Wednesday, April 03, 2013

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.....

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
limbo, unfinished, though I promise myself that one day, they will be. Indian Summer may be my first, but it isn't my only published novel. I also have a sci-fi seires beginning with LoneWolf , followed by Shakazhan and The Maker. I also have two contemporary romantic suspense novels called TheNinja Tattoo  and Undiscovered. I've added an retro romance called Under the Western Sky and my newest novel, an erotic romance called One Night in Daytona Beach, is ready for pre-orders.
Twice a week, I post another story, in serial form on my Dellani Oakes blog


Kemberlee said...

Great interview, Dellani. I hear there's a sequel to The Ninja Tattoo. What can you tell us about that?

Carol Butler Crawley said...

A sequel? Yes, tell us, Dellani.


Dellani Oakes said...

Kemberlee & Carol, I'm about 2/3 finished with "Savage Heart" where the lead character is Sailfish of the River People. I felt he got rather a short shrift in "Indian Summer". He was intended to be the male lead, but Gabriella refused to cooperate & fell desperately in love with Manuel. Poor Sailfish was left high and dry in love with a woman who would never love him for more than a dear friend.

I couldn't leave him without love - he's had so much tragedy in his life. So I brought him someone who will love & need him as much as he loves and needs her. And so Meli Chasseur was created. I hope I do them justice as I tell their tale.

Kemberlee said...

Sounds great, Dellani. But don't you just hate that? You've got an outline already drawn up, you know where you want the story together, start fleshing everything out, then as soon as you give your characters a voice of their own . . . BLAM . . . they use it and tell *you* what's going to happen ;-)

Dellani Oakes said...

Exactly, Kemberlee, which is why I no longer outline. I had it all in my mind. Gabriella would be forced to marry Manuel. He would be a gambling, drinking, womanizer who abused her and she would run into the arms of Sailfish.

Manuel reformed (he wasn't nearly as bad as I'd painted him). Gabriella refused to love another. Sailfish because the love lorn and a possible secondary love interest became the villain - quite well, as a matter of fact. :)

Kemberlee said...

How do you come up with your character names? Native Americans have a history of naming their child for the first thing the mother sees after the birth of her child. I can't imagine her seeing a sailfish unless she gave birth on the coast. Very curious!

Dellani Oakes said...

A scene from the book came to me in a dream - the shark attack scene in the last part of the book. He was named Sailfish in that dream and the name stuck. :)

Actually, she could have seen a sailfish because they made camp half the year on the island off the coast. The Indian River (Intercoastal Waterway) flows between the mainland and the ocean and they had a campsite which is now a national park.

Kemberlee said...

I've used dreams too in my writing. So cool how it works. I don't think non-writers would understand ;-)

Dellani Oakes said...

Kemberlee, I feel sure they don't. But that's what makes us fun and unique!

The Best Medicine by Dellani Oakes – Part 40

"Not for us," Morgan said. "Sarducci's—piece of cake. And Caden can get a table at Moskva any time he wants." ...