Darlene Johnson

Darlene Johnson
Dream In Color

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
September 1, 2002

1. Who is Darlene Johnson?

That is an extremely difficult question for me to answer because Darlene Johnson is an ever changing, ever growing person. Darlene doesn't like to be confined and by saying, 'I'm this...' it confines her within certain boundaries and the thought of that makes me cringe. The specifics about Darlene is that she was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and after spending four years in Indianapolis, Indiana she decided it was time to move on and moved with her two sons and a nephew to Salt Lake City, Utah. Her unexplored love of the outdoors and need for a scenic view led to the move after visiting Salt Lake after the 2002 Winter Olympics.

2. What inspired you to write the novel "Dream In Color?"

During my marriage I realized I spent a lot of time daydreaming about certain things. I had friends that had been married, divorced, and some that were still living the single life. Talking with them about relationship issues made me realize that many of our experiences were the same. And it didn't matter what race or background the women from which the women came, in most cases the experiences were the same. One day while driving home the idea for Dream In Color hit me with such a force that I had to start writing it. I had no prior writing experience but the story came to me intact. It took me several years to gather the courage to do something with this story I kept tucked away in my closet but it was a story I felt an obligation to tell.

3. How did you come about the title "Dream In Color"?

While sitting in my living room typing in the original manuscripts then called, 'Mindgame,'' I listened to one of my favorite CD.' It was Regina Belle's Passion. The first time I heard Regina Belle sing that song I remembered being mesmerized by it. I stopped writing and listened to the words and everything she sang about reflected what I was writing; especially when she sang the verses, 'Tired of living life in black and white,' 'I want a love, not just a lover,' and 'There are so many good reasons to capture a dream.' Those words, even today, just takes my breath away. I could recite the entire song because it is so connected to this book. I changed the title of the book from Mindgame to Dream In Color because there are many reasons to capture a dream.

4. How long have you been writing?

I say my official writing career began when I wrote that first letter to my parents complaining that they had made me wash dishes and it wasn't my turn (I had five siblings). I later wrote for my high school newspaper. I remembered writing my first manuscript in high school but it got lost a long time ago. Writing was something I enjoyed doing but never took seriously until I began wrote Dream In Color.

5. How did you come about the plot for "Dream In Color"?

The plot came intact by just listening and living. The way I wrote it is the way it came to me with the exception of editing changes. Victoria had to go back to the point when she made the decision to become a mother and a wife instead of finishing school, so she had to recapture her youth (James). And she also had to look in the mirror and see a desirable woman. Once upon time she felt sexy, loved music and loved to dance but the marriage had destroyed everything she held dear and how she felt about herself. So, in comes Michael.

6. How did you come about Victoria's character?

Once again, just listening and living is how Victoria was created. Most women, if they've ever been in love can say they've been faced with difficult decisions regarding family, love, and career. And unfortunately many times finding themselves experiencing life's pains as a result of those choices.

7. How did you come about Victoria's dream about James?

Victoria had to go back to the critical time in her life. She had to go back when she made the decision to become a mother and a wife and not only finish school, but she became these things before she fully realized who she was and what exactly it was she wanted to do with her life. She was going to live her life through Gerald but Gerald wasn't willing to let her into his no more than to be the mother of his daughter. When that didn't work, she was lost. So, she had to go back and she did that by making James younger and he would be faced with some of the same decisions Victoria was faced with.

8. How did you come about Victoria's dream about Michael?

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is how Michael came about. Victoria was a sexual woman who had forgotten that she enjoyed being sexual. Victoria loved to music and loved to dance but had long since gave that up as well. Michael's problem with drugs became synonymous with Gerald's problems with his past and his reluctance to let Victoria into his life. Each had an obstacle they had not reconciled before entering into a marriage with Victoria. I didn't make too much of an issue about Michael's race in the book because I didn't want it to be an issue. However, with both relationships I wanted to take two very difficult situations and make them work and have them work because there were two ingredients in the relationships that Victoria never had with Gerald. Those ingredients were: a genuine love for the other person and a commitment to the relationship. With those, the most difficult relationships, have a chance of surviving no matter what the obstacles are. Because of her daydreams Victoria recognize that those ingredients were never present in her marriage and that led to the realization that she had to make a move.

9. Was Victoria dreaming back and forth between Michael and James or did she complete one dream then dream about the other man?

She was dreaming back and forth because in most instances the daydreams reflected particular events happening in her 'real' life. Think to the 'prom' she attended with James. That daydream was a result of the conversation she had with her beautician--finding a man that treats you like a woman.

10. Are you currently working on another novel?

Yes. I am currently editing my second novel, As We Lay, which is named after yet another popular song, originally sung by Shirley Murdock but later re-recorded by Kelly Price. The novel is just as the song indicates, a relationship between a mistress and her presumably very happily married lover. As We Lay will be released in August 2003. It starts with the friendship that leads to the enchantment that leads to the denial that leads to the affair that ultimately leads to a death.

11. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

I have very active boys so quiet time is something I don't get very often. I've learned to work with the noise, not necessarily around it. What I require is sunshine and lots of it, which is another reason I moved to Salt Lake City. It is very sunny here more than ninety-percent of the time. The energy I get from the sun spills over into my writing. I require a clear mind so I journal a lot and a clutter free desk so the floor around my office is a wonderful substitute for the things that would normally be found on a desk.

12. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "Dream In Color?"

The most important messages are: no matter what path you've chosen, you don't have to give up on your dreams. It may take you a little longer or you may have to take a different route but you don't have to relinquish your dreams and secondly, yes, you do deserve to be happy, too.