Danielle Sainte-Marie with antique quill pen

Bio of Danielle Sainte-Marie: Early Life

I met Danielle at her home in Cedar City, Utah. She answered the door looking very well put-together, and welcomed me in. After taking my coat, and offering me something to drink, we sat down to talk. I said, "As you know, after you gave that poetry reading at the University of Utah, I really wanted to meet you." She smiled and filled me in on some of her life. Born in Anaheim in 1968, the daughter of James (Jim) Douglas Morrison, a poet, writer, and singer for The Doors, and Patricia Leonard (who was friends with Pamela Courson), she was subsequently raised by Carl Martin and Patricia. She moved around a lot, and at the age of twelve left California to begin living all over the United States, as her step-dad was a machinist auditor in the nuclear power industry. Danielle began life with a terrible lisp that caused her to hate anything associated with language arts, but by first grade she had a special teacher who taught her to speak well, and because of that ailment, and her DNA, she began reading and writing with a joyful fury. "I even read every license plate I saw when I was in the car...drove everyone nuts. Once I discovered my voice I never shut up again!" The way she had emphasized the word 'drove' when she was telling the story of being in the car told me something deeper about her personality. I listened more intently after that. This was a woman with a really sharp mind. She said she has a near eidetic memory and is a speed reader, so she often read between 4-12 novels and textbooks a day. By the time she was 6, she was writing 2-3 page short stories. At 7 years of age, they extended to 25-30 pages. At 8, she wrote her first abstract poem, and at 12 she wrote her first novel in just under a week, finishing it at 385 pages. She scored a 149 on her first IQ test at 10 years of age, probably due in large part to her love of reading dictionaries cover-to-cover, as well as the entire Encycloedia Britannica series of books. She also read the Bible 15 times by the time she was 9, as her mother became a Jehovah's Witness and encouraged lots of religious activity in the household. Danielle was mostly an only child, in the sense that her other siblings were not around much; she had either never met them or they had left home while she was still young. It was a fractured house but it produced lots of great inspiration for writing.

Early Adult Years

After a series of writing perfectly well-done articles with appropriately packaged materials according to the guide, The Writer's Market, and then sending them off to various publishing houses only to get ripped off by those companies, she realized that writing was what she enjoyed, and not the publishing end. This was at a time when self-publishing meant you had to have lots of money to buy your books and sell them yourself. So, she resigned herself to letting her passion simply just be her avocation, and not her vocation. She tried various jobs but nothing worked to satisfy her deep need to be writing all the time. Exhausted after a long day of work, she would often not have the energy to write. Drugs and alcohol came into play then, and this was not easily stopped. She found out she had severe bipolar disorder much later in life, and saw why she had been self-medicating with damaging substances (it turns out that most brilliant poets and writers have bipolar disorder; in fact, it permeates through all the arts). Once she got on lithium, all of that changed, and she has been sober ever since. At 16, she was thrown out of the house for deciding not to go to Kingdom Hall (the 'church' of Jehovah's Witnesses) anymore with her mother, and so her time as a homeless person who was in school (in Honor's English), working full-time, and trying so hard to survive the Long Island winters made her a very bitter, angry person inside. But, she still managed to keep writing, and many of her melancholic poems from this period ended up in her first poetry book, A Glimpse to Open Pt Eye [I]. "I was raised in a cult, because that is exactly what many religious organizations are. A cult, to me, is any group that doesn't let a person who thinks differently leave with their dignity. Finding my authenticity after being brainwashed for so long was an arduous experience."

Adult, 21-38 years

Danielle went on a quest for knowledge and inspiration during this period. She studied the world, from Asia to Europe, South America and Japan. "In Japanese culture, I found my kokoro, or 'true heart," she once wrote. She began studying Bujinkan Ninjutsu eventually earning the Hachi-dan, or 8th degree black belt license in the art. She has trained with Shawn Havens, Stephen K Hayes, Rumiko Hayes, Bud Malmstrom, J.R. Edens, and more. From running full speed and jumping off rooftops to land and roll (and pick up a rock for throwing during the roll), to traversing ropes high in the tree-tops, she has embodied every aspect of the kunoichi's budo, or the 'martial way of the female ninja.' With the advent of cyber self-publishing and a chance to design her own book covers, market her works all from the comfort of her home office, and the ability to be her own editor, she finally began sharing her work. Much of it has to be transcribed to PC from loads of handwritten papers, so that is the largest part of the time-consuming task. But, she loves self-publishing and has released 17 books to rave reviews as of 2015. She is now unstoppable and writes full-time. In fact, her books are her only source of income. "Self-publishing is a chance to take the industry of writing back from the greedy publishing houses and hand it squarely to the writer. It affords more creativity and gives the highest assurance that you won't become a sell-out. I don't have editors bothering me, or marketers calling me to tell me what I need to do or where I need to be. I get to be my own boss, and that is absolutely the noblest reason for self-publishing. My father, James, was self-published, and so were many, many other writers before him. Walt Whitman, ee Cummings, oh the list is very extensive. Some bad books by others were written through self-publishing, but what I am doing is literature, it's art. We can show that we don't need others to change our words around to fit what they think will 'sell.' If you are in art only for the money, then you are not an artist. You are a profiteer."

