Author Interview with Amelia Dellos

Delilah Recovered Book Cover Delilah Recovered
Amelia Dellos
Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy, Occult Fiction
Atmosphere Press
August 17, 2022
276 pages

Dee is an unemployed accountant managing an anxiety disorder and an eviction notice. She's also a powerful witch, but she doesn't know that yet.

Until one fateful night when her reality cracks wide open. Two witch hunters attack her, and she finally learns the truth.

Well, part of it. As a descendent of Joan of Arc, her family is the “guardian of the ring.” Uncovering this information only leaves her with more questions. Why did her coven banish her for three-hundred years? Why is the ring so important? Why has her true identity been kept a secret from her?

To put all the missing pieces together, she must go on a series of mind-altering quests. She’ll risk life and limb to recover the facts traveling through time from the court of the Sun King Louis XIV of France to the Salem Witch Trials. Meanwhile, she searches Chicago’s shadows to find and translate her family's grimoire pages, only to discover she’s the guardian of King Solomon’s ring and the power it holds to command good and evil.

From the safety of reality to the underbelly of a secret world, she must take her rightful place to protect witches and humans from the ring.


Author Interview with Amelia Dellos

Interview by Sherry Perkins

Amelia Estelle Dellos


1. How does screenwriting differ from writing essays, novels or other prose? Which do you prefer to write?

Screenwriting is extremely technical, and you have to master the basic mechanics of how writing a script works. There’s not much improvisation. Here’s a metaphor for you – screenwriting is like baking; you had to follow the recipe otherwise, it won’t turn out. Whereas, when writing novels, prose, and poetry, you can experiment, add a bit of this and a bit of that – there are no limits or boundaries.

2. What is a psychopomp? How did you determine the story would be best formatted as an essay?

“Psychopomp” is a short story I wrote for a collection titled Writing in Place: Stories from the pandemic. A psychopomp is a guide that helps spirit souls to the afterlife. I had the opportunity to study with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, author of Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. During that time, she invited me to write an essay for the anthology she was publishing. My mother was in hospice for over two years, and I wanted to write a piece, a love letter of sorts, to the healthcare workers, especially during the pandemic.

3. Could you talk about the submission process. Wait a minute, for our BDSM authors and fans, that’s a loaded question, lol. Let me rephrase: how does an author submit works for publication? What does that process–start to finish–work? What do you recommend for tracking responses, etc.?

The submission process is the hardest part of this entire process for me. It can be very disheartening! Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me early on, and it would have saved me so much time – get a few short stories published, then begin to submit your novel for publication. All agents and publishers want to see a list of credits before they will consider taking you on. These days with the wonderful and wild world wide web, there are so many ways to get published. I had some success with Wattpad, and Delilah Recovered was selected for a Watty. I have a peer in my MFA cohort who just got an agent and a book deal because her Tik Tok channel blew up.

As for tracking submissions, I submit through Submittable. I also have a list of deadlines broken out by month for magazines, workshops, and contests that I want to keep on my radar. I learned in graduate school that there are, in fact, soft nos! Who knew? I have a list of soft nos that I will re-submit work to those publications.

Many writers might have one project that they put all their time and effort into; what I have learned is that successful writers have several projects that they are working on. They do not have all their eggs in one basket.

4. You mentioned that sometimes, when you’ve been working from home and on Zoom meetings, there would be video bombs from family members. What’s the funniest video bomb you’ve experienced?

It has to be my dog, Teddy. I was taping a video message for my Writing & Rhetoric students, and he was in the background on the couch licking his private parts in FULL VIEW of the camera. I didn’t notice until after I had completed taping the video.

5. I believe you’re the first writer/director we’ve had the pleasure to interview. Tell us, if you would, about a director’s world.

I really enjoyed producing and directing my documentary, Love Under Fire: The Story of Bertha and Potter Palmer. I had a hand in the film from soup to nuts – researching, writing the script, raising money, conducting the interviews, sitting in with the editor, entering film festivals, and hosting screenings. The director’s world is finding a balance between knowing when to assert yourself and when to trust the talented people you hire to work with on your project. Ultimately, filmmaking is a team sport. You need to understand how to bring your team together and allow them to bring their ideas and creativity to the project, especially when working on a low-budget project!



Chapter One

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

Dee’s grip tightened around her leather-bound journal. Her hands slick with sweat as she tried to steady her breathing. She traced the gold embossed “D” on the cover. It’s only thing in her possession that she couldn’t justify the cost. Each page held her secrets along with the mundane details of her life from steps walked to ounce of water consumed. For a moment, she forgot she was sitting in his mansion.

