The Dependent: A Memoir of Marriage and the Military
Latitude 46 Publishing recently released one of its fall titles, The Dependent: A Memoir of Marriage and the Military written by Danielle Daniel. Danielle is an artist and children’s author and her children’s book ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’ was recently nominated for a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Award. We had the opportunity to speak with Danielle about her memoir and her future writing plans!
What inspired you to write a memoir? Was it challenging to put your story on paper and share it with the world?
When I first began writing my story, it was in my journal and it was only for me. Writing helped me to grieve and deal with the immense loss resulting from my husband’s accident. It wasn’t until years later, in 2012, that I met my mentor; author Merilyn Simonds, at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. She encouraged me to turn these stories into a book and convinced me that others would want to read about this side of military life. I’m so grateful for her support.
Writing the memoir was an extremely challenging undertaking as I was repeatedly going back to the most painful times in my life. I’d sit there for hours trying to craft my stories onto the page. This is why it took so long. There were many days; months even, that I didn’t want to go back to those places. But something always pulled me back into that chair. It never stopped calling me, so I persisted and pushed through until one day, I finally finished.
This isn’t your first published book – can you tell us about your other books?
I wrote and illustrated a children’s book called ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox’, published by Groundwood Books. This is a very different kind of book. It’s a picture book inspired by my Aboriginal roots and I originally wrote it for my son. It has since become a beloved little book and I am so incredibly proud of the ways it has helped families talk about identity and emotions that can oftentimes seem complex and challenging. The positive messages I have received from parents and grandparents, teachers and students have been such a wonderful surprise. I can’t help but get a little tearful every time I think about the journey this book has already had.
Your children’s book – Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox was recently nominated for a Canadian Children’s Book Centre Award – what has that experience been like?
I honestly feel like Cinderella! How could this happen to me? It makes me believe in the impossible. This nomination is a huge honour and I am deeply grateful to have my work recognized nationally, and among other books and writers whom I respect very much.
You recently hosted a launch for your memoir at Verdicchios, how did the event go and what has the response been so far?
The launch was incredible! Latitude 46 Publishing welcomed over 85 people to my launch and it was perhaps the most meaningful night of my life. It was so special to share this experience with my husband and son, my friends and family, and all those who have supported me through this extremely long process—from writing to publication. It was also overwhelming to receive so much support from members of my community, strangers who have now become friends.
It has only been a week since the book has launched and I have already received close to forty messages through e-mail and Facebook; people who have told me they have forsaken their responsibilities and sleep in order to keep reading my book. I never ever expected this. I never thought it would have had this kind of impact. One of the most memorable messages I received so far was from a physician who graduated with my husband from NOSM; she said that my book has changed her. She writes: This book is now consuming my life. I stayed up late and woke up early to read it. It is almost done, but I don’t want it to end. My heart is tied into this book. It is an amazing story about love, loss and life and it is not even done. I am changed somehow from this book… not sure how, but I think I am more appreciative of our country, the sacrifices that military men, women, spouses and children make, the hope that human spirits can have. I could go on… These messages have already made all of the difficult and painful work worth it. I am so appreciative to learn that people have personally connected with my book, and more surprisingly, none of these messages have come from people affiliated with the military, so far. Some themes are universal and touch us all.
Are you working on any other novels or written work?
I am presently working on a Middle Grade novel with a twelve-year-old protagonist and I am having so much fun writing fiction. I am also slowly going back to my Historical Fiction novel, which will eventually become my thesis for my MFA. This work is heavier in theme and content so I am allowing myself to work on the MG novel while I travel and promote my memoir before I go back to focusing on another difficult book. My second children’s book is being released next fall entitled ‘Once in a Blue Moon’. I am also illustrating it.
Why do you think it’s important to share true stories?
I believe we all struggle at some point in our lives and each of us is trying to do the best we can. By sharing our stories and the truth about our struggles and how we overcome them, we can help to build bridges. I hope my stories will aid others in seeing themselves and realize they are not alone. We are all in this together. I am so grateful to all those who have bravely shared their stories with me through the pages of their own books. It gave me the courage to do the same. One of my favourite quotes is by Muriel Rukeyser: “The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.” All of us have a story and I believe we are here to share them.
Where can our readers get a copy of your memoir?
It is available locally at Chapters. You can also but is directly from my publisher at: latitude46publishing.com. It is also available online through Amazon and Chapters Indigo.
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