Note the gold bumblebee brooch. A bumblebee is aerodynamically incapable of flying, and, yet, it does.
My background includes over twenty-five years in the classroom, most often as a senior English teacher and over twenty years as a licensed marriage and family therapist. I graduated from Magee High School in 1966, Copiah-Lincoln in January 1968, Mississippi College in August 1969. I received my master’s degree from MC in 1995.
My husband Charles and I, and our Bitza (term for mixed parentage dog, coined by British writer Clare McIntosh) Lady live a pretty quiet life in rural Mississippi in sunny, humid Crystal Springs.
I was chaired as a result of a late onset muscular dystrophy (inclusion body myositis), searched for a new purpose as I rolled through life, and have finally settled on writing. I tried hobbies that I had not taken time for while working–dog-training, painting, quilting. I have been creative, imaginative, loving language for years, but I am a slow typist. Several years ago I threw out the clutter of a couple of feet high notebooks and journals I had amassed over the years. No regrets. I am a different person now.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Like most of us, I assume, there was that little germ within that kept telling me I could write. I did some feature writing for the local paper, and I prepared the church newsletter for a couple of years.
If I didn’t have so many papers to grade, preparations to make, people to entertain—so much busyness and so many excuses!
I wrote during the first ten minutes of class with my students.
I wrote according to prompts from a writing group.
But I did not become author/writer until I quit playing and started writing. Something about that advice about sitting behind in the chair and working tends to be the way one becomes an author.
I was hesitant to say that I am a writer, but I am a teller of stories. Of course, now I am also an author.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Death—the death of a career, the death of independence by new inability to drive, the death of a beloved older brother who had kept the family stories alive through his tales.
For Joe and Mike and Bill and Gene (my deceased siblings), I started retelling the stories as best as I knew them. Mike lived long enough to see emailed versions of his contribution.
I interviewed siblings to get their memories of our family and our struggles and our celebrations, and our successes in leaving poverty far behind us. I wanted others to know the richness of our lives.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style is a folksy, storytelling style. Our music director accuses me of using a large vocabulary–somehow it sounds accusatory!
What books have most influenced your life?
Books that have influenced me— To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites; Atticus Finch is the fantasy father I wanted. I thoroughly enjoyed novels and plays I taught over the years.
There have been so many authors that I have loved.
I have read eclectically—literary fiction, thrillers, mysteries, nonfiction, Shakespeare, Milton, Donne, Thomas Grey. I enjoy British writers, Southern writers, and am getting more into Mississippi writers. Cassie Selleck has been encouraging. Read her The Pecan Man if you like Southern stories. I collected most of Dick Francis’s novels, Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Elizbeth George, Celina Grace, Janet Westhall, Tom Franklin, David Baldacci ( I admit our political views are polar opposites), Lee Child, Greg Iles. Charlie Spillers’s work urged me to read more memoir/biography. I have learned more history from historical fiction than from history books.
We had few reading materials when I was young, and I read the Bible, Readers’ Digest, and the daily news. We finally had our own house and own transportation when I entered high school. Mama and I made frequent trips to the Magee Library.
Are your writings based on someone you know, or on events in your own life?
If someone reads my memoir/family history and gets to chapter 13, she or he will discover the family Bluebeard murderer that I am writing about in my novel A Taste for Death. So I take real events and flesh them into something new. I am discovering how difficult it is to keep so much information on track. I am thankful that I was reared by a sharecropper so I can depict those Depression-era times of Mississippi farmers who wanted more and were willing to sacrifice to get more.
Unfortunately, the murderer of my aunt became other-sacrificing rather than self-sacrificing.
Yet, I am not a dark and foreboding person, so hopefully, there will be a redemptive message as the search for justice pans out. If my words cannot be God-honoring, then I do not intend to have them shared.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Since I have been blogging about Mississippi writers, I am beginning to read more of their works. I am reading as fast as I can!
I reach out for information to other authors and delight in making connections with them. Janet Taylor-Perry has answered so many of my questions about self-publishing and has pushed me toward promotion and marketing; Charlie Spillers needs to belong to this group; his account of years as secret agent in Mississippi and Louisiana are thriller-worthy memoir—he tells a story of two women whose story I want to purloin; he also answers my questions.
Phyllis F. McManus tells a good story, is encouraging, and we have talked on the phone several states apart.
I have found out with my dependencies as the youngest in a family of eight that writers share eagerly.
We all want our voices to be heard.
My college English teacher, Edna Earle Crews, has mentored many writers and has helped me ever since I left her class fifty years ago; she is a poet.
Holly Lisle’s, Janice Hardy’s, Weiland’s, Lakin’s websites, thenextbigwriter.com, and my college roommates have also influenced me.
Cassie Selleck is the author I sought to impress, and she said very nice things about my WIP.
Ian Sutherland has also been kind to answer questions, as well as Wesley Banks.
What book are you reading now?
I have waiting for me when I get a certain amount of work done Greg Iles’s new book.
It is purchased, signed, and is a great motivator to catch up to my writing plan. However, I am reading works by Joyce Ainsworth, Jacquelyn Allen, Darden North. Many more books by Mississippi writers are begging for a place on my end table.
Are there changes you would make in your book?
I would make extensive changes. this book is a three-in-one. At the time I sat down to type it, I had years of accumulated research and paperwork. I did not anticipate that I might have the opportunity to write another, and I put “everything” in there. I have the family history/memories of my birth family and the father- wounding theme; then I switch gears and have all of this advice based on my counseling; then I tell my research for the family member/aunt who was murdered in 1931; finally it ends with the Ainsworth family genealogy from the Sampson Ainsworth branch.
Then my publisher went bankrupt; it had sat for six months with no discernible work on it. I was impatient. Janet Perry-Taylor did a writers’ guild program on self-publishing. I decided to proceed. I did not edit/proof the manuscript I had sent to Tate. I attempted to get the file to upload to createspace.com with no success other than with blank pages where there should not have been blank pages. I paid someone to format it through the website fiverr.com; he changed all sections to be in same type size, saved it as a pdf file and returned it. I then decided to correct it. Unfortunately, I could not break the code to edit a pdf.
Since this was just for immediate family members (I thought), I printed anyway. I have sold over seven times what I had anticipated. I did not realize others would want it. Since the first edition has so many mistakes, I have decided to do a second edition without the counseling advice, the murder story, or the genealogy. When I finish the novel and it reaches #2 on NYT best sellers’ list, these first editions will increase in value!
If you were not a writer what else would you like to do?
I have travelled some, but if life were more accessible, I would go in an RV to every state, find interesting people, and tell their stories—oops, back to writing again! Maybe creative nonfiction is my preferred area, We shall see.
Career-wise, I believe God has so ordained and ordered my steps that past background has prepared me to be a writer.
I have sold toys, Tupperware, makeup, encyclopedias, appliances, and furniture.
I have slung food, cafeteria style, and worked a soda fountain and gift shop.
I have worked in libraries.
I worked as a home daycare provider, kindergarten teacher, taught grades 6 through 12.
I have been a college liaison counselor for Job Corps and taught college prep classes.
I have been a social worker, mental health center counselor, case manager for the Baptist Children’s Village.
I have been a public speaker in the areas of family life, marriage, and grief.
Those were my jobs, but my life was working for my family as wife, mother, mother-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, and grandmother.
Connect with Dot on Facebook. Dorothy A. Day, Dot Ainsworth Day, Pathways Christian Counseling, Author Dot Ainsworth Day
Twitter @dotdaypathways Linkedin Dot Day
You can purchase her book on AmazonFamily-Ainsworth-History/dp/1522986375