D.K. Christi Interview on Dames of Dialogue

On Wednesday, October 17th, Dames of Dialogue posted an interview with D. K. Christi. With kind permission, the interview is posted here:

Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, D.K. Tell us about your latest work, “Mother and the Class Reunion,” a short story in the international anthology, Forever Families, published by Mandinam Press and shortly available in ebook at Amazon.com.

D. K. Christi: Recently, this favorite short story theme about a loving mom engineering a summer romance for her adult daughter was printed in the third of Mandinam Press’s Forever series: Forever Friends, Forever Travels and the recently released, Forever Families. All three anthologies are collections of international stories by authors from across the globe writing in every genre. It’s great company. “Mother and the Class Reunion” is loosely modeled after a personal experience with a twist.

Sounds like not only an interesting but fun read, D.K. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

D. K. Christi: I have one manuscript waiting for approval with L & L Dreamspell, The Bamboo Ring, a story of exotic lands through the eyes of a woman in love. I also have a work in progress, Escape to Love, a period romance and adventure in the South from the Civil War era. It is based on a young soldier’s love triangle discovered after he escapes from the heinous Elvira prisoner of war camp in New York by organizing a tunnel crew of POWs. He returns to battle at the southern lines after many misadventures along the way and then back to his southern home after the war ends to face love lost and the challenges to rebuild the south and his own dreams.

Wow. Both sound intriguing. As a Southerner, I especially like the concept for Escape to Love. What is a typical writing day like for you?

D. K. Christi: There are few typical days. I write about four hours a day; however, it is split between short stories, novels and articles for the local Southwest Florida Spotlight , www. swspotlight.com , a print and online news magazine. When I have a deadline, I am known to spend up to a week with only naps in order to finish a novel or a story. Nothing else gets done. I also write for Examiner.com and Suite101.com in addition to other freelance articles, grant writing and media releases.

I really wish I had more self-discipline and could devote more time to writing. I do enjoy reading your articles, D.K., and don’t know how you do all that you do. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

D. K. Christi: The characters tend to take control of the novel and their behaviors take on a life of their own. They may take the story in a different direction than planned. Neev became the heroine of Ghost Orchid; but she was not in the original story outline. Her birth and story came from the development of a back story for another main character. Neev’s physical attributes, intelligence and personality were born from the genes she inherited from the original, planned characters. She literally came to life between the covers of Ghost Orchid, a haunting story that rises in the mist of the haunting and exquisite Everglades.

Now, that’s interesting, especially since I really liked the character Neev. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

D. K. Christi: I prefer historical literature, the complex and romantic novels of the 19thcentury. They appeal to me because they tell so much about the world at that time and how the romantic heart fit in that environment. It is a romantic though difficult era in which to live; but the wealthy class had leisurely comforts and occupations that make today’s technological existence seem cold and distant in comparison. Human relationships at that time are infinitely interesting and entertaining, shedding so much light on the human condition.

Oh, I agree. Promotion is a big — and usually the most hated — part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

D. K. Christi: My most successful promotions are talks at organizations about the sex, myth and magic of the ghost orchid. The interest generated leads to book sales. The pre-publicity also generates sales and more live engagements. I love public speaking and gain energy from an enthused audience. My talks are generally a bit interactive. I would enjoy expanding public performances.

I’ve found it not only makes speaking easier but is more fun when there is interaction with the audience. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

D. K. Christi: My muse is a person I loved with all my heart and soul at one time but who became more of a ghost as time went by, still reading my writing and encouraging me to continue but not part of my real life. My best writing was under his influence and incorporated many of his suggestions. I often thought we should co-author, but it never quite happened. Without my muse, my writing is more essays and less romantic. My dad wrote stories for my son. He played classical and honky tonk piano and wrote music and poetry. He encouraged my writing. He died young; I had just begun writing my first novel, Arirang: The Bamboo Connection.

It’s sad your dad didn’t live to see you published. I’m sure he would have been so proud. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

D. K. Christi: Sharing my writing with someone who enjoys the story and wants more is quite satisfying. I also like the chance to create – to bring a story to life from words alone. I like being able to take the thoughts in my mind and put them on paper. That process seems to set me free. I am quite introspective with a mind that’s analyzing life all the time. Moving some thoughts to paper opens space. As a photographer uses a camera to capture a picture, I use words.

Love that answer. Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?

