Monday, August 9, 2010

Author of Note: Debbie Fuller Thomas

Debbie Fuller Thomas


I am pleased to welcome Debbie Fuller Thomas to The Bookshelf this month. Debbie, would you share a little with us about how you got started as a writer? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I wasn’t one of those writers who knew from childhood what they wanted to be. I never even considered writing until I was in my thirties and a neighbor asked me if I’d ever tried my hand at it. She wrote children’s stories for Sunday School papers and explained the basics about article and story submissions to me. I submitted a personal experience story to my denominational paper, and what do you know, they bought it! I thought that was pretty easy, so I continued to write short pieces but didn’t sell another story for about fifteen years. However, it gave me the writing bug and I continued to write during nap times at the home day care I operated. After all these years, I still have about the same amount of time to write every day as when I first began.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Since I write contemporary fiction, I find the most ideas in current newspapers and magazines. On any given day, a newspaper presents a slice of life, whether in a metropolitan area or a small town. Even the obituaries and crime logs can suggest material. The idea for Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon came from a story in People about two babies who were switched at birth.

How much time do you spend writing?

Since I work full-time, I can usually get in about two hours of writing before work, and maybe an extra hour or so at night. Weekends give more time because the house is quiet on Saturday mornings and on Sunday afternoons. I’ve also use vacation days and holidays when I’m on a deadline.
What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?
I can’t overemphasize the importance of writer’s conferences and meeting with a local support or critique group on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be an expensive conference or a highly structured writing group. There are many excellent one-day conferences and workshops available and adult schools and junior colleges often have classes that teach the basics that apply to any genre. Sharon Souza, Katy Popa and I are planning a one-day conference in Auburn, California on Oct. 2nd at Bayside Auburn Church. Our website is http://sierrafoothillsconference.com/. It is also important to take charge of your education by reading the best writing books available, both ‘how-to’ books and books about the writing life.

Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

When I’m working on a new story, I start a new notebook or journal and keep it with me at all times to jot down ideas for characters, setting and plot. If it doesn’t have a pocket, I glue an envelope on the inside cover to save photos of people who may be my characters or any other snippets of information that may influence the direction of the story. I also have a ‘Night Note’ from Restoration Hardware which I keep on my night table. It’s a notepad which lights up when you pull out the pen and goes off when you replace it. It beats writing on your arm in the dark, as one fellow writer has been known to do.
Tell us about your newest release, and what inspired you to write it.

My second book is Raising Rain. It’s about four college co-eds in the early 70s who raise a child (Rain) together and the impact that the turbulent times have on their relationships and on Rain’s future. When one of them (Rain’s mother) is diagnosed with a terminal illness, they come together on a stormy weekend in Monterey and confront their past choices and mistakes. Some of them have mellowed and found closure, some have not, and for most, the wounds go deep. It’s really about finding understanding and healing for the past.

What can we expect from you next?

I tend to write about family relationships, and I’m working on a story of two sisters who hide a devastating secret all their lives. I’m letting each of them tell me their side of story, even though they don’t get along very well at times.

That sounds fascinating! Now for those off-the-cuff questions I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

My dad died when I was in my mid-thirties and there were too many grown-up life questions I never got to ask.

I don't think it matters how old a woman is when she loses her Daddy. There are always too many unasked questions...too many things left unsaid.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Jewel by Bret Lott, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I also picked up Pride and Prejudice, which I’ve never read. I absolutely love the miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and I’m finding it is very true to the book.

What word annoys you more than any other?
It’s more of a phrase than a word. I’m tired of hearing speakers say, “Let’s unpack this (idea, issue, etc.)” It’s already a cliché. Seriously, leave your baggage at home.

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

I would love to fly. Even in flying dreams, I can never get very far off the ground, but I love the feeling of weightlessness. I mourned the first time I realized that I could no longer handle those jaw-dropping roller coaster rides.
What is it about flying? I think almost every human being would like to do that. Most of us have dreamed about it.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

How hard can it be to spell words correctly? In a Word document, they are underlined in red.

I'm with you on that, one hundred percent! Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile. We've enjoyed having you here.


Debbie Fuller Thomas writes contemporary fiction from a historic Gold Rush town in Northern California. When she’s not working on her next book or planning children’s programs for her community, she enjoys singing with Colla Voce of the Sierras with her husband and catching up with her two adult children. Her debut novel, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award and the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year. Her latest novel is Raising Rain. Visit her website at http://debbiefullerthomas.com or at http://novelmatters.blogspot.com where she blogs with five other upmarket fiction authors.

2 comments:

LuAnn said...

Absolutely fascinating interview! I love the covers of Debbie's books and the stories sound very intriguing.

Delia Latham said...

I think so too!