We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Dawn DeBraal, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of November 2019.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
I am so excited to be selected. I still don’t quite know how this happened. Exactly a year ago, I submitted a Christmas story to Spillwords. I didn’t make the 12 Days of Christmas, but they accepted my story, and printed it. After that, I was hooked. As of today, I am at 140 stories (a good number of them drabbles or 100-word stories) that have been accepted in online magazines and anthologies.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
My mother was a writer and a poet. She had a weekly column called the Germania News in the Marquette County Tribune in Wisconsin. Weekly, she called people up and asked if they had any news. If you spent the night at someone’s house or shot a big buck, celebrated a birthday, you were in the news! She also added personal things like her hate of Asian Beetles and their attack on her house, her car, which was always on its last leg, what part fell off that week. She was a very funny woman. My older sister wrote and illustrated her own children’s book “Sheldon and the Shadow”, and my children are writers too. My friends have encouraged me, a woo hoo goes a long way!
What inspires you to write?
I love prompts. If there is a prompt I like, I see the story and go for it. I am also a people watcher and conversation overhearer! Those are the best. Everything everywhere is a prompt if you let it flow through you.
What was your writing catalyst?
I had to look that word up. I retired a year ago. My husband and I became snowbirds. After a few days of staring at him, I realized one of us was not going to get out of this winter alive. I needed to get a life separate from his. So, I started to write as a means of escape.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I write every day. I get on Duotrope and start looking at prompts. When one hits me, I know where I am going with it. I am trying out the different genres as a new author but finding myself going to the suspense/thrillers. I submit an average of 35,000 words a month. I don’t have a desk, I have a laptop, and wherever I am, on the deck, in a car, or sitting in my favorite chair, I am writing.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
Right now, I am working with my muse — the writer I have admired for over thirty years. You may know her Julie Eger/Copper Rose. She and I are in the same writing group. We stumbled onto a story idea about nine years ago, started working on it. Life happened. It fell by the wayside, and we both decided to work our stories separately to see what we could come up with. Recently we pulled it out of our files and compared our stories. It was unbelievable. I went to the woman’s past and wrote about her childhood, Julie/Copper went to the woman’s present and future. Reading each other’s stories on the same woman, we realized we could put the stories together. We love it. To date, we are at 33,000 words right now, and what Julie/Copper doesn’t think of, I do. We get goosebumps and know this is something that we need to add to the story. This is a shameless plug, isn’t it? LOL.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s true. If the right image comes along, you can write an entire story based on what you see. I have an author friend who designs picture boards before she writes the story. I couldn’t wait that long!
What is your favorite reading genre?
Thrillers. I grew up reading first Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, then moved to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I love fiction. I also read about serial killers. I have an unusual fear that I won’t recognize one when I see them. So, I prepare myself on the off chance one should move in next door to me.
What human being has inspired you the most?
Many people have inspired me: my family, friends. I never thought I was good enough to write. My grammar was rusty, but every day, every person you meet inspires you somehow, whether it be a description or a phrase, to explain a look, the color of their hair. If you backed me into a corner, then I will tell you, my mother. She is gone now but instilled the love of books, reading and writing and observing the ironies of life. My children have inspired me also. I watch them and their bravery at trying new things. They are fearless. I must have done something right.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
The community of Spillwords is incredible. They have given me so many opportunities as a writer, accepting my first story, giving me a spotlight a few months ago, printing my other stories, and now all my author friends, and those who read what I write, have given me this honor. The encouragement in this group is terrific. Thank you, everyone, for voting! I seldom win anything, so I was shocked when I got this. There are some very deserving people on that list, and I hope they will get their chance at this exciting gig. I am so glad I had author photos taken in October, so I have pictures I like! LOL
Seriously, all these honors have instilled a new sense of confidence in me, and I thank you all for it!
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I hope that I always write things that strike a note in people’s hearts. Everything I write has little to no swearing. I don’t like seeing the F-Bomb used as a noun, a verb, an adverb, etc. You can use it once for an impact. After that, you’ve lost that shocking edge. It becomes uncomfortable, at least for me.
I also like to keep it clean. If my family, adult children, or my grandkids read it, I want them not to be embarrassed at what I’ve written. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t go there, I will, but I find pointing you in the direction I want you to go, instead of grabbing your hand and taking you through each action or act, is a much better way. Your imagination can lead you better than I can. Stories from the heart that make you feel good or scare the crap out of you! I love them both.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to say that Spillwords is excellent at lifting their authors. I have recommended them to many new writers. The first time you see your name in print is so exciting, and it never lessens! Spillwords gave me so many firsts, and I will always be grateful. Thank you for asking me!