Rising Star Spotlight: D.F. Jones!


Where were you born and raised?
I’m a native Tennessean, born and raised in Rockvale, a small, close-knit community. Over the decades, Rutherford County has seen a population explosion with its proximity to Nashville. We live in Murfreesboro, but my husband and I bought eighty acres of the original farmstead that my ancestors acquired in the early nineteenth century. It still has a log cabin, a focal point in “Antique Mirror”, a short story, which evolved into “The Witches of Hant Hollow” series.
Hant Hollow is a real place. The area is full of folklore, and the stories vary. One such tale retells a swamp fire spread over the hills and valleys that gave off a light in the woods, most likely from natural gases. The locals believed they were witnessing hants or ghosts.
True story, the month the first book “The Witches of Hant Hollow” was released, I attended a local art event. I met a reader who wondered if my inspiration came from the witches hung and burned in a local cemetery in the early eighteen hundreds. It left me temporarily speechless. The place mentioned was my paternal grandmother’s family cemetery. I had never heard the story. There’s a scene early in book one where two of my witches fall to similar fates. Did I tap into something? Who knows. The reader suggested I search America’s Most Haunted Roadtrip. I read the article about spooky things that happen once you enter the iron gate. Supposedly the gate gets stuck then opens by itself. Visitors claim they’ve felt the touch of a hand or receive an unexplainable scratch. They’ve witnessed dark shadows and sensed malice in the air.
Before my father passed away, we took a trip to the cemetery in the daylight. I’m too big of a chicken to go at night. It is a lovely cemetery with rolling farmland as a backdrop. Upon entering the hallowed grounds, I stated I was related to some of the deceased. I felt nothing odd. The cedar tree still stands. I also discovered one of my ancestors was the surgeon general in WWI.
What did you always want to be when you grew up?
I told my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Troop, I wanted to be a psychiatrist. There are other personal reasons why I needed to understand what made people tick. I address that desire more fully in “Lee’s Lesson”. Briefly, physicians in the fifties did not understand grief and post-partum. My sweet mother lost a family member shortly after giving birth to my brother. She was subject to shock treatment without sedation. It had long-lasting effects, especially when she was diagnosed with dementia in her mid-sixties. The brain’s a fascinating and resilient organ. I changed majors in college when I discovered I could not detach from patients. However, sociology and psychology helped evolve my writing career.
Were you a reader, and did you enjoy writing?
I fell in love with reading at an early age. In the fifth grade, I gave an oral book report on Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tale-Tell Heart” in the dark, with props. My fellow students were so into my drama that at the end, they screamed so loud it brought in the principal. I inherited my storytelling gifts from my father.
By the time I reached middle school, I had started a school paper, and I wrote my first play, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. But, unfortunately, my teachers didn’t approve the project.
What was being a broadcast consultant in Nashville like?
Have you watched Mad Men? What about Larry Tate in Bewitched?
After college, I landed a job as a broadcast consultant at the ABC affiliate in Nashville. It was a freaking blast! In the beginning, I took clients out for dinner and drinks, lots of them. Conference room meetings were filled with thick cigarette smoke. By the end of my position, no more booze for lunch unless attending an event with a two-ticket drink maximum, and no one smoked. I was very good at developing marketing venues for small businesses. I eventually serviced several large regional accounts and national ad agencies. One particular buy from New York loved my southern accent. I landed several large contracts that were only one station buys.
What prompted you to start your own advertising agency?
I left my job when I had my first son. I wanted to be a hands-on mom. My husband supported my decision, plus the demographics of the Nashville market changed rapidly once Nissan opened. So I quit. Our other family business afforded me to be selective on clients. I never had to cold call. Most of my clients came from word-of-mouth referrals. My skillset from broadcast solidified a stellar list of local businesses.
On the upside, Jones Media gave me the freedom to attend my children’s school and sporting events. The downside, I worked very long hours and rarely took time off. 
Why did you decide to write a novel?
My mom was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. We did everything together. She was diagnosed with dementia, and I watched her slow decline. I downsized my company to keep my parents home. It was hard, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The day I resigned from my largest account, I began writing “Ruby’s Choice”. I had no preconceived notions about the industry. Writing kept me sane. Writing allowed me to vent things out of my control.
I read the first three books in the Ditch Lane Diaries to my mom. She loved it. I will never forget reading aloud my first sex scene to her. Let’s suffice to say that I was sweating bullets. We were outside on her patio. She leaned in and squeezed my knee.“Go on, honey. It’s okay.” She’d sigh, “I just love, love stories.” We had a lot of fun. I still miss mom and dad.
What type of stories do you most enjoy telling?
I enjoy writing fast-paced fantasy, paranormal, and supernatural fiction. Writing copy for client ads, I had to tell a story in thirty seconds. It took a little time adjusting to writing novels and short stories.
 I like writing dialogue, but there’s a learning curve. I work on scene-setting. I enjoy the developmental stage of writing the best. Anything is possible. I write alternating points of view; third person.
My prior success offers me the luxury of writing for fun, but I’m competitive enough that I want to succeed. My unique writing style isn’t for everyone, but the readers who enjoy my books get me.
What type of story do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading similar stories to mine as long as they end with HEA. I fell in love with the Outlander series. I read the books at least three times. I watched the first comic con introducing Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander tv series. She mentioned something that clicked for me. Outlander was her practice book. So, I started writing one chapter at a time. I messaged Diana in the beginning. She encouraged me to persevere.
 I am also a fan of H.G. Wells, Deborah Harkness, and Karen Marie Moning. I love many indie authors, but they are too numerous to name. I have developed working relationships with authors across the world. Writers are the most giving people, and that’s a breath of fresh air.
What are your goals for the future?
I have hit most of my lifetime goals. I am not the tiger-lady anymore. My goals are to stay healthy, spend time with family and friends, and maybe I will write a few more books before I cross realms.