Thursday, December 22, 2011


 Interview With
D. L. Chance

Katherine Pym

1)  As someone in the entertainment business, you must travel.  Is there a place your heart calls home?
Because it is the first place I knew, the lush Deep South countryside will always hold a very special place in my makeup. But for now, and the foreseeable future, I’m content to live and work mainly in North Texas.

2)  Tell us more about D L Chance.
D.L. Chance is the brash, ambitious, determined, hard-headed extrovert who takes the natural God-given talents, potential and goals of the more introverted Don Chance and brings them to life.

3)  How long have you been writing? 
I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I learned how to line up words in correct rows as a small child. But, even though I wrote hundreds of songs and poems before, I didn’t get serious about writing until 1996, when I wrote my first short Western novel (61,000 words) from start to finish. It took off from there.

4)  How do you develop your characters? 
I just use people I’ve known over the years and in the various places I’ve lived and worked. I might tweak a few individual characteristics here and there for more flavor, but they’re basically just real folks I’ve taken and put into situations with other folks I’ve come across in my time.

5)  What is your genre or genres?  If you have more than one, which do you prefer?
My favorites are Westerns and Science Fiction. I’m equally okay with either the past or the future; anything that takes me away from the relentless present for awhile.

6)   Looking at your title, it sounds like a song.  I almost want to sing.  How does your background in music influence your writings?
Good songs have a certain flow, a certain internal consistency; and I like to get those aspects in my prose. And I want to entertain readers through my novels and short stories the same way I entertain audiences with a song. If I can take them somewhere else, out of their ordinary lives, for awhile – whether it’s with a song or a story – then I’m content that I’ve done my job.

7)  Tell us a little about your new novel Miss Rosalie And The Primrose Fool.
The story is set in the tiny ranching village of Melrose, New Mexico, where my dad was a church pastor for a year when I was a kid, and it includes several actual events that happened there that year. But the relationship between the principal characters is more like the decades-long courtship between my Aunt Patsy and Bill (who was as much family as anyone else officially married into the Chance clan), the man she finally married a few years before she passed away. 

8)  Where do you write your stories?  Are you tucked away in a quiet nook, or elsewhere?
My wife, Sharon (Sharon Galligar Chance, also a writer and prolific book reviewer), and I have desks sitting face-to-face in our home office, and it’s nice to occasionally catch each other’s eye over the top of our monitors while we’re working. We can also bounce ideas and phrases off each other that way, which makes our writing better.

9)  From all your experiences, have you found any certain truths that guide you through life?  Do you try to impart any wisdom in your stories?
The only truth I live by is the idea that my ultimate success or failure, no matter what I’m involved in, is entirely up to me. Failing is a lot easier than succeeding, but succeeding is a lot more fun – and I’m all about having fun! The only wisdom I pass along in my stories is whatever wisdom my characters impart from their point of view. It’s their story, after all, and I’m just the guy putting it down in words.

10)  Tell us something about your next project.
HENRY 401 is about a legendary gun from the Civil War – number 401 from a lot of 400 special-order Henry rifles – and how two modern-day antiquities experts are hired to search through history for it and maybe solve the mystery of its unlikely serial number; if they can survive the search.


    I've written dozens of short stories and ten or so full-length novels set in the American West of the 1800s, but only one of those is an actual cowboy tale. And even then, it's just barely cowboyed-up.
    Line Shack Winter is about how Charlie Phipps, a dedicated aging loner who enjoys the solitude of working at a remote line shack near the mountainous summer pasture of a large Wyoming ranch, is roped into taking care of the foreman's annoying - and endlessly talking - teenage son during one particularly lively winter.
    If I may indulge in a little name-dropping for a moment, Larry McMurtry (who happens to live nearby and often shows up at the same kinds of functions I attend) once told me to write only the kinds of stories I like to read, because writing anything else is just a waste of talent and heart. It hasn't worked for me as well as it has for him, but taking his advice has been a lot more fun and personally rewarding for me than what I was doing; and I'm all about the fun.
    And so is Line Shack Winter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

HANNAH'S MIRACLES: A Christmas Fable

    Having lived many years in the Colorado high country, where there wouldn't be any towns - or ghost towns - if it weren't for the gold and silver mining booms of the late 1800s, I've always been fascinated by the hardships people endured in those remote places in the hope that they could realize just part of their gold and silver dreams.
   Not all women who followed the miners to the various temporary diggings camps and boom towns were prostitutes, and not all prostitutes had hard lives. But when life was hard for the "soiled doves," it was incredibly hard; and the miracles it took to lessen the hardships came few and far between.
    But miracles did happen, even in the sad red light cribs where so many prostitutes plied their demeaning trade. They just might not look like miracles at first. 
    Hannah's Miracles: A Christmas Fable is about how miracles don't always turn out as expected.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


   As a voracious lifelong reader (except for the few years before my older brother taught me to read a year or two prior to when I started first grade), I've read just about every kind of fiction there is. Classics, literary, science fiction, historical, horror, suspense, military, westerns, on and on. But I admit it: I never read a romance novel in my life. That's why it was so strange to me when my novel Miss Rosalie And The Primrose Fool was published in the romance category.
   To me, it is clearly Americana Fiction. But since the term is completely unknown in the publishing world - even though almost every novel on the general fiction shelves these would fit in such a category - and since it didn't fit neatly into any other classification, it went into the romance category by default simply because one aspect of it is the fifteen-year relationship between Rosalie Leonard Dolan and Deke Sadler, of no middle name.
   It's set in the tiny ranching village of Melrose, New Mexico, and much of its plot points are based on my memories of the place and its people from when I lived there for a year as a child. The enduring romance between Miss Rosalie and Deke, though, is more like the long relationship between my Aunt Patsy and the man she finally married a few years before she passed away (a gentleman who was considered as much a part of the Chance clan as anyone who had officially married into it).
   Miss Rosalie is about many things - sorrow, joy, hardship, uncontrolled nature, daily life, early tragic death, the relentless passage of time - in a place where change has always come slow.
   Oh yeah, and there's some implied sex, too.
   But . . . romance?
   Naw. The romance is secondary to the glorious American experience the people of Primrose share on the vast high plains of New Mexico, and that's why it's one of my favorite projects.



