely contains the Breeding Room. Has my seed-bearer, or perhaps all of the Elders, been watching the entire time? The sisters form a ring around me, holding hands, their eyes closed, with peaceful smiles on their faces. I wish I could see Mother.
The ladies begin a prayer, in unison, that I’ll be fruitful, that my womb will be accepting of the seed-bearer’s sperm, that I may have many babies in the name of God and Daeios. That I’ll maintain my health and that of my children. They repeat themselves and repeat themselves, and after a while, the prayer becomes more of a musical chant filled with resonant voices. The sisters sway from side to side, and it’s as though they will transport me from the throne to the other side of the door with their voices alone.
The chanting stops abruptly, and two women drop from the circle to take my hands and help me rise from the throne. Robe Lady slips in to remove the robe. The women get behind me and drive me toward the door, giving me a moment to admire my lithe body in the full-length
mirror one last time before it becomes distorted with pregnancy. I look prepubescent with my labia shaved and my almost nonexistent boobs. I drink up every line of my face and body. When will I see my reflection again?
“Off you go,” Sister Leah says as she scans a key card to open the mirrored door. As she holds it open for me, the women exclaim, “Bless you, Sister Shea! Bless you!”
They push me through the door with soft hands on my back and ease the door closed behind me.
Colleen Eccles Penor wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, The Rubber Ducky, when she was seven, and sold it for 25 cents, keeping 100% of her royalties. She's a United States Army veteran who served as a military police officer, where she learned survival skills and the use of multiple weapons, skills needed by the characters in DAEIOS: 140 FEET DOWN. This is her debut novel.
Q. What inspired you to write DAEIOS: 140 FEET DOWN?
A. Mostly current world issues. We see it in the news every day: climate change, racial tensions, abortion rights, drug addiction, men assaulting women and the MeToo movement. Although this isn’t a political book, I took these issues and imagined what they might look like in 2034.
Q. You hit some pretty heavy subjects. What did you enjoy most about writing DAEIOS?
A. I like a challenge, so I most enjoyed writing myself out of corners and filling plot holes.
Q. How did you come up with the title?
A. I was looking for something that didn’t already bring up a lot of hits during Google and Amazon searches, and since the shelter is run by a religious group, I wanted it to include a word such as “God”, “faith”, or “life”. I looked into several language translations and several English title ideas and found they were all overdone, so I decided to take some of the foreign language translations of “God” and put them together in Daeios. The shelter is 140 feet underground.
Q. Do you think this novel would make a good movie? Who would you want to play the protagonist, Shea Donovan?
A. I think it’s very cinematic. There's one section, during The Ordeal, when the Daeiosians are in pitch darkness and a hymn is repetitively blaring. That would be the most challenging scene to film. As to an actress to play Shea, I would like to cast someone who’s a virtual unknown like Jennifer Lawrence was when she played Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games”.
Q. What did you edit out of your book?
A. I had several additional characters in the book that were used to emphasize the racial issues prevalent in 2034. The addition of The Tribe added many additional plot threads that served to take Shea’s story on a tangent. The book strayed away from the dark atmosphere of the rest of the book, so I killed those darlings. I especially miss a giant Daniff puppy named Norman, who provided some comic relief, but he just didn’t fit.
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