Interview with Thomas "Dennie" Williams

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It is so inspiring to begin to conceive an investigative topic for either a book or a news article! Why? Because you have the sense that no one else fully knows about the significance of either the cover up or the intricate idea that eventually will go public where all who are interested can: "Read all about it!" As difficult as the writing clearly can be, it is exciting when you work the edit and the rewrites into a final top flight version. And, finally, once the tale or true to life story is published, waiting for the potential reactions forces your consciousness into what seems like one dream after the next from day to day!
What do your fans mean to you?
I like to think rather of intelligent readers ready to exchange ideas with me rather than of fans. I always have to be ready not only for those who have enjoyed my story, but for those who challenge it. That comes from my sometimes harrowing, sometimes joyful experiences during 4 1/2 decades in journalism.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors reflect my own inspiration from being an investigative reporter most of my working life. They are John Grisham, Ernest Hemmingway, Henry David Thoreau Herman Melville, and Mark Twain. Grishham writes fiction so realistically that a reader is unable to discern that the story and the characters are not real! Hemmingway's adventures and simple writing style makes it difficult for most readers to stop reading! Thoreau, of course, is a magical nature writer whose writing is creative beyond belief. Herman Melville's Moby Dick is the best nature and mystery novel I have ever read because portions of it are still with me many decades after my first and only reading. Mark Twain brings both adults and children alike to laugh, cry and float on water.
Q: If there were a single quote in your nature book that summed up its takeaway value, what would it be? (Question from Christina Hamlett)
As kind as people are to animals, birds, fish and other living creatures, they have to think more about those creatures’ innate desires for freedom and independence. Above all, humans need empathy toward wild animals, birds and all other untamed critters. If more of them expressed it, nature could flourish in wider areas worldwide and man-made pollution disasters might decrease in kind. Can you imagine poisoning, torturing or intentionally running over a rabbit, squirrel or roadside crow? I can’t! Then how do corporations operated by people endlessly pollute the air, water and earth where wildlife lives?”
Q: So what inspired you to write The Spirits of Birds, Bears, Butterflies and All Those Other Wild Creatures??
I was picking blueberries one beautiful, sunny day in a patch 10 or 12 miles from home, when a butterfly suddenly landed on my out stretched hand! I began showing it first to my wife, then to several other pickers, before I saw two young children, a boy and a girl, just outside the patch laughing and rolling down a grassy hill. Loudly, I asked them if they would like to see my pet butterfly, and warned the boy to stop running toward me, as his curiosity overwhelmed him.I feared he would chase my pet away! He rushed on next to me, and sure enough, scared the butterfly 30 or 40 feet into the air.

“See what I told you!? You scared my pet butterfly away,” I exclaimed. But seconds later, the boy exclaimed, “No, it’s on your ear!” I told the boy he must be mistaken. Then, suddenly, my wife appeared from out of the patch and said, I thought with sarcasm, “Yes, it’s on your ear.”

So I walked carefully over to the blueberry selling shack and asked the sales lady if she could see my butterfly. She confirmed its presence and quickly warned me that her two friendly dogs were approaching. Sure enough, one of them scared the butterfly up into the sky, and away forever. Two days later, I was shocked when I remembered that about ten years earlier I had experienced another wild butterfly episode in Barnard, Vermont. There on a porch near a pond on a beautiful day, a local character took me by surprise and started telling me a wild tale. As he did, two white butterflies began flying just over his head with their flights matching the excitement of his tale. They did so until he finished and then quickly disappeared into the sky over the pond.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Because I wrote the book, edited it, and self published through Smashwords, I found I had to do most all of my own marketing as well. I searched the Internet for every nature organization or publication I could find and mostly emailed them with book summaries. I created a copy of my book's cover from a beautiful early morning seascape and posted it in libraries, book stores, nature organizations,the local historical society and other obvious go-to spots all over Connecticut and Massachusetts. But, even with all this effort, I need more and better promotions still not obvious to me.
Describe your desk
My two athletic legs just fit under the desk looking out from the second floor of my home on a nature scene with green grass, a small brook, a forest and a very active bird feeder. In fact, one of my stories was inspired by a hummingbird flying right at the window, and then backing off three or four times. Ahhhh, I finally figured out, the little guy with the glowing red neck was trying to tell me that his and his buddies' water- honey feeder was empty!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I have lived inside the historic Town of Litchfield (Connecticut) all of my seven decades of life. Its population of humans is over 1,200, far less, probably, than its population of birds, squirrels and other nature lovers. My uncle, Dr.S. Dillon Ripley, was an ornithologist who created his own little duck ponds when he was a young boy-man. He eventually became the director of The Smithsonian Museum.

