Name: Debra R. Borys
Where are you from: LaSalle Illinois in the U.S.
A little about yourself `ie your education family life etc.
I just moved back to the small town I was raised in after over fifteen years of living in Chicago and Seattle. I miss the bustle and opportunities the big city has to offer, but since I couldn’t convince my family to move to me, I came back to them. I have two sons, one of whom just got married. They had the ceremony in Greece where his wife’s family is from so I was able to visit that wonderful country with my mother, sister and both sons. I recently took a part-time job at a library because, you know, what better job could a writer have than either a library or a bookstore?
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m excited to announce that my third Street Stories suspense novel, Box of Rain, will be released as an ebook on December 15. Right now, in fact, it is available to pre-order on Amazon.com. I expect the print version to be available by spring of 2015. The series is about throw-away kids striving to survive on the streets of Chicago, and a reporter who is the only one willing to help them when they get in a jam. Box of Rain is the story of two cousins who grew up in pretty much the same circumstances, but one turns to violence to try to rise up from the ghetto and the other chooses education. When one of them finds a decapitated corpse in an alley dumpster, reporter Jo Sullivan steps in to try to find out why all the evidence seems to point to the kid least likely to have committed the crime.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I was an adolescent, but never tried to get anything published until I was a young married woman. Books were magical to me growing up, showing me worlds that I wanted to be a part of. Since that wasn’t realistically possible, I started creating my own worlds instead so that, for the time I was imagining and writing, I could be a resident in the stories I created.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I distinctly remember going to get a library card in the town I moved to after getting married. I had almost finished writing my first “serious” novel, which I felt sounded so good that I had started researching agents and publishers to send it to when I was finished. On the library card application, it asked me my profession. I wrote “author” and it felt like I was making a commitment which would form my life from the day forward, which it did.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was a big fan of mystery/suspense growing up, and so my very first novel (the one mentioned above) was actually inspired by one of my favorite authors at the time, Mary Stewart. Of course, if was actually a very bad imitation of her type of storyline as well, but it was a start. However, by the time I wrote my first Street Stories novel, Painted Black, I had developed my own style and refined my interests. The inspiration for that book was a bizarre newspaper article in the Chicago Tribune about someone wanting to freeze dry crosses, combined with the volunteer work I was doing with homeless youth and adults.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My Street Stories novels are very dark and gritty, like the streets my characters live on. I tried to make it true to what life in Chicago feels like to these kids. A new book I am working on, though, will have a humorous, lighter style since it takes place in the country and will be a cozy mystery series.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Each book in the Street Stories series is based on a rock and roll song title from the era of my protagonist’s father. An underlying theme to the books is Jo Sullivan learning to deal with doubts about dark happenings from her father’s past.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess the message would be that homeless people aren’t that much different from anyone else. If you take the time to get to know them and listen to their stories, you will find that most of them aren’t any more scary, lazy or dangerous than your friends, family and neighbors. They are just less fortunate.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I try to make the life of these kids extremely realistic. I volunteered on the streets of Chicago and Seattle for many years and use that to create characters and situations very similar to many that I encountered in real life. The mystery/suspense storyline is perhaps less realistic sounding, since they are rather bizarre, but I actually pull the seed of the plot from real life news stories and them extrapolate from there.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I do include similar scenes or composite characters to those I encountered while volunteering with the homeless. Attitudes expressed by the characters often reflect my own opinions, too, except that they are fine tuned to correspond to the character’s personality and the fictional situation.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m juggling promotion for the release of Box of Rain with working on the first book of what I hope will be a new series. My publisher, New Libri Press, is a small company, so much of the promotion falls to their authors, so I’m eagerly contacting reviewers and websites and blogs looking for people who are able to help me spread the word.
My Street Stories books are a realistic, gritty look at street life in Chicago, with an added twist of a bizarre suspense storyline or two. The new series will be more of a cozy mystery genre that takes place on an art colony/working farm in the Midwest U.S. The first book is titled “A Bull by the Horns” To avoid confusion, I am writing the new book under my maiden name, Deb Donahue.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Mr. Rogers, my drama teacher in high school, encouraged me to follow my dream when I approached him after graduation shyly admitting I dreamed of someday being a published author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Very much so. In fact, when I started work on my second novel I left my full time job in order to meet my goal of releasing one book a year. I still did contract and freelance work to help pay the bills, and recently took on a part time job at my local library, but writing is very much my focus and passion.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I wasn’t entirely in love with the cover art we did for Bend Me, Shape Me and while it received excellent reviews on the writing, there were others who commented on how it was less than pleasing. My publisher was able to change the cover image for the ebook, however, which I like much better. Which is why the image I’m sending for your readers is that version. 😀
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Reading is what make me want to be a writer. I loved immersing myself in the worlds created in my favorite books and longed to create my own worlds for myself and others to enjoy.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From Chapter 1 of Box of Rain
He stood frozen for a long time, listening to the hiss of cars passing along the rain-wet street. Rain dripped on the back of his neck, making him squirm. It wasn’t until he heard an angry shout somewhere far off and the slam of a distant door that he moved into action. He jumped completely into the dumpster this time, managing to stay upright among the mounds of trash. To hell with his clothes. They were ruined already anyway. At least the half of the lid that was still closed kept most of the rain off him.
The watch wasn’t hard to find again. The severed limb—real, no denying it this time, this was somebody’s real fricking arm—had been cut off just below the elbow. He shuddered as he pulled the watch off over the bloody stump and dropped the body part with a thud. Shoving the prize into his pocket, he swallowed hard, trying to keep down the bile that kept rising in his throat. Once his nausea was under control, he started searching for his wallet.
Refuse from the broken bag, the one the arm had been in, lay strewn across the top of the rest. It was impossible to tell which bag was the one he’d dropped in there so he grabbed the closest one and untied that first. Nothing. The next one was too light to be Mrs. C’s so he just shoved that aside.
When he found one with the right weight, he reached with both hands and yanked as hard as he could. The bag slid free, dislodging some of the loose rubbish that had been piled on top of it. Banana peels, empty cans, and coffee grounds spilled on his shoes, along with something round and heavy that landed on his toe with a crushing blow.
Booker looked down, straight into the bulging eyes of a severed head smiling at him with a familiar grin, one gold earring half torn from the lobe.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My books are character driven, which means these fictional creatures of mine always want to run off with my plot ideas and take them somewhere I didn’t expect them to go. I’ve gotten better at anticipating this, however, and have developed methods to set up ahead of time a loosely defined path that allows lots of room for exciting side trips and yet still end up at the proper destination in the end.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Dorothy Dunnet always comes to mind when asked this question. I love her historical novels the most, which is very different from the suspense genre I write and usually read, but her ability to create worlds and characters that pull at your heart is exactly what I want to in my own writing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For the first two books, the covers were a collaborative effort between myself and my publisher, but for Box of Rain, I hired the talented Annie Walls to work with me, and I am so glad I did.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I always seem to get stuck about halfway or two-thirds of the way in. That’s usually because the aforementioned unruly characters have thrown me a curve ball and I have to decide whether to rein them back in or find a way to make the new direction fit into my original plan.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I write my Street Stories novels because I love a good story and hope my readers will enjoy mine. But I specifically chose to write about homeless kids living on the streets of Chicago because I’m hoping after readers have been swept up in solving the riddle and biting their nails, they will find themselves looking at that homeless person on the street corner with new eyes. They are really not so different from everyone else; 97 times out of a 100 if you treat them with respect, they will do the same to you, regardless of their circumstances.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Order/buying link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OTZL3FS
Publication Date: December 15, 2014