Interview used by permission of Second Wind Publishing and the author
Second Wind: I am joined today by Dellani Oakes, author of the historical romance novel, “Indian Summer” available through Second Wind Publishing. Hello, Dellani, and welcome.
Dellani: Thank you. I am delighted to be here.
SW: What inspired you to write this novel?
D: When I moved the Florida twenty years ago, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of history. St. Augustine, as the oldest established city on the east coast, holds an extra special fascination for me. I wanted to bring a bit of that history alive.
SW: Why the time period, 1739? I’m guessing that’s significant.
D: Yes, it is. There was a great deal of enmity between the Spanish and British in Europe and Florida gave them another venue in which to fight. The British were constantly trying to take over the fort in St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740, they very nearly succeeded.
SW: Why all this fuss over Florida? Grant you, it’s pretty country, but with the climate and the diseases the mosquitoes carried, why would anyone want such an untamed place?
D: I asked that very question too. What I found during my research was that St. Augustine was a strategic military position. The Spanish were shipping their treasures from Mexico and Central America. They used the trade routes along the Florida coast. Those waters were full of pirates as well as British warships. Imagine what the British could have done to the Spanish trade routes if they controlled those waters instead?
SW: An interesting historical twist.
D: Yes, I think I just gave myself an idea for a new novel.
SW: Now that we’ve established a bit of the history, tell us about the story itself. Was there really a Gabriella Deza daughter of the Spanish governor?
D: No, there wasn’t. I tried very hard not to pattern her after a real person and did hours of research to find a name not common to the area. If Gabriella resembles any historical person, it’s purely coincidental.
SW: Give us a brief synopsis of your story.
D: The story opens in the spring of 1739 and Gabriella is almost fifteen. After an accident injures both Manuel, her father’s confidential aid, and Governor Deza, Gabriella is staying at the hospital to help care for them. She overhears a conversation between two British spies. They are talking about an attack on St. Augustine.
SW: What does she do?
D: She runs to tell her father, but he’s unconscious. Instead, she goes to Manuel. However, after a brief and very embarrassing conversation with him, it slips her mind.
SW: How could talking to Manuel make her forget something that important?
D: He is nearly naked, very handsome, well built and charming. Keep in mind, she’s only fourteen and he is an older man. She’s so flattered that he has shown interest in her, she simply forgets.
SW: How much older is he?
D: Manuel is twenty-one.
SW: Isn’t that a little old for her? She’s just a child.
D: Perhaps by today’s standards, but back then girls married young and their husbands were often even older than Manuel. It wasn’t unusual for a girl her age to marry a man in his thirties.
SW: Does she ever remember the conversation she overheard?
D: No, but when she is sick with a fever, she reveals everything to Manuel and her father. Armed with this information, they set a trap for the spy, but by mischance, Gabriella is caught in it. She is kidnapped by the spy, escapes and is rescued by a band of friendly Indians. Now Manuel must find her and get her back. Then he has to bring the spy to justice so they can be married.
SW: I trust it all works out?
D: You’ll have to read “Indian Summer” to find out. But I will say I do like happy endings.
SW: Dellani, thank you so much for talking with me today.
D: I’m delighted to. Thank you for inviting me.
Dellani Oakes’ book, “Indian Summer” is available at www.secondwindpublishing.com It is also available at Amazon.com