Name Debra Shiveley Welch
Where are you from?
Born in Columbus Ohio, lived in Westerville, Ohio for 30 years
A little about yourself, your education Family life etc.
I live with my husband of 28 years, Mark, and my 23-year-old son Christopher. Christopher is adopted and was born with cleft lip and palate, and so I advocate for the adoption of special needs children. Christopher has brought me and his father more joy than we ever thought possible on this earthly plane.
I have a degree in Business Management, but have always wanted to write. Therefore, I got all of my prerequisites out of the way and then “pigged out” on the courses I really wanted to study: writing, literature, psychology and the classics. I had a blast.
I am at least third generation poet, probably more generations than that, considering that I am a descendant of the Tudors and they were prolific poets, especially Henry VIII, who was both poet and song writer. To this day we sing some of his songs, such as “Green Sleeves,” which is also the melody to “What Child Is This?”
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m having a Country Gospel song recorded, I have a new Blogtalk radio show called Debra’s Round Table, and have recently been nominated to be commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I had to. From my earliest days I have wanted to write. I think, no I know it’s in my blood, as relatives on both sides of my family have been authors and poets.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Always: I’ve always considered myself so.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My son. I was sitting in the van, waiting to pick him up from pre-school, when a story, which I named A Very Special Child, came to me in its entirety. It explains adoption to a child in spiritual terms, yet is non-denominational. God is represented as various forms of light. Imagine my joy when it was accepted by the first publishing house I sent it to.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I play movies in my head, complete with sound, color, taste, smell, touch – and just write what I see in my mind’s eye. I have been called a word master, which makes me feel very happy that someone would call me such.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
A book names itself. You begin to write, and the next thing you know, it has a title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Depending on the novel. If I may:
A Very Special Child – adoption is a spiritual experience, one in which the birth, or first mother, should be acknowledged and honored. A child is of the universe, of God, and encompasses all of the qualities any child would have, whether a parent gives birth or no.
Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher – The cycle of abuse can be broken! Take your experiences, turn them around, and there are you models for raising a child. A child does not have to be from your body for you to love him or her.
One of the stories I recounted was when a mother came to me and told me that she could probably not get pregnant again. She and her husband wanted more children, and he had brought up the subject of adoption. She said to me, “I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to love a child that isn’t mine.” My answer to her was, “Then I feel very sorry for your husband. He didn’t carry your child; he didn’t feel her kick in his womb; he didn’t go through the pangs of birth, therefore, she must not seem like his own.” She got it.
Cedar Woman – Mitakuye Oyasin – we are all related.
Spirit Woman – I am working on this sequel to Cedar Woman now. This book will address domestic abuse, not just in the American Indian community, but throughout our society.
Christopher Meets Buddy – A children’s book about how to correctly raise a pet parrot.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
All of my books are semi-biographical, yet most are fiction.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Absolutely! For instance, in Cedar Woman, the restaurant she finds existed, she lives in the homes I lived in. The farm in the beginning of the book is my family’s ancestral farm. Her son is a combination of my son and my Lakota sister’s son Logan. The story of the hummingbird was told to me by a friend, as is the scene with Happy, a Dalmatian. I always draw from real life so that my writing is true.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Above all Taylor Caldwell has been my greatest influence. Since her passing in 1985, I have enjoyed Barbara Taylor Bradford, Colleen McCullough, James E. Michener, Stephen King – yes, him too, Greeley, and many more. However, you can clearly see Taylor Caldwell in the structure of my writing. She was my childhood idol.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Reaper series by Jerrid Edgington. He has also been kind enough to accept me as an editor. His books are amazing, very true-to-life, and are all based around a paramedic who is Racing the Reaper.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I certainly enjoy the classics: Dickens, Keats, Longfellow, Bronte, Austen
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Spirit Woman, the sequel to Cedar Woman, Swinging Bridge, an anthology of my poetry and short stories, Memories of an Old Farmhouse, a micro-memoir, Heads Are Gonna Roll, a murder mystery, which weaves reincarnation, revenge and murder into what I hope is an exciting read, and Christopher’s Family Table, a cookbook of family favorites.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My sister, Julie Spotted Eagle Horse Martineau
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It already is. I’ve been very fortunate.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I wouldn’t. It took over two years to write with intensive work between my sister and myself to make sure that it was as authentic as possible, down to the Lakota language.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It was an itch from my earliest years.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Spirit Woman is Lena Cedar Woman Young Bear Glass’ best friend. Comanche and Irish by birth, Nickie Bahiti (buy-a-tie – Ghost or Spirit) Greene was raised without a sense of identity in either of her ethnic backgrounds. Her lack of self-worth and confusion sets her feet upon a path many unwittingly take – the road to abuse. She is saved by an ancestor, who uses a very special entity to rescue Nickie.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
That is hard to answer. It is so much fun and I enjoy it tremendously, so my first impulse is to say no, I don’t. However, I think that every author should challenge themselves to make sure that their work is as flawless as possible in content, transitions, spelling, punctuation, grammar and continuity. So, that is a challenge. It’s hard to edit your own work: almost impossible to not miss mistakes. Therein likes another challenge: finding a good editor.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My all-time favorite is James E. Michener. His work is impeccable and he really digs down to enrich his stories. He is perhaps the only author who was never edited: his mechanics in writing are flawless.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do travel to powwow. A percentage of Cedar Woman goes to the St. Joseph Indian School, so I go, see my sister in Iowa, have some fun, but also autograph books and raise some money for the school.
