When Debra Clopton's first book burst onto the publishing scene, I was immediately captivated. The Trouble With Lacy Brown was followed by four other novels taking place in Mule Hollow, Texas. You'll want to get your hands on all five of these books. They bring a refreshing, unique flavor to Love Inspired Romances.
At the time, I didn't know Debra. I just knew that she was a member of ACFW, so I rejoiced with her for her first book's release. Over time, I've gotten to know her better, and I love her just as much as her books.
First I have to say thanks for having me here, Lena! You can never tell where some part of me is going to show up. It might be in the heroine or it might be in the hero, but there is usually something of me in every book. It might be a serious emotional thread that I’ve experienced that sets the story up or it can be something small that adds flavor to a character. For instance my huge love of Banana Taffy went into my second book…I could eat that stuff all day long!
In my latest book Meeting Her Match coming out in June from Love Inspired, Sheri the heroine and I share a stubbornness and also a fear of heights, tingling toes and all. That said, I try to let people know that though I might use bits of myself, as most writers do, I don’t ever use completes. Reason being, for one, I don’t want to totally exploit myself, and second, I purposefully avoid that so my character becomes his/her own person. Third and most important--I’m just not that interesting!
I'm sure that's not true. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Before becoming a fulltime author I was a hairstylist and I dyed (enhanced might be a better word) a huge show horse black for a client. My rubber gloves immediately busted so my hands and arms were dyed black in the process, which wouldn’t have been so funny except I had to go teach vacation Bible School that night. The kids of course noticed my black hands and got a kick out of my explanation. The stain lasted for days, but it was worth it because I met Samantha the donkey while I was coloring the horse and knew I had to write a book with her in it. My second Mule Hollow book And Baby Makes Five came from that adventure.
I loved that book, especially Samantha! When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My third grade teacher Mrs. Blair started by hooking me on reading. But, in my senior year in high school the seed was planted by my English teacher Mrs. Knight that I should be a writer. I was doing writing assignments and she started reading them aloud to the class and kept telling me I had talent. But, because I was a horrible typist, a terrible speller (still am) and a C English student I had a lot to overcome. I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until about ten years later. But once I started I never stopped.
And I'm glad you didn't. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
To me the ultimate horror is to be caught waiting with nothing to read. I will read the receipts if there is nothing else around. My range is small on what I really enjoy reading
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I wrote seven other books before selling to Love Inspired in 03. All were contemporary romances, one was a romantic suspense. None of them had any humor in them. I decided to try my hand at humor and wrote The Trouble With Lacy Brown and long story short, eventually sold. I’ve been so busy writing my Mule Hollow series for them that I haven’t done anything else. The other books in the series are: And Baby Makes Five, No Place Like Home, Dream a Little Dream, coming in June Meeting Her Match, in Oct my first Christmas story, Operation: Married by Christmas, and in Jan of 08 Next Door Daddy. At the moment I’m working on book 8 and waiting to hear if it’s bought or not. You can check them all out on my web site www.debraclopton.com
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’ve decided to just be crazy and go with the flow. Really! Also, I have to make sure to keep building up my relationship with the Lord and that is one of my underlying themes in all my books. Life is tough more times than not and it is easy to let things get to me if I’m not careful. If I’m really stressed I go for a drive in my little T-bird, wind therapy does wonders for my sanity. Writing humor is really hard when you’re stressed out and so I have to force myself to write sometimes, trusting that the Lord is going to guide my words. That’s the key to all of it, trusting the Lord to keep me grounded.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I sit in front of my computer with my fingers on the keyboard then I just type them down as they come. I type until the right one hits me and I can see the character. When the first and last name hits its target I know because it fits the flavor of the book or meets a plot need. And it always has to zing!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My two sons. I’m just so blessed to have them.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
You got me on that one…I don’t think I would want to be one. Maybe a bird, I love to drive fast always have so it might be fun to soar! Or maybe a Cheetah, isn’t that the one that can run so fast.
What is your favorite food?
Banana Taffy! Cheese cake! And Italian Cream Cake! Oh you said food not dessert—hmmm, that would be lasagna.
Dessert is a food, isn't it? What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Being a really bad typist and a bad speller I had to practice, practice, practice the typing. But of course in the 10 years before I sold I wrote seven books and I did major revisions on three of those books twice so I had plenty of practice. I can type like the wind now. I’m a bit better at spelling, but I thank God always for spell check.
But my biggest roadblock was time, as it is for many, I ran a business, working 12 hour days and still had to take care of my family, so finding the time to write was an issue. But, I was determined so I figured out a schedule and stuck to it. At least five days a week I wrote after putting my sons to bed, from 9:30 pm till 11:30 then I slept, woke up and wrote from 5:30 am, after my husband left for work, until 7:30 when I had to get my two sons up for school and head out the door. I used a laptop and wrote in the drive thru, during breaks, at T-ball games…you name it I was writing. I’ve always said that if I could find time to write anyone can. You just have to find what works for you. Even if its only 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day commit to it and do it. My schedule was very, very hard and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’d say be diligent, but don’t obsess. Find a balance.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
I always say learn all you can. If you have a weaknesses strengthen it but most important of all write. Not only write, but finish the book. It is during the process that you learn to apply what you’ve learned. Then when you finish the first book no matter how wonderful or how horrible, start another and trust that God gave you your talent and desire for a reason. But trust His timing too, it will save your sanity. Like I said above, be diligent in wanting to achieve your goal, but don’t let it take over and shadow the life you have now. Family is the most important thing.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Meeting Her Match was a hard book to write. It is Sheri Marsh’s story and I introduced her in my very first Mule Hollow book The Trouble with Lacy Brown. I learned a valuable lesson when creating secondary characters, give yourself a character you can work with. Sheri Marsh was created as a dry humored side kick to bounce off of Lacy. I never realized how hard it was going to be to crack her open and make a heroine out of her. But I have to say, after a ton of hard work, I really love her story. She is fed up with the matchmakers interfering in her life and is going to turn the tables on the Matchmaking Posse of Mule Hollow. I love that God leads me as I write, and just like our daily walk with Him we don’t always see what He is doing in our lives until after it is done. Well that’s how my writing is. As ornery as Sheri was I couldn’t give her her own story, until I sat down and really let God show me why He’d given her to me in the first place. What I found out is that she had a secret, like most of us she was wearing a mask. I think people will relate to her in the end and get a kick out of her journey.
Yes, I loved Sheri. And I loved the book. Thank you for spending this time with us Debbie.
Readers, go to Debra's web site. You'll want to get a copy of each of these books. Remember that if you leave a comment on the interview, you'll be eligible for a chance to win a free copy of this one.
Also leave comments on the interviews by:
Christy Barritt - Hazardous Duty
Jenny B. Jones - In Between
Cindy Woodsmall - When the Heart Cries