21 June 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: DM Denton on TO A STRANGE SOMEWHERE FLED

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author DM Denton with her latest release, TO A STRANGE SOMEWHERE FLED, the sequel to A House Near Luccoli. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of To A Strange Somewhere Fled. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb. 

After the sudden end to her collaboration with composer Alessandro Stradella, Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents in a small village in Oxfordshire, England. The gift of a sonnet, 'stolen' music, inexpressible secrets, and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey. Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons, will she rise out of grief and aimlessness? Her father's friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, who are important figures in the court of Charles II, offers new possibilities, especially as music and its masters ~ including the 'divine' Henry Purcell ~ have not finished with her yet.

Praise for To A Strange Somewhere Fled

While Donatella and her story, full as it is of such a legion of colorful characters, are vastly entertaining in their own right, often Denton’s descriptions of musical performances manage to swoop in and lift the reader up to even greater heights. Her passionate research and personal love of the art both shine through in the remarkable imagery her prose evokes, enrapturing her audience and taking them just a bit deeper into the intricacies of the 17th century setting. Irrevocable in its magic and intrepid in its storytelling, To a Strange Somewhere Fled is a fascinating and delectably original work that readers won’t soon forget.
Casee Marie Clow, Literary Inklings
DM Denton writes with a lyrical style, which swells, fades, and swells again. Her words pull her readers to the 17th century like music from that era.
Steve Lindahl, author of White Horse Regressions Motherless Soul.
That we can meet (the composer) Henry Purcell within these pages and find him totally believable as a living, breathing human being is a mark of the author’s imaginative powers and literary skill.
Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books
Denton’s style allows for flourishes, nuances, changes in pace, and variations on themes, as music does. With delicacy and sureness, the author works with her themes of memory, love, and loss.
 Mary Clark, author of Tally: An Intuitive Life

**Q&A with DM Denton**

How would you describe your writing style?

Reviewers have characterized my writing style as lyrical, descriptive, rule-breaking, meticulous, complex, yet also understated. My first two novels are driven by 17th century music and its makers, so the lyricism in them is especially pronounced. Certainly there is poetry in my prose. I’m an instinctual writer who works without an outline, sometimes has an idea of an ending and sometimes does not, is anti-formula, and tends to be creative with structure and genre. There is an observational and analytical side to me and my writing, so I’m not just about making pretty with words. I enjoy extensive research and the challenge of combining historical characters and events with fictional ones in—hopefully—a seamless weaving together. I liken my scene-orientated approach to a filmmaker using a zoom lens to get up close and personal. A reviewer recently wrote that I “executed freedom of narrative: some scenes that would traditionally be laid out in show-stopping dramatics may happen quietly, maybe even outside of the narrative completely.” Another said my writing was for readers who enjoy detours and the views along the way, who know reading like life it is as much about the journey as the destination.

Who designed the covers of your books?

I did the artwork and design for both of my novels, fortunate to have a publisher who allows me to be so involved in their presentation. I’ve also done illustrations for two Kindle Shorts I’ve had published and the cover of a friend’s poetry anthology. I’m always open to taking artwork commissions from other authors.

Is there an underrepresented group or idea that is featured in your books?

Perhaps, because of my own experience, I find myself writing about women who are unmarried and childless and need to chart a more unconventional course through life. Once referred to as spinsters—although the meaning of spinster gradually evolved from its reference to a respectable occupation for unmarried women to the perception of them as lonely, left behind, pointless, and even a threat to society—they live in the shadow of others and often in servitude to them. Of course, that is not the case in the 21st century – or is it? Well, perhaps, today there is the flip side: the assumption that if not to be pitied, a woman who is unattached and, especially, without children, is seen as selfish or ambitious or just afraid to risk for love (not so modern after all, considering the first Queen Elizabeth faced such opinions in the 16th century). My female protagonists aren’t necessarily averse to letting others into their thoughts, dreams, hearts, and even physical experience. It’s just that their situation, if they let it, will structure their lives in terms of what they are not rather than all they are and can be. I prefer to view them as singularly resilient and explore how they need not be limited by their unmarried, even unmarriageable, status, but can still be nourishing and nourished through their desires, talents, and purpose.

How do you approach developing the world of a historical novel fully in your mind?

