I swear, I would know my friend Danele Rotharmel if she were in crowd of a thousand people and I was standing a thousand feet away. And we’ve never even met! But Danele is the kind of person whose personality and warmth and faith transcend cyberspace. She is one of my heroes, and one of my favorite authors. Please read the interview and tell me if you don’t want her for your own best friend too!
I can best introduce Danele (that’s her on the right—the cute one with the big smile) by having her share her story. It is fascinating, frightening, and ultimately God-glorifying, and it never gets old!
Hello, Anita! It’s such an honor to be featured on your website! Thank you for having me—I really love talking with you! And for those of you who don’t know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Danele, and I’m the author of The Time Counselor Chronicles. The third book in my series, Time Search, was just released by Prism Book Group in January 2017. My books are Christian romantic suspense with a time-travel twist, and I wrote them during a seven-year period of time when I was in quarantine.
What could lead to a SEVEN YEAR QUARANTINE, you ask? Read on.
My illness was very difficult, but looking back, I can see that God was with me every step of the way. Several years ago, I started feeling ill and my doctors couldn’t figure out why. My illness progressed until I couldn’t talk without stuttering or walk without staggering. I also experienced partial amnesia and troubles with my short-term memory. Eventually, I had to quit my job and stop driving. Finally, it was discovered that I was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace in my home. The leak was a tiny one, and the gas had been slowly poisoning me over a long period of time. (Let me interrupt to say that it is VITALLY important for every house to have a carbon monoxide monitor with a digital readout that monitors low levels of the gas). You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, and it’s estimated that if the leak hadn’t been discovered I wouldn’t have survived much longer.
I thought that once the furnace was replaced, my health would improve, but the gas had triggered severe multiple chemical sensitivity. In a nutshell, that meant that anytime I was exposed to perfume, cleansers, car exhaust, or any of the other chemicals that surround our daily lives, I would become extremely ill. My health continued to worsen, and eventually, I was put into quarantine in my home. My house was a “chemical-free” zone, and for seven years I could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window.
As time passed, the quarantine worked, and after the first couple of years most of my memories were restored, and each proceeding year brought me closer to renewed health. Quarantine was a very lonely time for me, and during it, I wrote my books. My characters were a window to the outside world, and they gave me something to focus on other than my health. Although my illness was very difficult, and although I still struggle with some health issues, what happened drew me closer to the Lord, and it allowed me to write my books. For that I am grateful.
Curious if Danele likes science fiction books and movies? Me too!
I grew up with a love of science fiction and mystery stories. If I wasn’t reading Nancy Drew, I was perusing the pages of The Hobbit. I also really enjoyed Star Trek and Star Wars. When I was little, I can still remember the GLORIOUS day when Star Wars was shown on television for the first time. My older sister was babysitting me, and we watched the movie together. I was fascinated as the story unfolded. I can remember holding my breath when the characters dived into the trash compacter. Just as something moved through the water by Luke’s legs, my sister announced that it was my bedtime. (!!!!!) I spent the rest of the night, tucked up in my bed, trying to envision what had been beneath the murky water. As the years passed, my love of science fiction continued to grow—the only thing I didn’t enjoy was the fact that many science fiction stories have dirty scenes. It became my dream to write a time-travel series that would be suspenseful, fun, and most of all—Christian and clean.
Here’s the deal with Danele’s books: there isn’t anything in them that is bizarre or twisted. (Well. The villains are pretty twisted.) Everything is very recognizable as 21st century life in America with the exception of the crazy and complex world the Time Counselors operate in. Danele answers how she came up with “sci-fi realism.”
In a way, I’m a strange mixture. I’m a science-fiction buff who majored in English. Throughout my college career, I analyzed major works of literature, taking them apart to see what made them tick. English literature, early-American literature, medieval literature, poetry, African American literature, Asian literature—I perused them all. By the time I graduated, I had scrutinized hundreds of books, short stories, and poems. I also read TONS of books simply for pleasure. Besides literature, I also enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles and a diverse selection of television shows and movies. I didn’t just like one genre—I liked them all. In fact, I’m just as happy watching John Wayne gallop across the prairie as I am watching Grace Kelly dance in The Swan. I like sit-coms, detective shows, and sci-fi dramas. I’m a story junkie!
With my enjoyment of so many genres, by the time I started writing my novels, I had tons of ideas for settings and characters rolling around in my noggin. I suppose I decided to “keep it real” because ultimately those are the stories I enjoy the most. I like to see familiar settings and feel as if the action of the book could happen to me. In The Time Counselor Chronicles, everything is normal except for one thing—what my characters do for a living. I think that keeping everything “real” makes the one “unreal” element in my novels feel plausibly possible.
Since I first heard Danele’s story I’ve wondered if she wished she could go back in time and change the really frightening events that almost took her life. Her answer is as honest and heartfelt as she is.
