J Lenni Dorner is a great blogger, and isn’t afraid to step up and run things for the rest of us bloggers to join in. I didn’t realise, when I asked him if he’d like to guest today, that he was actually organising, or at least wrangling, the AtoZ Challenge this year. Thank you so much for taking time off to do my interview, J.

I suppose after that, I had to step up to do the guest post on the AtoZ website today! It’s L for Ludo 🙂

Man of Mystery – J Lenni Dorner…

When I first followed J, I thought he was a woman. I got through that several years ago, because he identifies as a ‘he’ when asked. But others still make that mistake. He also sometimes goes by the name Lenni-Lenape. So, J, please explain what that is about.

I am a descendant of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. (Some call us the Delaware Indians, after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. But some of us find that offensive.) We are also known as the Grandfathers or Ancient ones, having over 10,000 years of history. Lenni-Lenape translates to mean “Original People.”

Nearly everyone pronounces Lenape wrong (it rhymes with canapé). Our clans are the Turtle, Wolf, and Turkey. Though it’s rarely discussed, many of the laws and rules of the Lenni-Lenape people were used as inspiration for the Constitution of the United States. The tribe originally occupied most of Pennsylvania, parts of Delaware and Maryland, all of New Jersey, and parts of New York. That includes Manhattan, which we sold, though the translation was flawed as we don’t consider land something that can be owned.

The tribe was broken up by the colonists after William Penn’s death. The Walking Purchase has become more legend than fact, but it was the method used to swindle the tribe by using a trick involving twins. The Lenni-Lenape were also killed by “gifts” of pox blankets. Some of our people were sold as slaves and many shipped to Europe, where the few survivors were considered the worst slaves, and thus most were killed. Other members of the tribe were forcibly moved to the area that would become Ohio, and later to Oklahoma. A handful managed to remain on the original lands.

Being a Lenni-Lenape living on the original lands in Pennsylvania means I rarely ever encounter another person from my tribe. I’m sometimes mistaken for a Latino or Middle Eastern man, probably because people aren’t used to encountering a Native American in this area. (According to the census, in my area, 0.1% were American Indian, meaning there is slightly less than one of us for every square mile.

Thank you. I don’t know what to say, really, except that I apologise for those original colonists who thought everything ought to belong to them. Now for some more familiar sort of questions:

What sort of books do you write and who is your audience?

I write speculative fiction and reference books. My fiction audience is looking for something unexpected with influences from the myths and legends of my people.

My reference books are for writers who are looking to bring their settings to life, or to write book reviews (the title links are to my reviews here)

Fractions of Existence is ON SALE right now, so my audience is also readers who like to get a deal on ebooks

What are you reading at the moment and what do you like about it?

I’m reading a children’s book called Summer of L.U.C.K.

My review is posted today (for the letter L) at Operation Awesome. Normally we’re a blog helping writers in every stage of the publication journey, but for the AtoZchallenge 2021 we are writing book reviews. The five books I selected are all from debut authors I’ve interviewed at Operation Awesome.

I want to like this book a lot more. In some ways, it’s a really great book filled with magic, and in some ways, it reminds me of Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I like that it’s magical, that it has some positive diversity representation, and that it’s a debut book. I would like the book a lot more if I weren’t me, and thus hadn’t lived my life and didn’t feel very triggered by some main story points. I would not give this book to a child without planning a long conversation, before and after, about never sneaking away from your caregivers to wander off into the woods after midnight because you’re being lured by music and candy. It works out okay in the story. The book has a HEA. But it took me a long time to get through the book because I was waiting for the horror twist. (There isn’t one.) I finished it because I found someone else who had read it and she assured me the kids were going to be okay. Three city children sneaking away from the adults to roam the woods at midnight, following music and the scent of candy, all survive unscathed and self-improved at the end of the book. It all works out in the book.

Hmm, I might find that difficult to read without the reassurance, too.

What’s your idea of a really nice meal?

I had the good fortune to marry a chef, so “really nice meal” automatically implies that my Snookums made it. So if I’m picking some ideal meal:

The first course would be a salad with romaine, radicchio, and arugula. Topped with baby tomatoes, garbanzo beans, La Choy Chow Mein noodles, almonds slivers, and Wos-Wit hot bacon dressing.

The second course is sushi. Eel, squid, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, and tamago (egg).

The third course is duck breast with a blackberry reduction.

A cheese course would include Kerrygold Dubliner, Crunchmaster Multi-Grain crackers with brie and berries, Jarlsberg, and Humboldt Fog with almonds.

Then Shoofly Pie from one of those little stands in Lancaster county for dessert.

While I have eaten all of these, I’ve never had them served as a multicourse meal, so I have no idea if I’ve paired everything well or not.

I can’t help you there; I’ve only eaten the salad! (and Jarlsberg). Thanks very much for being my guest today!

And in the unlikely event of my readers not knowing where to find you, where can they find you?

