Interview with Delana Close: Published at 95 Years Old

Saturday, July 06, 2019

At the age of 95 years old, Delana Close self-published her book The Rock House, which is the 2019 Independent Book Awards Winner for Historical Fiction. She started this book in 1955, 63 years ago. One year later, Delana is still writing and working on her next book, proving to all of us it’s never too late to pursue a dream.

WOW: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with WOW! Women on Writing today. First of all, let me just say you look absolutely stunning! None of us here at WOW believe you are 96, if you don’t mind me saying! I first found your story on my Facebook page and it caught my eye immediately. It said in the article on that you first started your book “The Rock House” in 1955 and finishing it took nearly 63 years. What kept you going back to this story all these years?

Delana: Well, I always thought of it as my baby and I treated it like a baby. The book was always in my head and there was often something I would think of that I would write down because I knew I wouldn’t remember it and I had a lot of writing on the backs of envelopes- anything that was there to pick up and write it down. I did give up writing once for 20 years but went right back to it. I was always thinking about getting it written, as I said it was my baby. It had to come out.

WOW: I think every writer can understand that need for your book baby to come out! Tell me about that moment you first held your book in your hands. What was that like for you?

Delana: When I received my author’s copy I put it in a little basket, covered it with a baby blanket and carried it around with me. I was so happy.

WOW: That’s an adorable idea! You certainly did a lot of living while writing this book, such as working on 155 mm Howitzers and also opening up your businesses while also raising a family. How did you balance writing with everything going on in your life?

Delana: That’s what I had to do. Especially since the war was over, my husband was always into a new business. We had restaurants, at one time we had four restaurants and an art gallery. The businesses were very successful and I had no time to write. But the book was always in my head, mostly at night and I would write then and sometimes when I was alone driving in my car the ideas would be so strong I would have to pull over and write them down. So that’s how I got time for my writing. It wasn’t until I retired that I was able to put my full attention on writing the book.

WOW: I love how you would pull over to write down your ideas! What did your family think about you writing a book?

Delana: My husband read portions of the book through the years and was my biggest fan. We both grew up in small towns and had an appreciation for small town life. My children always knew I was writing a book but never read it until the manuscript was complete. At that point my daughters were proofreading it.

WOW: I love how your family was involved and supported you! So, in The Rock House, you tell a poignant story about how Abigail is forced to give her son to a different family and is considered a “fallen” woman by her community. Would you mind sharing what led you to writing about this type of experience?

Delana: The story was based on what happened in my hometown, which was a small town. A young school teacher lived with a family and became pregnant by one of their sons who was one of her students. Of course this was scandalous during that time which was the 1930s. When she went into labor the doctor who was to deliver the baby refused to help her unless she gave up the name of the father. She finally did, and the young man was brought to the hospital and they were married right there after she gave birth. In my novel, the heroine does not give into the pressure and the father of the baby is not revealed to anyone for years.

WOW: That is incredible you based this on a real moment that happened in your hometown. The Dispatch article talked about how you getting a computer in the 90s changed your writing. Can you tell us a bit about how this new technology changed you and your writing?

Delana: I got my first computer when I was 73 years old. I knew how to type but that’s all I knew about computers. I didn’t know to save what I’d written so I lost a lot of the book. I finally learned how to use Word and that made a big difference.

WOW: Oh that must have been heartbreaking to lose your work like that. The editing process included line-by-line changes and you approved of each one. What was that process like for you and how did your novel change during that time?

Delana: The line by line editing mostly pointed out typos or grammatical errors and didn’t really change the novel. The editor must have been quite young as he had never heard some of the terms used in the book such as “drummer,” the name for a traveling salesman, which was quite common in the early 1900s.

WOW: That must have been a learning experience for your editor! When it came time for the publication process, what led you to the route of independent publishing rather than a traditional publisher?

Delana: I did submit the manuscript to a couple of publishers and was rejected. At my age, I didn’t want wait for some publisher to give me the ok. I wanted to get it published before I got too old. Self-publishing was available and was the right answer for me.

WOW: That is the amazing thing about self-publishing! I can see by the photos that not only are you beautiful, you are also youthful in spirit. You are such an inspiration to all of us. How do you stay so energized and what secrets can you share with the rest of us?

Delana: I stayed energized by reading poetry and dancing. I love to dance and dance whenever I get the chance. I was a ballroom dancer for years. All the kids where I grew up started dancing when we were just children and there weren’t any babysitters. All the kids were at the dances. It’s been a part of me since childhood.

WOW: You are such an inspiration. I read how you remain an avid reader. What authors/books have been inspiring or most helpful to you in your writing?

Delana: My favorite authors are Ayn Rand and Margaret Mitchell.

WOW: Those are inspiring authors! Can you tell us a bit about the novels you are working on right now?

Delana: I have three that I’m working on right now; one is about three female medical students during the depression in the 1930s; one is about the 1918 Influenza epidemic and one is a 1960s murder mystery.

WOW: How interesting and impressive you are working on three! What are you hoping writers – and readers of your work – learn from your story, both the one you’ve written and the one you have lived?

Delana: Perseverance and overcoming obstacles is my story as well as Abby’s story. Don’t give up, if you have a story to tell find a way to tell it.

WOW: What final words of advice can you pass along to our readers who may be worried that it’s too late for them to finish their book?

Delana: It’s never too late. I’m 96 now and The Rock House was published last year. I’m working on three other novels and at my age, I’m never giving up because I love to write.


About the Book The Rock House

Milliner and business owner Abigail Langley defies everyone's expectations. When the odious Brother Griggsby labels her latest hat "sinful," Abby boldly wears it to church. A painful trauma early in her life has taught her the importance of following her own path.

Abby had conceived a child out of wedlock. It was the early 1900s, and in the attitude of the times, she was considered "fallen" and her baby taken away from her.

Abby never forgot the pain of having her child torn from her arms, and she is defiantly determined to make her way through a man's world with her head held high. She opens a fashionable hat shop in her small hometown of Rockville and catches the eye of the town's new preacher, Noah Edwards. It isn't the first time they've met, and Noah well remembers their fateful first encounter.

Now, Abby must contend with Noah's affections as well as the shocking reappearance of her child's father. Dr. Adam Townsend has never forgotten Abby, and when they meet once more, electricity sparks between them.

Will this time be different? Or is Abby's heart destined to once again be broken by a man she loves?

About the Author, Delana Close

Delana “Jackie” Jensen Close was born and raised in the tiny town of Emery, Utah. She graduated from Snow College and did her part for the war effort in the 1940s as a regular “Rosie the Riveter,” spending years working on 155 mm Howitzers.

Later moving to Columbus, Ohio, Close pursued her entrepreneurial dreams and opened several restaurants and art galleries. She also met her husband in Columbus, where she settled down and started a family of her own.

Close now lives in Dublin, Ohio, where she continues to happily dream up historical romances and other dramatic tales.

The Rock House by Delana Close is available on Amazon.


Angela Mackintosh said...

WOW, this is such an inspiring interview! Thank you so much Nicole for arranging this interview, and thank you, Delana, for sharing your path to publication and the remarkable story behind your book. I think it's so interesting that you fictionalized a story based on what happened in your home town. What a great idea. I also love the title of your novel, and find your self-publishing story very encouraging, as it's an option I'm considering because I'm an artist and love the idea of having creative control, and quicker publication time is a bonus! :)

Your end piece of advice, that it's never too late, warms my heart. I've been struggling with my book project for years. I set it aside for fourteen years and I'm finally just now getting back to it because it's a story that I need to uncover and want to tell. Good luck with your three projects! I will be checking out The Rock House! :)

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