Whether as a married couple or as writing partners, Bill and Ann Stevens epitomize the importance of collaboration.
Since 2004, the duo have been the driving force behind The Daniel Island News’ “Drollery” column, which revolves around the comedic musings of Dalton Williams and his lovely wife, Grace. One reader aptly described the column “like mini Seinfeld episodes” — combining everyday activities, current events and the relationships between men and women in order to provide levity and insightful commentary, hilarious and poignant short stories that describe the highs and lows of marriage.
Ann describes Bill as a natural storyteller with the ability to make people laugh. “Bill was always the clever one, he has good timing,” she said. Bill is quick to counter that Ann is a masterful editor who adds color and depth to his stories. As a former schoolteacher, Ann still wields her red pen while proofreading. “It’s always better after Ann’s edits,” Bill admits.
While the columns are often based on real experiences or conversations, Bill said using a pseudonym allows for more creative liberties. He combined their street name on Daniel Island with his real first name to invent his pen name, Dalton Williams.
The writing and editing team produced more than 200 columns for the paper, and over the years had toyed with the idea of making them into a book, but it wasn’t until the COVID shutdown that they got serious about the project. Nearly a year later, their new book, “Dalton and Grace: Whimsical Short Stories of Life in Charleston,” was released, featuring a collection of 75 of their favorite columns.
Mount Pleasant-based publisher Bublish helped the Stevens through the editing, printing, and book marketing process. “It’s finally come to fruition, working with the really nice people at Bublish,” Bill said.
After 31 years of marriage, Bill and Ann have four children, 10 grandchildren, and have lived in many places — from California to Ohio — before moving to Daniel Island in 2003. The same mutual respect and trusted partnership that shapes their personal life applies to their book-writing venture. “You can throw ideas off each other, and the teamwork makes it better,” Ann remarked.
The Stevens developed three ground rules for the column from the beginning: avoid politics and controversial topics, don’t make fun of groups of people, and keep it clean. This formula proved successful and the book makes readers laugh at regular situations gone awry. “I think that kind of humor may be the only thing that works right now,” Bill said, with regards to the seriousness of our society.
Ann added, “We’ve just had fun writing these.”
The book will be available locally at the Meyer Vogl Gallery, as well as other retail locations around the island. In October, the couple will be speaking to the Daniel Island Rotary Club, where Bill has been an active member since 2007.
“Dalton and Grace” is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats. Find it on amazon.com, iTunes, Google Play or online at Barnes and Noble. For more information, visit daltonandgrace.com.