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Interview: Renowned Novelist Parris Afton Bonds Talks Openly and Wildly

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The legendary Parris Afton Bonds kicks ass! Now that I got that out of my system we can proceed. She is a woman with a fierce, loving, and nurturing heart. Ms. Bonds is a proud mother and grandmother to a remarkable family. She is also a sultry siren and while I also hold that title, Ms. Bonds, was the groundbreaking trendsetter who paved the way for me to claim my title and perfect it Morasco style!

Ms. Bonds is a storyteller of the highest order and she believes in love. In fact, she believes in all that hearts and flowers bunk, and that is what makes her such a class act. Ms. Bonds is timeless and so is her writing career. Bonds has penned over 37 novels, is the co-founder of Southwest Writers Workshop, and cofounder and first vice president of Romance Writers of America. The Parris Award was established in her name by the Southwest Writers Workshop to honor a published writer who had given exceptionally of time and talent to other novelists. Noticeable recipients of the Parris Award include the late Tony Hillerman, and the Pulitzer Prize nominee Norman Zollinger.

Bonds inculpates her detailed enthrallment with historical romances and, specifically, Native Americans, to novelists she had read as a child and teenager such as Rafael Sabatini, James Fennimore Cooper, and Edna Ferber. The quandary of the Native American as defined in the tome Romana by Helen Hunt Jackson, most influenced Parris Afton Bonds.

Ms. Bond bestows her time to instructing creative writing to both grade school children and female inmates.

Ms. Bonds has once again given me the gift of an interview and I am extremely thankful. As a teen, I was whisked away to mysterious domains with dynamic characters as only Ms. Bonds can construct. Growing up amid chaos with my family of origin, Parris Afton Bonds was heaven-sent. Ms. Bonds inspired me to imagine beyond what I was born into and I will always be grateful for the visualizations and yet another amazing full circle moment.

Enjoy!

Parris, please share how you came up with the concept for Dancing with Wild Woman?

The concept for Dancing with Wild Woman came to me in two parts, Diane—in researching for an earlier novel, Indian Affairs I stumbled across a little known novel by Frank Waters, The Book of the Hopi. What appeared to be a dry documentation about the Hopi, masters of desert survival, turned out to be an enthralling and tantalizing desert Da Vinci Code. From it my plot sprang to life. But my main character, Janet Lomayestewa, was born when I read a newspaper article about the Shadow Wolves, an all-Indian team who tracks illegal aliens and drug smugglers under the auspices of Arizona’s U.S. Customs Department. Janet may very well be my favorite character of my 37 novels, so real and vivid is she. She resonates with that wild soul part of me. In my latest novel, Call Me Crazy (Book II of the Janet Lomayestewa Tracker Series), she is once again tugging at my spirit to pursue the adventure that lies just across the border of the comfort zone.

When you’re deeply connected and immersed in a book, Parris, have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream? Do your characters dream within you?

Now how did you know that, Diane?! I don’t become ‘deeply connected and immersed’ in my story until after the first draft (more a skeletal design)… then the main character nudges me out of my body and takes up occupancy. And, yes, even my character has taken possession of my dreamscape. This can be so annoying at times, as if I am having an out-of-body experience, watching myself from a high corner of the room while my main character takes center stage.

Have you had a dream that was one of your characters?

Not in the sense that you ask, although I have had quite a few dreams that have become the inspiration for books. I’ve learned to pay rapt attention when something is going on in my dreamland.

What do you love most about the Hopi Indians?

The Hopi take their name from a word that means “peaceful people.” They pray each day for every living thing. The Hopi were proclaimed by the Dali Lama to be a People of Peace. I love the Hopi’s belief that it is their duty to keep the world in balance by dancing, and their message that the principal of choice always prevails.

What challenged you the most about researching the Hopi Prophecy?

Being a bahana, a white person, an outsider, was, of course, my biggest challenge. The Hopi, as cordial as they are to outsiders, are a very reserved and mystical people. I could never get entirely in their mindset, and try as hard as I could, I could only present a facet of their lives that was colored by my romantic perspective.

Parris, please share the titles of three books on your nightstand?

1.) Essential Italy – taking five of my grandchildren to Italy in September (yes, call me crazy); 2.) The Lost Painting (about the Italian artist Caravaggio); 3.) Yemen, published by The Lonely Planet (research material for Call Me Crazy).

Who are some of your favorite Native American writers?

My list of favorite Native American authors is woefully lacking–N. Scott Momaday, Robert Ghost Wolf, and Carlos Castaneda.

Who are some of your favorite romance writers of all-time?

Easy-peasy. E.M. Hull, Edna Ferber, Margaret Mitchell, and Daphne Du Maurier.

What makes you laugh?

Diane, I laugh at the unexpected turn of words (or events), occasionally even when that ‘turn’ is not necessarily favorable.

What is the guilty pleasure you find the naughtiest?

Ahhh, this is like revealing one’s sexual fantasy and thus losing the power of the fantasy. To reveal the naughtiest of my guilty pleasures would reduce the pleasure itself. Alas, I must not share!

What did you learn about yourself while penning Indian Affairs?


I learned how quickly I can become; first, bewildered, and then incensed by the mistreatment of the Native Americans; and, more importantly, how love can triumph, even over death (I did a soul travel under the guidance of a Native American when in Taos, researching Indian Affairs).

What challenges did you endure while penning Dancing with Wild Woman?

Two challenges dominated my writing of Dancing with Wild Woman. First, was the locale. The Hopi Reservation is very isolated and living near there for any length of time was out of the question; I had to make several trips to Arizona and stay with family in Phoenix each time while researching. The second challenge was, as I mentioned earlier, the reserve of the Hopi. I so badly wanted to understand and connect with their mysticism. I remember watching one of their dances, forbidden to non-whites (I am part Cherokee), and being profoundly moved spiritually.

What are you most ambivalent about when you sit down to write a series?

Fighting with the main character over possession of my body not just through ONE novel but the entire series. I lose myself.

What do you want your readers to walk away with after reading your books?
I would love for readers to finish any of my novels with a sigh of pleasure. I want readers to feel they were entertained and informed and came away with a passion for life’s adventure.

If you were able to go rock climbing with whomever you want (past or present), who do you pick and what are you talking about?

Johnny Depp would do for a start. Seriously, I feel he is a brilliant multi-faceted individual. But I could also hike along with Joseph Campbell, Albert Schweitzer, or Eleanor of Aquitaine. Really, just about anyone. People are fascinating.

Who inspires you?

People who triumph over suffering. People who don’t complain but turn lemons into lemonade.

What inspires you?

Whatever arouses my passion, and that is usually ideas that dance just outside of the five senses. What is beyond our last exhalation? What does one know for sure to be true? BUT my greatest passion, that which inspires me the most, is my family and friends.

Describe love to me in three words, Parris.

Another easy-peasy. The Three C’s: Chemistry, Compassion, Commitment.

Thank you so very much, Parris, for this fun, insightful and stimulating interview. (wink)

Diane, thank you, thank you, thank you, for giving me the opportunity to connect with your readers!

You are quite welcome, Parris.

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