Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Some characters have more than others. As writers, we all draw from our experiences, but I honestly think it’s more interesting to make up new experiences for my characters rather than to rely on my own.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Wow, this is a tough one. I guess it would be playing a corpse clawing my way out of a grave at a Young Life haunted house when I was in college. It began to rain and my ghoul makeup ran, and I don’t think even my own mother could have identified me by the end of the night.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I got my first inkling when a high school English teacher liked my short story and wanted me to submit it to the school paper. I didn’t really try to write until many years later when a neighbor asked if I’d ever thought about writing, and I wrote and sold a personal experience story.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Right now I’m reading upmarket fiction, which is a blend of literary and genre fiction, but some of my favorite books are science fiction/fantasy and the classics.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first published book was Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, which came out in June 2008 with Moody and is a 2009 Christy Award finalist. It is the story of a mother who discovers that the child she lost to a terminal illness was actually switched at birth. The first book that I wrote was a Gold Rush romance written during nap times at my home day care. It was sweet escape with characters I loved, and it taught me I could complete a 55k-word novel. My second published book, Raising Rain, is the featured book.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I like to get up early before the craziness begins and sit on my deck with my Bible and watch the hummingbirds and finches. Birdsong is so soothing! It means that the world is still turning like it always has and sort of puts things in perspective.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I try to use names that suggest something about the character. In Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, I used the surname ‘Winslow’ for the mother who was trying to win over her switched-at-birth daughter and ‘Lockhart’ for her daughter who was slow to open up. Sometimes the sound of a name can communicate things about the character. In Raising Rain, I used the short, clipped ‘Jude’ with harsher consonants for the hard mother and ‘Rain’ for the daughter who had a more melancholy quality.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My children are my greatest accomplishment. They are both fine, upstanding young adults and we have a great relationship with them both. We had to wait ten years and endure three miscarriages before we had them, so we feel very grateful.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a cat, by all means. What a life! They look at me with pity each time I leave for work. All their needs are met, and they never have to worry about finding clothes that fit. I would sleep the day away in a mossy garden in a heartbeat.
What is your favorite food?
Maryland crab cakes. I use my mother’s recipe, but I can’t get blue crabs out in California. I substitute whatever crab I can find, as long as it’s real.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
I would suggest to go to as many writing conferences and to read as many ‘how-to’ writing books as possible. Also, meet regularly with other writers for encouragement, and not necessarily for critique. That can come later.
Tell us about the featured book?
The back copy says it best:
Raised to be a "new woman" by her mother and three college roommates in the 70s amid anti-war protests, feminist rallies, and finals, Rain Rasmussen discovers that putting her career first has left her overdrawn at the egg-bank, and her baby fever has now driven off her significant other. When her terminally ill mother demands a Celebration of Life before she dies, they all confront ghosts from the past on a stormy weekend in Monterey. Bebe, the roommate closest to Rain's heart, revisits choices that have impacted Rain the most, raising doubts about God's - and her own - willingness to forgive and to be forgiven.
Please give us the first page of the book.
When Bebe heard that Jude Rasmussen didn’t have long to live, she felt a curious mixture of sadness, guilt and relief. Not exactly normal feelings for a friend of 38 years, though you couldn’t exactly describe their relationship as ‘normal’—more like a thinly veiled hostage situation.
“Her cancer is back,” Rain said, gently swirling her coffee. “She didn’t want sympathy, so she kept it to herself. I haven’t connected with mom in awhile, so it wasn’t hard to keep it a secret. William finally made her tell me.”
Bebe put her hand on Rain’s arm. “I’m sorry, honey. I guess the hysterectomy didn’t help much. What can we do?”
Rain glanced up at the line of people snaking around their small table and leaned in toward Bebe. “Well, actually, she had her reasons for giving in to William and agreeing to tell me. I’m here on a mission.” She winced.
Bebe leaned in as well. “Go ahead. Out with it.”
A very nice hook to the end of that page. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is http://www.debbiefullerthomas.com/ . I also blog with five fabulous authors at http://www.novelmatters.blogspot.com/ . We would love to hear from writers and readers.
Thank you, Debbie, for spending this time with us.
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