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An Interview with Author Evelyn Neil

Evelyn Neil writes short stories inspired by “everyday events and the decisions made by ordinary people that are so important to all of us.” In March 2022, she released her memoir Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow which has been called “a loving and brave book…a love story about life, and yet courageously takes on death.” You’ll find Evelyn on her SWW Author Page and on Look for Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow on Amazon.

When did you know you wanted to write a memoir about life with your husband Don?
This memoir began as a group of short stories in 2013 when Don’s health issues started to limit the social and travel events we’d enjoyed in the past. I wanted to leave a part of us for our children and grandchildren. But then after Don passed in 2015, writing our story helped me to cope with my profound grief.

What makes this book unique in the memoir market?
It’s a love story about life that takes on the conversation of death and the choices people make. It is a true depiction of a full life that bravely takes on these difficult choices that others consider unmentionable.

If you ever felt you were revealing too much about you or your family while writing Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow, how did you move forward?
The first few drafts were pretty tight-lipped about some of the more raw family happenings. With the help of my critique partners, I was able to sort out what revelations were integral to this story and write about those touchy events without hurting anyone’s feelings.

What was the most challenging part of putting this book together?
Getting into and ferreting out my true feelings and emotions so as to not have the story come off as a piece of journalistic reporting. I didn’t want Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow to be perceived as a “How To” for coping with grief. I hoped this very personal story would be a window into how one woman gained strength and wisdom from the process of sharing her story.

What are the essential elements of a well-written memoir?
A good memoir must have a message or a theme, even though the author is telling of a moment in time of their life. Because an author cannot write of each happening or detail of a certain period, they must relay only those events that are pertinent to the intended theme. A well-written memoir also incorporates the use of silence. What is left unsaid is as important as what is said.

Tell us how you chose the title.
Choosing the title was one of my most difficult decisions. My working title was Hanging On. But following several reiterations, this story evolved into something beyond what that title suggested. I needed a title that would give readers the desire to look into this couple’s golden years and to learn that the pot of gold is not necessarily at the end of the rainbow but in the journey.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book?
My most rewarding aspect was getting in touch with my feelings about what had occurred. In mere moments, my life had irretrievably changed. First, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that certain events were beyond my control. Writing helped me to cope with the grieving process by turning my thoughts away from the horror of what had happened. I discovered that when I committed my thoughts to paper, I no longer had to carry the full burden of those terrible events.

When readers turn the last page of Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
To live each day to its fullest. To love and take care of one another. To never have regrets about a life well lived or judge a person’s decision to choose their time to depart. By holding the memories of that departed person close to your heart, they will be with you forever.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I’d always wanted to write, but for many years life got in the way—raising children and helping to operate a successful family business. I was finally able to start writing at age 75 following my retirement from Kachina Petroleum Equipment Company. I considered myself an author three years later in 2016 when my short story “Comrades: A Wife Recollects Her Late Husband’s Letters from Korea” was published in From the Front Lines to the Homefront.

What is the first piece of writing you can remember completing?
My first short story was written in response to a prompt in a UNM Continuing Ed creative writing class. It was entitled “Side of the Road” and was about the wonder of witnessing a prong-horn antelope give birth to twins in the tall Wyoming prairie grass. This story was later incorporated into the Wyoming reunion event depicted in Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow.

When you start a writing project, do you usually have a theme or message in mind or is that something that becomes obvious as you write?
When I begin a story, I don’t usually have an overt theme or message. The theme, like a big fish swimming in dark murky waters, will surface as the story gains momentum and moves forward. I’m a pantser and use neither outlines nor note cards. I start with a basic story idea, knowing both the beginning and the ending and work from there. I do write notes on scrapes of paper whenever and wherever an idea pops into my mind.

Do you have writing rituals or something you absolutely need in order to write?
I have a special writing area set up in a guest room in my home. This is where I hang out many afternoons and most evenings to spend a few hours writing. I have no special ritual, just my ticking Grandfather clock to remind me that I have so many stories to share and so little time left.

What genre do you enjoy reading the most, and who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy reading many genres. I admire Marie Benedict for her extensive research and writing style in historical fiction. She doesn’t just tell the story, she uses realistic dialogue and narrative to draw the reader into the events as they unfold. I also like the psychological mysteries of Ian McEwan and Ruth Ward. They pull me in by the throat and take me on a wondrous wild ride.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I am in the process of putting together two short-story anthologies for publication. The first, working title Bits and Pieces, is a collection of random short stories and poems based on true happenings but written as fiction. The second, Once Upon a Prairie, is a memoir of my growing-up years as a free-range kid on the Wyoming prairie. It will include stories of my high school-years and also my short courtship and early marriage to Don.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Don’t spend all your time taking classes and listening to others talk about writing. There is no better way to learn than to put your pants in the chair and start by writing as little as 50 words each day about whatever comes to mind. By writing about what you see around you, your experiences and even your wildest ideas and dreams, you will find yourself opening up to a wondrous world of storytelling.

