"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Monday, August 17, 2009

Callie from THE CAVALRY WIFE interviews Donna

Shara and I thought we’d try something a little different. We’re going to be interviewed by one of our own characters. Callie Grant, the heroine from my historical western THE CAVALRY WIFE, volunteered to conduct my interview. She’s well-educated, married, and adores her new husband .

Callie: It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Dalton. I noticed your bookshelves are stocked with dozens of books on the War Between the States. Are you a big follower of that time period in American History?

Donna: Very much so. Being from Virginia, I’m surrounded by memorials of the Civil War - statues, battlefields, museums. It was such a tumultuous time in U.S. history. Yet through all the turmoil, the American Spirit remained steady and strong. I can’t help but admire the men and women who survived.

Callie: THE CAVALRY WIFE revolves around the Tenth Cavalry and its troopers. Are you in the military?

Donna: No, but my husband is – was – He retired a year and a half ago. I sure do miss seeing him all decked out in his dress blues. So you might say I’ve been around the military for nearly half of my life (Yeah, I’ve been married that long). I’m drawn to the silent, brave men in uniform.

Callie: Dalton. Is your husband any kin to the Daltons in Coffeyville, Kansas? They have five lovely boys, Frank, Grat, Bob, Emmett and Bill.

Donna: Not that I’m aware of, but the gang those boys formed when they got older would sure be great fodder for a story.

Callie: I’m certain it would. Speaking of new stories, do you have any books in the works?

Donna: I do. I’m working on a Civil War period story about a Virginia Rebel on her way to the Federal prison in Maryland to free her imprisoned brother. She meets up with a well-educated Yankee journalist and enlists his aid. Being dyslexic, she sees everything in a distorted light, while he, being a man of words, sees everything in black and white. As you can imagine, sparks fly between the two.

Callie: Oh my, that does sound intriguing. How much research do you put into your books?

Donna: I do basic research beforehand, just to get ideas for story scenes. Then, as I start writing, I do more specific, in-depth research, and not all of it from books. My wonderful husband chauffeured me to Point Lookout, Maryland so I could get a feel for the place. It was located at the tip end of the state, on a small strip of land surrounded by water. I took in the salty smell of the air, the crash of waves on the surf. Great sensual aids for empowering my writing. Yet, it was eerie walking over the same ground where thousands of men had been imprisoned and where many died. My arms crawled with gooseflesh.

Callie: I’ve never been to Maryland, but I’ve read about “The Old Line” state. I love to read. Do you have any favorite books or authors?

Donna: I enjoy action/adventure stories laced with lots of historical figures. Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series is one of my all-time favorites. I want to write like her when I grow up.

Callie: You sound a lot like one of the troopers in my husband’s command. He could sure spin a tale. Do you consider yourself a storyteller?

Donna: If a storyteller is someone who constantly has characters and plots invading in her head, then yes, I’m one. I can’t rest until I’ve gotten the stories out of my head and onto paper so I can share them with others. I hope my readers will enjoy the books I have written and those that are to come and will come back for more. Visit my website at www.donnadalton.net to read more about my books.


  1. Donna, can you tell me about the Daltons in Coffeyville? I've never heard the name Grat before--how interesting.

  2. The boys started out on the good side of the law, working as deputies marshalls. Frank was killed in the line of duty. Possibly out of revenge for their brother's death, Bob, Grat, and Emmett turned to a life of crime. Grat is actually short for Gratton, by the way. From 1891 to 1892, the Dalton Gang robbed trains throughout the Indian territories. Their downfall came when Bob Dalton decided he wanted to better than Jesse James. He planned to rob two bank at once in broad daylight, and set his sights on CM Condo & Company and the First National Banks in Coffeyville. They tried to disguise themselves with fake beards, but the townsfolk still identified them. A shootout ensued and Bob and Grat were killed. Emmett was shot but survived and was sentenced to six years in jail. Little brother Bill later joined up with the remanants of the gang and the Dalton-Doolin Gang continued terrorizing the territories for years to come. Sounds like plenty of fodder for a good book, doesnt it?

  3. Have you visited all the sights around you? We took one vacation
    when my brother was high school and did alot of them as credit for
    one of his classes.

  4. Hey there Pat, I can't say I've visited ALL the sights, but most of them. Pamplin Historical Park holds a battle re-enactment every year that's absolutely wonderful. Everything is staged just as it would have been during the War, from the tents to the food they eat and the clothes they wear.

  5. Really enjoyed the blog, Donna. Great fun facts, especially since I've never visited that part of the country.

  6. Civil War stories are my favorites.

    Some day my hubby and I plan on touring all of those amazing historical war sites in Virginia.

  7. that was an interesting interview. Real cool idea!!

  8. My hubby is from Pennsylvania and on our honeymoon (34 years ago) we visited Gettysburg. We live in Ohio and now that my hubby is retired, he says he would like to travel and maybe go back and visit some more Civil War sites.

    Enjoyed your interview! :)


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