Author Q&As

By , July 18, 2008 4:19 pm

Q: Why did you write Dahlonega’s Gold?

A:  Sometime in the early 1990s, the two main characters showed up inside my head and started telling me their stories.  I started writing them down and composed several chapters, but then I got so busy with family (my elderly mother and a new grandson) and other aspects of life that I put the project on indefinite hold.  I thought about it from time to time over the years but never had the necessary time to devote to it.

Fast forward to Christmas Day of 2004. After all the festivities, I was looking forward to taking a nap and relaxing the rest of the day when these two main characters once again showed up, clamoring loudly for me to finish their story.  Sleep wouldn’t come because my mind couldn’t stop thinking about them, especially when they began relating more of their adventures.  Finally I went to the computer and started writing, and that’s what I mostly did for the next year.

Q:How would you describe Dahlonega’s Gold?

A: It is a historical novel, but the history is not merely incidental to the plot. Rather, the historical events are the plot. Unfortunately, history is all too often presented as a less-than-compelling recital of dry dates and facts. What I have tried to do in Dahlonega’s Gold is to show the human experience behind the facts how peoples lives were impacted by the circumstances of the times and to give readers hints about how their lives might have been affected had they been born in that particular time and place.

Q: What other types of writing have you done?

A: My mother taught me to write letters as soon as I could hold a pencil, and I’ve been a prolific letter-writer ever since.  I’ve also done some inspirational writing over the years.

In 1989 I started interviewing some of Dahlonega’s long-time residents to satisfy my own curiosity about what this community was like farther back than I personally could remember.  What I was told was so fascinating that I wrote down some of these accounts and took them to our local newspaper, The Dahlonega Nugget. These stories proved to be so popular that I wrote a weekly column entitled “I Remember Dahlonega” for the next ten years.  The “I Remember Dahlonega” articles have been published in four volumes with additional historical information which I researched and wrote.  Over the years I have also written many articles about Dahlonega and other places of interest for a quarterly publication called Georgia Backroads (formerlythe North Georgia Journal).

Q: How long have you been writing?

A:  All my life!   See above for more details.

Q: How was the process of writing a novel different from your previous writing?

A:  Instead of merely telling, I had to learn to show, and to do that I had to put myself into the characters’ psyches and imagine their emotional reactions to the situations of their lives.

Q:  What’s the greatest influence on your writing?

A: My mother’s instilling in me a love of communication through writing.

Q:  Where were you born and raised?

A:  In Dahlonega, Georgia.

Q:  Where do you live now and why?

A:  I enjoyed traveling with my husband when he was in the Army from 1956 to 1978.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and seeing new places, but when it came time to retire, we were happy to come home to Dahlonega and have been here ever since.

Q:  Siblings?

A:  I have one brother, Dr. Robert Key Dismukes, who has recently moved back to Dahlonega.   We share a deep love of these mountains and a sense of the area’s history and character.

Q: Is anyone else in your family a writer?

A: Yes, my father wrote items for the local and Atlanta newspapers.  After getting interested in genealogy, he wrote a number of articles for genealogical journals, and he wrote his doctoral dissertation in French.  As head of a research division for NASA, my brother Key has co-authored a number of scientific publications.  My husband Amos is a State Representative, and he writes weekly columns for The Dahlonega Nugget when the Legislature is in session to keep his constituents informed about what goes on under the Gold Dome.  He and I regularly proofread and critique each other’s writing

Q: Did you always want to be an author?

A:  Yes.  In high school I actually enjoyed writing the weekly themes that my classmates detested so much!  As a young adult I attempted to write some stories but soon realized that I had not yet experienced enough of life to have the maturity to write about it.  Except for extensive correspondence, I put writing on hold and focused my time and attention on family and music, earning a Master’s degree in Musicology in 1972.

Q:   Any anecdotes?

A:   See answer to first question.

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