D. K. Christi: Grace Livingston Hill was the most influential in my young life. Her stories of sweet young Christian girls whose moral perfection led them into the arms of their prince charming for happiness ever after – that was what I wanted for my life. I thought if I could become an author, that would lead to that conclusion. Instead, I believe Humpty Dumpty seems more my story, often broken and never quite put back together again.

I think a great many of us fall under the Humpty Dumpty category, D.K. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

D. K. Christi: Emotions are an integral part of existence: love, hate, joy, depression and more affect how life is felt and lived. My inspiration comes from events and thoughts that become bigger in my mind; they take on lives and emotions of their own. An example is the simple blooming of a rare and endangered ghost orchid at Corkscrew Swamp on my birthday that inspired my mystery novel, Ghost Orchid. To anyone else, it was a flower that opened and was beautiful. For me, it is a perpetual gift on my birthday that encompasses many stories from all those who discover this exquisite flower for themselves. People travel on quests from around the world just to see the ghost orchid that only grows in Cuba and the Everglades.

I never knew of its existence until your book and was quite taken with not only the story you told but the ghost orchid itself. What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?

D. K. Christi: Amazon.com editors beautifully captured the themes: “Themes of friendship surviving tragedy; love conquering adversity and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire.” Add a dash of mystery and a dash of adventure in exotic and foreign locations. I was thrilled when Darryl Saffer, an award-winning environmental filmmaker read Ghost Orchid and identified with the confusion of an adopted child who longs for knowledge about birth parents. He provided the beautiful trailer with his original flute music and video to help me share the themes of Ghost Orchid with the world.

Oh, and he did such a beautiful job. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?

D. K. Christi: Sometimes, writing about what you don’t know provides a research challenge that might open a new perspective. I write about real emotions and places I know and shape characters and stories around them. The characters in the short stories published in Forever Travels and Forever Families are people a reader might actually know, people who might step out from the pages and say, “hello.” Neev in Ghost Orchid smiles from the pages of any fashion magazine or points a camera at the flower itself at Corkscrew Swamp. My characters are real enough to touch. The places capture the reader’s imagination and desire to experience for themselves. The only fantasies so far in the pages of a D. K. Christi story are in the imaginations of the characters or in the mystery of that illusive, ethereal ghost orchid plant.

Lovely answer. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?

D. K. Christi: I read on my smart phone and my netbook; I don’t need an e-reader. I believe electronic publishing will become even more real time and exotic. At some point, I think as a person writes, a person across the globe will be reading their words. The importance of producing a perfect first copy will grow. At some point, there will be direct electronic communication from author to reader, bypassing any “publication” except to storage and retrieval systems. The relationship between authors and readers will be important. Reviewers may gain in importance as publishers disappear. Print book machines may be available perhaps in kiosks for those who want a printed copy. Software applications will be more sophisticated for authors, providing online editors in real time and automatically recording a script copy at the same time as a print copy.

I can see that world hovering just over the horizon, D.K., and find the changes in the publishing industry exciting and innovative. I look forward to what the future holds.

Thanks for joining us today, D.K., for an informative, interesting interview. For more information about D.K. Christi:

Ghost Orchid book trailer by Darryl Saffer
WGVU National Public Radio interviews D.K. Christi
Southwest Spotlight

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D.K. Christi

D.K. Christi’s debut novel Arirang, a romantic adventure that spans seven continents, conveys an underlying theme that “life happens when you are planning something else.” In Christi’s shorter works such as Chalk, The Magic Box, and The Valentine , exclusive to Amazon Shorts , themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire. Discover a new voice in fiction and through her stories, perhaps discover something new about yourself.

Shelagh: Welcome D. K., please tell everyone a little about yourself:

D.K.: My roots are in Michigan where my family lives and I visit each year, preferring to drive so I can stop in the Georgia mountains and hike a little. I also spent significant youthful years in California, the dream land for a midwestern girl trying to get out of the snow and become a “surfer girl.” Once I started traveling, I didn’t stop, living an average of 3 years wherever I landed, job or home. These travels included international work in Europe and Asia and blue water sailing in the Caribbean. Experiences in foreign cultures and living “on the economy” provide insights that I try to share with readers. I have had a profession as an editor and writer for state departments of education and even a stint as a political intern in Washington, D. C. Right now, I live in Florida where I enjoy the Gulf and the Everglades for contrast, but miss hills.

Shelagh: When did you first start writing?

