Meet This Sistah is your chance to discover more about the authors of newly published books.
Meet Dahni McPhail, the sistah who’s written an outstanding novel about love and life in the Army.
Your book, Two and a Possible, revolves around the adventures of an Army soldier. What made you write a book like this?
I absolutely did not intend to write a book, to be honest. While I was deployed, I heard a news story kind of ending like my book and I thought, “I bet I know how that happened.” Then, I just wrote down my version of events and emailed them to my loved one as a part of our daily communication. My baby called me after reading a few chapters and screamed, “Boo, you’re a writer! Do you know that you’re a writer?” I said, “For real?” I hadn’t written anything more than some papers for school and memos for work. Maybe a few rap songs when I thought that was my path (not!). Since my baby is fifty times smarter than me and an avid reader of various genres, I figured I might have something good. So, I set a goal to turn my writings into a book that people would read. It passed the time at night when I couldn’t sleep. The rest is herstory.
What does the title of your book mean?
In the first chapter you can see where the title comes from and how it relates to the story. The title is just a few words extracted from the situation. Now that I think about it, I should have come up with a title that was deep and profound or something like The Life and Times of Dahni McPhail. Wait. That’s not deep. I’d better stick with the one I have.
What experiences can you share from your time in the military?
One of my favorite experiences was one I didn’t realize was happening. At my first duty station before I knew about my sexual preference, I went to a lake in Kaiserslautern, Germany and the women were topless (European thing). It was amazing to me and the lake quickly became one of my favorite places. I used to drag my (then) boyfriend there every chance I got and didn’t understand, at the time, why I loved that lake so much. Now I know why.
What are your thoughts about the troops still serving in Iraq?
My thoughts? Get ’em out President Obama! The military personnel there are following orders and accomplishing the mission with honor under extreme circumstances. They believe in and support their missions and goals and will stay there doing an outstanding job until the very end. They should be lauded, awarded, rewarded, and receive the best of care for the rest of their lives. Above all, they should be removed from the situation as soon as possible.
Who’s your inspiration, in life and in writing?
My inspiration in life and in writing is my mother, Thelma. She is the one who used to tell me stories and made me want to be able to recount interesting experiences with humor the way she told them to us. She was born in the 20’s so she had some serious tales. She supported my efforts and prayed for me every day of my life and I believe that she still watches and cares for me from heaven. Also, there is an authoress who has been more than kind to me, has taught me and educated me in the craft. Her name is SKYY. I sent her a message on MySpace one day. She responded, schooled me from day one, and continues to inspire me. She is a good woman.
How difficult are love and relationships while enrolled in the Army, especially with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies in effect?
It’s a pain in the ass. You can’t openly bring your girlfriend/boyfriend to the company picnic but you can bring your “cousin” and dupe the natives. You have to be mindful all the time. After a while hiding becomes second nature rendering you permanently paranoid. Paranoid even in places where you shouldn’t have to be. Like your front porch or your car with the military stickers at the top of the windshield. The non-military loved ones get the short end of the stick, definitely.
What’s next for you?
I need for E. Lynn Harris to adopt me or something. It’s redunkulous out here trying to be a successful author without that type of support. Outside my fantasy world, I’m going to have a book re-release party. Book signings may be in the cards. I’ll travel around trying to push Two and a Possible on every humanoid who can read or has friends who can read to them. Then, I am going to take some specific writing courses and overhaul another story I completed while I was deployed. That product will be the book I release next.
How did you celebrating Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is every day for me. I try to treat my baby good every single day. I don’t like to wait for specific dates and reasons to treat the people in my life like royalty. Now, of course you know I’m not crazy enough to walk into my residence without balloons, flowers and candy or jewelry or a card or something! If I did you’d be posting my obituary instead of this interview.
Interviewed February 2009