“Tell me, Delilah, what is the one thing you want most?” Samuel asked, shifting his body toward her.

Usually, men like Samuel ignored Dee. Of course, he was handsome, the kind of handsome that always gets his way. Somewhere in his mid-thirties, Samuel carried himself with a maturity far beyond his years. Dee could feel his heavy gaze on her. She studied her shoes to steady herself.

“Look at me,” Samuel said.

His tone sharp, demanding. Her head snapped up. Dee wanted to say she wanted the job working for his company. She needed this job. It had finally come down to paying her rent or getting evicted. When their eyes met, he repeated his question in a slow husky growl. His steely gray eyes knocked the breath out of her lungs. Dee had to force herself to hold his hard gaze.

“A family,” she said before she could stop herself.

When Dee said it, she wanted nothing more than to take those words back and swallow them up whole. Before he could react, the door swung open, and Mrs. Fairfax entered carrying the tea tray. She was his assistant, a portly white-haired woman dressed in a prim blouse with a rounded collar buttoned up to her neck, a simple black skirt, and black oxfords. It struck Dee that Mrs. Fairfax appeared less like an executive assistant and more like a nanny.

When Samuel stood and turned toward Mrs. Fairfax, his face softened.

“Don’t strain yourself,” Samuel said, taking the heavy tray from her and setting it down on the desk.

“Now, there’s a good boy.” Mrs. Fairfax patted his arm.

Dee could feel the sincere affection between them. It surprised Dee to see this warm side of the otherwise cold-hearted mogul. Before she left, Mrs. Fairfax turned around and gave Dee an encouraging smile.

Samuel placed the tea strainer over her teacup in a few swift movements, filled it with tea, poured the hot water over it, and then flipped over the small hourglass timer. Her eyes traveled around the midnight blue room, examining the rows and rows of vintage books lining the walls. A massive dark oak desk with thick snakes carved into it formed the centerpiece. At a glance, out of the corner of her eye, the intertwined snakes appeared to slither up and down the desk legs. The desk featured a round stone tablet with a hole the size of a ring in the middle. Dee squinted her eyes to read the words etched into it.

“Good and evil shall pass through these doors.” The words caused the tiny hairs on her arms to stand at attention.

Dee turned around, and her eyes settled on the fireplace. Tiny, scarlet-colored stains covered the swords and daggers hanging over the mantel. With a magical alphabet made up of half-moons, arrows, and crosses carved into each knife handle. The blades’ symbols matched the engraved seals on the weathered wooden front door, which greeted her when she arrived. Despite her nerves, Dee counted the seals. She couldn’t help herself. There were forty-nine.

She stood up and walked over to the daggers. Gently, she ran her index finger over the letters. Dee picked up a small sword. It had an etching of a dragon and a serpent on the handle. Dried blood dotted the blade. Holding it in her hand, Dee had a vision of a man’s hand pressing the edge against a woman’s neck, drawing a stream of blood along with the sensation of the knife-edge pressing into her neck.

“My mother collects them.”

His voice brought her back to the moment, and the dagger slipped from her hands. She froze. She watched him catch the knife in one swift motion before the razor-sharp blade almost sliced open her leg. The knifepoint left a tiny tear in her pant leg. Her shaky hand landed on her neck. Dee rubbed it, then checked her fingers for blood.

Samuel placed the dagger back on the wall.

“Please, sit down.”

His hand rested on the small of her back as he led her back to her chair. The heat of his touch radiated down her spine.

Dee tried to settle into the overstuffed chocolate-colored leather chair. Chicago in July. Each summer, the city grid turned into a steam room, and by the time Dee finally made it to her job interview, she could feel the large beads of sweat seeping through her off-season navy-blue outlet mall suit.

He glanced at his watch, again. Samuel’s vintage Cartier with a worn alligator strap peeked out from his crisp white button-down shirt open at the collar. Studying up for her interview, Dee found an article in a men’s magazine about Samuel and his antique watch collection.

Samuel reached out and handed her a cup of tea. He sat on a rich velvet couch framed in wood and gold leaf.

“I love high tea,” she said.

Samuel sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger.

“You mean afternoon tea. High tea is taken in the early evening, whereas afternoon tea occurs,” Samuel paused for effect, “in the afternoon.”

