By: Staci Stallings
For today’s blog, we’re going to do something a little different. I interviewed Dennis Bates, one of the Spirit Light authors. The second half of the interview will be posted on Thursday. Enjoy meeting Dennis!
What is the absolute coolest thing about writing? Why?
There are a lot. For one thing, I love words and I love to bring them to life, but I would say the absolute coolest thing is that you get to take people places they might never go; see things they might never see; and do things they would never do, even if it’s just a momentary fantasy. You can persuade them, allow them to cry, make them laugh and hopefully, in my case, teach them to love. Why is that cool? The answer is like the answer to the question, what is jazz? If you have to ask, you aren’t ever going to understand. I don’t mean that to be condescending because there are a lot of things I don’t ask about because I wouldn’t understand them. But for me, writing gives me an outlet for all the stories that are currently stuck inside me, and that is cool.
Okay. What is jazz? (No, seriously. I want an answer–and not a definition either!)
Jazz is a style of music that features improvisation and rhythm that varies each time you play it. It is meant to be felt almost as much as it is to be heard. It can start with a melody and play off its chords or it can just come from the musician’s gut. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, explaining it doesn’t help all that much.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Easy, I’d be thinking about writing. I always did and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying,
Describe your stories in a general sense. What do you write about, and why do you write about that?
Some people say I write romance; some people say I write about love and some say I always write about sex. Guilty, guilty and guilty. I write about all of those things, trying to see them from all points of view, young, old, male, and female. I love stories about relationships. Why do I write about these things? There are two reasons: everything is a love story to me; I just like them. Second, and more important, these are the things He gives me to write about. How can I say no?
Being a Christian romance writer is tough enough, what are some of the quirks you’ve found being a man writing in that genre?
One of the most interesting comments I’ve heard about the first two books is that if the reader didn’t know me, they would think for sure that the stories were written by a woman. One person even said she was surprised to know that men even thought “that way.” I take those comments as supreme compliments and slight put downs at the same time. I think they are meant as compliments, but they show me there is still a long road ahead. Men need to get romance and love. We just do because society as a whole bombards us with messages that we don’t get real love and we don’t give it. I do love it when I hear women say, “I never knew men thought that way.” Other quirks are I’ve found that I have to be very careful how I describe things, because people think you are writing about them, and that isn’t always a good thing especially when your wife is one of them. When she looks at me and asks, “Is that really the way you feel about me?” I don’t try to explain what fiction is anymore; I just run for cover.
What was your most memorable scene or character and why?
My most memorable scene is the one I’m working on right now. However, if I had to pick one or two from “Under the Burr Oak Tree” and “Sharon’s Song”, I would pick the ending four or five scenes from Sharon’s Song, and the scene from Burr Oak where William proposes to Candy. That scene even makes me cry, which is embarrassing since I wrote it. That scene and the Amazing Grace scene at the end still get to me because all I did was provide the fingers for the Holy Spirit. As you [Staci] know, we did very little editing to either of those scenes. That still gives me chills.
What has writing taught you about life?
That you never give up. Money is not everything, or really much of anything unless you are doing something you love to do. I absolutely love what I am doing now, there are not enough hours in the day for me to write and think about where my next scenes are going. That is so exciting. I can’t wait to get up now so I can write. Every moment is precious. I retired from my day job, but instead of winding down, writing has got me winding up!
Check out “Sharon’s Song” — the newest release by Dennis Bates at Spirit Light Books… http://www.lulu.com/content/4605056