Welcome to The Engrafted Word Debra! I am so excited to introduce you to our readers and to share your new book with them. Friends, don’t forget to enter the book giveaway at the end of this interview—thank you so much for your generosity, Debra!
I love the story line of your new book, Cameo Courtships. The Victorian era, which of course includes Queen Victoria, is my favorite era of literature. And who doesn’t love cameos? When writing this story, what was your inspiration? Did your research time take you to the Victorian era?
My story is the last chronologically in this collection and takes place in 1895. While it’s still during the queen’s reign, it feels very much a gilded age story as it takes place in industrial Pittsburgh, PA, and has a guest ‘cameo’ by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Somehow I’ve managed to write three stories in a row that take place in the 1890s. The idea for the collection came from Susanne Dietze and, as all the heroines are related, we had a great time tying them all in through the hand-me-down cameo. My research was primarily getting the details of 1895 Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Library right. To do so, I visited the children’s library there (and the Natural History Museum) that is so central to my story. I know readers will love the way our epilogue ties all four stories together!
Your mystery novel, The Case of the Clobbered Cad, was a wonderful story, and I am so looking forward to your new text, The Case of the Beleaguered Bride! After writing historical pieces, how did you decide that you wanted to change genres to mysteries?
Mysteries, especially historical settings, are my favorite genre to read and closest to my heart when it comes to writing. My first stories were what I called historical romantic suspense—a genre that wasn’t selling at the time (now it is!) so I eventually took the suggestion to focus on romance instead of mystery. Therefore, I was thrilled to be part of the Nosy Parker Series and edge my way back to the mystery and suspense genres.
Once a writer types “The End” on a piece, what advice could you give in regards to the publishing process?
There’s a point where you have to stop tweaking. It’s very hard to do. By the time the story is ready to go to the publisher, I am very tired of looking at it. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) editors can always find things they need the author to reexamine. Nothing is better for a story than few sets of ‘fresh eyes’, so I always try to use Beta Readers as well as critique partners before it goes out the door. I think many authors don’t read their stories again after they are published, because we don’t want to find anything we wish we’d done differently!
The love of reading and writing has always been part of my life. What was the moment you decided to write your words down?
I used to make books as a child with drawings and stories, and I was that student who wrote 1000 words on a 500 word essay! Through many years of reading I had the aha moment: you can do this. Well, yes, I can but the more I write, the more I realize how much growth in craft it takes. It’s satisfying and, okay, maybe disappointing, to see how far I’ve come since my first story!
What experiences in your life have shaped your writing?
I expect I can’t help but let some of my life experiences flavor how my characters make decisions along the way, but I think that being an avid reader primarily drives my writing. There’s nothing more satisfying than to get to that part of writing a manuscript where the story and the words come together. I like to think that every good story I’ve read has helped my writing. What’s particularly good about writing inspirational fiction is that working through the growth of my characters always manages to reinforce or teach me something new about God’s grace.
Traveling and meeting people seem to be a good basis for a wonderful story. What are your favorite places to travel, and how have those adventures inspired you?
Many of my novellas are set in Arizona as it’s a place I’ve often visited and love. It’s so different from where I live. It’s rare for me to use a setting I haven’t visited personally, and The Case of the Clobbered Cad changed setting locations to Edinburgh, Scotland–when I made a rash decision to travel there. Writing that novel later allowed me to ‘visit’ each day, and there’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t miss Scotland!
Thanks for joining us, Debra!
Debra has graciously offered to give away a copy of her new book, Cameo Courtships, to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest ends May 21, 2019. (US residents only, please.) The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!