Author Interview: Douglas Debelak

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in a religious home and had decided to become a minister. But I’ve always asked questions about everything and found I wasn’t receiving satisfactory answers, from my family, the pastors and elders of our church, and, in fact, was discouraged from asking such deep and probing questions. Why? My own research led me to begin questioning everything I’d been taught to that point, which led to a natural progression to philosophy, in which I have a degree. I entered a prestigious PhD program, but quickly discovered that I didn’t like academia. I’d counted on meeting other people with questions and interesting ideas. Maybe they did, but no one wanted to talk about those ideas for fear they’d be stolen before they were published. I left graduate school and was afloat for a while, when I decided to take my first stab at writing. I was also married and shortly discovered that I was about to be a father. Though an improbable set of circumstances, I taught myself to write software in order to make a better living for my family than working at the YMCA while I wrote. I had a fairly successful career as a software engineer but always wanted to get back to writing. I still have questions. TaDa!

  1. What do you write (genre, length)? 

Thus far, I’ve published 3 full length novels and I’m nearing completion of a 4th. As to genre: I’ve struggled to find one that adequately encompasses the entirety of The Ghostwriter series. It is certainly speculative. Slipstream has been suggested. Cross genre is a term I’ve recently encountered, which is as close as I’ve seen, if I have to name a genre. There is a coming of age story. And the story of a man entering retirement, although he refused to call it that. While trying to write about his life, his childhood and his own coming of age, he realizes that he has begun writing about someone else’s life and is engulfed in something he doesn’t understand. I’m not sure what name to give that something, the narrative of which continues through the entire series: Science Fiction, maybe. Fantasy at the end, but always life, the people living it, their struggles, their ideas and their questions.

PS: I hate “genre.” I understand it may be necessary to sell books, but it is also an impediment to creativity. It is like a painter being handed a coloring book. Sorry. I color outside the lines. In fact, I don’t acknowledge the existence of the lines. I’ll draw my own pictures. And I write, whatever I discover once I step into the world of my imagination, where there are apparently no lines, or boundaries.

  1. What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details. 

As mentioned above, I’m in the process of completing a 4th book in my The Ghostwriter series. I’m currently responding to proofreaders and friends who will tell me the truth. Then I’ll hire an editor. And give a stab at finding an agent again. 

  1. Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?

Hmmm… I’m not sure there is a book, or a single person. I’ve always been curious, had an imagination and been a dreamer. I suppose my family, my mother and grandparents, also teachers, who didn’t specifically encourage me to write, but did tell me I could be anything I want when I grow up. So, I imagined the possibilities, if I took them literally; somewhere in the mix I heard the song “One of Us” and the lyrics, “What if God was one of us?”, tried to make sense of that, and wrote a series based on and around the autobiography of God, who conveys his story through an Involuntary Ghostwriter.

  1. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, if you have something burning in you that wants to be said, stories that want to be told, then write. Odds are against that being how you make a living, but if you want to write, then write. One statement that continues to bother me is hearing someone say: “I wish I could write a book.” Well, here’s the secret: Sit your ass down, start typing and quit making excuses.

  1. What do you do for a living?

I hate the word retirement as much as the Ghostwriter in my first book, a coincidence I assure you. I also answered, when asked, that I had no plans to retire. I was just going to do something else. Write. Prior to becoming a full-time writer—not how I make a living; I collect social security, which technically means that I now have to acknowledge that “R” word–I was a software engineer.

  1. Who is/are your favorite author(s)?

I’ve loved a long list of authors, the top of which includes John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. But there are many others, including, surprisingly, Anne Rice, whose characters gave me a lot to think about. Forever is a very long time.

  1. What is/are your favorite book(s)?

East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Old Man and the Sea, to top a long list of other classics, and Interview with the Vampire.

  1. What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?

I loved your book(s). It, they, made me think. You’ve reawakened my curiosity. 

  1. What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?

I don’t consciously research anything specific. I read voraciously, then bits and pieces percolate to the top. I have, on the other hand, specifically avoided researching certain topics, or reading certain books, because I want my imagination untainted and free to discover what it will.

  1. What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?

Writing is easy. I sit down, drift into another world, and try to describe what I experience there as best I can. I don’t feel that I’m creating so much as I’m discovering. Rewriting and being able to read what I’ve written without being snow blind can be more challenging, but is often a matter of drifting back into my other world and checking the facts. Getting others to read what I’ve written is what I find most difficult, especially getting them to write reviews. I don’t want to spend my energy on self-promotion. I want to write. I’d love to find someone else to handle the promotion.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read? Why? 

See above. I hate genre. I read anything and everything, whether books or online. I want to know everything. I love a good story, wherever the author takes it. Where someone feels compelled to place it in a bookstore is their problem. Anything I find interesting, I want to take a peek. Sometimes I want to read fluff that lets my brain take a rest.

  1. What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?

Mostly I write now, and hang out with friends and drink wine or craft beers. My basketball and running days are behind me. But I do have a guitar sitting in the living room, challenging me to pick it up and start playing again. I injured my hand in the kitchen several Christmases ago, but I’m healed and only making excuses. It is difficult when I begin playing again, after a break; getting my coordination back and my fingertips conditioned again are part of it, yes, but mostly I can’t stand listening to myself, until I’ve been playing seriously again for a while. All my ringtones are Led Zeppelin riffs that I played and recorded with my phone. So, I have standards and certain expectations of myself. Several years ago, I went to a Halloween party as Neil Young and played and sang some of his songs for an audience of around 50 people; the first time I’d done that in nearly 40 years. 

  1. Do you like physical books, eBooks, or audiobooks better? Why?

eBooks. Sorry, but my Amazon profile name says it all. LoveMyKindle.

Find Douglas at the links below!

Books

The Involuntary Ghostwriter

The Ghostwriter’s Wife

The Ghostwriter’s Legacy

Facebook: @TheGhostwriterSeries

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