Welcome to Deb Borys
Where are you from and where do you live now? – I’m from small town Midwest U.S. and after about fifteen years of living in the big cities of Chicago and Seattle, I’ve come back to my roots and my hometown.
Please tell us a little about your writing – My current focus is my Street Stories suspense novel series. The first book, Painted Black, was released in 2012, then Bend Me, Shape Me in 2013, and the third, Box of Rain just became pre-orderable on Amazon. The ebook will be released December 15 but the print version won’t be out until the spring of 2015. You can basically say I’ve been able to get a book a year out now. I’m hoping I keep up that pace.
Each book in the series tells the story of a kid living on the streets of Chicago who finds him or herself in a jam that no one but my protagonist seems to care about. I take the real life drama that homeless people have to deal with every day and twist fictional, quirky suspense plots into it. Like a mortuary freeze-drying corpses like special order pizzas and psychiatrists trying to brainwash an army of terrorists, or finding a decapitated body in a back alley dumpster.
Where do you find inspiration? – I found my inspiration on the streets of Chicago where I volunteered with homeless youth and adults and discovered heartbreaking but uplifting tales of people doing the best they can under the circumstances. My eyes were opened to the fact that they are no different than the people I meet in my everyday life, not deep down, where it counts. I want to somehow make everyone aware of that.
Are your characters based on real people? – My primary characters are completely fictional, but their ideas, goals and opinions reflect real people I knew when volunteering on the streets of Chicago. Throughout all the books I have sprinkled versions of people and situations that I actually experienced myself, or heard about from other service workers.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? – There are stories worth listening to in everyone’s life, even that homeless man standing on the corner with his hand out for a quarter. How can you judge someone’s actions or attitude or situation if you don’t know anything about the person you are condemning? My hope is that after reading one of my books, you might take a second look, or even stop and listen. I don’t think all books need to have an underlying agenda or should try to speak deep thoughts about life or the world. Sometimes books should just be about escape and enjoyment, because we all need that once in a while, too. My Street Stories series, I hope, does both. At least that’s what I intend them to do.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) – I think you pretty much have the correct order there. If you don’t start with great characters, why should the reader care about the journey or how the story ends? World building may seem less important than all the others, but that’s only because it is intended to be almost invisible. You need to know it well yourself but only give out the tiniest but most important details in such a way that it is recognizable and understandable without calling attention to itself. The reader should never be pulled away from the story in order to admire or wonder about the world in which the story takes place. The path down which the plot steps should flow naturally out of who the character is and what world he or she is living in. A warrior in Roman times will make different choices when confronted with conflict than a teenager from the slums who has been abused all his life. Correct grammar and typographical errors, etc. do need to be kept to a minimum, or else they are too distracting, but if you do the first three things to perfection, your readers will give you a lot more leeway on technicalities than they would otherwise.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? – Painted Black and Bend Me, Shape Me are available in both ebook (mobi and epub) and trade paperback. Box of Rain will be released as an ebook Dec. 15 and will be out in trade paperback sometimes next spring.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? – I do self-edit, but so does my publisher. I never send the first draft off to them. I polish as much as I possibly can before letting them or anyone see it. For Box of Rain, I also had several people beta read for me to give me advice on the big picture, rather than line editing. I really do think everyone needs to let someone else edit or at least make suggestions for edits. And by that I mean someone with knowledge or expertise, not just your mom or boyfriend. You are too close to your work to view the finished work objectively. In the beginning, you are often so in love with it you think it is all diamonds and gloss over the lumps of coal among the glitter. If you’ve been over and over the book many times, you are often so sick of your own words you can’t tell which are gold and which floss.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? – The more reviews a book has, the better, I think, even if some of them are negative. Reviews show people are reading the book, at least. I think it’s a fine idea to thank someone for their review in a comment. It’s even okay to make some remark about the content of the review, as long as it isn’t arguing or disagreeing or trying to explain yourself. If anything, say something like, “That’s an interesting take on the subject. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way?” Vindictive, extremely negative reviews are best left ignored. There is no need to stoop to their level.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? – When I see a book with absolutely no reviews, unless it is very recently released, I tend to suspect it must have been pretty boring.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? – A book makes us work at our entertainment. Instead of being a passive mushroom watching the story, we are forced to partake in it, interpret it. Since we don’t have the visual or the sound, we have to burrow deep in our minds to envision and experience the world. Because there are narrative passages, we can know and explore the inner thoughts of characters, instead of simply trying to interpret them from their faces or voices. The amount of detail, and the time it takes to read, interpret and experience all the words on the pages immerses you more fully in the story than a one dimensional viewing on a screen. You’ve probably noticed it yourself. Have you ever read a book about a blind person, for instance, and when you finished it, it felt strange to be able to walk around and see again?
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Bend Me, Shape Me
Box of Rain