His ponds were overwhelmed by flood waters in 1955 when I was 15. I ended up in a book of his for assisting him and others in saving his ducks and wallabies. Eventually, I became a news reporter for The Hartford Courant and eventually specialized in investigative reporting.
When did you first start writing?
I first began writing when I was in middle school because I was upset that several pet dogs I had owned along with my family had been run over by cars over three or four years period of time. Later I began writing a little nature story, but eventually I never finished it on my own. It's probably somewhere up in one of my attics still. Few people knew about it including my parents who otherwise would have kept me writing the story until I finished it.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This is a book of true to life nature tales emphasizing animal and bird interaction and communications with humans. The tales start with a short poem about Chickadees and end with a poetic tour through the Costa Rican jungle. The book opens with a prologue relating how I became fascinated with animals and birds through family influences and experiences. Then, in an introduction, it explains the significance of interactions and spiritual communications among birds, animals and other creatures with humans. Finally, it starts with the first of sixteen true stories or descriptive chapters of interesting interaction among people and birds and animals.Its mission? One of the critical issues facing the world today is the vital obligation to preserve and protect the environment. As a result of the momentum of destruction of nature world-wide, it will take generations, if ever, to repair all the damage. Hopefully the erosion, already generations old, will not continue at its present pace. But, whatever happens children, teenagers and adults need to educate themselves as much as possible to the very soul of nature. This book and its short stories are a small and humble effort at catching the attention of as many readers as possible to the need to appreciate wildlife and the actuality that wild creatures can and do communicate their vital needs to people around them, even if they don't listen or observe the many attempted interactive approaches to them by the non-human world.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing, I spend all sorts of time observing nature through long hikes, improving the environmental atmosphere near and around my properties and traveling with an emphasis upon exploring parks and mountains and wooded areas.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I discover ebooks by search the Internet for them.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a story about the sad deaths of our family's pet dogs.
What is your writing process?
I have been a news reporter for more than five decades. After working for The Hartford Courant until 2005, I began writing freelance investigative news stories like I did for most of my career at The Courant.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read seven decades ago, but I remember reading Woodward and Bernstein and their amazing investigative stories during the Nixon administration leading to the ouster of Richard Nixon as president.
How do you approach cover design?
With my book I used a nature painting of a seascape created by my wife, Ina, a very talented artist.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favorite books are those true to life or fiction renditions of investigations of government corruption.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read nature magazine articles and The New York Times as well.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The newspaper and the Internet.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The most amazing interaction I ever had with a butterfly that landed on my hand in a blueberry patch and stayed on me for 10 to 15 minutes as I showed the winged one off to berry pickers, children and the blueberry selling lady.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It published my book with little cost.
What are you working on next?
I continue to write investigative stories on government and other corrupt targets.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The promise of future creativity and love of family!
Why did I write my spiritual nature book?
I have never, ever been more inspired by an experience like the one I had with the butterfly landing on my hand and visiting with me in a berry patch for 10 to 15 minutes!
What is the articulate summary?
This is a series of exciting true to life nature tales emphasizing animal and bird interaction and communications with humans. The tales start with a short poem about Chickadees and end with a poetic tour through the Costa Rican jungle. The book opens with a prologue relating how I became fascinated with animals and birds through family influences and experiences. Then, in an introduction, it explains the significance of interactions and spiritual communications among birds, animals and other creatures with humans. Finally, it starts with the first of sixteen true stories or descriptive chapters of interesting interaction among people and birds and animals.
What is the articulate summary?
This is a series of exciting true to life nature tales emphasizing animal and bird interaction and communications with humans. The tales start with a short poem about Chickadees and end with a poetic tour through the Costa Rican jungle. The book opens with a prologue relating how I became fascinated with animals and birds through family influences and experiences. Then, in an introduction, it explains the significance of interactions and spiritual communications among birds, animals and other creatures with humans. Finally, it starts with the first of sixteen true stories or descriptive chapters of interesting interaction among people and birds and animals.
Published 2018-08-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Spirits of Birds, Bears, Butterflies and All Those Other Wild Creatures
Price: $5.00 USD. Words: 57,960. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Nature
This is fourteen true to life nature tales emphasizing animal and bird interactions and communications with humans. The tales are introduced with a short poem about Chickadees and finalized with a poetic tour through the Costa Rican jungle. The book relates how the author became fascinated with animals and birds through family influences and experiences.