D.K.: I started writing in my youth, keeping meticulous diaries under lock and key that were as much fantasy thought as reality. I basically write essays, commenting on life. Recently, I have turned those comments into fiction.

Shelagh: What goals did you set yourself? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

D.K.: “LIfe is what happens when you plan for something else.” Amazon.com actually said it best when their editor described my stories as characters rising above adversity, overcoming life’s traumas and ecking out a new beginning. That’s the thought I wish to convey. Every challenge has a gift; we just need the capacity to recognize when it comes. I want readers to recognize their own selves in the characters, their agonies and their ecstasies, and perhaps find comfort in the resolution of their challenges.

Shelagh: Is your latest book part of a series or stand alone?

D.K.: At the moment, Ghost Orchid seems to stand alone; however, the ending begs for a sequel. Neev is the main character whose life is examined and changed through the magic of the ghost orchid; yet, the ending leaves the reader with the desire to know more about the characters who shaped her destiny, one in particular. She begins that story as hers ends. One family’s loves, lies and redemption are woven through the fabric of the Everglades as photographers search for the perfect subject in the perfect light and find themselves. Neev’s search unfolds as a mystery, one coincidence at a time, under the mystical magic of the ethereal ghost orchid. Recently, I also have  short stories published in several anthologies: “Rose’s Question” in The World Outside My Window; “The Ice Storm” in Romance of My Dreams, and “The View From the Balcony” in Romance of My Dreams II.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

D.K.: Death is the end. Or is it? A tragic accident opens Ghost Orchid and sets the stage to search for an answer to that age old question: Is love eternal? A mystical and exotic ghost orchid watches from its perch high in the cypress canopy as a mystery unfolds, one coincidence at a time.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and create the settings?

D.K.: Their traits fit the circumstances in which they dwell. They are borrowed and reworked from all the people I have know, about whom I have read, and those I’ve imagined. Neev is the daughter I never had, molded from the clay of men and women whose personalities left an impression.

Settings come from the places where I have lived and traveled. They are real to me in every respect though they sometimes require adjusting with research to make up for imperfect memories or documentation.

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual or most likeable character?

D.K: Since I have already given away my secret that I always wanted a daughter, I vote for Neev. However, Roger has his charm and Mel has depth worth examining and loving.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

D.K.: I’ll use the word processing outline features to give me skeletons of the manuscript and check for anomolies.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

D.K.: My preferred POV is first person and in the present tense. Publishers do not like either, especially in new authors. Therefore, I have switched to third person, past tense. When I am famous, I will return to first person, present tense.

Shelagh: How does your upbringing affect your writing?

D.K.: I have a very eclectic personal history with many twists and turns, traumas and joyful events. Therefore, I give my characters a strong dose of emotional appeal; readers have expressed great dislike for a character or been stunned by a stupid decision. One reader said she actually shouted out loud while reading Arirang: The Bamboo Connection, “no, don’t be so stupid!”- Another reader complained that a short story could not possibly be a romance because, “He walked away at the end. How could he do that to her? How could he just walk away?” As though I was supposed to give her some release for her pain at his behavior.

Shelagh: Please share the best review  that you’ve ever had.

D.K.: I think I hold onto the Amazon.com review because it says so much in such a few words:

D.K. Christi’s debut novel Arirang, a romantic adventure that spans seven continents, conveys an underlying theme that “life happens when you are planning something else.” In Christi’s shorter works such as Chalk, The Magic Box, and The Valentine , exclusive to Amazon Shorts , themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire. Discover a new voice in fiction and through her stories, perhaps discover something new about yourself.”

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

D.K.: I am working on a short story anthology, a major work, The Virgin Odyssey, about blue water sailors with stories in each craft that are shared in ports along their journey, a sequel to Ghost Orchid, and a special story about the Civil War inspired by my great grandfather’s escape from a prison camp.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

D.K.: website: http://www.dkchristi.com

twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dkchristi

Publisher: http://www.lldreamspell.com

I blog at www.redroom.com and www.amazon.com

Booktour.com includes events and there’s always Google.

ebook versions of Ghost Orchid are found at Mobipocket, Fictionwise and Kindle; print coming soon.

Arirang: The Bamboo Connection is in print and Kindle at Amazon.com where several short stories are also found in Amazon Shorts. The anthologies are also at Amazon.com in print and Kindle. All online bookstores carry my books, and anthologies containing my short stories.

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