ROBYN: My pleasure.
SIGRID: Can you give me a description of your novel, What the Storyteller Brings?
ROBYN: Sure, here's a brief summary: Meet Rosaline, a young girl in high school who calls herself the storyteller. Every Tuesday, she and her friends meet in her room for girl talk. Then they move on to more exciting things like storytelling. In these tales of adventure, she even uses real life characters like her friends and this boy on which she has a crush. In one story, fifteen students get kidnapped. Her listeners keep coming back for more as they wonder what will happen as the women are herded through the woods like animals. It’s all just for fun at first, until bad things and people begin merging into reality—like one of the kidnappers. Now, Rosaline must get to him in her story before he gets to them in real life.
SIGRID: Sounds fantastic! What an original idea. What inspired you to write The Storyteller?
ROBYN: This novel was originally written when I was fourteen. It was my fantasies about a boy I had a crush on written down in this orange notebook that I would carry around with me. Every week, I would write a few pages and bring it to school where my friends and classmates couldn't wait to see what would happen next. They’d get mad whenever I showed up at school without an added chapter!
Ten years later, after joining the Air Force, I received a phone call from my sister in Virginia. She found a box of short stories and other English assignments in my old room. She began reading them to me over the phone and suggested that I do something with my writing. So the next time I went home on leave, I went through that box. I ended up coming across that old orange notebook, and as a twenty-four year old looking back on what she wrote as a fourteen-year old, this adventure about getting kidnapped with my crush sounded like a low budget movie. As I dusted off the old pages handwritten by a “love sick” teenager, I decided that with some major revisions, I could rewrite that book and submit it for publication.
Although the contents of that orange notebook weren't originally about a storyteller, I thought back to when I would get threats from my friends when I didn’t bring it to school. That compelled me to insert a character who had her friends come over for storytelling hour. I kept the part about her getting kidnapped with her crush. As I continued to copy the pages from that notebook into my word processor, I asked myself, why not have situations in her stories merge into their lives and see how they handled them?
It took about fourteen years to get that novel to where it is today, and even now, I still compare myself to the storyteller. She says that once she begins telling her stories, she never knows where it will take her. The same is with my writing. Once I start typing, my imagination takes control and propels me into some surprising places. That’s what happened with my novel as I detoured from the rest of that orange notebook and let my imagination lead me. What the Storyteller Brings sounded like the perfect title for a girl who, through her stories, wreaked havoc into the real lives of those around her.
SIGRID: Having read the book, I can see how it could have taken that long to develop. It's a moving, complicated, really enjoyable tale with suspense and a moral. Do you have a particular message for young girls in their relationships?
ROBYN: Yes I do, and it’s a message I am very passionate about. The negative consequences of sex extend beyond sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Emotional baggage also involves its pain and suffering. That is my main message in general. My novel illustrates a very ugly side to premarital sex and girls need to know from the beginning the kind of behavior that can propel them into a vicious cycle of failed relationships. What gets girls in trouble is that just like the character, Rosaline, they like affection, cuddling, and the idea of having a boyfriend. They let their fantasies run away with them as they let boys tell them they are satisfied with cuddling but too often, most boys are just looking for sex. I don’t feel that this makes guys some separate evil entity; it’s just that they’re more sexually charged than girls. The problem with girls is that they think they can control a situation when they are alone with a guy and things begin moving in the wrong direction. Girls have this false sense of trust in themselves and sometimes in the guy as they think they can stop things before they go too far. Sadly, this false sense of trust pushes them into sex.
What I’d like to say to young girls is this: Sex is a powerful force in our lives and is not to be taken lightly. Abstinence gives us the power to take charge and not let the consequences of premarital sex control our lives. Women of all ages need to stop sending mixed messages and take responsibility for our actions. Recognize sexually charged situations in time to move away from them. Cuddling, making out, or doing things you feel will satisfy a guy is not telling him no. It’s telling him that you will eventually have sex with him. Show him through your actions when you’re not ready for sex. Even if it may involve breaking up with him, say no and mean it—don’t dance around it!
SIGRID: I hear you, woman! That's controversial advice nowadays because so many teens are sexually active. In many ways, this is a fallout from the women's movement which advocated free love and equal rights for women as well as men. I've always believed that SHOULD be the case; however, in reality, men and boys in particular are built different biologically. They also seem to be more into the game, the hunt, and once the hunt is over, might wish to move on. That's painful enough for grown-ups but devastating for 15-year-old girls. What you're recommending is a set of behaviors that will protect young girls from being hurt. Actually, your message is very much like that of a book geared towards adult women, The Rules. It can seem kind of old-fashioned at first, but at heart, its main goal is for females to attain relationships rather than one night stands or end up in situations where they might be used, and for them to feel good about their involvement with guys rather than lie awake at night crying on their pillow over some guy who said he would call but didn't.
Do you have plans to write a sequel?
ROBYN: My fingers are itching to get started on the sequel! It’s not only because What the Storyteller Brings just hit the market and it’s still fresh in my mind, but it’s also because there is so much more that has happened to Rosaline that I couldn’t contain it all in that first book. I already have the first twenty pages written and must warn my readers that drama is jumping from the first page—so strap on your seatbelts! Even though I’ve begun already, I have to pause as I work on the finishing touches of Triangle of Revenge, which will be released in the winter or early spring of 2008. Also fiction, this novel is about a pastor who fell away from the church when tragedy compelled him to turn his back on God. Then I expect to complete the sequel to What the Storyteller Brings in the fall of 2008.
SIGRID: I can't wait. I enjoyed the first book so much and the Triangle of Revenge sounds awesome too. Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, and I'd like to inform my readers that Robyn Demby is a native of Chesapeake, VA. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Mount Olive College, North Carolina. Retired from the Air Force, she currently resides in Goldsboro, NC where she writes full time. What the Storyteller Brings is available on Amazon.com, so grab your copy now. Also, you can visit Robyn on My Space at http://www.myspace.com/demby6. Don't forget to add her to your friends’ list.