by Dana Mentink
Writers are storytellers. Most will tell you something along the lines of “Oh I’ve been jotting down stories since I was a kid!” Guilty. When I wasn’t jotting them, I was thinking about them (most likely during a math lesson.) Somewhere in my formative years, the seed was planted deep, sprouting into a jungle of stories. So where oh where did that little seed come from? Do writers have people in their lives that foster that yen for story? Folks that took the time to bring us into another world before we had the skills to decode the words on the page ourselves? Perhaps it was a grandparent, an enthusiastic teacher with the silver tones of a true storyteller? For me, it was my father.
I remember as a child listening to my father read to us, both from the Bible and the plethora of story books on our shelves. He has a certain intonation, a soothing inflection that brought the words to life for me. I can picture him sitting there on the bed, with his thick fingers delicately turning the pages. No matter how tired he was, or how much work he’d brought home with him at night, there was always story time.
Fast forward a few decades in time and now I am the mother of two girls. Somehow I do not see my father enough, anymore. The days are filled with business and though we live in the same town, our lives travel down different directions. Imagine my surprise when I first read to my own children, and found that I used the phrasing and inflection that my father used with me, trying to wrap the words in the same love and wonder that he did. Story time was sacred time, a father/daughter tradition now passed on to mother/child.
So was it the magic of the stories themselves that captivated me, or the fact that my father took the time out of his always busy days to read to me? Probably a little of both. The fact is, I will always hear my father’s voice, reading the Bible or the magical stories of “the great gray green greasy Limpopo River” and the Giant Jam Sandwich and though the stories have faded in my memory, his voice will not.
Do I capture those rich words and mesmerizing plots in my own books? I can’t say. The stories that come from my desk go out into the world to be experienced by others, shared or discarded, impactful or forgettable. They take with them the indelible imprint of all the stories my father shared with me, born from the same seed that took hold all those years ago.
Did you have a storyteller in your life growing up?
Dana Mentink got her start writing the UP FINNY’S NOSE mysteries for Heartsong Presents, recently re-released as ebooks. She writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, where her books have earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, a Holt Medallion Merit Award and a Carol Award. Her River North debut, JUNGLE FIRE, released in July and she’s begun a series for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line. Visit her at danamentink.com.