How Did This All Happen?

What does a high-power research chemist do when he retires? Well, in my father’s case, he moved to an island in the Pacific Northwest and indulged in two hobbies: international folk-dancing and writing.

To accommodate the dancing, my parents designed their retirement home with a dance floor-sized room as the main focus of the house. Then, every Tuesday, they invited folks in for free dance lessons and a good time.

To satisfy his writing “itch”, my father began with the book, THE GOOD NEIGHBORS, later renamed, FATE BE DAMNED, a story loosely based on his childhood growing up on the family farm in South Dakota during the Great Depression. He used a Romanian family, the Dacias, as his protagonists. He made this choice as he had a fond memory as a boy of seeing a Romanian family singing as they took their children to school in a horse drawn wagon.

He then moved on to a trilogy of books about prehistoric man, the SONG series, another great interest of his. In between he wrote a thriller called, S.C.R.A.M. about nuclear energy gone wrong, and another book about South Dakota called, STORM IN AUGUST.

When I came on the scene, he had begun a sequel to THE GOOD NEIGHBORS, IRINA which was later changed to LONG DANCE HOME. This was to be a story about the last member of the Dacia family, still in Romania, who would be trying to escape pursuit by the Iron Guard to immigrate to America.

My father got half-way through writing this novel, and then failing health prevented him from finishing it. He then asked me to do so!?! How could I refuse? I couldn’t even though at the time, my husband and I were full-time RVers and I couldn’t type.

So, with half of a finished book, and no outline for the second half, I plunged in and started. I began with writing things out by hand, crossing things out, writing in the margins and on the backs of paper. I soon realized what a P.I.T.A. this was and began to wonder about somehow typing this up on a computer of some sort, which I had heard you could make easy corrections on as you went along.

My first inclination was to investigate my husband’s interest in helping as he could type and wasn’t intimidated by computers. I soon realized that I needed to learn to type, actually to “hunt and peck” really quickly.

So, with an iPad, and the program “Pages.” I began. Several years later I completed it and had it self-published. During this period, my father died and my husband and I moved to my parents’ house to help out my mother.

During one particularly snowy winter, we were snowbound for about a week, and I began a third book about the Dacias. This book is called, DEBTS AND VENGEANCE and it takes the Dacia story into the year 1933 and ties up some loose ends as well as opening some new doors.

Then I met a local Romanian woman, coincidentally also named, “Irina”, and asked her to read the novels. She generously agreed, and did so in record time; then we met to discuss the books and I learned that the Dacias my father and I had written about were really more American than Romanian!

Irina and I met many times and exchanged emails and gradually I revised all 3 novels to make them more accurate. I also drew illustrations for LONG DANCE HOME and DEBTS AND VENGEANCE and printed copies for editing. THANK GOD!!!, because shortly after that, my lap top ate my files and it would have cost in the thousands to make it cough them back up. 

The other option was to scan all the pages, convert the images to text, then edit the bejeezus out of them to make them legible. Several years later I finished this “fun” process.

Then I realized that we had a trilogy and that all 3 books should be illustrated, and that they should look like they’re related in their covers.

So I drew illustrations for FATE BE DAMNED. and Bruce Conway, who has facilitated the printing of all the Dann Books, made a re-design of the covers that were already in print as well as a cover for DEBTS AND VENGEANCE, so that now they look beautiful and related. Bruce and I also spent many hours entering corrections and exploring punctuation and other bothersome rules.
And now, dear reader, they are DONE!!!! I’m pretty sure of it. . .

Actually, there is now a fourth book, MEASURING UP, which continues the story of the Dacias, Wagners, and Epsteins of NYC in1934, as they travel to the Black Hills of Wyoming near Devils Tower for a wedding, rodeo, and the 4th of July. And now we have The Good Neighbors Series.