Dee’s first book SWEET SUNSET was released in December 2016 to wonderful reviews. Stay tuned after the interview because she’s giving me ( and you!) a little glimpse of the book.
Dee, The Writer
- What drives you to write? I have always been driven to write. When I was a child, I loved getting mail and answering letters. Writing helps to keep me sane, especially when life gets me down.
- What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why? I like all types of romance and mystery books. I like to mostly write Women’s Fiction, but have an inspirational romance at the publishers that I’m working on revisions now.
- What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why? Over they years I have read many types of romance novels, except erotica.
- What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day? I try to write every day, but can’t always. I prefer writing in the morning and sometimes in the evening.
- Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? Well, you’ll love this. I used to have a bedroom that was my office to share with my hubby. Three weeks ago I fell off the treadmill and dislocated my right shoulder. We had given a couch and chair to my granddaughter since we had two sets, living room and family room. Then we set the treadmill and bike in the mostly empty living room. A nurse came to visit and suggested the living room would make a great office, much larger.. My husband agreed . There I was, arm in sling and hubby and one son decided this was the perfect time to make a switch. I’m giving the treadmill that nearl killed me to my older son as I’ll never use it again. My husband has multiple health issues, including cancer, and should not be moving stuff around, but he did with the help of son. Then daughter and grandson visited and finished the move for him. WE have both our desks in here, me facing the set of three windows with bushes growing in front of them, him facing the rest of the yard and the house at the end of the street that sits on three acres. We have one acre, which is plenty. All the things I said like we’d have to move the phone and computer lines? Wrong. They didn’t need changed. By the way, last week hubby was sitting on the love seat, stood up and so did Ellie, our large dog. Hubby tumbled right over dog, grabbed my bad arm, but thankfully for me he continued falling without taking my arm out of joint. Bad for him as he was bruised but thankfully didn’t break or displace anything.
- Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision? My house has always been chaotic, so I’m used to noise. Although I do ask my husband to quit talking out loud at times. Take last week, I had three grands here, ages 11, 10 and 7. They said they wanted to come help Gammy. Ahem. Well, they did do a few things, but the weather wasn’t great to be outdoors much, therefore they played hide and seek in the house. When my PT was here, they came sneaking into the bedroom and then hid in the bathroom, leaving the 7-year-old looking for them. Then I told them they couldn’t hide underneath the computers. They did play some board games and watched a few movies. The 7-year-old is the most helpful, asking to take out the trash, going to the curb to get the containers etc. And now it is us and the three dogs. I hope to get more writing done now.
- Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? I like to listen to music but don’t always.
- How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP? I started this book, Sweet Sunset, several years ago. I think most of us have dysfunctional families. No, the story isn’t all about my family, but my mom did have dementia and did weird things that I used. My granddaughter went to high school wand was friends with a gay boy whose mother did commit him thinking he was crazy and was upset when they wouldn’t lock him up. One of my daughters was in an abusive marriage. And my one dog is named Zeus and we had another one named Coal. Oh, and June was the mother of friends and I had to use some of the stuff she used to say. The rest is my imagination.
- Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why? Character. I have to have people to work with, give them problems and find happiness for them in the end.
- What 3 words describe you, the writer? Determined, dreamer, and humorous (Peggy here: I lovelovelove those 3 descriptions!!!)
Dee, The Person
- Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! I once took belly dancing lessons.
- Who was your first love and what age were you? You mean besides Elvis? OK at age 16 his name was Gary.
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and…. The day I won $8,000 on the lotto and nothing since then. So that day I would love to do over and over.
- Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? Briefs
- If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? lipstick
- What three words describe you, the person? Wife, Mother, Writer
- If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? A Million to One (that was mine and hubby’s song when we got married, the words fit)
- If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together? Gone with the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara. Probably get in trouble together.
Bonus round I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
- Favorite sound: Music
- Least favorite sound : Rap
- Best song every written: Too many to name
- Worst song ever written ????