Middle Years, 39-47 years

Danielle has made her permanent home in Cedar City, UT, and lives, literally, in a forest. "We have 60 huge trees, and love it here," she says. She writes every single day and says, "My best work is always my next book." The Muse she has adopted for poetry is Saraswati, and her spirituality is Ninpo-Mikkyo. She loves bonsai plants, cats, PBS and NHK TV (Nippon), antique typewriters, large machines, quill pens and nibs, gourmet cooking, quantum physics and herbal teas. She has an honorary PhD in Metaphysics, but she laughs when I ask her about her education. "You know, being raised as a Jehovah's Witness, they discouraged college, and also tried to drum out of me any sense of personal identity. By the time I was ready to go to college, I had to earn a living, because I was on my own. Eventually, I did go to a few colleges, and then university, but I was always disappointed with the curricula. Honestly, I had been studying so much independently that I knew more than my professors, for the most part anyway. I did have a few great teachers, but most of them were just not very knowledgeable or inspiring. For instance, my first class was a bit funny. I had to hand in a paper for the final, and we were given two weeks to do it in. I was supposed to submit a rough draft after one week. Well, writing a 25 page paper in APA style was something I could do at 7 years old! So, I wrote it in one day. The teacher, said, 'Oh, so this is your rough draft, then?' I said, 'No, I never write rough drafts. That's the paper.' Well, it was 35 pages long, and the teacher made me duplicate my writing abilities right there in front of him because he couldn't believe it. Moments like that are what got me to just drop out. I realized I didn't need to spend $100,000 on my education when I already knew more than the teachers! So, I just left and went to writing!" She is a practicing apothecary as well and has healed severe back pains, heart palpitations, kidney disease, and severe asthma. When I ask, she says her current IQ has been measured at 186, but she says "I don't put much stock in IQ tests. They are fun to take and do have some relevance, but they are indicators of not much more than specific pockets of knowledge. I mean, I could have the highest IQ in the world but I still stumble, make lots of mistakes, am abundantly human, and have no idea where my keys are." If you ask Danielle how old she is, she responds with, "billions of years old carbon and stardust." So, a talk with her is not ordinary. She has very different viewpoints than the norm of society on things, such as: success ("It's being authentic and has nothing to do with money") government ("I don't believe we should have any government, laws, rules, cars, highways, or money") love ("love the world, and I mean everyone, no exceptions; this is different from liking all their actions. Love the person, dislike the action. Oh, and never get into a relationship because of love. Get into a relationship because you want to grow emotionally and psychologically") Big Brother ("I don't believe in drug tests, DNA tests, polygraph tests, and the like. They remove one's ability to be intuitive and scientific when wanting to know if they should trust someone else") and the purpose of life ("the purpose of life is to be a scientist observing the universe. This is different than life's meaning, however. The meaning of life is to live, the meaning of death is to die; we make up the rest.") That last part is indicative of how she thinks, speaks and writes: always in multiple entendres and metaphors. So, when I ask her what she believes, she says, "I don't believe in anything, including this that I just said." Spending some time with her reveals a mind that is fascinating. She has a way of challenging you, of hitting you right where you need to be hit, in order to help you grow. I tell her she's like The Matrix's Oracle that way, only she is real. Again, she confounds me as she responds, "Be careful what you think is real. Our minds fill in patterns of things that are missing great quantities of information all the time. We have only evolved so far, and being able to know what is 'real' is not yet available to us." She practices martial arts every day, keeps her mind and body pure, and writes from 3AM to between 5 and 7PM every day but Sunday. "Unless the Muse strikes on Sunday, of course," she says with a laugh. She loves to inspire others and gives poetry readings with Tibetan Cymbals, and is currently putting together a fuller reading with a Taiko 2.0 drum, a tambourine, post horn, synthesizer, EWI, and more. She is a composer as well, and some of her friends from the Salt Lake City Orchestra and Utah Symphony have helped record, and played on, some of her pieces. She sculpts out of wood, sketches, paints, and says she will always have "eyes of ocean-green wonder." I can tell you that after spending three hours getting to know Danielle so I can write this piece, that I feel I have been in the presence of someone truly extraordinary; my heart feels somehow renewed, and I am not even sure what she did to cause that effect. So, I call her a 'Shamaness', as I know her father was like a Shaman on stage, and she just smiles and then winks. But, she says, "Look, I didn't know my dad. All I can say is that from what I have read and heard about him, that he and I share a lot in common. I want people to buy my books because of me, not James." Then she gives me some kava kava to help me "relax and have some further spiritual insight," and sees me to the door, giving me three of her books for free while explaining she has "a lot of writing to do." The last thing she does is hug me warmly and advise me to "travel well." As I walked away, I thought, I bet she does have a lot of writing to do, and I will look forward to every book she puts out.

Written by Patrick Dysart, 2016

To view Danielle's Youtube video channel, click here.

To contact Danielle, write to her at danielle@daniellesaintemarie.com