* Well, here’s something new. Back Hair Advocate is getting into the business of interviews. In our first one, we chatted with Darlene Campos, author of “The Operation,” which we posted to our site yesterday. Read it here.
1. (THE SERIOUS…)
Your story, “The Operation,” takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. What attracted you to writing about the Lakota characters and lifestyle on the reservation?
During my first semester of college in 2009, I had a history professor who was very passionate about the Lakota tribe. He taught us a lot about the Pine Ridge Reservation and since I had never heard of it, I did my own research on the side. Eventually, I fell in love with the reservation and I felt compelled to write a story that took place there. I’ve never been to Pine Ridge but one day I would love to go and visit.
When did the idea for these characters come to you? What were you doing/where were you?
The Thunderclap family came to my mind one night at 3 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a short story about them as homework for my beginning fiction class. In the story, Jay Eagle (AKA Ate) died from his heart condition, leaving his wife and baby son all alone. My classmates enjoyed the story, but they were pretty pissed about Jay Eagle Thunderclap’s death and told me I was wrong to kill off such a loveable character. I took their advice and kept him alive in a subsequent draft. I also changed the point of view from 3rd person omniscient to Nimo’s point of view. And no, Jay Eagle Thunderclap will never die in the series. I promise.
You have written a number of other stories featuring these characters. Are you putting together a book?
Yes! I’m in the process of putting all the Thunderclap family stories together in one book. I’ve been editing it extensively for the last year, and I plan to start submitting to agents and publishers in a couple of weeks. I hope to write and produce a small television series about them sometime in the future. We’ll see what happens.
What kind of research did you do to write these stories?
I read tons of fictional stories by Native American authors and loads of books on Lakota history and culture. I also took some college classes on Native American studies. Honestly, I get a lot of heat for writing outside my own culture, and I am frequently told to stick to my own, which drives me nuts.
Then in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Sherman Alexie, a famous Native American author who wrote “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” I asked him what he thought about me writing from the point of view of a Lakota boy. He said it ultimately doesn’t matter what you write, all that matters is that your writing is good. He’s right.
Where do you write mostly? Please describe this place.
Even though I write in a variety of places, my favorite place to write is in bed. My most successful story titled “The Fork” was written this way. I fell asleep right after writing the final sentence, and my pen’s ink stained my sheets. Thank goodness for detergent.
What’s a flash fiction you read recently that knocked your socks off?
“Godoy Lives” by Daniel Chacon. It’s a beautifully written story about an impostor.
What are two writing sites you visit and enjoy?
What other things you do besides writing?
I like to ride my bike, go to the gym, read books, and spend time with those close to me, especially with my wonderful boyfriend, David.
2. (THE NOT SO SERIOUS…)
What movie franchise do you wish would just end already?
Back to the Future should’ve ended after the first one. It’s almost 2015, and we still don’t have hoverboards. We were lied to.
Donut or doughnut?
I live in Houston, and we have Shipley’s Do-Nuts headquarters. Donut is short for Don’t Mess with Texas.
Tell me everything you know about sea otters.
I know otter-ly nothing.
How did you celebrate your publication in Back Hair Advocate? Feel free to lie.
Huge make-out session with David, fireworks, and some Shipley’s Do-Nuts. It totally happened. Or did it?
The last thing you ate?
Trail Mix! Whoever invented it was a genius.
Worst piece of advice you ever got?
When I was fourteen, a relative told me I should stop writing because it’s not a ‘girl’s’ hobby. As you can see, I take advice from my relatives very seriously.
Worst job you ever worked?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been paid $800 for my stories, which isn’t much. Writing is demanding, difficult, and requires long hours. I hate the process of writing, yet I feel like I’m going to go crazy when I’m not writing. In a perfect world, my stories would earn me enough money to quit my day job and also provide me with a lifetime supply of trail mix.