Interview with Deborah Burnside

23319229_10155727922650102_7205406075011842319_nI’ve had the pleasure of speaking with author Deborah Burnside. Below are her thoughts on writing and being an author.

  • What genres do your writings fall under? Primarily Christian romantic suspense
  • What age group? Mostly New Adult, with an occasional side trip into Young Adult
  • When and why did you start writing? Since I was a little kid – it soothes me.
  • What other goals do you have for yourself? At the moment, to complete my trilogy.
  • How do they fit with your writing? Perfectly, since it involves more and regular writing.
  • What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? Reading, of course, and animal rescue
  • What do you hope readers take away from your writing? Is there a particular theme in your work? Does your work have a moral? “God never abandons us, even when it feels like He has. When life kicks us around, He’s still with us, right in the middle of whatever we’re going through.”
  • Which of your characters is your favorite and why? Jason Hancock, the 3-year-old in Prodigal Hearts. He’s not a major character by any means, but he was so much fun to write! I modeled him after a little boy at a daycare center I once worked at. Or Connie Sherman, the 15-year-old in A Cousin Scorned. She’s me, at that age.
  •  Which of your characters is your least favorite and why? Jennifer Reid, in Prodigal Hearts. She’s not necessarily my least favorite, but definitely the least likeable. Or Bobby Jensen, in A Cousin Scorned. He’s a slimeball.
  • What genre is your favorite to read? Mystery/romance. I especially love anything written by J.A. Jance. She’s the woman!
  • If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? I wouldn’t change a thing about Prodigal Hearts. I published that one with Westbow Press, which I realize some regard as a vanity publisher. They’re really more of a hybrid. Yes, it was expensive, but it was well worth the finished product. They did a beautiful job.
  • How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? I’ve used a variety of avenues: Press releases to local media outlets, though I will admit those have not generated any response. I managed to secure a couple of book signings, with several more looming in the near future. I’ve done carousel ads (designed by Westbow) on Facebook, as well as boosting specific posts and things of that nature.
  • Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published? No, but I did write a TV movie script in the early 70’s, that was ultimately rejected by Mr. Aaron Spelling himself. He wrote me a real nice personal letter, and I still have it in my files…somewhere.
  • Can you tell us about your upcoming book? I have two WIP’s. The working title of one is “Wolfsong.” It tells the story of a young Native American woman, Liberty (Libby) Rose Runningwolf, who rescues wolves and wolf hybrids – which earns her the ire of a group of ranchers. The working title of the other one is “Wednesday’s Child.” When completed, that one will be Book #2 in my Sisters in Christ trilogy. Though we get to see most of the characters from Prodigal Heart, the emphasis is on Rebekkah Merek, owner of the retro-60’s diner, The Green Onion.
  • Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? It’s always a combination of the two. I like to address real-life issues, so I combine imagination with things I’ve had to endure – changing names to protect the guilty, of course – and weave them together into a work of believable fiction. For instance, in A Cousin Scorned, the legend of Giant Rock airport is real, as are the abandoned buildings there. Everything else is completely fictional. In Prodigal Hearts, the locations really exist, and some of the plot twists are taken either from my life or the lives of friends.
  • What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? It’s more of a favorite event, as it spans three chapters of Prodigal Hearts. I destroy the city of Long Beach, California with a major earthquake, setting forth that event in multiple viewpoints – Stephanie Williams, Sam Kendrick, and Jennifer Reid. It took me a long time to write that part, not because of lack of knowledge about earthquakes, but because I’ve been through several major quakes and I wanted to make sure I did justice to it. First time flashbacks have ever made writing a scene difficult.
  • How did you come up with the title? Prodigal Hearts was originally titled A Second Chance. The editor I was working with at Westbow googled the titled and said he found “a million works with that title” and I should change it. I drew a blank on a replacement, and posed a question to one of the writer’s groups I’m in. One of the guys came up with Prodigal Hearts. I liked it, and so did my editor.
