Saturday, June 14, 2014

Interview with Dorothy Stephens, author of Kwa Heri Means Goodbye

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?
Dorothy Stephens

 I live in Peabody, Massachusetts by way of New Jersey (where I grew up), Virginia; Michigan; Washington, D.C.; Syracuse, NY; Nairobi, Kenya; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Marblehead,

When not writing, I read, swim, bike, go for walks on the local Rail Trail or along the ocean, and work in my garden.

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

 My book, A Door Just Opened, scheduled for release by Fire and Ice this August or September, is loosely based on a true event that happened over a hundred years ago in the southern New Jersey pinelands. I knew the setting well (a New Jersey farm) and either invented or based characters on blended versions of people I knew. The plot contains some bare bones true facts, but is almost entirely fiction.

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

I love the moment of starting a new piece of writing, and the surge of euphoria that comes with it. The absolutely worst moments come when it’s time to start querying agents and publishers and steeling myself for the rejections.

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block? 

I hope other writers won’t get mad at me, but I seem to have escaped that curse, at least so far. I get such joy out of writing that I’m only afraid I won’t live long enough to get it all out on paper, or rather on the computer.

Click HERE to buy it!
Can you please share an excerpt?  
      “Mama, look at me! Tell me why you’re crying!” I tried to pull her hands away from her face, but she just shook her head and went on crying.
     “I’m going to get Papa. I’ll be right back!” I called over my shoulder as I ran out the door and down the path to the barn. The bright sunlight hurt my eyes and left me momentarily blinded when I stumbled through the barn door and into the twilight gloom. My shoes rustled in the hay underfoot, and warm wet animal smells filled my nostrils along with the sweet dustiness of the hay.
     “Papa? Papa!” I called. “Where are you?”
     “Over here,” came his gruff voice, and I could see him then, forking hay into Dolly’s stall.
     He stopped, leaning on his pitchfork and mopping his face and mustache with a handkerchief. “What is it?”
     “You’d better come. Mama’s in a terrible state!”
     Papa threw down his pitchfork and started toward the door. “Why? What’s happened? What’s wrong with her?”
     “I don’t know! She’s just sitting up there in the kitchen, crying, and she won’t tell me what’s the matter.”
     Together we hurried up the path to the house. Mama was hunched over in her chair, still sobbing, but more softly now.
     “What is it, El?” Papa asked, putting his hand on her shoulder. “For God’s sake, what’s wrong?”
     “It’s Mary Ellen,” she cried, lifting a face smudged with tears. She broke into fresh sobs.

What’s your next/current writing project?

A new adult novel set in post-World War II married student housing, about the lives of the women married to men back in college on the GI Bill and the difficulties they faced: flimsy temporary wartime housing, wood stoves to cook on, coal stoves to heat the apartments, no hot water, no car, little money, and often babies and toddlers to care for. A recipe for putting strain on any marriage.

Here’s a totally random question for you:
 I'm on a silly haiku kick, so come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “floppy”.

Big floppy-brimmed hat
Shields the assault from above
Lethal golden rays.

Reminds me of that heat-bowl called Florida! Thanks for stopping by!

I’ve been a freelance writer for the past thirty years, My articles, essays, book reviews, and profiles have appeared in numerous national journals, magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Larcom Review, and Adventure Cyclist.  I was a finalist for the 1996 Bakeless Prize in Nonfiction and a Scholar at the 1997 Bread Loaf Writers Conference. My memoir, Kwa Heri Means Goodbye; Memories of Kenya 1957-1959 is available on Amazon, Kindle, and at Barnes & Noble.

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