Darrell Williams authors of the book Which One am I?
Tell us a little about your book, what it’s about?
Thomas: ”Which One Am I?” was originally Darrell’s memoir about
growing up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Along the way, it morphed
into something greater than itself, an exploration of DID in popular culture and
our journey to discover the roots of Darrell’s DID in
What genre is this current book, do you write in any other genres?
Thomas: Our book is technically a memoir, but we see it as a
layman’s case study. As the book’s principle author and a trained journalist, I
am enjoying researching the story behind the story and
applying psychology and
sociology to history.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer, at what age?
Thomas: I have been working as a journalist for almost 30
years, something I stumbled on purely by accident. My parents now tell me my
teachers always thought I should have been a writer. It’s just a darn shame no
one ever told me.
Do you have a day job or do you write exclusively?
Thomas: I still continue to write for various outlets and to
work as a publicist full time. However, the
economy is giving me fewer and fewer opportunities to work in the media world
which I’ve inhabited all these years. I guess the short answer is that “Which
One Am I?” is now my full time job.
When did you start writing your first book?
Thomas: Darrell and I first began writing down his memories almost
2 years ago. It seemed to us like this was taking forever but I know other
writers who worked for decades on their own books so we no longer feel so
How long does it take you to write a book?
Thomas: This one took almost 2 years. It would have
gone quicker but there was much research. Tracking down official papers and
trying to convince people to mail them back does take a toll on
Do you have an outline when you write or do you just write and see
where it goes?
Thomas: There was an outline but it changed considerably. Our
experience was that with each family member or official paper we tracked down
we’d be hit with some sort of horrible surprise that ended up changing the
entire book’s trajectory.
What is your writing process like; do you have any weird quirks when
Thomas: I’ve been a journalist for so long that I am pretty
disciplined. Through the years I have learned not to write if I don’t really
feel like doing so. If I do, I just end up having to redo the entire thing the
next day when my head clears. I’ve also discovered the value of silence. Many
of the first versions were written in our local coffee house where the
neighborhood is a bit quieter than where we live.
What kind of research went into this book,
tell me a little bit about that process.
Thomas: Lots and lots of research went into this book in an
attempt to find out the truth of what happened in Darrell’s life. In many
instances this proved futile. We were told many; many times that paperwork which
should have been available had been destroyed either by fire, flood or basic
human inattention. To be fair, we don’t entirely doubt these excuses. Much of
Darrell’s life was spent in Central and Eastern Arkansas which lays both on the
Mississippi flood plain and in Tornado Alley. The human factor was quite a bit
more infuriating, especially since some official papers were filed for
expediency’s sake. For instance, his mother’s death certificate notes a history
of heart disease of which no surviving member of the family was aware. Two
newspaper accounts of his uncle’s suicide were based on a phone call with a
neighbor who was not present at the time of Steve’s death and was not close to
the family. Such is the official world in
What is the most interesting thing you learned about while writing your
Thomas: History itself is malleable. Everyone present at an event
has their own take on the situation and worse, their own
What motivated you to tell this story?
Thomas: We were frustrated by the other DID memoirs in that,
though they told the story of recovery and some told how the person came to have
DID, none answered the basic question of why this occurred. Darrell also wants
readers to get the message that if their child is acting out, the parent and/or
guardian needs to look for the reason behind the child’s
How have you marketed this book?
Thomas: We are doing a blog tour and a radio tour. In
addition, we are walking our way through the psychology departments at colleges
across the country pitching the book to be added to their curriculum or at very
least to be recommended as an adjunct text.
Do you have any other work
Thomas: Just my Music Connection column “Film TV Theater” which is
online monthly at www.musicconnection.com.
What projects are you working on now?
Thomas:”Which One Am I?” is about Darrell. The next book is going to be
about me. Tentatively titled “Whatever Happened to the Gifted Kids?” this one
will use my own classmates as an example of the struggles we faced growing up
different. There have been plenty of studies about gifted minors but few about
gifted adults so I think this book will be an invaluable resource. No idea when
I might get started because right now we’re embroiled in getting people to read
our current book. There will obviously also be lots of research involved and I
anticipate tracking down some of my classmates more than 30 years later will be
a bit of an adventure.
