Susan Karsten Interviews Danele Rotharmel, author of Time Tsunami
Hi, blog fans! I am super excited to bring you my interview with Danele. She is a fascinating author, and I think you will enjoy this whether you’ve read her book Time Tsunami, or simply plan to.
After reading the book myself, I was eager to have dibs on asking whatever I wanted to know.
Are either Gil (female lead character) or Crystal (secondary character) anything like you?
Most of my characters have a tiny bit of me in them, and though I’d prefer to claim only their good characteristics, I have some of their flaws too. As far as Gil, I have her pigheaded stubbornness, impulsiveness, quirky sense of humor, and I’d like to think that I also have some of her courage.
When I was writing Time Tsunami, and facing a chronic illness, I began viewing my illness as a serial killer. As Gil faced her serial killer, I faced my own enemy. Every time Rick was dealt a blow, I cheered inside. Subconsciously, I used the battle with Rick as a vehicle to express my anger about my illness.
As far as Crystal, I definitely have her clumsiness. Quite a few of Crystal’s strange accidents have actually happened to me. I have some of her social awkwardness and when I was younger, I was shy. Although I grew out of my bashfulness, when in quarantine during my illness, I felt very separate from society and more than a little weird. Creating Crystal was my way adding comic relief into my life while also poking a bit of fun at myself. As far as her good characteristics, I hope I have Crystal’s tender heart and her tenacity. One thing for sure—I don’t have her brains. Writing some of Crystal’s lines was such a challenge. I had to do quite a bit of research to make her words sound realistic. Creating my characters was so much fun. They became very real to me, and I hope they become real to my readers.
How did you land on writing in the time travel fantasy genre?
I always dreamed about being a writer, but my life seemed too busy to make that dream a reality. My busy life came to a shuddering halt when I fell ill with a mysterious illness. I began experiencing partial amnesia, severe pain, and nausea. Eventually, I couldn’t walk without staggering or talk without stuttering. I had to quit my job and stop driving. My doctors were puzzled, but finally, it was discovered that I was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning from a small leak in my home’s furnace. I didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector at the time, and I never realized that a small leak can kill just as easily as a large leak—it just takes more time. It’s estimated that if the carbon monoxide leak hadn’t been discovered, I wouldn’t have survived much longer. After the furnace was replaced, I thought my life would get back to normal, but the poisoning had triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. That meant I would become extremely ill when exposed to perfumes and other chemicals. Eventually, my condition became so severe that I was quarantined in my home—a situation that lasted for seven years.
During the 7-year quarantine, I was in extreme pain and was very bored. I began writing books as a way to entertain myself and take my mind off my illness. On the days when the pain was especially bad, I would lie in bed and think up plot twists. On the days when I was sad, I would think up funny scenes to cheer myself up. I wasn’t writing for publication, I was writing for escape and enjoyment. Going through my illness was very difficult, and in a very real way, my novels were vehicles to explore my questions about God—they catalogue my journey back to faith.
Time Tsunami started out as a short story for a college creative writing class. During quarantine, when I decided to try my hand at writing again, I rummaged through an old box of my stories. Buried beneath a stack of papers, I found Time Tsunami and another story called The Chosen One. When I read them, I knew they both had promise. I can remember sitting cross legged on the floor with both stories in my hand. I knew I had to choose between them. I decided to craft Time Tsunami into a full-length novel because of the time travel aspect. At the time, I desperately wished for a way to roll back the clock and tell myself to buy a carbon monoxide monitor before I became ill. After I finished writing Time Tsunami, I couldn’t bear to abandon the characters I’d come to love, so I wrote the sequel, Time Trap. The rest of the books in The Time Counselor Chronicles flowed organically from there. By the time I decided to seek publication, I had written six books in the genre.
I’d love to see a film producer option this book for an action adventure movie. What are your favorite movies?
I enjoy clean movies that are unpredictable. I hate to be bored. I want a movie that takes me by surprise and makes me gasp. The more twists the better! The best movies are the ones that I still think about days after watching them. I have a quirky brain, and I love to unwind subplots and look for symbolic meanings. I like movies that make me think. Now, that being said, I also love Disney cartoons. When I was sick, I wanted to watch movies that were cheerful and sweet. I also love movies where the underdog wins. I think one of my favorite movies of all time is Facing the Giants. I have that movie practically memorized.
Your fight scenes are so amazing and real-feeling — how did you learn so much about writing fight scenes?
Oh, Susan! You’ve just made my day! I’m so glad that you enjoyed my fight scenes! Writing them was such a challenge. I wanted to make them realistic, so I agonized over every word. I rewrote them a gazillion times trying to get them just right. I looked up all kinds of articles that explained different types of kicks and punches and then watched instructional videos showing those kicks and punches in action. I wanted to make my fight scenes flow naturally from one move to the next. Short sentences kept the action moving, and I also tried to make sure my readers knew where everyone was in the room and what they were doing—even the bystanders. I also tried to put myself into the minds of everyone involved—once I knew what they were thinking and feeling, I was able to figure out exactly how they would react to the situation. As a rule of thumb, I feel satisfied with a fight scene when I cringe when I read it. During some of the scary parts, I am literally shrinking in my chair as I write. I love my characters, and when they are in trouble, it rips me apart.
With all the time travel plot twists, how did you keep it straight?
During my 7-year quarantine, I had years to think about the plot twists contained in my novels. Since I wrote the first six books before I sought publication, I had time to become very well-acquainted with the world I was creating. If something happened in book four that affected book one, I had the time I needed to insert the needed material. If something didn’t make sense to me, I knew it wouldn’t make sense to my readers, so I clarified the confusing parts before I submitted my books to an editor. In order to keep track of the timeline and twists, I made a chart. I also drew maps of the NSU campus and wrote character sketches. Since I wrote Time Tsunami and the other books in The Time Counselor Chronicles as a way to escape my illness, I became completely absorbed in them. Publication wasn’t my ultimate goal—entertainment was. The way I invested myself in my stories helped me layer the twists and keep them straight. Basically, I was just having so much fun with my novels that I thought about them constantly.
Your character, Gil, has a very interesting full name. Any background to that choice?
I named Gillyflower Meadowlark on a day when I was feeling just a little bit wacky. I wanted Gil to be realistic, and one of the ways to accomplish that feat was to make her self-conscious about her strange name. I can remember sitting at my computer giggling like a fiend as I tried out different silly name combinations. I like to make family trees of my characters, and I nearly died laughing when I named her mother Moonbeam Frankincense Alabaster. Gil’s name was just another way that I entertained myself. I love to laugh, and I love to let my silly side out to play every once in a while. Gil’s name simply equaled a day of giggles during quarantine.
Thank you, Danele, for this peek inside your author-mind. We appreciate all you shared.
Short Bio of Danele Rotharmel:
Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful.
Time Tsunami’s Purchasing Links: Amazon: http://amzn.to/234DFBS
Danele’s Social Media Links: Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/
Danele’s Welcome Page: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/