• MA Senft

Character Inspiration: Danielle

Shadows of December: Illusions of Time


Character Inspiration: Get to know the background behind the main characters in this engaging story about the ethical and spiritual ramifications of the life we live.


DANIELLE - Guardian of past, present and future.

Lake Itasca was chosen for its rich Native American history. Always fascinated by Native American legends and Americana folklore, such as Tom Sawyer, I decided to tie these two cultures together in a story heavily influenced by Native American beliefs. Oral stories and lessons passed down from generation to generation, often mentioning a specific location as a place of mystic or spiritual power, Minnesota’s indigenous people had a close heaven-and-earth relationship which influenced my story greatly.



I knew that no book about the future could be written without taking in account a part of the past and I wanted Shadows of December: Illusions of Time to demonstrate the connection of past, present and future. Who better to illustrate the images of the past than the Native people of the Minnesota River Basin? I wanted Danielle to not only be an escort of time and space, but a character that had strong spiritual ties to the past and the location of the book.


A traditional American town in the late 1940’s, Lake Itasca is situated near the Mississippi headwaters and is a core component in the book. This massive and important river in the United States is the setting of many story lines. Having visited the town years ago, Lake Itasca remains near and dear to my heart.


Using this as my backdrop, I created the legend of the “Lady in White along the banks of Lake Itasca.” Miakoda is loosely based upon the beliefs of the Mdewakanton Sioux people in the Minnesota River Basin area. The child that results from the love in the legend needed to have her mother’s intense beauty and her father’s turquoise-blue eyes.


After determining her physical appearance, my granddaughter, Danielle, easily became the inspiration behind the shape, demeanor and name of the character: she has always been kind, spirited and determined. I wanted a character that wasn’t just a typical all-knowing-from-the-afterlife-presence: she has trials and tribulations, wants and hopes, feelings and emotions. She was once human and her path in the afterlife has granted her the amazing opportunity to possibly chance the course of not only other characters’ lives, but the history of mankind as well.



As with Jay, I wanted her to be relatable. I like to think that Angels, Spirits, Messengers from beyond move amongst us and I wanted her character to display the very qualities I hope exist after we leave this world. One of my favorite moments is when she shares scones and tea with Mott in the book as I think that is the essence of Danielle in a nutshell: a very human kind of angel!


What do you think? If you encountered Danielle, would you be scared, happy, intrigued? Do you think she should have done anything differently with Jay? I would love to know your thoughts on Danielle!


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M.A. Senft 

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