- Favorite actor and actress : Tim Allen Sandra Bollock
- Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead): Sandra Brown. She’s a great writer and I got to spend time with her once. She’s really a nice person and admired by many. ( Peggy here: She’s one of my all time favorite authors and I am uber-jealous that you got to meet her!!!)
- What turns you on?: being at the beach
- What turns you off?: stinky smells
- Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”): Been too long to remember (Peggy here: LOL! that’s 5 words!!!)
- What’s your version of a perfect day?: Being with family and doing something fun
Myrtle Sue Henderson, widowed, didn’t count on her mother-in-law moving in with her when her husband passed over. But Myrtle Sue’s loopy in-law troubles aren’t her only family baggage-she’s ailed with three adult children who use her like a pair of Depends. With a daughter and two grandchildren attempting to escape an abusive husband, a second daughter who is pregnant with twins, and a son who refuses to grow up, she’s at her wit’s end.
Myrtle Sue didn’t figure she’d ever meet another man she’d care for, until she went to church to get away from her troubles, only to find more when her mother-in-law causes chaos and hits an elderly man with her cane and helps herself to money out of the collection plate. That’s how she meets Zack. She figures once he meets her dysfunctional family, he’ll run as fast as he can-away from them.
Hazel walked into the kitchen and glanced around. “Who’s here? Oh my goodness. It’s my son Harold. How are you, honey?” She bent over and kissed Adam’s cheek. “And why don’t you ever visit your mommy, you naughty boy?”
I rolled my eyes and waved toward Adam. “Hazel, Harold’s been dead for twenty years. This is Adam, Sonja’s friend from the hospital. Remember? He’s a nurse and stays with you while I work.” I should’ve added whatever we paid him was worth every penny. He really was good to her.
“Oh yes, Adam, dear.” She frowned at me. “Why can’t you be kind like Adam, Myrtle Sue. You’ve always been so mean to me.”
Sonja grinned. “Hi, Nana. How are you?”
“I’m fine.” She took a seat and grabbed a muffin. “Who are you? Are you Violet’s daughter?”
Sonja narrowed her eyes at her grandmother. “Nana! I’m Sonja, your granddaughter. Myrtle Sue and Don’s daughter.”
“Of course.” She laughed and pointed at her head. “You know how it is when you get old. Some day your mother will be just like me.”
Shuddering, I mumbled, “God Forbid.”
“I hope you made roast beef for Father,” Hazel said.
“Yes, of course. And I made garlic rolls, too,” I lied, and then whispered, “Sonja, want some garlic tied around your neck?”
I hope you’ll enjoy visiting Myrtle Sue and her wacky family. Drop by anytime for some good cooking.
Dee Gatrell is a mother and grandmother. She spent time raising her children and didn’t attend college until she was in her thirties. She graduated from Seminole Community College and the University of Central FL.
When her husband’s job relocated them to Ohio, she worked as a reporter for the Galion Inquirer and later as a free lance writer for the Mansfield News Journal. When the family returned to Florida she accepted a job working at Seminole State College as an educational advisor. She also did freelance writing for newspapers and magazines during this time. She sold a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul and sold many stories to the confession magazines.
Deciding it was time to retire and do what she always wanted to do, write novels. Sweet Sunset is her first published novel. She likes to refer to the book as her dysfunctional family novel. Who doesn’t have a dysfunctional family? She always had a lot of quirky relatives and friends, so writing about these folks was natural for her.
She lives in Florida with her husband, Larry, one son, Doug, and three dogs. They also have two grown daughters, Michelle and Diana, and a grown son, Chris, and a herd of grandkid (a happy dozen.) Their rescue lab, Ellie, finds them boring and loves it when the grands come to play with her. They also have two white schnauzers, Zeus and Icarus.
(Peggy here: Dee thanks so much for visiting me today and for introducing us to Myrtle Sue!!! Her story sounds like a real corker!)