Heading into this interview, Dee already knew Samuel embodied the old world, across-the-pond rich. She got the complete picture from her internet research—Cambridge educated, dated a string of socialites, and friends with royalty. Dee didn’t need to see his gothic horror movie mansion or get schooled on tea services to remind her she was out of her league. The bus ride from her fun-sized studio apartment to the Gold Coast framed by Lake Michigan and ornate mansions gave her ample time to work herself into a tizzy. Dee had tried in vain to concentrate on the shiny neighborhood. The sidewalks rolled along, one after the other, all lined with the promise of a juicy steak or an expensive designer purse. Despite the scenery, she kept calculating her overdue rent. It didn’t matter how many times she added the numbers; Dee owed more than she had.

This interview wasn’t going well. Dee thought as she set her teacup down on a small end table.

The library’s walls featured museum-quality artwork. One painting caught Dee’s attention. Samson, a beast of a man, sleeping soundly like a child with his head on a woman’s lap. His herculean body draped over Delilah’s luscious crimson skirt. The vivid silky color drew her into the haunting scene. Dee couldn’t help herself. She had to get closer to the painting. The rich fabric painted like confection candy drew her to it. Dee wanted so badly to touch it. Tilting her head, Dee could see herself in the woman’s profile, her dark almond-shaped eyes, and her thick wavy hair.

Samson & Delilah by Rubens,” Samuel answered the question Dee hadn’t asked. “This painting holds a special place for me. You know the story, of course.”

Standing so close to him, with not one strand of his caramel-colored hair out-of-place, Dee took note of Samuel’s singular flaw – a nasty scar, puckered and red, that crept up out of his shirt on the left side of his neck and ended at the edge of his cheek.

“The mighty warrior Samson falls prey to the deceitful Delilah and loses his strength,” Dee said. Her eyes focused on Delilah’s creamy skin and voluptuous curves in contrast to Samson’s golden skin and hard angles.

“Delilah was bribed to entrap him, to find out the secret of his strength. Samson proclaimed his love for her over and over. She wouldn’t accept it unless he confided in Delilah,” Samuel said.

“Until finally, Samson told her, the key to his power.”

Dee paused.

“His hair.”

“And in this painting, Delilah’s final betrayal, she holds him as if he were a sleeping babe whilst a servant cuts his hair, rendering him helpless,” Samuel said.

“And who betrayed you, Mr. Solomon?” Dee asked, pointing at his scar.

Ignoring her question, his hand flew to his neck.

“You may call me Samuel.”

For a moment, they admired the painting until Samuel broke the silence.

“Isn’t your given name Delilah?”

“Yes,” Dee said.

“Yet, you go by the Dee?”

“The name, Delilah, it seems, I don’t know how to explain it…”

She paused and waited for Samuel to fill in the blank. He didn’t. Instead, he waited for her to continue. It wasn’t in her nature to let a conversation breathe; she had a compulsive need to fill in the pockets of silence.

“It doesn’t suit me.”

“How so?” He asked

“It’s too big for me.”

“Maybe someday you’ll grow into it.”

Didn’t he know that she was an orphan, raised by her guardian, Ms. Tabitha Anthea Masterson, from Sandwich, Illinois? A small-town boasting weekend antique summer fairs and a tenacious tornado alley. All she had was an accounting degree from an average Midwestern university. Both the unimpressive companies she worked for since graduation had gone belly up despite her best efforts to get their books in order.

A flood of cortisol rushed through her veins, signaling to her brain that her next panic attack was well on its way. To try and stop it, Dee counted backward from four. A trick she used to distract her anxiety. Silently Dee counted 4,3,2,1 because she knew deep down that she wasn’t qualified for this job. He only hired Ivy League graduates. When the recruiter contacted Dee about the position, she was shocked.

“Why am I here?” she asked.

“To interview for an accounting position,” he said, leading her once again back to the chair.

“What will you do for my company?” He asked as he sat down and folded his hands on top of his lap, waiting for her response.

Dee knew she’d have to steady her voice before answering his question. Dee made the mistake of making eye contact. Her mind went blank like a fuzzy television.

“Anytime now.”

She watched as he drummed his fingers on his knee. Then he checked his watch.


The word tumbled out, and the high pitch of her voice rang in her ears.


“Micro-investments in third-world countries.”

Dee swallowed hard and attempted to level out her pitch and talk at a slower pace.

“Micro-investments would be the way to go for MILLO.”

Samuel nodded, encouraging her to continue.

“They’re low risk because the investments are small with an opportunity for high yields,” Dee said.