  • What project are you working on now? Again, I have two WIP’s. I’m focusing all my energy on Wednesday’s Child. Wolfsong will have to wait.
  • Will you have a new book coming out soon? I’m hoping to have Wednesday’s Child complete by the end of June, and in print with Westbow by the end of this year. When I get around to completing Wolfsong, I’ll publish that one on CreateSpace, the same as I did for A Cousin Scorned. So that one may actually go live in December, the same time as Wednesday’s Child.
  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? Both came from the same source – the judge who read Prodigal Hearts for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published competition. On the positive side, he loved the storyline and complimented me on the complexity of the characters and my willingness to tackle difficult issues. On the not-so-positive side, he wasn’t wild about the multiple (3) viewpoints. Stephanie and Sam, he understood – they’re the MC’s so it stands to reason the reader wants to know their thoughts. He felt I should have excluded the scenes from Jennifer’s perspective – he didn’t like her as a person, and he wasn’t interested in “getting into her head.” All in all, though, he thought it was a great read and said he hopes to see more.
  • Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? If you’re serious about your writing, make it a priority in your life. You don’t have to churn out a chapter a day, but write something. Every day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help/advice/criticism from people who have been on the publishing journey. If somebody totally disses your work, try to realize they don’t mean it as a personal insult. We’re all here to help each other along.
  • Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? If there’s a secondary character in any of my works you’d like to see more of, by all means let me know!
  • Do you also work a day job? How does it inspire your writing? I am gloriously retired.
  • If you could visit any time period, which one would it be? Toss-up between the Victorian era and the Old West.
  • If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Two places: Mt. St. Helens, because that’s my happy place. And Scotland, because that’s where my ancestors on my father’s side were from.
  • Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience? I’ve never been out of the country, but I’ve moved from southern California to southern Oregon, and now to northern California. I’ve spent extensive amounts of time in southern Washington – home of my happy place.
  • Do you prefer comfortable clothes or dressing nicely? I was a classy dresser during my career as a secretary/receptionist. Now I prefer comfy over class, and it’s not unheard of for me to stay in my jammies all day long if there aren’t any errands I need to run.
  • If you could visit any cartoon world, which one would it be? Tom & Jerry. They rock.
  • If you could visit any fictional world, which one would it be? Forks, Washington. Yes, I admit it. I’m a Twilight fan.
  • If you were suddenly tossed into your favorite TV show, what would you change in that world? The Curse of Oak Island. I’d make sure the treasure was found. Sooner, rather than later.
  • What’s your favorite comfort food? Pepperoni pizza.
  • If there was one food you could get rid of, which one would it be? Pickles. Pickles are the devil.
  • Who’s your favorite superhero? Wonder Woman. The new one, with the Israeli actress. I wanna be her!
  • What’s your favorite holiday? Toss-up between Christmas and Easter.
  • Why is that one special to you? Christmas because it’s the birth of Jesus, and everybody gets the feels for family and friends. Easter because it’s both a remembrance of the death of Jesus, and His resurrection three days later.
  • What’s one tradition you can’t imagine doing without? Christmas Eve dinner with the family.
  • What historical figure inspires you most? William Wallace. We’re not related, but he showed great courage and dedication against horrendous odds.
  • Which mythological figure do you relate to best? Aphrodite
  • If you had to have a mythological creature as a pet, which one would it be? Centaur
  • What was your favorite stuffed animal as a child? Does this toy show up in your writing? A stuffed bunny. And yes, it shows up in Wednesday’s Child.
  • What author would you most like to meet? J.A. Jance, hands down!
  • You get to bring one of your characters into the real world. Which one is it and why? What do you hope to accomplish through your relationship with this character? Lindsay Williams (from Prodigal Hearts), Stephanie’s sister. She’s an irrepressible teenager who never backs down from a challenge.
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