Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author Interview: Dorraine Darden-Part I

Jack Rabbit Moon: A Garner Park Story
By Dorraine Darden
ISBN-13: 978-1-58385-139-5
Publisher: Cold Tree Press

Dorraine Darden is the author of Jack Rabbit Moon: A Garner Park Story. I ran across her blog, Free Ice Cream, on Blogger a while back and have been a constant reader ever since.

I discovered her book, Jack Rabbit Moon, on her side bar. It is a magical story set in the beautiful, mystical terrain of Garner State Park in Texas. Her story is about eleven-year-old Marnie Evans's search for her place in the world. Like all of us, Marnie yearns for the comfort and stability of a loving family.

Dorraine graciously allowed me to interview her about her experiences with writing. I know that many of you are aspiring writers and those of you who are not, are avid readers. Which ever category you fall into, I believe you'll find Dorraine to be a tasty dip for your literary chip.

Hi, Dorraine, welcome to the Wonderland. Oh, I see you brought your little dog, Lucky, with you! Happy to have the both of you. Take a seat and let's get comfy before we begin our visit. How was your flight from Texas? Great! Glad to hear that the first-class ticket I bought you was worth the extra money. Nothing is ever too good for Wonder Guests. Now, let's see...

Your novel takes place in Texas. What inspired your story, its characters and its location?

The inspiration for Jack Rabbit Moon came from our initial visit to Garner State Park. I’d heard many inspiring stories about the area, regarding history and the families who gather year after year in the park. Cypress trees, their low slung limbs caught with Spanish moss, lace the banks of the Frio River, which captivated the nature lover in me.

The characters seemed as natural to the story as the river itself. Some came right up and introduced themselves, while others were a little thorny and needed to be coaxed with promises of beer and Little Debbie’s.

It is clear that you've done a lot of legwork for this book including the duties of a park ranger and the terrain of Garner State Park. What were the highlights?

The highlights were working with a Park Ranger in Garner State Park, who is also an Interpretive Specialist and yodeling ranger. He was gracious enough to allow me to pattern a main character (Ranger Rick) after his duties as ranger. He answered my endless questions about park history and was one of my manuscript readers. I learned much from his experience about the intricacies of running a state park.

Another highlight was going every summer with friends and family. We got to know the locals, who were interesting and colorful. We also relished floating the river by day and by night sitting outside in a moonlit yard, lulled by a sky swirled with stars.

You've told the story from each of the three main characters points of view, which is hard to do. (Marnie, Rick and Claire). Did you hear each of their separate voices from the beginning? Were there people in your life after whom they were modeled?

Yes, I think every fiction writer hears voices. First person can be a tough choice, though. To get under three unique skins and do it right is tricky business.

The ranger's character was a stretch for me, though, possibly because I’m not a middle-aged guy. I had to think like a man. Talk like a man. Walk like a man. Marnie, the main character, however, came right up and thwacked me on the head, her eyes shiny and mouth sassy. Claire, another character, was like a favorite friend with her cinnamon drenched hospitality.

As far as modeling characters after those I know, I think authors do this naturally. We graft in a laugh here, a nose there, attitudes of liveliness or doom and before we know it, we have the sweet and sensitive, or bitter and broody Frankenstein’s.

More than anyone though, Marnie reminds me of my youngest daughter, Grace. They both climb up forbidden mountains, carrying spunk in their back pockets.

Fairies, religion, Jesus and even an angel wearing a white cowboy hat and sequined boots are woven through this book. Have you had any spiritual or paranormal experiences?

Regarding the spiritual: One powerful memory is the time I gave a checker in my local grocery store a rose. I do this occasionally because I enjoy it. This particular day I didn’t want to. I’d had terrible news myself and needed some good cheer. But the urge to get the rose was so overwhelming, I couldn’t resist. I found a flashy yellow blossom and got in the checkout line. I paid for the flower and handed it to the young cashier. "This is for you," I said.

She smelled the rose and sobbed. When I asked what was wrong, she said her life was a mess. On her way to work that morning, she’d prayed for a sign, anything to show someone loved and cared for her. I cried with her and my own problems melted away.

On the paranormal front: More than a few things here too, but one stand out were pictures I captured, at night, in an ancient family graveyard on a Louisiana plantation. I’m a clucky chicken, the last person you’d expect to find at a pitch black cemetery. But that night I was coaxed. What I caught on film made hair bristle on the back of my neck. Still does. The pictures are unexplainable and will be the cornerstone for an upcoming paranormal series. I’m sorry to leave you hanging but please stay tuned.

I don't see any mention of any other books you've written. Is this your first novel and are you working on any others?

Yes, Jack Rabbit Moon is my first published novel. I’m currently finishing a second work of fiction titled The Passion Diary. The tale is about a pastor, Danny Yates, who finds and reads a woman’s lost journal but doesn’t expect to ever meet her, let alone fall in love with her. Due to synchronistic events, he ends up in the same small town she lives in. This book is about secrets and the messiness of love and how sometimes we must lose everything to find the one true thing. The novel was inspired by my own lost diary and is set in southern Missouri.