Thanks very much, J, and good luck with the rest of the AtoZChallenge 2021

L is for Lenni Dorner–J Lenni Dorner #atozchallenge2021

19 thoughts on “L is for Lenni Dorner–J Lenni Dorner #atozchallenge2021

  • 14 April, 2021 at 7:14 am

    Thanks so much for the interview!
    (Now someone should follow-up with a question about how I got the name I go by. Actually, some of the writers who do WEPFF might know, because I wrote a fictional version about a boy called Stew.)

  • 14 April, 2021 at 8:29 am

    As his cousin-in-law, I gotta tell you 🤣😄🤣😂🤣😂😄 thinking he’s a woman 🤣🤣😂😂🤣🤣😄😄😄🤣🤣😂😂 omg. If you ever meet J, you’ll instantly understand why I’m laughing so hard.

    And hey, we’ve had *some* of that meal at my place.

    • 14 April, 2021 at 10:27 am

      It was a fair few years ago, on my part, but someone else did it recently – he’s such a man of mystery. Why he embarrasses us like this I don’t know – but probably you do!

      • 14 April, 2021 at 5:19 pm

        Get him to tell you about the time his boss invited him to a potluck.
        I laughed so hard I literally fell off my chair. I still to this day can’t see a rabbit and not laugh.

  • 14 April, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    I had no idea you were Native American. Yes, our ancestors were horrible to the people already living here.

    • 14 April, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      I’m guessing most Japanese people don’t know much about Native Americans. Even Americans usually can only name three or four tribes. (Sioux, Cherokee, Navajo, and “Eskimo” 🙄)

      Though I do try to write about Native American interests. But maybe if I were J Sioux, my heritage would be more obvious? Being from one of the more annihilated tribes maybe didn’t help you “guess” my culture.

  • 14 April, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for giving us the pronunciation of Lenape. I became aware of this tribe as I was researching the Wampanoag and Mic Mak tribes for various books I’ve written. The story for every Native American tribe I’ve researched has not been a good one.

    • 14 April, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      Yeah. West coast tribes get a lot of negative views for being war-like, but after seeing millions from the east coast and “middle” vanish, what choice did they have?

  • 14 April, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    What a fascinating interview, especially the first part about the ‘original people’. And yes, I’d like to know how J Lenni Dorner came by the name! It’s been really interesting to read the comments as well.

    • 15 April, 2021 at 3:53 am

      Glad you’re enjoying the comment entertainment.
      (Sorry to everyone who missed the hilarious chat behind the scenes with my cousin, who I could “hear” laughing to the point that she made me laugh too.)

      So, in my culture, you aren’t given a name at birth. (You’ve been alive for five seconds and not done anything yet– how can you get a name? Or be trusted with it?) We refer to each other by relationship. (Which sounds complicated, until you think about for two seconds. “Hey, you know John Smith?” “Which one?” The answer is going to include your relationship and how the person might know John Smith. We just skip that first step.) A namegiver gives you a name later in life, whenever the spirits reveal the name. You might be 8, you might be 28. Anyway, you can only tell one other person that name. (To protect yourself from being cursed. Which maybe sounds a little nuts, but my tribe believed in stuff.)

      I was kidnapped when I was little. That was still legal back then, so my parents couldn’t do anything. Fast forward a few years to when I managed to escape and get smuggled back, but was still a child. And within a few days, I got picked up by the cops. The officer demanded to know my name.
      I didn’t have one.
      To make matters worse, I’m a mute. I could read somewhat at the point, but barely had experience writing. So the slower the communication went, the more pissed off the cop got.
      So I had to pick a name.
      There was a guy at the station who they kept calling Jay.
      The cops seemed to like him.
      I had no idea how his name was spelled, but I knew the alphabet.
      (See what happens if you drop the superfluous ay? You get a name that sounds exactly the same as the letter. Then again, maybe “ay” means “has a penis”??? Forty some years on this planet, I still don’t understand how most names work. If I had know about extra letters, maybe my name would indicate masculinity.)
      Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I needed a middle name too.
      Which I had never even heard of. The entire concept of a second name was mind blowing. Again, I was a kid. They estimated I was eight.
      By this point, an exhausted social worker had shown up as well. So now two adults are badgering me to answer “a very simple question” that I had no answer to. And somehow it got around to them asking about my family. I ended up putting Lenni as my middle name. It was part of the name of my tribe and I could spell it. The Dorner family was the one I stayed with last and the longest, so that became my last name eventually.

      • 15 April, 2021 at 3:25 pm

        Wow. Thanks for that, J, it’s overwhelming, really.

      • 12 May, 2021 at 7:38 pm

        Amazing story, J. And here I was, thinking J stood for something mysterious and unpronounceable! Thanks for doing this fantastic interview with Jemima.

        • 13 May, 2021 at 5:10 am

          J doesn’t stand for something, yet people can’t figure out how to pronounce it without the “ay.”! 😆😉

  • 15 April, 2021 at 12:47 am

    Love having a few clues revealed lessening the mystery. Glad you arranged the interview Jemima, and it was delightfully gracious of J to agree.

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