Su Lierz writes dark fiction, short story fiction, and personal essays. Her short story “Twelve Days in April,” written under the pen name Laney Payne, appeared in the 2018 SouthWest Writers Sage Anthology. Su was a finalist in the 2017 and 2018 Albuquerque Museum Authors Festival Writing Contest. She lives in Corrales, New Mexico, with her husband Dennis.

2022 New Releases for SWW Authors #2

Sue Houser, Evelyn Neil, Pamela Nowak, Angus Robb, and Edith Tarbescu represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with books published in a variety of genres in 2022. Their new releases couldn’t fit in this year’s interview schedule, but look for 2023 interviews or updates for many of these authors.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2022 releases is included at the end of this post.

Amelia and the Magic Ponies (Irie Books, August 2022) by Sue Houser. Los Caballitos has come to town! Amelia gets in line to ride the carousel, but when a thunderstorm blows in, the wooden ponies are hurriedly stashed in an old barn—and forgotten. The following year, Amelia goes in search of the enchanting little merry-go-round. Can she convince her grandfather to restore the damaged horses? This book, written for 4-8 years old, parallels the story of Tio Vivo, an antique carousel found abandoned in Peñasco, New Mexico and restored by the Lions Club of Taos. This charming carousel continues to take children on magical rides during Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana in Taos, New Mexico.

Visit Sue on her website at and go to her Amazon author page for all of her books.

Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow (March 2022) by Evelyn Neil. Married following a three-month courtship, soul-mates Don and Evelyn dance off to begin a fifty-eight-year adventure of traveling both the high road and the low road. Constant companions, they build a successful business while imparting strong ethical values to their two sons and each of their four grandchildren. This tale of devotion and hard work follows the couple on their heart-wrenching journey through uncharted territory while coping with Don’s unwelcome health diagnosis and slow physical decline.  When they reach the end of their rainbow, Evelyn is left to grapple with the day-to-day challenges of widowhood and to wonder who she is without Don. With resilience and determination, she strives to accept what has happened and to reinvent her life.

Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow is available on Amazon.

Necessary Deceptions: The Women of Wyatt Earp (Five Star Publishing, February 2022) by Pamela Nowak. Deception defined Wyatt Earp and the two women who were married to him longest. Their stories remained elusive, buried by the legend that emerged around Wyatt. Mattie Blaylock lived with him during the years when prostitution and corruption ran their lives, clinging to the lies she told herself and fighting to remain her own woman. Josephine Marcus deceived others her entire life, hiding her less-than-desirable past and opening doors to the role she craved. When Josie met Wyatt, it was easy enough to reinvent him as well. The myth that emerged from her fabrications created a history that destroyed Mattie and left Josie struggling to keep her stories straight.

You’ll find Pam on her website at Look for Necessary Deceptions at Barnes & Noble and her Amazon author page.

African Indaba (August 2022) by Angus Robb. Rory Mackenzie, son of a Scots refugee and a Boer mother, achieves manhood during political and cultural upheaval on the Dark Continent, all the while under the threat of Chola, a deadly bull elephant. As a child, he watches the beast slay his grandfather, and as a youth sees his father meet the same fate, but both times Chola mysteriously spares Rory’s life. Perhaps the natives are right: The monster has mtagate, magical powers enabling him to tell the difference between friend and foe. Spanning decades before, during, and after World War II, the tale unfolds during the dying years of colonial domination in Africa. At its core this is the story of a boy and a rogue beast, each fighting for his place in a vicious world, but neither craving to kill the other for it.

Visit Angus at You’ll find African Indaba on Amazon.

Beyond Brooklyn: A memoir (August 2022) by Edith Tarbescu. “In Beyond Brooklyn Edith Tarbescu tells her own story, but many readers will also recognize themselves in her compelling life-scenes and mini-play scripts. The daughter of immigrant Jews, transplanted with her New York roots largely intact first to Connecticut and then to New Mexico, Tarbescu keeps sane by making witty habitats out of words. Every visitor to her constructs is in for a treat.” — Ann Z. Leventhal, author of Life-Lines, Among the Survivors and The Makings of a Nobody.

Visit Edith at and go to Amazon for Beyond Brooklyn.

SWW Author Interviews: 2022 Releases

E. Joe Brown
A Cowboy’s Destiny (Artemesia Publishing, August 2022)

Chuck Greaves
The Chimera Club (Tallow Lane Books, May 2022)

Melody Groves
Trail to Tin Town (Five Star Publishing, June 2022)
Before Billy the Kid: The Boy Behind the Legendary Outlaw (Two Dot Publishing, August 2022)

Joyce Hertzoff
Winds of Change (August 2022)

Ed Lehner
Grandpa’s Horse and Other Tales (AIA Publishing, March 2022)

Cassie Sanchez
Embracing the Darkness (October 2022)

Avraham “Avi” Shama
Cyberwars — David Knight Goes To Moscow (3rd Coast Books, May 2022)

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat posts to a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

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