Featuring: Dianne de Las Casas (Posthumously)
Dazzle & Sparkle Queen, Storyteller & Writer Extraordinaire, Champion Promoter and Advocate for All Arts
Dianne de Las Casas brightened any room, actual or virtual. She invited challenges, encouraged tenacity in herself and others, and did this all with sparkle. She embraced fears and taught others how “the scary” was more of a friend than a foe. Whether at conferences or book signings or performances, she treated everyone as if the friendship was a forever one. She continues to inspire today.
Dianne was 47 when a tragic house fire claimed her life. The news shocked the storytelling world and beyond, especially when earlier that same day she shared posts on the beauty of the solar eclipse.
My connection with Dianne was more virtual than in-the-same-room. About eight years ago, I noticed that Dianne had a “green light” next to her name on Facebook. I took a chance and said hello, not really expecting a response as it was towards 2 am. We chatted back and forth on our upcoming projects and dreams. We admitted to each other that we either had insomnia or our brains just would not turn off when we had ideas jumping around. This meant we were most productive in these wee hours. We both typically stayed up to 2 or 3am, had about four hours of sleep regularly, and then continued on with the next day. Yet, we laughed how our bodies still were rested enough so far and it was best to take advantage of this now before our bodies decided something else as we got older. On this particular day, Dianne was in a time zone ahead of me. The online chatting back and forth then turned into a late night/early morning phone call.
We discovered that we had similar paths to the storytelling world, both as youth tellers. We were barely less than 10 years apart in age. We shared many of the same views of how the storytelling world could be more inclusive instead of feeling contained and constrained. The idea of Story Crossroads was there at the time with connecting to many cultures, languages, and styles. Story Crossroads was not even called Story Crossroads at that time. It was simply “The Dream.” We both loved storytelling and marketing equally, and how it was not so strange to apply a performance audience with a target audience. We laughed that more storytellers would love marketing and not hate it if only they made that audience connection.
We then went back to chatting online. Dianne had her own big ideas that she was excited and anxious about. When we finally decided to end the night, I wrote this to Dianne, “You will reach your dreams for you are a dreamer of dreams and a doer of dreams. Things naturally happen for those who “do”. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen. . .it is Dianne de Las Casas. . .the name you all know!'”
This was near the emergence of the Professional Storyteller Ning site, an online community that still connects others today. Dianne envisioned storytellers from around the world connecting at all times of the day–not just at 2 or 3am–and being stronger tellers and people as a result.
I could list a whole bunch of accomplishments of Dianne. She supported her two daughters in their own dreams. Dianne is the reason that Picture Book Month exists every November. Dianne was a prolific writer who used her Cajun background to breathe new life into old tales. She wrote the Bible on storytelling marketing with “The Story Biz Handbook” that first was self-published and then became updated and even more amazing when Libraries Unlimited picked it up.
Yet, in order to have these events or accomplishments, Dianne had to be a doer. She had to be a dreamer and a doer.
When I heard of Dianne’s passing, I scrounged through my pictures and hoped to find at least one or more pictures of when we met at the National Storytelling Conferences. Surely, I had one of her wearing a tiara. Nothing. Yet, the picture in my head of her openness and sparkle is so clear that it is enough to inspire me forever.
Death is not the end. We miss her here, though Death is the beginning of her new adventure. I know she is a dreamer and doer there, too. I look forward to when we all see each other again.
I appreciate Dianne for the influence of yesterday, today, and forever in storytelling and in human decency and generosity.
Dianne still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.