It’s not unlike meeting a new lover, feeling the chance of the introduction, instinctively knowing this is someone you want to know better, even intimately; perhaps wondering if it’s a wise or mutual attraction, but in the end deciding—believing—the affair is meant to be. It’s as fortuitous, daunting and magical to encounter the possible subject of a next novel (or even a shorter story)—its characters, time period and setting—realizing how much you don’t know and need to, can’t visualize and will have to, how far you have to go and how long it will take; and then fearlessly embark on the adventure: discovering books, letters, websites, images, music, every significant and seemingly insignificant thing, and so much in the unknown, too. Well, the unknown is where the imagination comes in; and as the imagination comes in, so does the magic of suddenly being present in the past, of understanding a character implicitly, of finding myself able to describe a place because I’m lost in it, and knowing how the clothes feel because I’m wearing them and the food tastes because I’m eating it, how to read by the glow of a candle because I’m writing by the light of one—at least, I’ve pulled down the shades or put the lamp on low because I write better that way. Slowly and suddenly it’s happened: I’ve gone from being a stranger in an alluring place to belonging to its possibilities as if I was born there.

Did your research for both or either of your novels yield any surprises in terms of historical events or illuminate a character in a particular way?

The biggest surprise I’ve experienced so far was in discovering the multi-dimensions of the 17th – 18th century lawyer and biographer Roger North—a historical character I decided to include in my second novel, To A Strange Somewhere Fled. Unlike Alessandro Stradella in A House Near Luccoli, who was a celebrity in his time and naturally offered the drama of his legendary life and death, Roger North seemed, to quote a character in the novel, “clever but dull”, and probably not someone who would move plot or transform anyone’s life. Certainly, I couldn’t have imagined a male protagonist for A House Near Luccoli’s sequel more in contrast to the temperament and lifestyle of Stradella. But in contrast there often is similarity, subtle as it may be. I like to look for what isn’t obvious and might even seem contradictory: the ordinary in the extraordinary, the vulnerability behind swagger, the influence of even the most unobtrusive of people like Roger North with his reserved individualism and wide range of “practical diversions”—including writing, philosophy, architecture, mathematics, horticulture, sailing, and music. He was a quieter, plainer, more cautious, modest, and moralistic figure than Stradella, but no less remarkable, creative, or complex, which made him as satisfying to write about.

Why did you decide to write a sequel to A House Near Luccoli, why did you set it in England, and does To A Strange Somewhere Fled end the ‘series’?

Although a major character is lost, A House Near Luccoli’s ending is also about the continuing journey of its female protagonist Donatella, her relationship with the 17th composer Alessandro Stradella bound to affect her for a long time. When I began to consider a destination for her beyond Genoa, it seemed natural that her flight from grief would take her to the quaint but stately village of Wroxton in Oxfordshire, where her parents were living and I had myself for sixteen years. What came out of my memory and I feared might be limited by my experience and prejudice, slowly emerged from a more historically informed and imaginative perspective. I don’t plan on any more novels following Donatella’s story, but that isn’t saying she may never turn up again in someone else’s.

What writing projects are you presently working on?

I’ve begun the first novelette of three that will comprise a book featuring obscure women writers, including the often overlooked Brontë sister Anne, the poetess and sister of Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, and the late Victorian novelist Mary Webb. While working on a larger project, I try to write shorter pieces - essays, poetry, stories – for my blog or publication, and am about to embark on an illustrated book with stories about the cats I’ve known.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled Buying Links:

Learn more about author DM Denton

Writer and artist, DM Denton, a native of Western New York, is inspired by music, art, nature, and the contradictions of the human and creative spirit. Her educational journey took her to a dream-fulfilling semester at Wroxton College, Oxfordshire, England, and she remained in the UK for sixteen years surrounded by the quaint villages, beautiful hills, woods and fields of the Oxfordshire countryside. She returned to the US in 1990, to a rural area of Western New York State where she still resides in a cozy log cabin with her mother and a multitude of cats. Her day jobs have been in retail, manufacturing, media and career consulting, and as a volunteer coordinator for Western New York Public Broadcasting. She is currently secretary for the Zoning and Codes administration in the town where she lives. Her historical fiction A House Near Luccoli, which imagines an intimacy with the 17th charismatic composer Alessandro Stradella, and its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled, were published by All Things That Matter Press, as were her Kindle short stories, The Snow White Gift and The Library Next Door. She also shares her writing and illustrations on her blog.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toastrangesomewherefled?fref=ts
A House Near Luccoli on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ahousenearluccoli?fref=ts
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/DM-Denton/e/B0093NWE4U/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1