CJ: A few years ago you had a life-changing event that changed how you write after over 50 books published, could you tell us about that?
Debra: You described the event perfectly when you said it changed my life. I suffered a serious shoulder injury that caused widespread and catastrophic nerve damage (those are the words the neurologist used). After months of pain and intense therapy which is ongoing I was left with irreversible damage to my right arm and hand. I lost some range of motion in my shoulder and lower arm but the truly tragic damage was to my hand. It works pretty well as a claw but not for much else. Learning to type my stories with only one good hand has been a challenge. I tried working with Dragon Speak and it’s a phenomenal piece of technology but ultimately not the best fit for me. Basically I was left with the ability to do about half what I could do before and, unfortunately, it takes three or four times longer to accomplish even that.
I’ll be completely honest with you, I thought my writing career was over. I hoped to be able to manage a couple of the much smaller books I do for Harlequin Intrigue a year but I was reasonably certain any possibility of getting another big book done was out the window. Depression settled in nice and deep and I resigned myself to barreling toward bankruptcy. Many of my friends had banded together to help with medical bills and taxes but I had no idea how I would ever dig out of that hole.
There were a few folks who simply refused to allow me to give up and CJ Lyons spearheaded the endeavor. She stayed after me to give self-publishing a try. I could set my own deadlines. In fact, I could make my own decisions…period—AS LONG AS I stayed true to what my readers wanted from me. So, I took a deep breath and went for it.
CJ: What makes the Faces of Evil series so special? Why do you think fans have embraced it?
Debra: The Faces of Evil series was once called The Scales of Justice. I came up with the series several years ago but it never found a home. As I revisited the series (which I’d always loved) I realized that was the project I wanted to undertake. When I finished getting book one, OBSESSION, ready, I set it aside for a couple of weeks for my younger daughter’s wedding. After the wedding activities were done and I could catch my breath I sat down to start polishing the project. I swear I cried all the way through my first read of the story. I knew I had something special there. I felt like maybe I still had it!
I believe Jess Harris is a character most women can relate to. She’s in her forties and she’s chosen career over everything else and now she’s wondering if that was the right decision. Even worse, after giving it her all, her big career is in the toilet. Throw in her first love, four missing young women and you have the perfect recipe for real life drama! Oh yeah, and the serial killer who’s stalking her adds a little thrill. I feel readers enjoy the series because I love it so much. I am absolutely convinced the more of your heart you put into a story, the more love it’s going to get from readers! How’s that for thrillers with heart? Learned it from CJ!
Debra: I have always loved connected stories. The ensemble cast of recurring characters and the feeling of family that comes with the territory is very appealing, in my opinion. I started with the Colby Agency series at Harlequin Intrigue and that series has seen the publication of 50 books and it’s still going. The Faces of Evil series brings that feeling of family and connection. But most importantly I do exactly what CJ encourages and strive to give the readers the very best story possible. I listen to the feedback and I try my best to stay available in places like Facebook and Twitter and in my Weekly Briefings at www.thefacesofevil.com. I love to hear from readers!
CJ: What’s your greatest challenge?
Debra: Gosh, I guess it’s trying to achieve balance my life. My career isn’t the only place the injuries I sustained in 2010 changed. Think of all you do that requires two hands and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s a struggle and it’s frustrating. I love rehabbing old stuff. My husband and I have totally renovated every house we’ve ever owned. Our latest home is 113 years old! And it was a dump when we started. I love gardening, flowers and vegetables. All those activities are greatly limited now but I do what I can. Oh, and I can’t forget my dogs. We have three. They make like far more interesting!
Last April RT Book Reviews Magazine presented me with their first Warrior Woman Award. The award is given in honor of L.A. Banks and it recognizes a real-life woman or a fictional heroine who demonstrates the same perseverance, courage and grace as L.A. Banks did throughout her life. I was stunned and humbled to receive the award and I’m working hard to live up to the challenge!
Debra: After my self-publishing success of the first two books in the Faces of Evil series, Grand Central Publishing and I joined forces to bring the books to print. On Tuesday, March 26, the first three, OBSESSION, IMPULSE and POWER will be released in paperback for the unheard of low price of $3.99! I am so excited! I hope everyone will hurry out to buy the books. When was the last time you got a paperback novel for $3.99? Then book four, RAGE, hits the shelves on April 30. REVENGE, book five, comes out on July 30 and RUTHLESS, book six, will be available on August 27. If you prefer an ebook, the first book, OBSESSION, will be priced at $.99 starting March 25!
Be sure to come by www.thefacesofevil.com and check out the weekly briefing. I post it every Friday morning. You’ll learn the latest news and find out lots of info about Birmingham, Alabama, the setting for the series. If you sign up for my newsletter (person of interest) you might just end of being featured as a suspect! Unlike real life suspects, the ones I choose win great prizes!
Thanks, Deb for sharing your empowering story!