Another week of hot temps and I have to get back from interviewing this week’s featured author in time to perform for the local fair crowd. When I pick up Ms. Christi, I know she’s taken lessons from other authors and instead of giving me a specific destination nudges me aside and takes control of the transporter. Where do we end up? Well, I’ll let her own words describe our locale.
The sun is beginning its descent on the horizon, sinking like a Chinese lantern into the calm sea. A sea breeze hums through the rigging as we sit in the cockpit, anchored just beyond the beach. Somewhere in the distance, another yacht sends CaribbeanIsland music into the approaching night.
…I may miss the fair.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
These days, I am an author of fiction novels and a journalist for a local newspaper. I write fiction and truth. Additionally, I present Sex, Myths and Lies, a short talk about the mystery and magic of the ghost orchid, at organizations and conferences. My mystery novel, Ghost Orchid, is the only novel that chronicles the blooming of the “Super Ghost” of Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary that broke all records for the rare and endangered ghost orchid species. Ghost Orchid reaches audiences not normally waving banners to protect unique habitats and brings them to the beauty and serenity of the Everglades through a fiction story of love, lies and redemption, inspired by the very real blooming of the ghost orchid on my birthday in 2007.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I once spent hours with a Korean Chinese Brush Painting master attempting to perfect bamboo. I still have brushes and inks, but I haven’t attempted a painting in over thirty years. My few remaining paintings hang in my mom’s living room and my friend’s living room.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as a Broadway star?
My dad was a great pianist and I always hoped his talent would simply flow from me also. After many lessons I realized I could not sing or make music. My dance classes were average; but as an adult, I do love ballroom dancing. As a child, I was an avid reader. I was born with a feeling of “alone” that I buried in historical romantic books at every age. I knew that someday I would also write the great novel that could not be put down until finished. I keep diaries in anticipation.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Antoine St. Exupery strikes me as an exciting man who lived life fully – and brief. I think he would be an exciting dinner partner. Dom Luis, author of The Four Agreements has such great wisdom in simple terms, I would thoroughly enjoy meeting him. Amy Tan and Bella Yang are also authors whose company would be enjoyable. There are several author colleagues online whose company I am sure I would enjoy, too many to name here without missing someone important.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
Ghost Orchid is 166 pages of concentrated generations attempting to pluck some meaning from life through work and relationships. In the process, they experience the gamut of human emotions that sneak up on the reader and touch the heart. The environment takes the reader to the beauty and serenity of jungles and swamps, presenting a vision of nature that is soothing and exciting. The airport would disappear as the reader identifies with both the male and female characters. The swamp breeze would cool a day on a deserted island.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Ghost Orchid was an inspiration novel. I returned from seeing the ghost orchid blooming and wrote a short story about Mel. In the process, I realized that Mel had a larger story to tell though not from her voice. I studied the ghost orchid in every aspect through Google references and at the Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. I looked into Irish lore and symbolism. Each bit of research broadened the aspects of a character’s personality, hopes and dreams. The novel unfolded as Mel’s life experiences were exposed, one small revelation at a time, through the mysterious presence of the ghost orchid. I borrowed from my own travel experiences to provide an authentic environment and from some of my own missed hopes and dreams to add melancholy.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
My main advice is always, “just start writing.” Write one page each day and at the end of a year, there are 365 pages to edit. Join a critique group for support.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
“All I know is in this moment.” Live each moment well because life is fragile and uncertain. Try to do no harm and contribute to harmony rather than dissonance.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I am finding that the journalism aspect of my writing in recent months has had an impact on my creative writing. I have three novels “in process” but seem to be distracted. Ghost Orchid has a sequel due and I have two more novels, one the Virgin Odyssey, that borrows from my experiences blue water sailing in the Caribbean for several years in the late 1980’s.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Dkchristi.com is often updated. I also blog at redroom.com and at my web site. I’ve started a “Gratitude Blog” that’s in its infancy. I am a member of the usual set of social media sites: Plaxo, Facebook, Pinterest, Authorsden, and more and of course, our favorite forum, Publishedauthors.org . My journalistic endeavors are found online at swspotlight.com/author/dk_christi , examiner.com , and suite101.com