I suppose that depends on how mature I’m feeling on any given day. My life took an unexpected turn during my illness. While my friends were getting married, having children, climbing the corporate ladder, and taking marvelous vacations, I was stuck in quarantine trying to survive. On days when I’m feeling immature, I can be very upset about the experiences I have missed. On those days, I would do anything to press the “rewind” button and buy a simple carbon monoxide monitor—a monitor would’ve saved me so much heartache and pain.
However, on days when I’m feeling more “mature,” I can look at what happened and smile—knowing that God is in charge and that He has a beautiful plan for my life. After all, if I hadn’t been ill, I never would’ve written my books or started my blog. And I never would’ve joined a community of wonderful authors and formed some of the lovely friendships that I cherish—like yours. Although my illness took things from me, it also gave me blessings as well. If I hadn’t experienced quarantine, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Pain and trials have a refining effect, and I know that I’m more patient, kind, and forgiving than I was before. I’m also a bit more philosophical. After all, I’m living on “bonus” time. I should have died years ago—knowing that makes each day a true gift.
Speaking of going back…I asked Danele to put herself in a Time Counselor’s shoes. She can choose to go back and counsel any real, historical figure, from any era. She explains who she would choose and what her strategy would be to try and guide them from a path leading to disaster.
I have a huge list of historical figures that I’d love to counsel; however, if I had a time portal, my first stop would be my freshman year of college. That year, I had a friend that I’ll call Anna. Anna wasn’t living for the Lord, and I knew I should talk to her about Jesus. But every time I’d try to tell her about God, the words would stick in my throat. I was afraid Anna would think I was “sanctimonious.” I was afraid she would stop talking to me. I knew I was being a coward, and I knew that by refusing to speak I was disobeying God’s direct command, but I still didn’t do it. On the final day of the semester, once again, I felt an overwhelming urge to tell Anna about Jesus, but I didn’t. I reasoned that I would see her the following semester and that a little delay wouldn’t really matter. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Anna died in a car accident just a few weeks later.
If I could travel back through time, I would tell Anna that Jesus is real and that He loved her. I would make sure that she had a chance to give her heart to Christ. And if I could counsel my college-aged self, I would point out that the temporary discomfort of witnessing to a friend is NOTHING in comparison to a lifetime of wondering if that friend was ready to meet the Lord when they died. And it is LESS than NOTHING in comparison to the gnawing regret of knowing that you did nothing while your friend’s eternal soul was hanging in the balance. My lack of courage when it came to Anna is one of my biggest regrets. If I could use TEMCO’s technology, correcting that horrible mistake would be my first stop.
Crystal Stuart is one of the primary characters in “Time Search.” That is her, on the cover. Drop dead gorgeous, right? But she usually hides all that beauty under frumpy clothes and scraped back hair. And she tends to be accident-prone. I found her funny and appealing, but never pitiful. She has so much dignity! Danele explains more about her.
I’m so glad that you like Crystal Stuart! I really love her too! Here’s a bit of trivia for you—originally, Crystal didn’t make an appearance in my series until the last few chapters of book 2, Time Trap. And her love interest, Marc Kerry, didn’t show up until book 3, Time Search. But by the time I’d written the 6th book in my series, I loved Crystal and Marc so much that I wrote them into my first two books, Time Tsunami and Time Trap.
Crystal is incredibly smart, but she’s also socially awkward and klutzy. She’s always getting herself into awkward situations. In book 3, Time Search, she falls and gets her long hair trapped beneath a closing door (something that actually happened to me in real life). Crystal is a mathematical genius who can translate the dictionary into Latin, but she has trouble communicating with cute guys. The thing that I love the most about Crystal is her tender heart. She truly cares about others, and she loves the Lord. She’s also incredibly brave—even when she’s scared to death. Crystal is an odd mixture—very smart about some things and very obtuse about others. I think the reason that most people like her is because of her vulnerability and bravery. I think that we all want to help others, and I think that we all hope that when it matters the most, we will rise above our fears and take a stand against evil. Crystal represents that fact that everyone can overcome personal weaknesses and make a difference in this world.
Authors get used to being asked if they write themselves into any characters. So of course I put Danele on the spot and asked the same thing of her. I am nothing if not unoriginal.
I think that I put some of myself into all of my characters. And I suppose that’s natural—after all, they were birthed in my brain. When I read other people’s books, I love finding characters with believable weaknesses and strengths—characters that I would like to have as friends. That’s been my ultimate goal with my characters. I want to create people that aren’t totally good or completely bad—I want them to be a loveable, human mixture of flawed likability.
And then there is her villain. He is a doozy. I had to ask how this kind, sweet Christian lady geared herself up to write about such unadulterated evil?
