We are sharing our October First Friday Breakfast with perfect-for-this-month author Debra Young. Besides other short stories appearing in magazines and anthologies, Debra has two works featured on Amazon. A native of Louisiana, daughter of an Air Force sergeant and homemaker mother, she lived in Europe and various parts of the United States. Growing up with a book always in hand led her to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at CSU, Fullerton in California. She spends a considerable amount of time with her head in the clouds of imaginary worlds, writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She currently resides in Southern California.
This morning I’m enjoying a pumpkin protein pancake (pumpkin, basil, cottage cheese, eggs and oatmeal) topped with banana, Peter’s Honey Fig, mango and blackberries, sprinkled with lime infused olive oil and crushed pecans, and a hot cup of yerba mate tea. Debra, what are you having for your virtual breakfast?
Good morning, Michelle! For breakfast I’m having coffee, a poached egg on buttered toast with avocado slices sprinkled with African smoke flavoring, hash potatoes with onion, and a slice of sweet melon.
Very nice! Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.
I write fantasy and horror–well, dark fiction really. Grave Shadows is a collection of dark fantasy fiction. My fantasy fiction includes sword and sorcery and steampunk. My writing process begins with notes, lots of notes about the characters, the setting, the story–what I know of it at the time. I try to outline using the Save the Cat beat sheet, but it doesn’t always work out for me so I’ll fill my journal with notes. I’m a slow writer so the first draft takes me considerable time. I tend to revise as I write–not the best way to go, but I can’t help myself, and then of course, when I complete the first draft, the manuscript may sit for a long time before I tackle it again. My revision process is not methodical. I’m not a linear writer. I write in scenes and arrange them later or cut them if they lose their purpose. My manuscripts are large puzzles, and I like to have more than one book going on. I don’t like to be not writing!
Tell us about Ghost Jewel. How did you build the world, create the fantastical, and still have a North African feel both in language and setting? I’ll top off your mug of coffee with milk, nice and sweet, while you share.
I spent entire summers reading sword and sorcery–Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, the exotic tales of Clark Ashton Smith, Tanith Lee’s Cyrionstories, and oh my goodness(!) my unforgettable favorite, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone. My affection for these stories inspired The Ghost Jewel. I wanted to create my own adventurous warrior, Kamau of the Edanye. Drawing on my general knowledge of ancient Africa during the Roman occupation, I created the imaginary land of Shaltar. Sword and sorcery has a particular voice and language style (often detailed and ornate), and its vocabulary and sentence rhythm meshes easily with my personal writing style.
Ghost Jewel is a fabulous short story. What did you find fun about writing it and what was difficult?
The fun part about writing the story was thinking about Kamau, planning his first adventure and then falling into the actual writing, creating the details of the story; the difficult part was plotting.
Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.
I’ve got vague ideas for another Kamau story, but nothing’s written yet. However I’m nearly done with a murder mystery novella with a Victorian steampunk background, but set in post-Civil War America featuring a Buffalo Soldier named Jerob Deal and his vampire companion, Rafael Torrance, once a Jesuit priest. I’m having great fun writing these characters, love them both. I plan to independently publish it when it’s ready, and hope to write a collection of stories around Jerob and Rafael eventually.
Thank you for sharing your breakfast and writing life, Debra. Congratulations on your publications, and I’m looking forward to reading the steampunk novella–what fun!
For updates on Debra’s upcoming novels, please visit her blog.
Before you blast off to Amazon to buy Debra’s work (Grave Shadows would be an eerie Halloween gift for someone special), who would like to join us in a mug of her favorite coffee with milk, nice and sweet?