Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Donnell Bell Interview

One of the sweetest and most talented people I know agreed to let me interview her concerning her career and her new release, The Past Came Hunting. 

1.     What inspired you to write The Past Came Hunting?

Hi, Bob, thank you for the interview and your lovely questions J. 

THE PAST CAME HUNTING came from TriciaYearwood’s and Don Henley’s hit country song WALK AWAY JOE.   The lyrics in the song revolve around a 17-year-old girl, who fails to listen to her mother, and takes off with her bad news boyfriend.  The boyfriend robs a Texaco station while the girl unwittingly sits outside in the car. 

Donnell Bell, Author
During a ridealong with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, I asked a deputy what would happen to her.  He said at 17, she’s almost an adult, and as a sidekick to a person committing a felony, an intolerant D.A. might very well try her as an adult and even send her to prison.

That didn’t sit well with me. I had kids around that age, and my maternal instinct took over.  I had to write the ending to that song, e.g. make sure this poor kid in the wrong place at the wrong time survived (after a few rough spots, of course) and got her happily ever after.

2.     Tell us a little about each of your main characters: Mel, Joe, and Drake.  Which one was your favorite?  Why?

Oh, wow, that’s like asking which kid I like best. ;)  I really admire Joe for trying to fit everything into his stressful career, handle a divorce, and the weight he feels in raising a teenage son alone, as well as the guilt he feels over an adolescent daughter who chose to live with her mother. I love his reactions to Melanie. I also love how this big tough cop came around and proved what he was made of.    

Without Drake Maxwell, I wouldn’t have a story, so even though he’s my evil bad guy, I owe him so much.  I had to put aside a lot of my “what will people think?” tendencies and write the most realistic character I was capable of writing.  

But THE PAST CAME HUNTING is definitely Melanie’s story and after all I put her through, and the way she stood up to Joe and Maxwell, she’s definitely my favorite character in the book.  After all I pitted her against, not one but two, of her deepest, darkest nemeses. 

3.     Please tell us about yourself and how your background has influenced your writing.

I’m originally from Texas, but grew up in Farmington, New Mexico.  I attended New Mexico State University and Denver Academy of Court Reporting.  I’ve been married to the same great guy forever, and I’m the proud mother of two wonderful grown kids. A hand injury cut my court reporting career short, so after that I went to work for a weekly business publication and a parenting magazine.  From there I fell in love with writing on a grand scale. I’ve always been an avid, avid reader.  My legal background has been a real blessing in writing fiction.    

4.     How much of yourself is hidden in your characters?

Oh, gosh, I’m all over the place in this novel.  Joe’s clock collection comes from my love of grandfather clocks, Drake Maxwell’s hatred of technology from my husband who says – read a map, to Melanie’s love for her son and the myriad sporting events we’ve attended over the years. The Italian restaurant I talk about is loosely based on Paninos. And I have to credit Attorney General John Suthers for his generosity in talking to Sisters in Crime, and sparking an idea to have a D.A. running for Attorney General.

5.     What are you working on right now?

I am writing a contracted suspense for Bell Bridge Books as part of a two-book deal.  They recently bought Deadly Recall, my 2010 Golden Heart finaling manuscript, and I’m awaiting revisions.  All three of these books are single title romantic suspense, but atypical of most RS out there, in that they take place in settings where I’ve lived and include far different plotlines.  THE PAST CAME HUNTING takes place in Colorado Springs, Deadly Recall is in Albuquerque, and Betrayed (my working title for book 3) is set in Denver.

6.     Is there anything that surprised you about post-publication that you'd like to share with other writers?

That uncertainty never lets up.  When you become published you take on new issues and new worries.  Your job as a professional is to push through that insecurity, and keep stretching your writing skills.  Finally, thanks for the opportunity to talk about THE PAST CAME HUNTING.  I heard a wonderful quote that I think applies to everyone, no matter what stage of writing he’s at.  The author of the quote is Carol Towarnicky.  “When I stopped trying to be perfect, I got better.”

7.     I noticed in your acknowledgments that your mentor shares a name with your evil mastermind.  How did your mentor feel about this?

Drake Maxwell is the name of my antagonist.  When I started writing THE PAST CAME HUNTING, the character I developed was a sociopathic personality who came from a wealthy family.  He had everything and still self-destructed.  I wanted a name that in my mind depicted the socioeconomic environment he grew up in.  To name him Bubba, Jim or Billy Bob would have given readers a different impression in my opinion.  Further the name Drake means “snake” or “dragon.”  I couldn’t resist ;)

As for my mentor, there were actually two with the last name of Drake.  They were so gracious and gave me their blessing.  They’ve also been huge proponents of this book.

By the way, don’t know when this will run, but if it’s on or before January 31st.  I’d appreciate you spreading the word.  Kobo and Kindle have deeply discounted THE PAST CAME HUNTING from $8.99 to $1.99.  Kobo came to my publisher and asked if they could promote it.  It’s now currently rated #21 out of the top 100 of KOBOs GREAT Reads under $4.99.  The info is on my homepage of my website in red.

All best,

Okay folks, if you got a Kindle for Christmas and are wondering what the heck to download, check out THE PAST CAME HUNTING.



  1. Great interview, by and about two wonderful people!

  2. Much awesomeness here!

  3. It was great to see an interview between two awesome authors I know.

  4. Great questions, Bob. Much better than the ones you answered so well during the British interview. I agree, Donnell is one of the most supportive, gracious and talented ladies I have met. I am going to get her book, The Past Came Hunting, next week. Since I am not yet an Ebook reader, I'll get your new one when it comes out

  5. You all are very kind. Weren't Bob's questions great? He made this interview easy. Thank you again, Mr. Spiller!