Today, the Fantastic Blog Hop tour bus screeches to a halt along the banks of the Indian River on the east coast of Florida. It trundles up to the home of author Dellani Oakes who is here to talk about herself and tell us how she got hooked on writing.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night....
How I always loved Snoopy for introducing me to this line. Even as a child, I knew it was a cheesy beginning, but couldn't resist the fun of starting at least one story with it. I remember making my high school creative writing teacher laugh when he graded my story during class.
I've been asked how long I've been writing and that's a tough one to answer. I've been composing stories since I was three, but didn't start writing things down until I got older. The first clear memory of my written word was a poem I compose for my grandmother. I don't remember much about it except one haunting phrase, “When you get into the coffin, you never will grow cold, if you make sure that the coffin's made of 14 carat gold.”
Why I thought this was appropriate subject matter for a poem, I don't know. I also have no idea what my grandmother thought of it. I like to hope she appreciated the finer points like rhyme scheme and meter, even if it was otherwise of dubious merit.
As a youngster, I wrote song lyrics – some were parodies which I composed with my mother & sister on long drives. Every summer, we went from Nebraska to visit family in Ohio and Tennessee. We had to amuse ourselves somehow. We never lacked for input. A sign in Iowa that said “Wanted: Beans to Walk Through”, sparked the song parody, “Michael Weed the Good Old Field.” (To the tune of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”)
Some compositions were original, like “The Unfinished Road in the Valley”. Admittedly, it was pretty terrible, but I intended it to be. I disliked soppy Country music, so I wrote the song with a very tongue in cheek intent. “The unfinished road in the valley. I see you in far away. You remind me of that dear little girl who stole my heart away.” (You may now vomit).
By high school, I was into short stories and humorous essays along the lines of James Thurber. One of the infamous stories purposely began with “It was a dark and stormy night in the middle of December.” It was a murder mystery spoof set at Valley Forge with the most incompetent detective ever. I think his name was Horatio Horsefeathers, but I'm not sure. I followed up with “Mistaken Identity”, a gender bending murder mystery with another addled detective. Tweety P. Winslethorpe, at least, caught her perpetrator. (Horatio became another victim).
In college, my interest turned to plays. As a theatre major, I enrolled in a class specifically for play writing. I loved it. I learned a lot about strong dialogue and draw from it in my novel writing. I kept writing short stories, scribbling them on paper napkins or scraps of paper when nothing else came to hand.
It wasn't until I was out of college and teaching, that I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. It's as yet unfinished, but one day, I shall complete it. It was rather rudimentary, but the basic idea is strong and the characters compelling enough, I want to tell their story. Don't look for it any time soon, though. I have too much on my plate.
I didn't take up novel writing again until my youngest son (now 17) started kindergarten. I wasn't working full time, so it was something I could do. The voices I'd ignored for so long, started talking again and I had to listen. The loudest voice was that of Gabriella, a young Spanish woman in St. Augustine, Florida. I heard her when I accompanied my eldest son on a field trip to the East Coast's Oldest City. She wouldn't stop talking until I gave her voice and told her story. Thus, Indian Summer was born.
Since then, I've written so many stories, I've lost count. I have that many and more that are sitting in
Twice a week, I post another story, in serial form on my Dellani Oakes blog