Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, is now available at amazon and other online and ebook distributors. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/
Where are you right now (LVR, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.
Ha ha. You caught me early in the morning. In my bedroom. Curled up in bed with my laptop. Not too bad on the what I’m wearing. (You know, if you were a man, that question would take on a whole different tone.) I’m wearing the black velvety workout pants I slept in with a shimmery gray long sleeve t-shirt. It’s a hand-me-down from my sister, so it’s some sort of designer brand. Hair is still in last night’s top knot, so I’m sure it’s pretty messy. No make-up yet, of course. I can tell this is going to be a fun interview!!
Do your characters ever give you surprises when you are writing? Can you give us an example if they do and if they don’t do you know why?
Hmm. Sometimes they do. But it doesn’t throw me because I pretty much write what the voices in my head tell me too anyway. For example, I don’t think when I wrote Dandelion I set out to have an alcoholic priest. But then he showed up with his red face, bulbous nose, and his flamboyant preaching. Et. Voila. It sort of arose naturally from my understanding of the time period.
With the book I’m currently working on set in Virginia, I plotted it tightly early on. Then a minor character, a slave girl, begged for a bigger role. I gave in because I really liked her, and expanding her relationship with my heroine fit the theme. Surprisingly, the slave could read and loved Jane Austen. Go figure.
Many writers will say they see stories all around them. Is there someplace you found this story?
Hmm…I think my friends would say that in some ways Dandelion’s story is mine. That’s true and not true. The truth is that I grew up in a home without much money since my father was a social worker and my mother stayed home. And I did wish to better myself through education. At the same time I wanted to find true love, but struggled. Of course Dandelion’s life took more exciting twists and turns than mine ever did. And she didn’t find Christ until late in the process, while I grew up in church. So my story was much more stable and subtle. The crazier twists probably came from books I’ve read and enjoyed.
Do you have a favorite scene in this book and what would it be?
That’s like asking about a favorite child. Of course I love the romantic scenes. And the spiritual scenes. The dancing scene at the convent is special to me because I assumed there was no worship dance at the time, and God led me to the perfect research book in a rather supernatural way to discover that it did exist.
But my very favorite scene might be the funny one where she meets the three bumbling “Holy Brothers” in London. I really enjoyed writing it. I guess that would be another surprise moment for me too, because I had no idea they would be so hysterical until I met them. Since Dandelion, I’ve been adding more and more humor to my books. And I love a humor thrown in here and there. So much fun!
Did anyone inspire you to write or was this something you always wanted to do?
I would say I’ve wanted to write since high school. If anything, I had a lot of discouragement I needed to press through. An English teacher who insisted I couldn’t write well. I husband who for many years didn’t want me working on anything that wouldn’t earn guaranteed cash. And even friends who would rather me spend all my time in local church ministry. It took a lot of determination for me to arrive here.
If you could be any character in any literary book who would you be and why?
Mary-Margaret in Lisa Samson’s The Passion of Mary-Margaret. The woman had a hard but incredible life, and the most amazing relationship with God. She even managed some heart-stopping romance along the way.
What is something that very few people know about you?
The more I get asked this question, the harder it becomes to answer. I love heavy metal and alternative music, although I usually listen to Christian versions like Red and Flyleaf. That surprises a lot of people. And I know how to both hip hop dance and two-step. Oh, and anyone who hasn’t met me in person would probably be shocked to discover that I wear a small diamond stud in my nose. Okay, I will admit that did throw me when we were at conference.
And I never in a million years would have guessed metal! BTW I love to waltz. My hubby and I do that in our kitchen cause its big and no furniture.
What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: ipod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)
Boy, you sure do ask tough questions, Debbie Lynne. Maybe an oil painted copy of the Degas ballerinas that hangs in my entryway. I love art and dance. Beneath it I painted in gold leaf the scripture, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Sounds lovely. I wish I'd have asked you to send me a picture of it for everyone to see.
Love's quest leads her the world over.
Dandelion Dering was born a peasant in the English village of Arun, but her soul yearned for another life, another world. One filled with color and music, with adventure and passion . . . with more. Haunted by childhood memories, Dandelion determines to find a better existence than the life every peasant in the village contents themselves with. Even if her sweetheart William’s predictions prove true, and her journey leads straight to heartache.
From her sleepy hamlet to the intrigue of castle life, from the heart of London to the adventurous seas, Dandelion flees from the mistakes of her past, always seeking that something, that someone who will satisfy her longings.
Will Dandelion ever find the rhythm to her life's dance . . . or did she leave her chance for true love at home in Arun village?