Behind the Book #2: An interview with Debra J Smith

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And we’re back with another installment of Behind the Book!

So let’s drop whatever that voice was that I just used, and get right into it! This week we’re with the wonderfully enthusiastic, and ever hilarious, Debra J Smith!

In contrast to the last Behind the Book with Robin, writing has always been a vital part of Debra’s life. A “sixth-grade class assignment is where I found my love for writing,” stated Smith. Writing notes that were practically novellas, writing became one of those things that was always present in Debra’s life. But not exactly serious.

She didn’t realize that this is what she wanted to pursue as a career, as a passion, as a dream until she was a mother. “I started altering story-lines for my daughter, which naturally evolved into my telling original stories to her, then to her classmates. That’s when I started writing down the stories that were popping into my head,” Debra explained. And from there, the small hobby blossomed into a love. A small glint of a dream now coming into full fruition.

Small stories told to her daughter have now lead her into the world of writing. Her favorite genre to write in? “That’s a no-brainer — science fiction, but specifically fantasy.” Coinciding with her love of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, Smith’s creation she is most proud of is her Secrets Beyond Scymaria fantasy series.

“It is the largest body of work I’ve done to date—and is not finished,” Smith exclaimed. “My little short stories and storytelling are fun to write, but Scymaria has been challenging and a delight to write. It is in this story-line that I’ve learned that my characters really are in control of the story, that I’m just along for the ride—as surprised as any reader when I see where they are taking me.”

And it is this that has shocked Debra most in her writing, ever more prevalent in her Scymaria series.

“I started my story-line with my characters at about age nine. Suddenly, I noticed the characters were not ‘acting their age’ so I re-wrote the section to fit my specs. Then, I found that as I wrote a scene, the way I’d planned it to go, the characters ended up going another direction. I diverted their story back to my idea only to find them heading back in their direction. Thankfully, it only took a few chapters of this for me to realize I was not the one in control—what other authors had been saying was really true.” And from there, she let both her mind and her characters take off.

She also stressed how much her faith has played a part into her writing. “I’ve always felt that God was involved in my writing … and specifically in this creative disagreement—I just didn’t realize how much until that moment.” So with an understanding of how her creations act, and a strong faith to back it all and keep her going, her writing career only seems to be going up.

But, that’s not to say she hasn’t faced her fair share of struggles. Smith elaborated, “this last year has had many trials that have taken me away from my writing—putting a solid wedge between creativity and me. My inner creative voice was silenced for what felt like an eternity due to a few health issues.” She continued, “Part of the struggle was acknowledging that my first publisher was doing nothing for me, so I finally withdrew my first two books from their publishing company.”

But today? She is in good health, has found an infinitely helpful publisher, and plans to continue writing after reworking and editing a couple of her first novels for her new publisher, InknBeans. “My publisher is being very patient with all of these delays,
which helps tremendously,” Debra was sure to say.

After getting these somewhat time-consuming delays completed, Debra plans to continue her fantasy series, as well as go back and transfer some of her old children’s stories from tape to type. “After that, I’m not sure. I guess it depends on where my Writerly Muse takes me,” she stated.

Writing has, “allowed me to meet many people I would not otherwise meet. It gets me out of my shell—I’m an extroverted introvert … or should that be introverted extrovert? I’m not sure. It has required me to be a little organized. It has validated my creativity—things that I write are actually enjoyed by others—and has kept me wanting to write,” Debra elaborated.

For any aspiring writer out there, Debra finished up with some advice; “Don’t stop. Don’t. Stop. Keep reading. Keep writing. Blog. Journal. Anything to keep the Writerly Muse active. Enjoy the process. It’s okay to listen to the critics, but take what they say with a grain of salt and write what your heart and soul needs to say. Breaking the rules isn’t going to kill you. It may actually enliven your writing. Do not edit whilst writing. Turn off the editor in your brain. You can turn it back on once you enter edit mode—after you’ve written ‘the end’ to your story. And, don’t forget … you can always edit later.”

Thanks for reading into the second edition of Behind the Book! And be sure to check out Debra at any of the following links!

SquareMarket: djamesonsmith

Facebook: Smith-Author-616521771733826/

Inknbeans Press: smith.html



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