Thanks, Dorraine. Let's take a little break, shall we? Can I buy you a cuppa coffee and a cinnamon roll? If any of you would like to join us for a little bean brew and casual talk, feel free. Otherwise, folks, we'll be back on Tuesday, February 2 with:

Author Interview: Dorraine Darden-Part II


Brian Miller said...

wonderful interview ronda! i love hearing from authors and what their thoughts are when hey are writing...

Dorraine said...

It has been a delight chatting with you, Ronda. I'm grateful for the splendid interview. You are the hostess with the mostess. Thank you, dahling.

willow said...

Very intriguing interview, Ronda. I enjoyed this.

(your pic on the Kewl Beans post looks just like me in 1975. I even had glasses just like that!)

Reya Mellicker said...

This is great! I bet it was so fun for Dorraine to visit Wonderland. Thanks, Ronda!

TechnoBabe said...

You are so full of vim and vinegar, Ronda, that until I saw the comments I thought you were teasing. I see this is a real honest to goodness interview. You did a nice job with it. You sound like you have done interviews before. I'll have cream with my coffee please, and a cinnamon roll too please. Now let's us gals keep talking about the book(s) and what inspires Dorraine. Isn't that a cool spelling of her name? I will check into her books today and I look forward to the rest of the interview.

DUTA said...

Ronda, if you are as good a massage therapist as you are an interviewer , then you should be a very rich woman.

- Nice to meet you, authoress Dorraine Darden. I enjoyed learning from the interview about your inspiration , the characters of your published book, spiritual and paranormal experiences. Looking forward to part 2 of the interview.

Mama Zen said...

Great interview!

Ronda Laveen said...

Brian: I thought you would like it. And, think you will really like where we go with part 2.

Dorraine: I'm so glad you've enjoyed our little chat. I know I have. You are most welcome, Drainy!

Willow: So glad you enjoyed the interview. I would love to see a picture of you in 1975 if you have one!

Reya: Dorraine is a fun gal. A lot like you and I. Very positive and open to all possibilites.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great interview...sure made me want to read dorraine's book and her next one sounds intriguing - like that the story centers around a lost journal!! in college I lost a journal on an airplane and it sure did a number on my head - thinking of some stranger reading my private thoughts!

am sure dorraine's visit was truly wonderful!! and know part ii will be as wonderful for us as part i

Ronda Laveen said...

TechnoBabe: Now that I think about it, with all the imaginary scenarios I've created before, it probably did seem that it was a faux interview. I have done interviews before but it has been many, many, many years. I'll be right back with that coffee with cream and a platter chock full of cinnamon rolls.

DUTA: I am a far better massage therapist than I am an interviewer. But I'm not so rich in cash but very wealthy in goodness and life's abundance.

Mama Zen: Thank you!

Ronda Laveen said...

Mouse: Yes, her next book does sound very intriguing, doesn't it? I totally see what you mean about what goes through your head when you lose your most private thoughts in an unknown world.

Gemel said...

Ronda that was fab, thanks for sharing it with us. It wonderful to get an authors insight, perhaps you will be doing more of these........I hope :-)

Ronda Laveen said...

Gemel: Thank you. Yes, it is like you are reading my mind. I have a few more authors I can tap for insight and if I put the thought out there, I know others will come into my field.

Stacy Post said...

I loved this book! I'm so glad to learn more about Dorraine. (I wish I'd thought of interviewing her on my blog too. Doggone it!)

Good questions, compelling answers, I'll be back next week to read more. And Dorraine, you MUST let us know when, The Passion Diary, comes out!

Leah said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Ronda--terrific questions, and compelling answers. I love her story about the rose. And I will definitely read Jack Rabbit Moon.

I'm staying tuned!

Ronda Laveen said...

Stacy: Well, I had to come up with something else when you came up with the review. I was thinking the same thing, why didn't I think of that. Then I had my aha moment.

Leah: Hedgie would love, love, love this book too:-)

Jill said...

Cool interview Ronda!
I have written the book down...I love to read books recommended by others!

Kate Hanley said...

Wow. Great interview. I'm always so excited to get into the heads of fiction authors. Can't wait for part 2.

Ronda Laveen said...

Jill: Thanks and enjoy!

Kate: I know. I always want to know the writer's process and how they got their work out into the world.

Eternally Distracted said...

Great interview - Just what I needed to read this morning... although I'm still waiting for your coffee!

Dave King said...

Brilliant interview. I was totally absorbed throughout.

Candie Bracci said...

That's a really cool thing to do!It seems to be a great book.Have a wonderful weekend Ronda.

Megan said...

How cool! I will look out for the book. I wonder where part 2 is going to take us???

Ronda Laveen said...

Eternally Distracted: I'll be around with the pot in right quick fashion.

Dave: Thank you!

Candie: Glad you liked. You have a great weekend too!

Megan: I think you'll really like where we go with part 2!

Christina said...

Wow, the things you do, Ronda!
I am amazed...

Poetikat said...

Hey! Poets hear voice all the time too!

