Today we sit down with prolific author Deby Fredericks. She has published fiction under her own name and has produced work for children under the name Lucy D. Ford.
Please enjoy her responses to these 10 questions and check out her work in this edition of A Perfect 10.
If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:
A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes, Nancy Bell, Nick Davis, Kathleen Lopez, Susan Thatcher, Charles Yallowitz, Armand Rosamilia, Tracey Pagana, Anna Dobritt, Karen Oberlaender
Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Does writing energize or exhaust you?
For me, it’s more a case of having fun vs. not having fun. I start stories with a framework, but then I start the writing without too much of a plan. It feels fresher and more interesting to discover the characters and events as I go along.
What does energize me is when I make appearances. For me that means either in-person signings or panel discussions at science fiction conventions. Conventions especially are an environment full of friends and exciting images or impressions. So those give me a kick to keep on writing.
2) Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it? Why or why not?
I write fantasy for both kids and adults. When potential readers look at my books I don’t want them to be confused about what sort of book it is. That’s why I use a pseudonym, Lucy D. Ford, for my children’s writing. My friends and family know me as Deby Fredericks, so that’s the name I use for my other writing.
3) Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
This business requires toughness and mental endurance. Having a strong sense of confidence helps a lot when rejections come in. Someone without an ego will find it really painful to go on.
At the same time, nobody likes to deal with a person who’s so egotistical that there’s no respect for the needs of others. The most successful writers are friendly and approachable with fans.
4) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My first name, Deby, is spelled in an unusual way, so I had a nameplate made at a local trophy and engraving shop. It was the best $18 I ever spent. My name is always spelled correctly and my nameplate doesn’t get crumpled in my bag as I go from panel to panel at events.
5) What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
This is a really tricky question for me. I used to have the same vision everyone does, of being published in New York and writing book after book in a comfortable relationship with my editor. What I’ve learned is that almost nobody has that kind of relationship. Publishing is changing so quickly, and the market pressures seem to make everyone expendable. Very senior editors can be kicked to the curb, as can authors who sell well but just aren’t blockbusters.
All writers have to continually re-evaluate what success might look like, and I have to honestly confess that I don’t know what success will look like. I do know that I’m still writing, and still submitting, and I will keep on keeping on until something happens to make me stop.
6) What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
One reason that I usually do self-created fantasy settings is that I stops people saying “It wasn’t really that way!” Okay, sure, in the real world maybe orange trees are severely damaged by frost. In my own fantasy world, I can have special, magical orange trees that thrive on the icy tundra if I wish to. So there!
Seriously, I do most of the research as I build my fantasy world. Things will appear that I’m not sure of, like how Polynesian peoples built their boats, and I’ll glance at Wikipedia for enough information to build that into the world.
Once I have a rough idea of my setting, I tend to start writing. As I go, I make a list of questions that pop up. Before I do the second draft is when I get library books and follow up on those items.
7) How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
My personal obsession is to make sure all the names sound like they belong in the same place and time. It bugs me when you have Lizzie and Mike and Xoggorovbottch all in the same story. It also bugs me when an author gives their character a long, lovely name like Christalaina and then go through the whole thing calling them “Chris.”
I’ve never gotten all the way through to publication with a character whose name is wrong. If the name is off, I’ll usually realize that part way through, and I’ll change the name mid-stream. Then of course I have to warn my critique partners that the name changes!
8) What is the hardest type of scene to write?
I have a hard time with battle scenes. I tend to hem and haw before getting started. Not being a fighter myself, I always feel like there’s too much thinking in the middle of the action. The dividing line between concentrating on the action and fully describing the scene gets to me.
9) If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
I would invite Ursula LeGuin, Alice (Andre) Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Patricia McKillip over for coffee and just listen to their stories about the business and challenges they overcame during their careers.
10) What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
In terms of selling books and knowing I actually sold them, it’s been book signings where I greet customers and talk to them about the stories. Now that I’m self-publishing, it’s harder to gauge the success of online friendships and networking. Like my version of “success,” it’s a work in progress.
Aunt Ursula’s Atlas
On a high shelf, in a hidden library,
There is a book of unknown wonders.
Open its pages. Explore mysterious lands.
See for yourself what lies within
Aunt Ursula’s Atlas.
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About Deby Fredericks:
Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but thought of it as just a fun hobby until the late 1990s. Her first sale, a children’s poem, was in 2000. She has six fantasy novels in print through two small presses. The latest is The Grimhold Wolf, from Sky Warrior Books. She also writes for children under the byline Lucy D. Ford. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in magazines such as Boys’ Life, Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug. Her middle-grade fantasy, Masters of Air & Fire, is available from Sky Warrior Books.
Connect with Deby:
Web Site: www.debyfredericks.com