Debby Lee has always enjoyed writing since she was a small child. Besides the Christian Writers Guild, and the American Christian Fiction Writers, she is an active member in several chapters of Romance Writers of America, where she’s served on a committee and held an office in her local chapter.
Her three digital releases include short stories, Butterflies are Free, and Christmas Butterflies, and a short book of poetry titled Potpourri,. A Cascades Christmas was released in paperback and digital print in September 2012, by Barbour Publishing.
She’s happily married, has five children and lives near Seattle, Washington. Reading is one of her favorite hobby. Her other interests include watching historical movies, being active in her church and cheering for the Seattle Seahawks.
Debby, it’s great to have you at Novel PASTimes today. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing?
I knew it would be a lot of work. I just didn’t know, and wasn’t prepared, for how much work it would really be. I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself, and my faith has grown by leaps and bounds.
There are many potholes on the road to publication, and you need to be prayerful and watch where you’re going. If you don’t pay attention to those Caution signs, you might find yourself stalled alongside the road and in need of some towing from the mires of bad business decisions.
The scenery is breathtaking. The path contains a plethora of corners, hills, speed bumps and detours. There’s no lack of those willing to give directions and help steer you along. Countless aids such as workshops and conferences are available if you ever need a pit stop or a refill on inspiration.
Please tell us something about your latest novella, One Evergreen Night, in the A Cascades Christmas anthology.
Emma is an orphan whose greatest fear is losing her brother Jake, her last living relative. Frederick Coorigan isn’t necessarily reckless, he’s just driven to make money to get his father’s house out of foreclosure. Emma and Frederick are placed at odds when Jake is assigned to work with Frederick.
Set in 1889, the year Washington became a state, I tried to weave a lot of historical detail into the narrative. I included a few scenes set in my hometown of Toledo Washington, like the sternwheeler the town is named after. I drew my idea and inspiration for the anthology from that cozy little logging community.
The stories in A Cascades Christmas are set in the historical logging era in the state of Washington. What drew you to write about this time period and the location of your story?
The idea came from four of my classmates from Toledo, Washington who worked in the logging industry. One gentleman cut down trees, one owned a fleet of logging trucks, one worked in a saw mill and the last one was a construction worker. The idea of writing a story centered around these occupations had kicked around in my head for years.
In late November, early December 2010, I heard about a call for submissions from Barbour Publishing. They were looking specifically for four novellas that would tie into one anthology. I immediately thought of my four logging classmates and set to work finding other Barbour authors to collaborate with me.
When the fire was out, I stood amongst the ashes and cried. I vowed to do anything to get this story published. I’d overcome any obstacle in my way and do whatever it took to see this book made into print.
I finished the proposal with my co-authors and submitted it to Barbour Publishing. In September 2011, I got the call. Barbour was going to publish the book. And the rest, shall we say, is history.
Have you found that similar themes throughout your writing? Why? Or why not?
I’m starting to notice themes of redemption, forgiveness, and overcoming one’s past in my books. Not much plotting goes into my writing, so I don’t have a good idea on why these themes keep popping up. I do pray a lot of my manuscripts, and trust that God has the story He wants me to tell all mapped out, even if I don’t.
What drew you to writing historical novels/novellas?
I read a lot of American history from Colonial times on through the 1960’s. I love to watch movies and documentaries set in these eras as well. I took some pages to a critique group one time, of a story set in the Wild West. In my critique partner’s opinion, I had found my niche.
I’m part Native American and I enjoy weaving those elements into my writing. I’m also part Danish and can trace my family back to mid-1800’s Denmark. There are so many stories that have passed down through the generations and I like adding these to my books too.
If you’re anything like I am, one favorite book is hard to pick! Do you have two or three top picks among the historical genre that you would care to recommend?
How about naming a few favorite authors? I like the "Daughters of Boston" series by Julie Lessman and the "Rock Creek" series by Margaret Brownley. I also enjoyed the "North and South" trilogy by John Jakes. Church in the Wildwoods by Barbour Publishing was the first Christian romance I ever read. I was sobbing by the end of chapter one. America, from Colonial times through 60’s and 70’s tends to be my favorite time and setting.
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
More tomorrow from author Debby Lee. Please leave a comment by
answering the question Debby is asking below for a chance to win a copy
of her novella in A Cascades Christmas. Don't forget to include
your email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com before 8:30 a.m. EDT
this Friday morning to qualify for the drawing.
Debby's question: Have you ever visited Tumwater or Toledo Washington? If so, when? And what did you think of the place?