What has been your toughest criticism? What has been your best
compliment as an author?
Thomas: Toughest criticism: Mostly female readers
(and both my editors) thought that I wasn’t putting in enough about how Darrell
was feeling. I hope the version that finally made it to market addresses this
concern. Best Compliment: My legal advisor, an author herself, told me that my
writing reminded her of Truman Capote. I was aiming for Mark Twain, but I’ll
take Capote. At least I didn’t end up with a Danielle Steele
What do you do when you’re not
Thomas: Promote, promote, promote. I’m also Darrell’s full
time caregiver as well as his husband. That plus we’re attempting to train our
dog Tigger who has developed a horrible problem with leash aggression. Training
a dog is harder than they make it look on TV!
What do your friends and family think of your writing, have they been
Thomas: Darrell’s friends have all been very
supportive. Mine are split. Some are thrilled that we actually finished the book
we’ve been talking about for so long. Others seem to have wanted us to write a
different book. As for my family, they really want me to get a day job to have
“something to fall back on” where I can “work my way up.” Gotta love ‘em, but
also gotta ignore ‘em.
Do you hear from your reader much, what has the feed back been
Thomas: We do hear from our readers and the word they use to
describe “Which One Am I?” is “difficult.” I have learned that they mean this in
two different ways. “Which One Am I?” is an emotional journey and much of the
time readers have had to put the book down in order to cry. The other meaning of
“difficult” has to do with the book’s structure. It’s a scary statistic that
most Americans read on an 8th grade level and our book is far beyond that. It
does take some mental stamina to put together the pieces we’ve laid out, not
only the science and psychology but also the multiple timelines. Only two of
those are presented in order. The third, our visit back to Arkansas and
discovery of Darrell’s claimed birth father’s family is not. This will always be
a difficult read for anyone used to an if-then type of writing style. Of course,
we did this on purpose because we really wanted readers to experience
vicariously what it is like to be Darrell, a man who lives life out of
What was your favorite book growing up?
Thomas: I always go back to Joan Didion, either
“The White Album” which is quoted in “Which One Am I?” or “Slouching Towards
Bethlehem.” Her style was another model for “Which One Am I?” though I really
couldn’t bring myself to get as personal as she does, at least not
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate
Thomas: Coffee and lots of it. Tea in a
Cat or dog?
Thomas: When I met Darrell he had a Russian Blue
cat who I named Boo the Eternal. I had never before lived with a cat but found
myself in love with the old guy. Boo passed away at age 24, some 8 years past
the upper range for his breed, shortly before we went to Arkansas. A few months
after his death, a friend of Darrell’s hit a little dog and brought him to the
coffeehouse where we like to hang out. This is Tigger. We think he’s a Miniature
Pinscher but others who better know breeds tell us there is likely a little
Chihuahuain him. Both are mentioned in the text, but only Tigger has his picture
in the book.
Print book or e-reader which medium do you
Thomas: For my personal reading, I really can’t get into the
e-reader and Darrell is computer illiterate so we both prefer print. We don’t
care how people read “Which One Am I?” as long as they
Thomas: None really, though I do wish the economy would turn
around soon. And that our car will survive until we can afford to buy a new
Thomas: That “Which One Am I?” will have a lasting impact on the
If your book was made into a movie what actors would you choose to play
Thomas: Strangely, we’re negotiating with a couple of movie
producers right now though we see this as a documentary rather than a
fictionalized account. To answer your question directly, we honestly haven’t
given our favorite actors much of a thought.
Glass half empty or half full?
Thomas: Half full always. Things can always get
better but if you do nothing then nothing will
Thomas: We both favor a deep royal
Light or Dark
Thomas: Colors dark. Attitude
Thomas: When I call someone by somebody else’s name. This
happens on a daily basis. I’m simply not good with
I want to thank Thomas for hanging out with us and answering our
questions If you would like more information about Thomas Smith &
James Darrell Williams and Which One am I ? Click on the following
We wish you much success in all your future