Pam Dehnke is a life-long diarist. The Diary of an Extraordinarily Ordinary Woman is her first novel.
She’s lived in Michigan, Florida, and Texas, but she hails from California, where she enjoyed a career as a court reporter. Upon retiring in 2014, she purchased a bed-and-breakfast in southern Oregon, where she resides with her partner in crime, mystery novelist Darrell James, and their five cats.
Pam is currently at work on her own mystery series, The Court Reporter Always Gets the Last Word.
The Making of a Novel
I began journaling at the age of eight. I wanted to be a famous author, then a photographer like Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange. Then I wanted to be a nurse like my Auntie Bev, and then, because my dad was a pilot, I wanted to be an airline stewardess like Vicky Barr. Eventually, I drifted back to writer, and that stuck for a while.
I went to Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California, and my English class overlooked the ocean, an incredible view for a dreamer and writer. My teacher submitted one of my stories in a contest, and, lo and behold, I won, and my story was published. I continued writing magazine articles and even a few romances into my 20s, but by then I wanted to go into academia and be an English Lit professor. I stopped writing for publication, but continued on with my journals to this very day.
My career aspirations eventually took a turn, and I became a court reporter. I loved reporting so much I headed down that path and never looked back. Court reporting is basically playing a word game all day and getting paid tons of money. Now, who wouldn’t love that? However, after 35 years of reporting depositions, because I traveled to various locations every day, the traffic finally wore me down. So, in 2014 I purchased Nightingales Inn, and along with my partner and author, Darrell James, and our five cats, we moved to Ashland, Oregon, where I began to write again.
To test my rusty writing skills, I wrote some articles that were published in our local paper and received raving reviews. People called me to tell me their personal stories, and I was even asked for my autograph while sitting in a bar enjoying a Manhattan. I began to write a book, but that darn thing had a mind of its own and turned into a play. Upon completion, it had a reading, which seemed to be fairly successful. One always wonders! There was a wonderful discussion following the reading in which attendees related their stories and observations. The play involved a crazy family and issues such as elder care, the health care system and the legal system, so of course everyone had something to say.
Just before the play was completed, I attended a writers’ retreat in Healdsburg, California, hosted by the lovely author and journalist Phyllis Theroux. Because of her journaling background, I tossed a box of my journals in the car just before taking off on the drive down south. I began to read them the first night there and became totally immersed in my own journals. I decided I wanted to write a work of fiction in diary format. Thus, began The Diary of an Extraordinarily Ordinary Woman. While writing about Leslie’s adventures, Deedee popped her very cantankerous head out of the woodwork, and suddenly there was an addition to the title, …and Her Rather Eccentric Sister. I am continually asked if this is a memoir. It’s a testament to my writing skills that I can have the reader believing that they are actually reading a woman’s diary. However, the answer is that it is loosely based on my life, but it is definitely a work of fiction.
I am currently working on a mystery series, The Court Reporter Always Gets the Last Word. I intend it to be a humorous cozy while at the same time giving the reader a glimpse into the life of a court reporter. It’s a fascinating career, and I’m looking forward to sharing it. My as-yet-unnamed, middle-aged protagonist will live in my family’s first home in Santa Monica. My brother died in Vietnam; however, I hope to have a character based on what I think he might have been like today. My court reporter will have a daughter, who’s a professor at a university. There will be a cast of wacky characters, including a professional escort, a wise-cracking assistant, two very vocal Siamese cats, and maybe a slightly ditzy mother. Whoever joins the romp, a great time will be had by all.
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