Name: Deborah Leigh
Age: 40…plus 6 years’ experience (tee hee)
Where are you from? Johannesburg, South Africa
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m releasing my first novel called Firebird on the 4th of January 2017. It was a labor of love for me and it was a very emotional experience writing it. It’s a story about surviving against all odds and finding the strength to love again, even after the worst possible thing happens.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was one of those weird children that preferred to live in her own mind rather than the real world. The real world is sometimes too harsh to live in. I loved Creative Writing in school and would write poetry and short stories I kept to myself from about 9 years of age.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first article got published in a magazine. But being an author hasn’t hit me yet!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading my first addictive series. I finished it in less than a week and immediately started writing. But I was writing a book I had no emotional attachment to, and even though I finished writing it, I don’t think I’ll ever publish it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
No, I plan some parts of it, but I basically wing it. Some scenes come to me as I’m writing and while I edit, I sometimes delete whole scenes, but it’s all part of the process. With Firebird it was a scene I kept seeing in my mind’s eye and I couldn’t let it go until I wrote it. After I wrote that scene, I started fleshing out the chapter and then the rest of the book just happened.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Firebird is another name for a Phoenix, and the heroine of this book rises from the ashes like a phoenix to start her life anew.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, I want all survivors of abuse of any kind to find hope in my book. There is life after rape, after abuse, after trauma, and we just have to fight a little harder for it.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are some parts that are based on experiences in my own life. There are also scenes I have read about and heard about from the people who experienced it. I also spoke to a sex therapist and a specialist in PTSD about the recovery scenes and the emotional episodes my protagonist goes through. So there is nothing in this book that is fantasy. It is a work of fiction, but based on real stories and real survivors.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Every book I read influences me, either in a good way or a bad way. I’ve read some “Classics” that have left me cold and some so-called “Trash” that affected me deeply and touched my heart. To me, a good book has to touch your soul. If it doesn’t stick with you afterwards, it wasn’t good.
One of my favorite authors is Raine Thomas, even though she writes mostly NA. I love her style of writing and her characters are always incredible. I’ve also had the awesome pleasure of getting to know her and have become friends with her. Without her, I don’t think I would have gotten to this point.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Ohhhh that is an evil question. There are so many awesome writers who I admire greatly. Ruth Clampett, Daisy Prescott, E L James, Amanda Jason, and soooo many others. I read a lot, so this question is very difficult to answer completely. Like I said in the previous question, if a book touches my soul and sticks with me for a while afterwards then it’s a good book. If you get to the last couple of pages and you don’t want to finish it, then it’s a winner.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Raine Thomas nagged, helped, and pushed me until I got this book ready for publishing. She never stopped believing in me. Then Carol Kohnert Kunz was just there encouraging me whenever I was battling.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
My career is caring for my almost nine-year-old Angelbaby, Hannah-Rose. She’s a special needs child and fills my life with love and joy. But writing is my passion. I feel alive and vibrant when I write.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It took a long time to get it where I was happy with it, but now I wouldn’t change a thing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Like I said before, life isn’t always sunshine and roses and I found my escape in writing. The world in words is much gentler than reality sometimes.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
How about the Blurb:
When the worst thing imaginable happens to Mary Dougal, her physical body might have survived but her soul feels like it has died. Now the only thing getting her up every morning is the thought of revenge. Making her attackers pay will be the final act in her life.
Feeling like half a man after a tragic accident, former soldier Cain “Ace” Turner has given up on even the idea of love. He’s focused on building his construction business and trying to leave his painful past behind him. With his family’s support and sometimes unwelcome meddling, he tries to just live one day at a time.
Of course love doesn’t give up that easily, and it just might be the only thing to save them both. When these two meet and get surprised by possibilities, can they prove together that love truly conquers all?
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes. I’m really bad at editing. I’m working on it, but it is definitely a BIG challenge.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, not yet…but who knows?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I bought my cover from a website called www.GoOnWrite.com. They have premade covers that they customize for a price. I found the perfect cover and I’m very happy with it.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The emotional scenes were brutal and I had to stop to cry it out a couple of times. Then, of course, as I said before, I battle with editing.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Write from your heart. Don’t write what you think will sell or what you know people will like. Don’t be scared to be vulnerable in your writing.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I haven’t even thought about that. I have pictures for inspiration on every one of the characters in the book, even the small parts, but for now it’s just that.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, write what you feel. If others love it then that’s awesome, but if they don’t, at least you wrote what you wanted to.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Don’t be put off by the trigger warning and the fact that it has dark scenes. Firebird is a book about survival and finding joy after trauma.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am extremely lucky to have just finished a yet-to-be published book by Raine Thomas called Imperfect Harmony., Look out for it soon.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I used to go to the library as often as I could as a child, but my first adult book I read at about 9 years old. It was a paperback called Purdy that a television series was based on. I felt so grown up when I finished it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I try and find humor in everything, even though that can be hard sometimes. My daughter makes me laugh every day and I find I have a rather dark sense of humor. Maybe I’m a little twisted. Hurt makes me cry. Anybody hurting just makes me bawl my eyes out. Hate, prejudice, abuse, cruelty and persecution are all things I battle with. I must confess to crying at the drop of a hat. Then, of course, there is the happy cry. That I do frequently too. When my baby reaches a milestone we didn’t expect, I cry like a baby. When someone overcomes something awful and they’re happy now, I cry. I’m a very emotional person.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would have loved to have met Nelson Mandela. His wisdom and forgiving heart must have been incredible to experience. Terry Pratchett as an author because his work was so unique. I would have loved to get inside his mind for a while.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“She Lived.” There are a lot of people who exist but never truly live, and that is what I wish for… that at the end of my life, I can say I lived.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love to read and I do so at every opportunity. When I have time, I also like to create. I crotchet, knit, and cross-stitch embroider quite well, and I’ve also sewn a couple of items I can be proud of, but my life is rather hectic at the moment so I don’t get much chance to do that.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Ohhhh it really depends on my mood. I haven’t been in a cinema in a long time, but I love many genres. Fantasy, SciFi, romance, drama, thrillers. But I don’t like horrors because I have nightmares for weeks. I love the investigative series like Bones and CSI, but then I also like Dr. Who and any good comedy series.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is comfort food and chocolate! My color is whatever my mood is that day. Today it is aqua. And I love most music. If it touches my heart, it’s a hit in my book.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Rock star or maybe a designer. I love drumming, so I would probably have gone that way.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
No, but I’m working on one! In the mean time you can follow my author Facebook page Deborah Leigh Author