Today I'm pleased to welcome Debra Jayne East to the blog to talk about her inspiration for writing and her book "Radiance: Love After Death". But first, I'd like her to introduce herself ...
My name is Debra Jayne East and I was born the oldest of six girls in Martinsville, Virginia. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to keep journals, write poetry and short stories. I researched my family tree and suddenly, I understood why I was drawn to writing. My distant relative, Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author, born in 1862, who co-wrote a series of novels with her cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Learning about my heritage encouraged me to follow my dreams. After I encountered a near-death experience during a routine surgery, I knew my time had come to follow my heart and realize my calling to be a published writer. My first novel, Radiance: Love after Death, was released by XOXO Publishing.
First, let’s get to know you a little better, Debra. How did you get started writing, and what made you decide to take a shot at getting a story published?
My first love of writing started in my teens. I started jotting down my thoughts in a journal. From there, I progressed to poetry and song writing. Not only did I write songs, but performed them in a singing group with my daughter Misty.
After several years of doing that, I began to write short fiction pieces thinking someday, I would love to do a complete novel. But you know it goes, things get put on a back burner until you get time to do it.
We know what your bio says. Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us.
I have a lot of interest in astronomy and UFO studies on disclosure. I read every book I can get my hands on. Why you might ask? Growing up in Virginia, my family experienced two sightings which are hard to forget to this day. Then, in1987, my parents found strange markings in their back field after a large rash of UFO sightings in the area. Very strange to say the least. It's something that nags you in the back of your mind. What if they’re real? I certainly want to know!
How did it feel to learn you were being published?
I literally jumped for joy. I think I scared my dog out of his wits! I had no doubt when I sent it off that it would only be a matter of time before it would be published. Jack London got turned down hundreds of times before White Fang got accepted. It took about three months until I got the word that XoXo Publishing had said yes to my work. I was one happy lady!
So let’s talk about your novel, “Radiance: Love After Death”. This story just seems so intriguing, tell us about it and where the idea for it started to blossom.
About eight years ago, I had a near-death experience during a routine knee surgery. I realized I may not have tomorrow to accomplish my dream of being a writer. I wasn't sure where to begin though. My idea for Radiance: Love after Death started from finding a crooked heart-shaped stone in the grass. I found it when I was very depressed from going through a divorce. The message it gave me was that no matter what shape your heart is in, that it's still a heart and you can still love. I thought it was a message worthy of being shared with others. So, I incorporated the message into a paranormal romance story.
I have to admit, the cover for “Radiance” I find just stunning. One of my favorites. If you don’t mind me asking, who was the cover artist, and how much did the two of you collaborate on the cover?
Thank you Aaron. I think the cover is amazing as well. Paul Beeley of Create Imaginations worked with me for over two weeks to get it just right. I gave him ideas which he kept tweaking until he came up with the final result. One thing I can say about Paul is he really wants you to be satisfied with his work. I wanted him to portray an idea and his solution of what I wanted was beyond what I expected. You can see his work here: http://create-imaginations.com/
What about being published and the book industry in general has most surprised you?
Well, I think that writing the book is the easy part. Promotion is not easy to learn all at once. There is a huge amount of social venues you have to learn to promote in. Just when you get excited about learning one media site like Twitter or Facebook another one pops up. There are always new things to learn every day. It's never boring at all and I do enjoy learning new things. I never even knew how to type when I first started. I taught myself. You learn to do, what you love doing.
It’s been over a year since “Radiance”. Do you have any upcoming works or even just ideas bouncing around in your head?
I just had a flash fiction piece just published called, "Miracle in the Arizona Desert."
You can read that it here. http://www.postcardshorts.com/read-2013.html#.UbjolNVYzqg.facebook
I also have a novel called Crimson Snow coming out in a couple of months. You can read the first chapter free here: http://debrajayneeast.blogspot.com/2013/01/crimson-snow_14.html
What other things besides writing do you have going on that keep you busy?
When I'm writing, I love to do research for my books. I'll take pictures of old houses, interesting people and watch movies on whtever subject I'm writing on. I enjoy seeing the whole picture come together for my storyline.When I'm doing things just for fun, I have other things I enjoy doing. Photography, volunteering and star-gazing take up quite a bit of time. I also love spending time with my grandchildren.
To close the interview, I have ten questions for you, plus one. Here they go!
- What is your favorite word? Grace. It's a word to live by and hope for. Every day is a gift and grace helps us manage through all the trials and heartaches.
- What is your least favorite word? I would have to say the word don't. Whenever my teacher would ask us to do something and we would say, "I don't know how," she would say knock off the last two letters and start from there and get it done! After a while, we learned not to say it so much.
- What turns you on? Compassion. Show me a guy who loves babies, animals and the less fortunate and I'll show you a very appealing man in my eyes. The other thing is seeing a man in a white shirt and dark jeans. Oh, my!
- What turns you off? People who criticize others less fortunate. Just because others may not have your education, upbringing or success does not mean you are any better than they are.
- What sound or noise do you love? I love the sound of rain. Just give me a rainy night on a tin roof anytime, cause I'll sleep like a log!
- What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of suffering. Whether it's crying from loss or pain or even regret it's all heartbreaking.
- What is your favorite curse word? I make it a point to never curse. My mama raised me better as we say here in the South, lol.
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Photography would be my first pick. I am taking a course right now. There is nothing that inspires me like a sleeping child or pictures of animals or nature.
- What profession would you not like to do? Lawn maintenance. Mowing my yard is not my favorite things to do. Thank goodness my two sons do it for me
- If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God to say when you arrive at the pearly gates? As a firm believer in heaven, I hope He says my name and you are at the right place!
- What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you? It would be this: What writer would you like to meet past or present that you would you like to have lunch with? My answer? Shakesphere would be my choice. He's been a staple of Literature forever. The first time I read Romeo and Juliet, I was mesmerized. Can you imagine your work being on every book shelf and also being taught in college and high school? Can you imagine his face as he says; My books are on what... a kindle? I would love this! We have come a long way since then.
Debra, thanks so much for spending time with us. Can you let us know where to follow you, and where we can go to purchase your work?Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure! My links are below:
Rudy and Trish are the main characters in our two published short stories in the "Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness" anthologies. You can get to know them as well as get 23 other great stories! Here's where you can find them: