Interview with Dawn Garcia
Dawn’s writing career to date includes freelance writing and journalism. Many of her articles and stories trace the history of places with unique significance. In each of the pieces I read, she included the human elements that make the stories. Dawn's diligent research, like many writers, makes her work special. It is that thing behind the story done without fanfare, and often without appreciation by those who haven't dug under the trees to expose the roots. She digs up the history that will remain relevant for years ahead for new researchers.
Glenda: Dawn; please give us a peek inside your upcoming novel.
Dawn: A young girl abandoned. A father living life at the bottom of a longneck bottle. An unexpected reunion.
What He Left Behind is a story about 35-year-old Kyla Richmond and the search for her absent father. It isn’t until she volunteers at the local homeless shelter that she discovers the man who purposely walked out of her life when she was nine. The man she discovers isn’t the man she dreamed she would one day find. Instead, he is a man who lives under a bridge, slowly and painfully drinking his life away.
Filled with abandonment, homelessness, and alcoholism, this novel will put Kyla to the ultimate test of forgiveness through the discovery of unconditional love.
Writing a story based on events in one’s own life takes bravery in the best of circumstances. Dawn, however has gone beyond bravery to a level of faith few people possess.
Glenda: I’ve read your biography on your website. It’s amazing that you have the time to accomplish the things you do with your volunteer work, children, web design business, freelance writing and writing your novel. Then you sent me five articles you’ve written. There is no doubt in my mind that you did a lot of research for those stories. They are full of history, tracing the linear and familial chronicles of their significance. I can only imagine that you must organize your time to fit it all together. How would you describe the development of your writing career?
Dawn: I have been writing since grade school and in high school, I started a teen novel but never finished it. I earned a degree in English at the University of Iowa and a few years after graduation, I began my journalism career. My main love of writing had been in the children’s market but I only dabbled in it to the point of it never leaving my computer screen. A year after I learned of my biological dad’s passing and the life he lived before he died, I was inspired to write that first novel, What He Left Behind.
As for organizing my time, I am fortunate to have three great kids who help and are just as involved as I am. They are compassionate about the volunteer work and they “get to go” (not have to go) to off-site work meetings with me. Since infancy, each of them has understood that I work from home and because of that, they have a great opportunity to do fun and interesting things.
Glenda: Somehow, you’ve managed to take the circumstances of your biological father’s life and turn them into a life of volunteer work with the homeless. What would possess you to be so bold as to walk up to a dirt-covered, elderly, homeless man with no more than a sign “Anything Will Help” and give him a gift?
Dawn: I thank God every day for what I have. I have so many blessings and I want to share what God has given me. When I see homelessness, I want to help. I think about how my father sat on a street corner doing the same thing as this man. I have no idea why the man was begging for money but it doesn’t matter. All it takes is one bad choice or one disaster and it could be any one of us. There is so much more I want to do but I have to tell myself that little things matter in the whole scheme of things. I can reach out to one person, one child at a time and grow from there.
Glenda: In your book, Kyla involves her family in her quest for her biological father. They are a strong support system, which is something we all need in our lives. The circumstances of Kyla’s life draw from your own. How close does the family in your book resemble your own family?
Dawn: I have a good support system. I am close to my parents, even my stepfather who adopted my two younger brothers and I after my biological father disappeared from our lives.
Glenda: Finally, what would you tell other writers are your most important tool, or practice in writing?
Dawn: A lot of Prayer, Time, and patience
Writers, like Dawn, know to draw from their own experience and that of others to design a story or article. The feel of a story for the reader often comes from that bit of reality that sets the story. We revise and change the events and sequences. We research deeper into the smallest factoid. Then we stretch that reality into a slim thread within the fiction.
Thus, Dawn engineers her writing career through her keyboard into freelance, special interest, journalism, to writing a full-length novel. However, that is not all that Dawn is.
Dawn is a giver in life. I doubt she realizes how much giving she does. She volunteers a good portion of her time visiting shelters and nursing homes, volunteering with church, cub scouts, and other community events bringing that spark of hope to everyone with whom she interacts. That hope includes me. I'm not homeless, penniless, or hungry. I am human and in that, we all need hope in some way.