Deborah King has been a writer and storyteller her whole life. She published her first short story when she was seven years old. Her writing runs the gamut from poetry and women’s fiction, to espionage and science fiction. When she’s not writing, Deborah enjoys cartoons, cooking, photography, and Star Trek. Born and raised in Chicago, Deborah has managed to achieve all of her childhood dreams and still lives in the area with her husband and two youngest children. According to her daughter, she has “literally aced her life!”
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you for having me, I really appreciate the time to chat. I don’t know of a time when I wasn’t a writer. I started writing stories and poems when I was six or seven…I still remember a lot of them. The first story I published was in the church newsletter in 1973(?). It was about a church that was closing because the bells were broken (SPOILER: Prayer saved the day). I think what I love most about being a writer is surprising, shocking, scaring, enthralling…entertaining people. What frustrates me the most is when the characters in my head won’t talk to me and when their stories don’t come as easily as I wish they would.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
GLORY BISHOP is my debut novel. It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Glory who is pressured into a relationship with a twenty-seven-year-old minister. GLORY UNBOUND continues Glory’s story and has a few surprises. MARY NOT BROKEN is the prequel to GLORY BISHOP and follows the triumphs and tragedies that made Glory’s mother from a teenager to adulthood. Mary’s story is a serial novel being published one episode at a time on Amazon’s Kindle Vella. The Glory books are available for order through almost any book retailer. I’m in the process of rebuilding my website, but I’m on Facebook as Deborah King-Writer, on Twitter as deborahloi, and on Instagram as deborahlkingwriter.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I just finished editing for GLORY UNBOUND, and I’m currently working on MARY NOT BROKEN, the story of Glory’s mother. Mary Not Broken is a prequel to GLORY BISHOP and tells the story of the life choices and circumstances that shaped Mary Bishop. It’s currently being published as a serial on Amazon’s Kindle Vella.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My most significant achievement has been just finishing my books. I’m a terrible procrastinator and I spend a lot of time frustrated with myself because of it. I started writing GLORY BISHOP in 1992, but got serious when I took a writing workshop for it in 2014. Another workshop in 2016 told me the story was ready for professional editing and in 2017 I signed my first contract. In five years…I guess I’ll still be writing. There are a few stories in my head that I’d love to get out.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
I get asked this a lot. GLORY BISHOP got 99 rejections (no, really 99) before it was accepted for publication. The thing is, though…none of it was personal, and very little of it was rejection of the actual story. In the beginning of the process, I didn’t have the best query letter, so it likely got tossed without being read. My book was also 130,000 words and most agents and publishers considered it way too long, so they weren’t interested in reading it. For others, it wasn’t the right time or the right genre. All in all, maybe about seven agents and one publisher actually looked at my whole manuscript so I never took any of the rejection personally. It was never about my writing.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
Well…I pretend I have a schedule. I work full time so my writing time is after work, and on weekends, and on vacation. I do try to outline, but I usually wind up tweaking the outline as I write a story. My first novel took twenty-five years of writing off and on. My second book took almost two years, and book three will likely take two years also.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I think it’s too late when you’re dead…and sometimes, not even then. I had what many would call a late start. I didn’t take myself seriously as an adult writer until I was almost (cough, cough). I don’t think a late start hinders anybody’s chances, but it does deprive one of the leisure to procrastinate and slow around.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I used to be a fanatical reader who binged entire series, including comic books, but life started taking up my free time. Now I’m in a book club so I read a book a month, usually by an Indie author. The first book to ever make me cry was, (don’t judge me) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I actually shed tears when the house elves joined the fight. My favorite authors (cuz I definitely have more than one) are Peter David—he did a spectacular Star Trek series, Octavia Butler, and C.S. Lewis. Right now I’m reading Broken Glass by J.D. Mason.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
I’ve been working from home during the quarantine and saving more than an hour commuting, so that freed up some research and writing time. I’ve always been a homebody, so being at home didn’t really change anything creatively for me. What it did do is make me realize how much time I waste and helped me realize that sitting with my eyes closed (looking sleep) is just part of my process.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I think publishing today is all over the map. Since the time I started, self publishing has blown up and is no longer a last resort publishing option. Frankly, when I started GLORY BISHOP, I had no interest in any kind of publishing… I just wanted the story out of my head. I’m traditionally published with a small press, and honestly had no interest in self- or hybrid publishing. I learned from my writing coaches at UW Madison: Publishers are supposed to pay you, not the other way around.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
When I was going through some personal issues, journaling helped me immensely. It helped me process what I was feeling and it also helped me develop my voice as a writer. Some days my entries were light and funny, and other entries were raw and gut wrenching. I honestly don’t know what it means to be authentic. If you were to go by my stories, they would show I’m angsty and possibly unstable. But then, my blog entries are light and humorous. Both ways are my authentic voice. I don’t ascribe my writing to any grand purpose other than entertainment. Wait, that’s not 100% true. There is a piece I’ve been working on off and on for years…that has a purpose…to tell an untold story. Unfortunately, my writing novels hasn’t empowered me to finish that untold story as it’s not a story people want to hear and I think I’m in no hurry to explore that purpose just yet.