Great interview. The book sounds intriguing.

Ronda Laveen said...

Christina: Well, I'm just as amazed at the things you do!

Kat: I know! You poets are very creative beings. And it seems you have a lot of beings that have a lot of things to tell you.

Linda Pendleton said...

Great interview going here. :-)
It sounds as if Dorraine has created some great characters and the idea for the next book sounds intriguing.

I look forward to reading more next time.

Mrsupole said...

That truly was a very interesting interview and you, along with the author held our interest throughout. That is truly hard to do, many times I will just read a few lines and then skip to the end, but you kept it interesting. You have a gift.

Great job, I am looking forward to part 2.

God bless.

Ronda Laveen said...

Linda: As you are a published author yourself, I take that as high compliment and thank you for both myself and Dorraine.

Sherry: Ah, now I know your little secret: read top and bottom! That's how you get so many posts read. But I have to tell you, I'm not so sure that is all you read. I read your comments and you are very thorough! You do not comment on just the top and the bottom of a post. You nail the whole thing! Don't know how you do it!

Dorraine said...

A big thank you to all who have stopped by and left such splendid comments. I've enjoyed them all.

And, yes, poets hear voices, too. I'm sure of it. :-)

Now, ain't that Ronda something?

Deanna Schrayer said...

Fantabulous interview Rhonda! I just loved Jack Rabbit Moon, and I love Dorraine even more. We've gotten to know one another over the last year or so, and she has been a great inspiration to me. She's the one who pushed me to write fiction; sometimes I want to hug her neck for that, other times I want to strangle her neck for it. :) Really, though Dorraine is a true friend and I appreciate her very much.
You touched on some things in your interview that I didn't know about and I'm anxious for part 2!

Deanna Schrayer said...

P.S. I wrote a review of Jack Rabbit Moon a couple of weeks ago on my blog. Just wanted to let you know that I updated that blog post to include a link to your interview:

Ronda Laveen said...

Dorraine: I truly is something! Something marvelous!

Deanna: Thank you. I really think you will enjoy part 2 just as much if not more. Dorraine is truly an inspiritional writing cheerleader. I think I am about to know about the hug strangle thing.

Yes, I read your book review when it posted and will be linking to it in part 2. It is so funny...I was just going to hunt down your site when you showed up.

otin said...

When I see something like this, it makes me want to write something substantial. Maybe someday!

Deanna Schrayer said...

Interesting Ronda - I've been writing about psychic abilities this morning. Actually, it was supposed to be a blog post, but memories kept coming to me, so the original has turned into more novel-length. Now I don't know what to do with it. Guess it'll sit around for a while until it decides for itself what it wants to do. :)

Ronda Laveen said...

Otin: you already do write substantial pieces. I want to be the one to encourage you to do more with them. Dorraine may give you some ideas in the next part.

Deanna: There's a lot to be said about psychic occurences. Today, with you and I, is a perfect example. There's also a lot to be said about pieces of writing having their own mind!

tony said...

Yes, Its interesting getting under the skin of a story.A Fine Interview.+Thanks for the link, I will investigate Dorraine further.Have A Fine Day Ronda.

lettuce said...

how fascinating.
and the story about the rose is great.

subby said...

'Lo Ronda & Dorraine! Fantastic introduction here ( sorry I'm a bit late, heh ), but will be seeking this book out, I will. Looking forward to part two :)

Dorraine said...

Ronda and Deanna,

You two,what shall I do with you? How about I hug you and that way you won't strangle me! You're both fantastic writers and all around wonderful peeps. Such sweet talkers, too.:-) Really,thank you for your kindness. I've certainly been blessed by it.

Now, just keep your shine on and nobody gets hurt.

Who Is Tim Burton? said...

Hi! Ronda,
Nice interview...I plan to repost an interview that took place in
November with me and two authors.

By the way, Thank goodness you didn't make the same faux pas that I did on my last post "True Confession" I mistakely, failed to link back directly to their website and they almost had a "prissy" fit...
...In the future, I plan to interview the authors directly...similar to what you did here on your blog. (Or get permission when I don't interview the authors directly.)

Once again...Thanks, for sharing!
I will be looking forward to part II.
DeeDee ;-D

Ronda Laveen said...

Tony: Hi, you must have got your computer up and running! Glad you enjoyed.

Lettuce: Yes, the story about the rose was great. There is such synchronicity in life.

Subby: I never mind anyone showing up to the party late. You are always so welcome. Yes, I do believe that you will enjoy Dorraine's book very much.

Dorraine: You are so funny. Yes, you probably should hug us before we do you harm. But you know that we are joking because you are just too grand to harm. You also cook really well and if we're nice...

Who Is Tim Burton? said...

By the way, I'am an interviewer on a fellow blogger, who is friend blog.

And I usually interview guest myself. Why did I post an interview (True Confession) from another source is a mystery.

I thought it was nice interview, but I want do that anymore.

Ronda Laveen said...

DeeDee: Yes, I read True Confession and it was good. But, I would love to read YOUR interviews. Please?