We are speaking with Ms. Deanna Jewel today. Good afternoon Ms. Jewel it is a pleasure to be here with you today. I am Lori (Lototy), and you are my very first interviewee. After reviewing Never Surrender, I am so glad I was chosen to do your interview. I really hope you enjoy the questions I have lined up.
Hi Lori, Please, call me Deanna. I'm pleased to be interviewed by CoffeeTimeRomance. Thank you for taking the time with me.
I would like to start off by getting to know you a little better. I know from your book that you live in Idaho with your husband, and that you have two daughters, and two grandchildren. You are also a very successful business owner. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, although from the looks of it, I can’t imagine how you have any?
We all have to have something else we enjoy, to give the brain a break once in a while. We have two Siamese cats at home that keep us company and when we're not there, they keep each other company. I love being out in my gardens but find it hard to keep up with the spring weeds. While I'm out there, I can't help but think about new plot lines, characters, what-ifs and maybes. As writers, I don't think that part of our brain ever shuts down.
Do everyday events spark your inner muse, or do you find that travel and new experiences have the greatest impact on your writing?
Everyday happenings seem to stir story lines for me, not that travel doesn't, but even the news waves a flag at possible ideas for stories, or people in our community end up being characters in the books. We were invited to visit friends who will be living in St Augustine Florida and the history there is amazing, so of course, a future story will begin once I check into more of the history there to lead into exploring once we arrive.
Writing is such a cathartic outlet for some people to express their feelings and pent up emotions. Is the same true for you, or is writing more of a fundamental need, in that it draws you in no matter what kind of day you have had?
Really, no matter what kind of day I've had, my writing is always close at hand to escape into and work on the character problems rather than dwell on my own sometimes. The characters are never far from my thoughts but when the new ideas pop in, they have to be written down, even on index cards or my notebook that makes it back to the computer with me. My characters write a lot of the story for me; I'm not one to use a story board and have each chapter plotted out. I write down a few plot lines to follow and the characters take it from there, as in Never Surrender.
I know when reading a really exciting book; I get caught up in all of the characters, and want to know everything about them, what they are thinking and feeling. How do you as an author stay on track, and not go off on a tangent with all of your secondary characters?
It's not easy because we're involved with all of them and no matter how small, they each play a part in the novel. During the edits is when I have to tone down my secondary characters. I add enough of them in so the reader will want to know more and maybe want to read THEIR story later on. If the secondary characters are interesting, they may lead into that, who knows, but yes, it's hard not to make their part as big and important. So I work more on bringing out the main characters attributes for the reader and bring them to life; I add things I notice about people in general and what I look for when I meet people. All five senses have to used to add life to the characters.
Who do you feel is your greatest critic, as well as your biggest cheerleader, and do you have your story fully constructed, before you allow anyone a glimpse of it?
I'm a personal writer, meaning I don't let anyone read it until I'm happy with the outcome. I have a critique partner I work with but even she doesn't get the manuscript until I've fleshed out each character to my satisfaction and yet, she still gives me stern critiques about what I should have included and didn't. She points out the little things I may have forgotten and they make the story so much better. She also lets me know I didn't do my best on some things, then again, she'll ask where I ever came up with some of my ideas!
Now let’s get into your book Never Surrender. I cannot believe this is your first published novel; it is really that good! The setting is amazing. I personally think the Tetons are absolutely gorgeous, and had the absolute thrill of spending a day horseback riding in them a few years ago. How did you spend your time researching the area, hiking, backpacking, scoping out the locals?
My brother lived in Dubois WY for a few years and I visited a few times. He took me to Whiskey Basin where the petroglyphs were. I think it was then that the characters came to me and didn't let me rest until I wrote their story. It was a bit unnerving. Writing this novel was almost like a movie in my head and I wrote what I saw and felt. I did spend a lot of time researching the Shoshone Nation and the area, lots of time at the library. My daughters refused to go with me after a few visits because they couldn't get me out of there.
Which character demanded the most attention, Kate or Taima, and why?
I think maybe Taima was harder because I wanted women to fall in love with him too. I wanted him to be someone they wanted to be with but I also had to make sure Kate was his equal; someone who would complement his character and not be needy and drag on him. I made her strong and I think that came through. As writers, I don't we are ever done editing and adding, but we have to choose a place to stop.
I was so excited to see that you did not glamorize or patronize the Shoshone. You show them as very hard working, and honest people, who deal with jealousies and prejudice, just like the rest of us. Was it hard combining a modern day woman with a man hundreds of years before her time?
It wasn't hard because I created a woman who could stand up to Taima and not cower away from him. She understands his need to be authoritative and she doesn't let that get in the way of how they deal with each other. Even though I know that's not how the Native American women were raised back then, but I'm not one to back down from people either. I also wanted to show how hard the women worked then and I think that came through. Then women didn't stand up to the men of their tribe, it just wasn't done. I couldn't make Kate like that, part of her modern day character coming through. There is also the issue of the shape shifter and jealousy that crept into the story!
I know that Taima’s son Kelee just about broke my heart. He is such a beautiful little boy, with a heart of gold. His story is so sweet and sad, which makes me wonder if you knew right from the beginning how he would pass on the legacy, or did he evolve as the story unfolded?
I'm so glad you liked him, thank you. Children always want everyone to be happy and so does he. Kelee evolved and surprised even me as the story went on. Like I said earlier, they wrote the story and I found myself laughing as they popped in surprise scenes on me. I knew I could use his character to touch hearts, too.
Taima himself is kind of a hard nut to crack. He does not endear himself to the reader right away, but that does not stop you from feeling his pain. What made you decide to give him such an antagonistic attitude in the beginning?
As a reader, I know a good author never gave me a hero I wouldn't enjoy reading about, so I knew the reader would keep going if I showed only a little of his character at a time, but showed the good inside of Taima. I also made sure to redeem him if he did something out of character more than I wanted him to.
Thank you so much for your time today! It has been great getting to know the lady behind the words I liked so much.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. I also liked your comments on Taima with the pending threat of rape against Kate, even though as you learned more about Taima, you knew it wasn't something he would be capable of doing and live with himself afterward.
Here are some words of praise, and upcoming releases for Ms. Jewel. I had the pleasure of reviewing her book Never Surrender, and very much look forward to her next novel! Her work is well researched, full of dynamic and exciting characters, and will definitely keep you riveted from the very first page.
A reader nominated me early in January for the 2008 Quill Awards by writing.com. I was the only one in the historical novel category so won an Honorable Mention instead, but that's still nice that a reader thought enough of the story to nominate me.
My upcoming novel, Fire On The Water, takes place in England in 1778 and involves ships, pirates, dukes, murder and controlling characters! More is on my website and I hope to have that manuscript submitted by the end of June. Also in the works is a novel about lighthouses and ghosts, with some reincarnation maybe, haven't totally decided yet, and also a fourth one taking place in England, 1788.
Thank you SO much for having me today!
We thank you for joining us, and for being so kind while letting me get my feet wet! It is a pleasure to learn a little of the behind-the-scenes processes the go into creating a novel of this caliber. We wish you much success with your upcoming books!