Today’s interview is with Deborah Woehr, the author of Prosperity.
Thank you for your time, Deborah. Tell us a bit about your writing background.
I’ve always kept a journal of some sorts since I was eleven, but I didn’t start writing fiction until after I turned 30. Since then, I’ve had one short story published and self-published three books, one of which was an anthology by various bloggers.
Was there a moment in your life that clearly sparked your desire to write?
There were two moments, actually. I tried to write my first story when I was 16, but couldn’t get past my intimidation over the blank page. So, I kept writing in my journals until I turned 30. I had lost my younger brother that year and was having a difficult time coping. My grandmother, who had been writing children’s stories for years, gave me a book entitled, What If?. The book contained a bunch of exercises. I maybe completed one of them before I started writing on my own.
Please accept my condolences. I will have to keep a look out for that book as it sounds interesting. Please tell us about your latest publication?
I published Prosperity in January 2008, a ghost story I had been working on for 10 years. It’s about a clairvoyant woman who must solve the mystery behind the haunting of a small town, while battling her own ghosts.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading Prosperity. What project are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a sequel, called Shades of Evil. In this story, Amanda must find out what happened to her estranged father in order to help find her missing brother.
It sounds like an interesting story. Is your life reflected in the stories you write?
Yes, although I make my characters’ experiences much worse than my own.
Good. I like to hear that! Where do you get inspiration for your stories and characters?
With Prosperity, I recalled a story about a lynching that occurred in San Jose sometime in the early 1930s. I first heard about it from my eighth grade science teacher, who told the class about how the citizens could smell the sweet stench of burning flesh for at least a mile. That story obviously made quite an impression with me because it stuck. I had several false starts with Prosperity and didn’t come up with the lynching idea until the seventh or eighth draft.
Do you know how the story will end when you first start writing it?
I usually have a general idea, but have come to accept that it might change, depending on how the middle progresses.
Do you work on more than one story at a time? If so, how do you manage it?
I usually work on one story at a time, unless I have a complicated character that needs a solid back story. That was how God’s Last Twilight was conceived.
How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
It’s hard sometimes, because I’m obsessed with writing. I could spend all day in front of the computer, if I didn’t have a family and a job. I write for at least an hour every day. My writing sessions don’t always involve my books. I also write articles, when I can think of a solid idea for one.
I’ve read many of your articles and know you put a lot of thought into them. They are always interesting to read. What advice would you give to a newcomer to writing?
Get a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, a good dictionary and thesaurus, the Strunk & White style guide, and The Chicago Manual of Style. I have two shelves of how-to books on writing, but these are essential for every writer. Make a point to write everyday, so that you can strengthen your skills and develop your own unique voice. Don’t rely on family, friends or writer’s forum buddies for feedback on your work. Your best bet is to start a blog and write short stories and/or articles in order to give readers a sample of your work. Be sure to engage your readers in conversation so that they will get to know you.
That’s excellent advice. Now, here’s a question that always intrigues me, who is the person behind the writer? What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m a wife, mother, Internet junkie and aspiring graphic designer. When I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with my kids, watching TV with my husband, or trolling the Internet for various information or artistic inspiration.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Why?
Yes. I believe it comes from either lack of self-confidence or stress.
What are your writing goals for the future?
My first goal is to publish Shades of Evil by next year. Then I would like to explore different avenues of writing, such as copywriting.
I wish you the best of luck with your next publication. Do you have anything else you would like to mention?
I think that’s it. Thank you for interviewing me, Karen. It was a pleasure.
Thank you. It’s been wonderful getting to know you a bit better.
If you would like to find out more about Deborah or her books, please visit her website – Deborah Woehr.