Welcome, Debra! It’s a pleasure to welcome a new author friend, and hope you enjoy her interview!
A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra worries that by trying to do too much, she doesn’t do anything as well as she could or should. She also worries
that she worries too much!
The Ticket was a Selah Award and Operation First Novel finalist. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival. She loves to travel and plans to use her travel experiences to enhance settings in future work.
Website and Blog: www.debracolemanjeter.com
The Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103863/
The trailer: https://vimeo.com/50187275
Here’s a link to the trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FYTKJdd7Gqw
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I’ve loved writing all my life. I attempted my first “novel” when I was about nine after being captivated by Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon mysteries. In college, I studied everything from Theatre to Pre-Medicine. In an acting class, I received the highest grades in our class, not because my acting was superior but because I did the best job of describing (on paper) my “Inner Resources” for each scene. It dawned on me then that I was more a writer than an actor.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I have trouble pinpointing my genre either as a writer or as a reader. I cross genres when I choose my favorite novels. My first published novel, The Ticket, has been categorized alternatively as “Young Adult” or as “Suspense.” I initially wrote it from multiple points of view, but my publisher asked me to rewrite it entirely from the point of view of fourteen-year-old Tray Dunaway. I did so, but most of the feedback I get comes from adult readers. Surprisingly quite a few of them have been male. I like to incorporate an element of suspense in my work, and I often lean on the characters’ back stories from childhood to motivate their actions. I co-authored a screenplay (Jess + Moss) with my son, and it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. I plan to write more screenplays in the future, and I am drawn to family dramas with a touch of humor.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I am fortunate in that I can write almost anywhere anytime. I have a knack for shutting out distractions. I believe I think best and consequently, write best early in the day. I prefer to scribble by hand in a spiral notebook (or whatever comes to hand, sometimes a legal pad) in my first draft. I aim for five pages a day. I usually write storyboards first; and shoot for three storyboards a day prior to writing the scenes. I typically write either storyboards or five pages on a given day, not both. It takes me about a year to write the first draft.
What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
The book I’ve just finished is based on the life of my grandmother, who was born in 1900. The working title is They Never Knew They Were Rich. It’s a story of hardship, poverty, and struggle but also of love and joy and the wealth that comes from immaterial things in life. One of the messages that emerges is to cherish the moments we have in this short stint on earth and to let our loved ones know how we feel about them.
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
The Ticket is a story about a family struggling financially who comes into a sudden windfall and the impact this “win” has on the various members of the family. It can be purchased online at Amazon as well as Barnes and Nobles.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
Ideas come to me from news stories, from my life, from the lives of people I know or meet. I seem to have more ideas than time. There’s a piece of me in every character, from the noblest to the most villainous. Character names come from almost anywhere. I have a colleague whose mother is named Roma. I haven’t used it yet, but I love that name and plan to use it in a future work.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
I do sometimes feel like giving up, not so much on writing (I will always do that) but on trying to publish and promote my work. It’s hard. There is so much competition these days, and I know there are many, many writers who are much more adept than I at using social media. Sometimes I’ll read a novel that is so powerful I’m left in awe of the writer’s talent and skill. This is like the cliché of the glass half full or half empty. How wonderful it must be to accomplish something inspirational! One voice in my head tells me to keep working, and someday that could happen for me. Another voice tells me to give up—I’ll never be that good! I have to challenge myself to listen to the first voice instead of the second. Jan Karon is one of the writers who inspires me because she never expected her books to have a great audience, and she published her first novel late in life. I’m also inspired by Madeleine L’Engle and her book on writing, and the connections among faith, spirituality, and creative work: Walking On Water
Would you explain how you “chose” (or was chosen by) a publisher? Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
Eva Marie Everson is my editor at Firefly Southern Fiction. She had read my novel in an earlier draft and responded that she loved it (perhaps, in part, because we share an interest in mental illness, such as bipolar disease, which afflicts Tray Dunaway’s mother and affects every member of the household.) When she joined LPC and started the Firefly label, I sent my novel to her.
Sitting back and relaxing isn’t something that seems remotely possible to me in this business. Maybe that’s a good thing because it isn’t really in my nature anyway!
Give me five likes and five dislikes of yours.
- Likes: beaches, hammocks, Greek food, sunsets that light up the sky, generous-hearted folks.
- Dislikes: irate drivers, negativity, politics, headaches (both figurative and literal, but mainly the migraines that plague me), mean-spirited people.
Do you have hobbies, special interests?
- Boogie boarding, boating, travel, spending time with family, collecting stories from family members about my ancestors.
Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.
I’d like to go on an African safari. I’d like to walk where Jesus walked, and I’d like to see N
Read the book!:
THE TICKET by Debra Coleman Jeter
Firefly Southern Fiction (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
She hoped winning the lottery would solve her problems.
Her problems have just begun….
It is 1975, an ordinary year for an ordinary Southern family. TRAY DUNAWAY, like thousands of other teenagers around the country, longs to be part of the popular set at school. Tray’s mother, EVELYN, lies in bed most days with a headache, and her bipolar tendency toward extreme highs or desperate lows veers more and more often toward depression. Tray’s grandmother GINNY, who lives with the family, still grieves the loss of her husband, Brook. She believes it’s time for her to move out, if she could afford to, and find a place of her own, maybe even a new romance. This doesn’t look likely, given the state of the family’s finances.
Then something extraordinary happens. A down-and-out friend of the family, PEE WEE JOHNSON, buys an extra lottery ticket. He gives it to Jesse as a thank-you for driving Pee Wee to Hazard, Illinois, where he purchased the tickets. And what do you know?
When Johnson demands his cut, Tray’s dad refuses. As Evelyn’s illness spirals toward madness, Johnson turns threatening, and Tray makes some poor decisions, what initially seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly triggers a disturbing chain of events.
Thank you for joining us, Debra!
Readers, be sure to check out Debra’s book and the links to her books!