    I've always enjoyed science fiction. After discovering Heinlein in the Mesa High School library as a teenager, I spent the next couple decades reading nothing but the great speculative authors. Some I liked - Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Farmer, Haldeman, Asimov, Pohl, Resnick, so on - and some I didn't care for (such as Ray Bradbury and Pohl Anderson, but I won't dwell on them because they do have so many fans).
    And when I felt the time was right to try my own hand at a little science fiction, I went with Hubbard's idea of keeping the science secondary to the characters in order to tell a story about people, instead of droning on about possible new breakthroughs in science and technology.
    My short story Gold For Lily Dale is about the unusual situation two independent asteroid belt miners, owners of the PMV Lily Dale, find themselves in when they have to make the hard choice between something ordinarily rare and something ordinarily common.

How 'Bout A Song?


Virgil was the foreman of a dude ranch cattle crew.
Harley worked the summers then, his brother Red did, too.
Charlie rode the big bulls for the guests who came along
And Billy rode hard for the girls in the yard,
And DL sang the songs.

*Saddle pals and old compadres, they were brothers with the wind
That blew them down their home trails, then blew them back again.
To rope and ride and wrangle at tourists beck and call.
And live a cowboy’s fate a hundred years too late,
And DL saw it all.

But that western wind keeps blowing as it has down through the years.
And the rivers keep on flowing, they never know the cowboy’s fears.
His sunset slowly fades away, like the range he’s riding on.
Look around and he’ll be going, look again and he’ll be gone.

One night around the campfire Virgil told us all the news.
He said “Boys, they’re gonna shut us down, and then they're gonna turn us loose.”
Well Billy said, “I’ll just stay right here! It may all be ending soon,
But this is one cowhand who’ll never leave the land.”
And DL played a tune.

And I wonder if we're gonna miss the cowboys
when they've all become one with history?
Will we miss him riding tall in his saddle,
when the only one that's left would be me.
And I'll just be here to tell his old story.

Virgil took up preaching, Harley went back to school.
I think Red went to prison, but then he always was a fool.
Charlie was killed in Dallas by a bull he couldn’t hold down.
DL still sings for the money it brings,
And Billy took a job in town.

*This verse wasn't included in the final recording. Sorry.


Dan, Joe and me on the steps of the tarpaper shack in Pelham, Alabama where Joe was born.

My parents' generation included a total of fifteen siblings among the two families, and ALL those people were born at home.  
I happen to know that most of their spouses were also born at home. And of around fifty cousins, at least half—and probably more—were born at home, too; usually on a farm, or at least somewhere out in the rural countryside. Even my little brother was born at home.
The vast majority of Americans born before about the middle of the 20th Century screamed their first screams and cried their first tears at home. It's one of the most traditional aspects of the unique Americana heritage we revere, and that tradition was the absolute norm in South Carolina and Alabama, where my ancestral roots run deep. There's just something . . . I don't know, something humble, something earthy, something trustworthy about someone who can honestly claim homebirth.
But I was born in a hospital. I feel kinda gypped about that, too.
See, as a serious American history buff, I'd LOVE to be able to smugly say, "Like the Founding Fathers and other great Americans before me, I first drew breath in this world surrounded by family and the warm and welcoming walls of home." Or, on occasion, maybe something like, "Yep! I was delivered in the same bed where they placed the order for me, you know."
Or, driving down some shady country lane, I could point at a deteriorating old farmhouse, sigh wistfully, and say, "See that dear old homeplace? I was born there, in one of the back bedrooms, and my soul yearns to return there someday after I've shucked this vale of tears."
Okay, maybe I wouldn't say it so that it sounded so old-fashioned and overly-sweet with contrived sentimentality, but that would essentially be the effect I'd be going for.
If anyone had asked me, and if I'd known then what I know now, I'd have been happy to make my wishes known before I came into this world.
"Why, yes," I'd have said, "by all means save the money a hospital will cost, and let's make it happen at the house! Then, maybe, have a little barbecue to celebrate."
But it was not to be. I was born in Moncks Corner's Berkley County (South Carolina) Hospital anyway.
My beloved Aunt Bessie is more pragmatic about it. She says I'm crazy. After giving birth at home five times with only a harried country doctor and an even more harried husband for company, she would gladly have traded them both for even a third-rate hospital and a fourth-rate flush toilet (rural Alabama was like that back in the 1950s).
When I thought, while it was too late for me at least my children could carry on the noble Americana home birth tradition...well, let's just say the idea was met with considerable reluctance on the part of my dear bride.
Yep. Considerable. So considerable that I'm still a little hard of hearing on one side (just kidding, Darlin'!).
I wasn't born at home. I was born in a hospital, and I still feel a little left out when all my home-born relatives get together and . . . well, they don't talk about being born at home. In fact, it never comes up unless I mention it. But I KNOW THEY WERE!
          And, okay, it rankles a bit.