I also take Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher. A percentage of those proceeds goes to Operation Smile.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
In some cases me, and in some my publisher. For instance, she designed and illustrated the cover for the paperback for Cedar Woman, and I designed and illustrated the eBook cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It depends on the book. With Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, it was reliving my childhood and having to put it down. It really tore me up, but was also cathartic in its way. In Cedar Woman, it was the research as it includes the Lakota language, customs, believes, ceremonies, dance, music…..even the food.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I can do it!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Edit, edit, edit and then, edit. Don’t send your baby into the world all smudged and dirty with bad punctuation, misused words, misspellings, etc. Clean your book up for a party and only then, send it off to the prom.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Wopila Tanka – much thanks
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I was very little, and if I recall, it was a beautiful, pink book of fairytales. I mean, the book was pink, and I loved it because it was my favorite color at that time. Also, even then, I enjoyed good artwork: the illustrations. My father was an artist, so perhaps I got that from him.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh quite easily. I see so much in this world that is amazing and fun. Billy Crystal never fails me, as well as many other comedians. I don’t like laughing at people, though, unless it is their intent to make me laugh. One of my current favorites is Rodman from Last Comic Standing. He won in 2014.
Sometimes I cry during the news. Bagpipes will get me every time, as well as seeing someone triumph. A beautiful dance on So You Think You Can Dance can get the waterworks flowing, as well as something beautiful in nature that I come across by surprise. I remember, once at the Ohio State Fair, I saw a calf born. I leaned against the fence, watching, and the tears just streamed. It was beautiful!
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet, and why?
I think it would be exciting to spend a day with Rachael Ray. She’s a woman who has made it out of sheer talent, she’s reportedly a very nice person, and I think it would be fun! Besides, she has a dog and I need some dog around me soon. Mine has been gone for two years.
I wish that I could have met Maya Angelou. I would have just sat and let her talk, sitting at her feet, so to speak.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I’ve already planned it out and informed my son. I almost died in October of 2012, in fact, the doctors told my husband to begin arrangements. (They didn’t know me, that’s for sure!)
Debra Shiveley Welch
Wife, Mother, Author
And then I want the last stanza of a poem I wrote many years ago:
My journey’s done,
Now I may rest,
And lay me down
Where I love it best.
(©1978 – From “Promised Land” Debra Poesies)
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love to cook, especially with my son. I go on line and read. Before the internet, I was one of those people who read encyclopedias and medical dictionaries. I love old movies, and I really get a kick out of helping other authors. I also have a radio show, which I enjoy very much. Two of my guest have been Christopher Thames, Winner of Season 9 Episode 8 of Chopped, and The Scary Guy – look him up, you’ll be amazed.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I very much enjoy Bones, Sleepy Hollow, Master Chef, Master Chef Junior, and other cooking reality shows. I also enjoy America’s Got Talent, the afore-mentioned So You Think You Can Dance, and Alton Brown! I really like Alton Brown.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Tagliatelle with gorgonzola sauce, snow crab legs, corn on the cob, tomatoes, beans…I’m hungry now.
Favorite color is green, and my favorite music is pretty much across the board.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have liked to be in research in the discipline of hematology.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Winner of Books&Authors Best Native American Fiction
Winner of FaithWriter’s Gold Seal of Approval – Outstanding Read, Books&Authors Excellence in Literature, AllBooksReview’s Editor’s Choice Award and Book&Authors Best Non-Fiction
Written at age 15, this is my son’s companion book to my memoir. He talks about being adopted, growing up with a craniofacial anomaly and learning disabilities and differences.
Second in the Christopher Series. I took over the series as my son wants to concentrate on his photography.
Winner of Faithwriter’s Gold Seal of Approval – Outstanding Read
My son’s book, written at age 11 and the first of the Christopher Series
Aibhlinn has come to Lena in her dreams, her red hair billowing in a violent wind,
pleading for the protection of her child.
Micael, Rosalie’s spirit guide and Whisper, has warned of impending danger.
Nickie has finally found her true love, but does he hide a secret?
Spirit Woman, coming soon.