Samuel remained silent with his head tilted, staring at an unseen horizon. He seemed bored, and Dee wanted to impress him. For her, it wasn’t just about the job either; she wanted his approval.

“Plus, you’d also help people in underdeveloped nations by injecting much-needed capital, resources, and work into their economy.”

His face broke out into a wicked smile, showcasing a set of unnaturally stark white teeth.

“Ms. Smith, you misunderstand my intentions entirely. I want to take over the world, not save it.”

Sinking into the chair, Dee hoped it would open up and swallow her and put an end to whatever this was. Samuel studied her for a long moment.

“I get this strange feeling you and I have met before,” Samuel said.

“You shop at Target?”

“You should know I, more than anyone, appreciate a good deal,” he said with a teasing smile. “I am rendered helpless by the five-dollar bin.”

The air in the room shifted, charged, and heavy like before a summer storm.

“What do you think happens when you die?” He asked.

Dee gazed around the room. The walls closed in on her. She couldn’t take it anymore and pulled off her suit jacket. It didn’t matter at this point. Dee knew she wasn’t going to land this job.

“You’re dead,” she said.

“Do you believe in reincarnation?”

“No, I don’t.”

“What if we knew each other in another lifetime, and this life is a continuation of our previous life?”

“Like one endless stream with no beginning or end?”

She took a sip of her tea, while willing her hand to stop shaking.

“Yes, exactly, one life bleeding into the other, starting in a different era, but with the same trials to bear and overcome,” Samuel said.

“And this question has what to do with accounting?”

Her hand shook, and she spilled tea on the table when she set her cup down. She tried to sop it up with her hand.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with accounting, Ms. Smith. No afterlife then?”

Samuel drank his tea, waiting for her answer.

“It’s easier to believe in something, right? Gives our lives meaning. For me, though, it doesn’t add up. Heaven is a fairytale concocted to give people hope,” she said.

“Just darkness, then?”


“I’m not a big fan of darkness.”

“Is this a psychological test?”

She couldn’t figure out where he was going with this line of questions.

“Delilah, what if there’s more to this world than we can even begin to comprehend with our five senses?”

He placed his teacup down and folded his hands on his lap.

“Like a sixth sense?”

“Not even a sense, but magic. What did Shakespeare say, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'”

“You believe in ghosts, fairies, and little green men?” Dee asked, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Nope, only fairies.”

He leaned back into his chair and smiled at her.

“He wants the ring. Guard it with your life,” said a woman’s voice.

“Is there someone else in here?”

Her head spun around, searching the room for the person who issued the warning.


“I heard a woman’s voice,” Dee said.

She looked down at her leg and noticed the tear in her pants transformed into the size of a nickel. A nervous tick, Dee hadn’t realized she had been working at it with her index finger during the interview. Dee’s vision blurred. Adrenaline flooded her body, and her panic attack went from a low idle in the background to all systems go.

Dee stood up. Her legs wobbled. Samuel’s two strong arms reached out and steadied her.

“What did this voice say?”

Peering into Samuel’s eyes, and for the first time since she arrived, Dee saw something that shocked her—fear. Dee’s panic spun out of her control. She felt like a wounded animal seeking shelter. She had one thought on repeat.

I gotta get out now. I gotta get out now. I gotta get out now. I gotta get out now. I gotta get out now. I gotta get out now.

“I need to go home. Now,” Dee said.

“Of course.”

He guided her to the door. She stopped to pick up her backpack and almost tipped over. Again, his hand reached out to steady her.

“May I escort you home?”

Dee hated feeling helpless.

“I will make it on my own.”

She pulled her arm away from his hold and walked out the door.


Barnes & Noble:



Amelia Estelle Dellos is a writer, filmmaker, MFA candidate and professor at Columbia College Chicago. Her first novel, Delilah Recovered, won a 2017 “Breakthrough” award on Wattpad before finding a home at Atmosphere Press.

Her work has been published in Big Shoulders Press, Grand Dame Literary Journal, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. Her short story “Psychopomp” was published in Writing in Place: Stories from the Pandemic, which debuted on Amazon at #4 in Essays. As a screenwriter and director, Amelia’s films have appeared on PBS and Amazon Prime. She has earned accolades as a Sundance International Writer’s Lab finalist, Chicago International Film Festival Pitch Winner, and the Women’s International Film Festival finalist.

She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, teenage daughter, and two feisty little dogs who video bomb her Zoom meetings. For more info, follow her on Instagram at @aedellos or visit her website



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