Welcome to Deborah Dixon
Hi! Glad to be here! Figuratively speaking.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Kingston, Jamaica. Currently I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.
Mostly I write under the wide umbrella of speculative fiction – fantasy, scifi, paranormal, that sort of stuff. I like to mix them together a bit – for example, one of my characters is an AI engineer and also part Fae – and put them in a familiar, modern setting (usually New Orleans, because the city’s already weird enough for it!).
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. In conversations, in music, in things I see.
Are your characters based on real people?
A few of them have certain qualities based on people I know, but that’s mostly it. If an actual person I know shows up in one of my works, it’s probably for laughs.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?
I have not – at least not in my writing. I am very guilty of doing this in the various iterations of The Sims games.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?
I research everything from the science I’m referencing to the location of a hotel in Brazil. The amount of research depends on the work – for my novellas I mostly just spot-check my mythology, but for my sci-fi novel I’m reading a few books regarding artificial intelligence and the technological Singularity. My favorite resources, though, are people themselves. My best friend is a great one; she’s familiar with several religions and such practices, and helped me shape my portrayal of them.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book?
There’s a message in everything I write. To me it’s crucial. It is nice to have a little something just to entertain you now and then, like a Hollywood blockbuster with stuff blowing up, but this world is far too complex to sit in it and let its happenings flit on around you, especially if you’re a storyteller of any sort. Art should move people to think and act, in a positive way.
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?
At the moment, they’re only available as ebooks. This is due to the process my publishing company uses. They will be available in print eventually, and possibly as audiobooks too; it depends on the amount of interest there.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?
I self-edit, but I also usually have another writer also look at my work as well. Having a second set of eyes is more important to me than someone who sells her/himself as a professional editor. They tend to disagree on so many things. Follow the advice of one and you’ll be lambasted by another. Best not.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?
I think they were, only a couple of years ago. But that has changed, with more indie authors finding success and more Big Five authors stepping back to self-publish. There’s definitely more respect given to that group now.
Do you read work by self-published authors?
I read works that are well-composed and original and that make me think. I don’t pay much attention to how they were published.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?
Reviews are crucial – they can draw a much bigger audience, because they lend your work credibility. They say, “someone has read this and has had thoughts on it.” Authors commenting on reviews can give excellent insight into the author’s process, which is always interesting, but an author should never, ever respond to a negative review. At all, even if it’s just to point out an inaccuracy. That’s a long road of bad impressions you really can’t afford to go down.
When buying a book do you read the reviews?
Depends on the book and who wrote each review. I dismiss any review written by The New Yorker or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution out of hand.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors?
I don’t see much of a difference. Authors are readers too, just with a bit more insight.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?
Movies and video games provide you with visuals. With book, the author describes the world in words, and you develop the visual in your head. That’s a very personal experience, because you don’t share the same visual with anyone else, not even the author. It’s pulled from your own experiences and perception.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?
- Just write. If you’re having trouble getting started, try using an outline, or start in the middle, or develop your characters with freewrites. But the important thing is that you are writing.
- Don’t become a writer for the money, because if that is your motivation, you’ll likely never see a dime from it. Write because you love it.
- Read while you write. “I don’t want such-and-such book to influence mine” is a lame excuse. Everything should be influencing your book. That’s research. (Now, don’t plagiarize any other books you might be reading, of course.)
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?
Social media is your best friend, but not your only friend. There are resources out there for authors trying to market books (we as authors tend to be terrible at that). There are books and online articles on it, and you can study what other authors similar to you do as well. As for worst, social media is a double-edged sword. Always make a separate, professional account on any site, and do not connect it to your personal one. There are no secrets on the Internet.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?
I once said, after a certain set of books became popular, that I would never write a vampire story. (Actually, I ranted to several friends about it.) But I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a few years ago, and loved it; the supporting character, a vampire named Henry, is one of my favorite characters of all time. (And yes, I’m aware the book is satire. I saw the movie.) Just recently I noticed that the author had released a sequel that starred Henry – The Last American Vampire. It’s also historical fiction/satire in the vein of its prequel, but the character is even more outstanding. Suffice it to say I now have a vampire story in the works. (It’s not historical fiction, though.)
What are your views on authors offering free books?
Everyone loves free stuff. If it’ll get people to read, then by all means offer free books.
Do you have a favourite movie?
Many, but let’s go with Spirited Away because I’m in that kind of mood today.
Do you have any pets?
I have a sansevieria and a spider plant named Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively. I’m told that they do not count as pets. However, since I care for them, and since they are actively plotting my demise, I think they do count.
Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?
I had a position that was described to me as being “marketing,” but turned out to effectively be “sales.” The manager there was so irresponsible that I actually wound up in the Midwest with no hotel, food, or gas at one point. I didn’t learn anything that helped my writing, but I did learn how not to run a business.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?
Horror movies don’t scare me at all. Documentaries, however, scare the crap out of me; I can’t sit through one. Think about it: Documentaries are about things that ACTUALLY CAN and ACTUALLY DID happen. See?
Book links, website/blog and author links:
http://shalamarmedia.com (Shalamar, my publishing company)
https://twitter.com/Deboracracy (my professional Twitter)
https://shalamartanara.wordpress.com/ (our blog about writing and publishing)
https://www.facebook.com/shalamarllp/ (our Facebook Page)