Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest Post by Bish Denham, Author of A Lizard's Tail

Today, let's welcome Bish Denham and let her tell us about her newest release, A Lizard's Tail. If you're like me, you love the look in that lizard's eye! And here's Bish, to tell us all about him.

It’s All in the Name

Thanks for letting me visit your blog, Marcia!

People ask me where I get my ideas and how long it’s taken to get something written. Well, A Lizard’s Tail has been simmering for a long time.

It began around 1977 in the Virgin Islands while I was working for a friend who had a ceramics shop. She made souvenir ceramic mugs and other touristy things, for wholesale. I helped with pouring slip, cleaning, and glazing. One slow days we’d sit around playing with clay, making small sculptures, beads, or hand-molding bowls.

One day I “sculpted” a lizard. When it was dry, I glazed it and fired it. It came out looking quite mischievous and obviously needing a name. Another employee, who helped pack and deliver orders to the various stores, was a nice, humorous guy name Marvin.

He saw the lizard and liked it so much I decided to name it after him, to which he replied that Marvin needed a last name. Right then a wind chime tinkled. From out of the blue his full name came to me. Marvin P. Tinkleberry. What the “P” stood for I had no idea, but we all agreed the name suited my little lizard sculpture quite well.

I knew immediately that I had a character for a story.

Early notes indicate that I was thinking of making him a kind of story teller that explained things like, why hibiscuses are red or why lizards do push-ups. But none of those ideas felt right.

And so Marvin slumbered. Later notes talk about him being vain and full of himself. I was getting closer. Then, about ten years ago, the actually idea for a story came to me. Marvin had to have conflict, what greater conflict could he have than dealing with a dangerous feral cat?

Thus, A Lizard’s Tale began to take shape. I wrote the first rough draft in short order. It was the revising and rewriting that took a long time. I did it in bits and pieces, in fits and starts, because for me, revising is the hard, boring part, though I’m getting better at it.

After I self-published Anansi and Company, I was determined to put Marvin out there too. And now, here he is in all his glory, a vain, young lizard who believes he has a destiny.

What, you may ask, does the “P” stand for? Well, you’ll have to read the story to find out.

Do you have ideas that have simmered for years before taking shape? Do you enjoy revising or is it a part of the job you don’t like? 


Bish Denham was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. Her mother's side of the family has lived in the Caribbean for over one hundred years and she still has plenty of family there whom she visits regularly. She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic."

Bish has known many lizards in her life. Marvin and Leeza are based on two that lived in her bedroom. She is the author of Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Folk Tales which you can find on


janet smart said...

Very interesting and different! It is interesting to hear how authors come up with ideas for their stories. Oh, and I love revising. I like seeing my stories go from so-so to super!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Funny how he got his name. It fits him though.

Bish Denham said...

Janet, I wish I love revising, but it simply does not come easy for me. But the more I do, the better I get at it.

Thanks, Alex. I contemplated many times changing all or part of his name but nothing better ever came to me. It was his name from the very beginning.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Marsha - great having Bish over here .. promoting young Marvin - he does sound a wise lizard and I'm sure he has lots of good advice to give as well as being a great storyteller ...

Cheers to you both - and no .. his name is P for Perfect - perhaps?! Hilary

Marcia said...

Janet -- I love revising, too. Thanks for stopping by!

Alex -- I also love his name.

Bish -- The name gives him such an importance and individuality.

Hilary -- Thanks for coming!

Mirka Breen said...

Many years ago I had a dream (it was more like a nightmare) about a lizard named Mayer who would not stop following me. Your Marvin sounds a lot more appealing. What a wonderful idea. Good luck for you both, Bish.

Andrea Mack said...

Nice to see you are back from your blog break, Marcia. I hope it was productive! I really enjoy revising and I think I'm getting better at it.

Bish - Thanks for sharing the background behind your story. Sometimes it does take years for a story idea to ripen and develop enough into a full blown story. Thank goodness you didn't give up on it.

Kelly Hashway said...

Ooh, I love the Virgin Islands! I also really enjoy revising. I think it's the teacher inside me that finds redrafting my words a fun process.

Marcia said...

Mirka -- I love the similarities there!

Andrea -- It was BUSY, was what it was. Hoping to be more truly productive starting now.

Kelly -- I also love the refinement that is revising.

Anonymous said...

How interesting. I love seeing the inspiration behind authors' ideas. I love Bish's blog posts and stories related to the Virgin Islands.

Vijaya said...

Bish, you certainly have a winner in Marvin and I loved reading about how he came about ... maybe he could still pontificate about doing push-ups and such.


Vijaya said...

Oh, I love and hate revising. Love it because the story keeps getting better. Hate it because it takes so long ... and multiple passes. Gah. The best story that I ever wrote came in one fell swoop and I made one revision and it won the ICL YA contest. I wish all stories would fall into my lap like that.

Crystal Collier said...

I LOVE when a story germinates and grows naturally over time. It makes for such a mature and grounded tale.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

Marcia said...

Medeia -- I love the stories behind the stories too.

Vijaya -- It's magical when a story falls into your lap like that. I guess it *can't* happen often. :)

Crystal -- And also makes for such a triumph when it's finished -- and published.

DMS said...

What a fabulous guest post! I loved hearing how Bish came up with the name for Marvin. Awesome! I like the P. initial too. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Bish! YaY for Marvin. He's the coolest lizard around. On this farm when we see a lizard we think it might just be him visiting us. Hehe.

LOVE how he got his name. He's de BOSS! I know what the P stands for. :-)

Thanks for having Bish over, Marcia. Everyone needs to buy this book.