Local author shares lessons learned in "Vixen Chronicles"
February 9, 2010
Stacy Dymalski dates under the influence of some very bad men. Well, maybe not in reality (she’s happily married) – but vicariously – in a new book of true stories about relationships gone wrong.
Last month, the local writer/filmmaker/stand-up comic celebrated the publication of her first full-length novel, "The Vixen Chronicles: DUI…Dating Under the Influence (of Some Very Bad Men)." More than 1,000 miles away, in Lubbock, Texas, her subject and collaborator celebrated the same milestone.
The unusual part is, as much as the two women have in common, they have never met.
In June 2009, a woman named Brandy Janke contacted Dymalski about writing her life story. "She said, ‘I’ve had the weirdest life so far. I have this story that I want to tell,’" Dymalski recalls.
Janke wanted a to write a book about her experiences with men – all the wrong men, to be exact. The only problem was, she wasn’t a writer. That’s where Dymalski came in.
Janke had read some of Dymalski’s columns, short stories and magazine articles online and thought they had the same sense of humor. After extensive phone conversations, Dymalski agreed.
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"It’s her story, written by me," Dymalski explains. The deal is similar to a ghostwriting contract, although Dymalski is given due credit as the co-author.
Dymalski says it took about six months to sift through Janke’s journals, extensively interview her and actually write the book, which she describes as trashy, poignant and funny.
The writing was actually the easy part, Dymalski says, because the story was laid out in front of her. Whenever she got to a point where she wasn’t sure what happened next, she could call Janke for direction. "It was like having a little story angel in my back pocket," she says.
What makes the story worth telling is the characters, Dymalski says. All of the anecdotes in the book are gleaned from Janke’s true experiences. At 31, she has survived cancer twice, started her own business and dated an entire spectrum of unworthy men, making for some hilarious episodes along the way.
"It’s a hayseed, white-trash version of ‘Sex and the City,’" Dymalski says. "I think people will grab onto it because the characters are so interesting."
At 18, Janke married a potato farmer from Nebraska. It wasn’t long before she realized that the marriage was DOA, and she started dating what became a parade of some of the most dysfunctional, narcissistic and morally-deficient men to ever walk the face of the Earth.
While Janke acknowledges that it was wrong to date while still married, she makes no apologies. And despite the numerous setbacks she has endured, "She doesn’t come across as ‘poor me,’" Dymalski says. "The whole premise of the book is: out of tragedy, comes wisdom."
For readers, Janke’s trials and triumphs (as told through Dymalski’s comical lens) translate to sheer entertainment. From a one-night stand featuring a victim of irritable bowel syndrome to signs posted around the neighborhood advertising her infidelity, Janke is more than happy to have readers to laugh at her expense.
"It’s kind of a manual of what not to do," says Dymalski. "It’s universal." All women can relate in some way to the mistakes Janke makes and the situations she finds herself in, she said.
Penning Janke’s story also made Dymalski relive some of her own horrific dating experiences. Although the actual experiences she writes about are not her own, the insight she gleaned from those experiences is reflected throughout the book.
In the acknowledgment, Dymalski gives a shout out to those who gave her narrative fodder: "To every dumb ass jerk I ever dated before I got married, thanks for giving me the empathy, insight and hindsight to know what Brandy was talking about when we’d discuss her story. Who knew all your disrespect and inconsiderate behavior would one day come in so handy?"
She also dedicates the book to her two sons, Derrick and Quinn. "As your mother, my goal is to make sure you don’t grow up to be like any of the men in this book," she writes.
Janke hopes to make "The Vixen Chronicles" a series and is already planning a follow-up. Dymalski says she is unsure whether she will continue as the primary writer, but she knows Janke has plenty of material for further volumes. "She’s only 31," she says. "The saga continues."
Dymalski, who wrote two technical manuals in the late 90s, also has plans for publishing books of her own. Before Mother’s Day 2010, she will release "Mom-robilia," a collection of the weekly online columns she writes for http://www.Parentainment.com .
In the fall, Dymalski plans to self-publish "A Darker Shade of Gray," a novel based on the screenplay she wrote. The screenplay has been optioned by several studios, but the movie version hasn’t happened – yet, that is.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, Dolly’s Bookstore will host a book signing with Dymalski from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to meet the author and pick up copies of the book, which is also available at Cahoots and at Amazon.com. Ten percent of proceeds from all book sales go to support cancer research.