When I first started writing, Drake was a symbol of the illness I was fighting. He was a horrible, relentless foe that didn’t show mercy or regret. As I continued writing the books in my series, I began analyzing Drake and thinking about his past. Eventually, he became more than just a creepy villain to me. Although Drake is a horrible character, by the time the reader reaches the 8th book in my series, they will understand—like me—what makes him tick.
Speaking of unadulterated evil, you should probably know the Time Counselor Chronicles include spine-chilling scenes of violence. Danele makes no attempts to “prettify”evil. She explains what led her to include fairly graphic scenes. (although they are never gratuitous. Really!)
I used to be a “butterflies and sunshine” person. In many ways, I still am. But when I became so desperately ill, life became very real for me. Life is beautiful, wonderful, and lovely—but life can also be scary, confusing, and hard. During my illness, I learned that there are two sides to every coin—and I try to portray those two sides in my novels. I don’t shy away from tender emotions like love and friendship. And I embrace laughter and happiness. But I also show the scary side of life as well. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, God allows us to face horrible things. But ultimately, God is with us in the darkness. God helps us through every storm. And in the end, God transforms the bad things into something good—that’s the promise of Romans 8:28, and that’s the promise my characters ultimately embrace.
“Time Search” is action-packed, with some sweet romance mixed through. But it left us with unanswered questions and the bad guy still on the loose! I had to know about the next book or books in the series, and when they will be released.
When it is finished, The Time Counselor Chronicles will be eight books long. The first three books—Time Tsunami, Time Trap, and Time Search—have already been published by Prism Book Group. The next three books—Time Awakening, Time Inferno, and Time Nightmare—are already written. I wrote them while I was in quarantine, and they just need a little polishing to prepare them for publication. The final two books in the series—Time Flashback and Time Resolution—are outlined. Currently, I’m brushing up the 4th book in the series, Time Awakening. Time Awakening was scheduled for a publication date of June 2017, but as many of you know, Prism Book Group has just been acquired by Pelican Book Group. Because of the change with my publisher, I am currently uncertain of Time Awakenings’ release date.
Authors don’t write in a vacuum, or merely for their own gratification. If that was the case we’d never bother with the often difficult process of getting published. I wondered how Danele hopes her books will impact her readers.
I became a Christian when I was a little girl, but my illness made me question everything I knew about God. During quarantine, I would think about questions of faith and decide what I believed in light of my isolation and suffering. Eventually, I came to the following conclusions: God is real, God is good, God is intimately concerned with every moment of my life, Jesus must be kept in the center of my faith, and God is trustworthy in spite of tragedy. My ultimate goal with writing is to portray the lessons I learned during quarantine. Because of what I’ve been through, I’ve learned the truth of Romans 8:28. I’ve learned that God makes all things (even the bad things) eventually work together for our good.
Finally, I asked if Danele planned to continue writing in this super-cool genre, or if she wants to try her hand at something different.
After I complete the eight books in The Time Counselor Chronicles, I’m considering writing a spinoff series dealing with the grown children of my current characters. In The Time Counselor Chronicles, I’ve already alluded to spinoff characters like Jay, Deleena, Lorelei, Alexis, and Cavan. We see glimpses of them during time portal activity, and we hear stories about them from Poppa and Twinkles. I’m already working scenes into my novels so that my current series will naturally flow into my next series.
As far as writing in another genre, I’ve had editors from several publishing houses say that they would be interested in my autobiography. Eventually, I will write about my brush with death and my years in quarantine, but in some ways, the pain is still too fresh. I think I need a little distance before putting things down on paper. I would also like to write a devotional based on my blog articles.
I think Danele is terrific. Bet that you do too, now that you met her. I recommend her “Time Counselor Chronicles.” They have been responsible for more than one missed night of sleep! Below are some links to know more about Danele and where to get her books.
Social Media Links:
Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/
Danele’s Testimony: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/
Danele’s Books: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/my-books/
ACFW Fiction Finder: http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/1331
Time Search’s Purchasing Links:
Amazon Kindle e-Book and paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY7RGFJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484259046&sr=8-1&keywords=danele+rotharmel+time+search
Barnes & Noble Nook e-Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/time-search-danele-j-rotharmel/1125625151?ean=2940157382506
Time Search’s 20-Stop Blog Tour (is this not the coolest e-poster ever?)
Time Search—The Time Counselor Chronicles #3—Back Cover Blurb:
A nameless evil lurks in the shadows…
In the wake of a recent wave of violence, TEMCO employees are left reeling. While some of the staff are put into hiding, others are left behind to discover the true identity of the mysterious nemesis who is determined to destroy them all. While Crystal, Marc, and Zeke search for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for TEMCO’s missing leaders. It’s a race against the clock! And as the hours and seconds tick away, it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first. It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!
Danele Rotharmel’s Author Bio
Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful. To learn more about Danele, visit her blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/