Author Interview: Deborah Doucette

Deborah DoucetteWhere do you write?

My lap top is my moveable office, it goes wherever I’m comfortable.  Sometimes it’s my couch office, sometimes it’s my kitchen table office, and often it’s my bed office.

Tell us about your books.

My latest work is a novel, The Forgotten Roses.  Its genre is women’s contemporary literary fiction.  The protagonist, Rebecca Griffin, is a woman who has everything she’s ever wanted.  More importantly, she has everything her family ever wanted for her.  The Forgotten Roses, in a broad sense, is about the choices women face, the pull of family, and stepping off destructive paths.  Rebecca’s life is veering way off her carefully constructed course; her daughter is headed to a self-destructive calamity, and she suspects her husband is having an affair. Rebecca hears about the mysterious death of a young girl at a local prison long ago – a girl with connections to her own family.  The girl’s death haunts her and sets her on a journey to find answers.  Rebecca, her troubled daughter Dana, and an enigmatic woman from the past each embark on separate paths of self-discovery that collide one dangerous and revealing autumn night.

My first book is non-fiction, Raising Our Children’s Children: Room in the Heart (slated for second edition release in July).  In it, grandparents raising grandchildren give voice to their stories and the destructive forces that have compelled them to take their grandchildren in.  It’s a book full of hope, help and heart.  And it’s a book written not only for grandparents, but for anyone who might have known a family in turmoil and flux, for anyone who might have been touched by substance abuse, for anyone that is a parent or grandparent.

What was your first publishing experience like?

It wasn’t pretty.  For most of us, it never is.  I had written most of Raising Our Children’s Children and began to look for a literary agent.  After having absolutely no success getting any attention from agents, an author friend suggested I speak with his and set up a meeting with her.  She agreed to represent me even though her specialty was mystery.  I had started to send my manuscript out to small presses, but she was very encouraging and I signed on with her.  I didn’t realize until much later what a foolish decision it was for me.  She didn’t have the right connections for non-fiction, and was the wrong person for the job. She did absolutely nothing.  Months later a small press contacted me from my earlier query and offered a contract which I accepted.  I’ve never had any luck with literary agents.  I try, send a lot of queries with very little response and wind up resorting to my plan B – small press publishers.  They have always come through for me!

How have you balanced your online author platform with writing? 

It is a very difficult balance.  Promotion is something all writers have to put a lot of effort into and it’s extremely time consuming. I can only wear one hat at a time!Right now, I’m busy promoting The Forgotten Roses, but soon I’ll have to dial that down a bit so I can start on my new novel.  Then in July, I’ll have to put writing aside for a while to tend to the second edition release of Raising Our Children’s Children: Room In The Heart.

Do you work with a writing partner?  If not, have you ever considered it?

I do not, and could not, write with someone else.  When developing my non-fiction book, I enlisted the help of a family therapist to contribute helpful suggestions for the difficult situations in which grandparents find themselves.  And though it was a collaborative effort, we wrote separate pieces that I wove together. For me, writing is very personal.

What have you found to be the best places to promote your work online.

There are wonderful Bloggers out there!  I’m always grateful to find a Blogger that loves literary fiction and that will accept a book published with a small press.  Rare gems!

Tell us about your writing process.

Recently, I wrote one of my Huffington Post Blogs on the writing process.  In it, I revealed that I don’t have one.  I know there are writers that compile notes, or develop outlines, or have goals of writing a certain amount of words a day.  That’s not me.  When I started writing, I had young children.  I wrote at night when everyone was asleep.  It’s a pattern that has continued to this day.  If I’m actively working on a project, it’s with me all day percolating at the back of my mind.  Occasionally, I’ll jot some phrase or paragraph or word down on the nearest scrap of paper.  At night, when I sit down at the keyboard, it all comes out.  That’s it.  I really like the author, Neil Gaiman’s quote, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done.  It’s that easy, and that hard.

What online sites/resources do you use when writing?

I occasionally have to research a topic that I’m referencing in a story.  For The Forgotten Roses there was a plot point I had to ask an “expert” about which I can’t reveal here – spoiler alert!  I had already done research on the topic of women and the prison system for my non-fiction book which I revisited for my novel.  Other than that, when I’m writing I rely heavily on the thesaurus feature!

Did you go to school for writing or learn along the way?

When I made the decision to write professionally – journalism at the time – I enrolled in a creative writing course at a local college.  I don’t have an MFA.  Reading good literature has been my best teacher.

Any advice for our readers?

My only advice is this: don’t get caught up in the commercial loop of only reading best sellers promoted and provided by the big five publishing conglomerates!  There are lots of wonderful books published by small presses.  Look for them!

 

Deborah Doucette began her writing career as a free-lance journalist subsequently writing a non-fiction book, Raising Our Children’s Children: Room In The Heart.  She is a blogger for the Huffington Post, an artist, and mother of four.  She lives in a small town west of Boston with her red standard poodle Fiamma (Italian for flame) surrounded by her art and enjoying the comings and goings of her twin grandchildren.   She is currently working on a new novel. 

 

You can find Deborah at the following places online:

5 responses to “Author Interview: Deborah Doucette

  1. Great interview! You asked her, “Did you go to school for writing or learn along the way?”
    She took one creative writing course.
    I agree with her. You don’t need a degree to write. I went to college and learned very little about actual writing. Most of everything I learned about writing, I learned by going to the library, checking out books on writing, reading writer’s quotes on the internet, and reading essays about writing from writers everywhere- (and while you may or may not learn a lot from these, they are interesting :)

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