Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Backstage with MERELY PLAYERS

Ever wonder what goes on behind the story? I'm going to let you in on my research as well as a segment called, "What was I thinking?" Yes, I'm going to allow you to see into that frightening thing called...a writer's mind.
It's here! After years of dreaming, my first novel is finally in my hot little hands. Now, as promised, I'd like to share some of my research with you.
The Gulfarium is a real place and located in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I spent ten years in Fort Walton while my husband was in the Air Force. We were stationed at both Hurlburt and Eglin Air Force Bases. Go to to check this place out.
I became aware of the dolphin therapy program probably in about our ninth year. I had a friend with two autistic children, and although she didn't utilize the program, she mentioned it to me as a possibility.
My imagination latched onto this little bit of information, and I began playing the "what if" game. What if my heroine was a dolphin trainer/therapist? What if she were a "fish out of water", and better suited for something else? What if she didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life, and the "something else" tried to lure her away from this noble profession? What would that "something else" be?
Now, before my research I knew absolutely NOTHING about dolphin training or therapy. I did know a little bit about acting, and especially high school plays. My youngest son has been acting since junior high. Ah ha! My hero was born. I may not know about dolphins, but I sure know something about drama geeks.
Again, I played my game. What if my hero aspired to become a professional actor? What if he became so successful that he left the "little people" behind? What if one of those people was his high school girlfriend? And what would happen if they met again after ten years? Hmm. I do believe I created sufficient conflict to start my story.
Then came the research. OY! This is not my forte. I pray I someday become so successful that I can pay someone to do my research for me. However, I'm not there yet. So,  I poured over the internet to learn about dolphins and training. I also found there are several facilities that use dolphins as a form of therapy. Just put "dolphin therapy" in the Google search engine and see what comes up. I found that therapists use these marvelous animals as a reward. If the child completes a task, the dolphin does a trick. But moreover, the love between animal and child can bring healing. The program at the Gulfarium is called the JF2 Dolphin Project, with Dr. Janet Flowers at the helm. Go to for more information.
And thus, a novel is born. If you're not in the Heartsong Presents book club, but would like your very own Merely Players, you can order it from their Website at