Hi, my name is D. K. Marley and I am the Historical Fiction Chick!
I’ve always loved reading books since I can remember. I think my first favorite book was Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I remember watching the Disney movie over and over again, reading the book over and over, and then acting out the stories while I played on my granddaddy’s little farm in South Georgia.
I don’t know why but I developed a curious fascination with all things British, even as early as six and seven years old. My mom had several Beatles albums that I played on my little record player and I always tried to mimic their way of talking. My grandmother was also a huge Anglophile and an English Literature teacher, so when I turned eleven and she caught me perusing the pages of her college Lit book and her Shakespeare book, she promptly gave them both to me as gifts and set me on the path. Then, when my mom introduced me to the Victoria Holt series when I was about thirteen, I was hooked with historical fiction. Later on, in high school, I read “The Far Pavilions” and started writing my first novel (which I never published).
Years went by after graduation. I married and had my daughter, then took up writing again while she took her naps. In the vein of The Far Pavilions, I wrote a story about a young girl growing up in Kashmir, half-blooded with a British father and an Indian mother, whose mother and father both die in the Indian mutiny. She is shipped off to Britain to distant relatives she has never met and begins to suffer the cruelty of prejudice and hate. Anyway, it also became a novel that never left the manuscript phase but I like to think they both were my testing ground.
It wasn’t until 1997, my husband and I set off on our anniversary trip to London. We arrived there the month after the death of Princess Diana. I will never forget the sight of seeing the candle wax still embedded in the pebbled walkway in front of Kensington Palace.
During the trip we took a side-trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and to the Globe Theatre in London. While there, they were having some sort of museum exhibition about Shakespeare and one of the walls featured five men who might have been contenders for writing the plays attributed to him. Needless to say, I had never heard the idea but something intrigued me. I said while standing there, “Well, this might make an incredible story!” I took out a pen and some scrap paper and started writing notes, especially about Christopher Marlowe whose eyes seem to draw me in that day.
My journey began that day. After thirteen years of writing, rewriting, setting aside, getting frustrated, almost giving up, going to writing retreats, trashing a lot of the storyline, and more rewriting, I published a small run in 2010 just for family and friends. Sort of testing out if I even was going in the right direction. Some interest but something was still not quite right. I set it aside for another five years.
In 2015, my life changed overnight. The night of the Super Bowl, I lost my daughter, son-in-law, and unborn grandbaby to a stupid drunk driver who was running from the police. My kids were on their way home from a Super Bowl party and were only one mile from their house. Grief changes you irrevocably. After years of grief therapy and wanting to completely give up, my therapist suggested I start writing again,; first, a small journal to my daughter; then second, something that I enjoyed writing about before. After months of writing in the journal, I finally took the old manuscript of “Blood and Ink” off the shelf and did an entire revamp of the story.
I contemplated searching for an agent and going the traditional route but with the suddenness of losing my kids and the fragileness of life still fresh in my mind, I decided to take back my own power and self-publish which I did in May of 2018. Things progressed very quickly. By December I had it in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and Audible (thanks to the incredible vocal stylings of Mr. Jonathan Dixon) and at the end of the year I received the first award from The Coffee Pot Book Club for the Bronze Medal for Best Historical Fiction for “Blood and Ink”. My feet found their path and my eyes were focused on the next three books. “The Prince of Denmark”, “Child of Love & Water”, and “The Fire of Winter” all followed in succession and this crazy year of 2020 the first of my new historical time-travel will come out.
So, I guess you can say I found my voice through tragedy which is very appropriate for a Shakespeare-lover. Every word I write now is for and because of my kids and for my grandmother who set me on the path.