Meet Donelle Dreese, Author of Deep River Burning
DD: I've always been creative and involved in the arts. I still have poetry that I wrote when I was very young. What inspires me the most is reading great books. I find narrative very seductive. It's hard to explain, but I hear it, narrative that is, and it always compels me to write. I was also deeply involved in music when I was younger and that music background informs all of my work. Writing is another way of singing.
DD: Deep River Burning is very loosely based on the underground mine fire that destroyed the small town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. I grew up near Centralia and the memory of the town that was burning from beneath made a significant impression on me. I first wrote a short essay several years ago about the town called "The Memory of Trees," which was published in an environmental journal, but then characters began to emerge in my mind and I knew I wanted to fictionalize the story into a novel.
BBB: Tell us about your main character.
DD: Denver Oakley is a young woman who is faced with enormous loss. In the beginning of Deep River Burning, she is eighteen years old and still struggling with her identity and direction in life. Then she is forced to confront an environmental disaster in her hometown. She has a strong sense of justice and fairness, but doesn't always know how to channel it. She wants to connect with other people, but she is also intensely independent. Her journey is ultimately a spiritual one as she works toward healing herself and discovering who she is.
DD: I am currently working on a novel about a young woman who is on a journey to uncover the truth behind the "ancestor syndrome" in her family, and to heal the trauma that has been passed down through five generations of women. She is placed in the position to save someone's life, but ultimately realizes she must save her own. I am also working on a poetry collection. This collection is, in part, a poetic rendering of the voices of environmentalists and environmental artists, including Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall and sculptor Isaac Cordal. It is a project that is still evolving and transforming.
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
DD: Readers can learn more about me and my work by visiting my website, donelledreese.com, and by following me on Twitter: @donelledreese.