Interview with Denele Campbell

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm constantly writing in my mind, describing places, smells, weather, so that my imaginary reader would get the full impact of whatever I'm writing about. It's easy to obsess about what specific word is most effective, or whether to put a sentence before or after another. This probably sounds a bit weird to lots of people, and frankly, I have no idea if this is something most other writers do. But it's been this way as long as I can remember.

The other thing about writing that brings me great joy is the overall creation of a book. I like thinking about what images work for the cover, whether to include any images in the interior--for nonfiction--and how to format the book to make it appealing. Maybe I'm a closet publisher, but I'm sooo happy that self-publishing allows me to play with all these elements for my work.
What do your fans mean to you?
Of course fans are simply readers who enjoy what I've written, and I can't think of anything that pleases me more than that.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on two non-fiction books that I've had on the back burner for a long time. I've been taking a break from fiction to get these two books finished and out there for the world to see. My plan is that by the time the first snowflakes fly, I'll be tucked in with my next fiction, working through scenes and letting my imagination carry me through a new world. Oh, what fun!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I get out of bed each day already writing in my head. I actually wake up sometimes in the night, realizing I've figured out some problem--how to move a character forward, the resolution of some scene. I can't wait to get up and put the words on the page.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do have a bit of life outside of writing, but not much. Most of the years of my life have been about everything but writing--love affairs, marriage, children, career. Finally I've reached a point where all that no longer requires my attention, and I can turn to this thing, writing, that has waited for me all this time. I still have to get my hands in the dirt and grow a few flowers, tomatoes, peppers, herbs. When my kids are around, I love spending time with them. And I do have a few friends I join for an occasional lunch. But I confess, all the way through everything else I do these days, the words are writing in the back of my mind.
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are about feeling, at least, that's how I see it. What is the feeling of the book? How can I find an image that will portray not just the nuts and bolts of a story, but the emotion the story conveys as a reader delves into the heart of it. It's really difficult to find the right image, unless you have big bucks to spend on photography. So cover design can be very challenging.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm all over the map on reading. I love science fiction, and especially the kind of work done by M. John Harrison. I'm actually reading his recent book, Empty Space, for like the fifth time and it's like I never read it before. He's that subtle, that layered. I also love what I consider to be a close relative to science fiction, which is paleo-archaeology. I subscribe to Archaeology magazine and zoom through the pages in a day or two, then re-read until the next issue arrives. Non-fiction absorbs me as much as fiction, especially books on history, everything from early civilization to medieval to Civil War. But I also enjoy romance, the spicier the better, and detective stories.
Describe your desk
My desk is usually cluttered--in an orderly way, of course--with materials I use when writing. Right now, I'm trying to finish up two non-fiction works, so I have the files for one of them sitting to the side. For the other, I have open files containing deeds, family histories, newspaper clippings, and notes where I've jotted down information from phone calls and emails. The thing about an investigative non-fiction is that you work and work to get the answer to a question, and then--damn it ! -- the answer just creates a whole new set of questions. OK, I admit I kind of like that part, it's the frustrated detective me.

Also on my desk are my glass of water, my tea cup usually with about a half inch of cold tea lingering in the bottom, my camera, nail clippers, my adding machine, a lamp, a tray with paper clips, scissors, sticky notes, etc. My cell phone. A jar with pens and pencils of all kinds and a stack of note paper. The back corner has 5 stack file boxes. My thesaurus. Of course, keyboard and screen, sitting on a white desk pad which I must have, for some reason. My laser printer. A small picture calender for the month.

I know, it sounds like a really crowded desk, and it is, but it's not really a desk, but a table I bought back in 1968 when I first got married, about six feet wide and more than three feet deep, and I love having this much space! Besides, this is where I live.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in western Arkansas and, from age 10 to 18, northeast Oklahoma. The families of both parents were rural Arkansas people from way back, and so there is this ingrained cultural thing inside me that is Southern, back woods, independent, and slightly anti-social. I love that. It took me awhile to understand this about myself. In my younger years, I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't feel comfortable in town, or around city people. I finally figured out I wasn't a city person.

This is kind of a problem for writing, because most popular works are targeting the market, which is city people. I kind of have to slip into another frame of mind to create that kind of work. I'm more comfortable with a lot of internal ruminating with my characters, rather than action scenes or dialogue. Of course action scenes and dialogue are critical elements, so it's been a challenge to learn how to write in that direction.
Published 2013-10-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Journal of Admiral Wade And Other Short Stories
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,160. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » American / General, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Strange dim light, shifts in time, in perspective. Can we experience past lives? How do we survive the inexorably slow loss of love? Why do epiphanies slip up on us? What quirks of the universe drive us to the thoughts and deeds that ultimately define our lives? Campbell’s lyrical short stories explore pivotal moments, realizations, and inevitable conclusions in lives of unexpected dimension.
I Met A Goat On The Road, And Other Stories Of Life On This Hill
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 40,110. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2016. Categories: Essay » Literature, Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
A visiting guinea? A ‘possum in the dining room? What strange and wondrous occurrences might one expect while living on an Ozark mountaintop for forty years? Ponder the passage of time through a lens of wonder and delight. The seasons bring summer heat, winter snow, pouring rain, the power of fire. What is our responsibility to this place, its creatures, each other?
Recipes of Trailside Cafe and Tea Room
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 25,400. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » American / Southern States, Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Biography
Serving everything from Hummus Pita to delicious Peach Cobbler, spicy Split Pea Soup to savory, fork-tender Pot Roast, Trailside Café and Tea Room became a favorite destination for the few years of its existence. At the close of the restaurant in December 2011, the first edition of the cookbook sold out three printings. Now expanded with over 200 recipes for easy, inexpensive down home food.