Interview with Debra B. Diaz

Published 2019-04-12.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Two things--the actual writing, which is sort of compulsory, and getting positive feedback from readers. We write to be read, unless you're writing deep dark secrets in your diary! I say positive feedback, because naturally the negative is not very pleasant, although it may be constructive. I have benefited from a couple of less than cheery reviews by rethinking and revising some things. I don't want readers to just like my books, I want them to get something out of them, even if it's just a small sense of encouragement, or some historical tidbit. I can honestly say I've gotten "something" out of every book I've ever read, even if it was just a determination not to read that kind of book again!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords, especially Mark Coker, has been great. He obviously loves what he's doing and is dedicated to helping out his authors. Back in the day he even went into one of my books personally to see why it wouldn't clear Meatgrinder to upload--don't know if he'd have time to do that now! The publishing process is clearly explained and Mark has written a manual/style guide to help authors out. It's really quite easy, and with Smashwords handling all the shipping to retailers, as well as handling any problems that may arise with retailers, authors are free to start writing another book. Mark stays on top of the game and I have confidence in him.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are the inspiration for my continuing to write and publish. A writer wants readers to "get" what they write, and my readers get it. I feel a sense of unity with them, I love them! I wish I could correspond at length with each and every one and really get to to know them, but that just isn't possible. I do very much appreciate the emails, and always respond to them.
Who are your favorite authors?
I actually have favorite books, rather than favorite authors, because I don't like every book by the authors I like. Does that make sense? I love most Mignon Eberhart mysteries, Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities", the "Left Behind" books by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye (what an accomplishment!), Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". There are books by many other authors I have read over and over from the time I was a child, including Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind". All of these books taught me something about life, and a lot about writing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Things to do, people to see and books to write!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do a lot of research for my historical books, and I like that so much I probably spend way too much time on it when I should be actually getting into the story. But research can give you ideas, too. I watch classic movies on television, and have a great sense of nostalgia for the old shows (I Love Lucy, Donna Reed, Leave It to Beaver, Perry Mason, Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan's Heroes, etc.) I don't watch a lot of television, but when I do most likely it will be one of those. I also like to visit museums and historical places.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Just by browsing titles and covers. Covers ARE very important. The blurbs are important too, because if one is poorly written I will assume the book is poorly written as well. When I find an author I like I will try more of his or her books.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I was in the second or third grade and it was about how an earthquake created the first jailhouse, and thankfully that's all I remember about it. I didn't keep it, but I do remember writing it. I suppose I was interested in jailhouses because my grandfather was a sheriff. I kept on writing after that, always by hand until I was in high school and learned how to type (on a typewriter, not a keyboard). I remember one about being the daughter of a famous Hollywood actor (which I'm not), one Biblical short story, one about a vampire that borrowed heavily from the old series, "Dark Shadows", and one about a haunted house that borrowed heavily from the 1960's movie, "The Haunting." All hand-written and destroyed long ago! I suppose we learn by copying others, but I should hope by now I have developed my own style and ideas. Although I'm not so sure there are any new plots these days, just imaginative retelling of old ones.
What is your writing process?
I either get a character in my head that I must bring to life, or I become very interested in a time period and create characters to live in it. The plot usually comes after character development, and as I've mentioned before, much, much research. I may start with a very broad outline, and I'll begin to outline each chapter in detail just before I get to it. I find it surprisingly difficult to write sequels, which is why my hat is off to Jenkins, LaHaye and J.K. Rowling. However, "Woman of Sin" was meant to be a series and I did manage to complete two sequels. Readers might be surprised to learn that the first draft was started in 1977 and finished a year later. It has been through MANY revisions since then. Re-writing is the name of the game, and it's more fun than the actual creating part, which is hard work!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
They were fairy tales and other classic stories from books my mother read to us (my brother and me). I don't remember the first one. When I could read on my own I remember the Golden Classics like "Little Red Riding Hood". There was something about her having to tidy the house before she went skipping off in the woods, and I asked my mother what "tidy" meant. They all had a huge impact, because they excited my imagination and made me want to read more, and to write my own stories. If you want to write, read, read, read. Good books, that is.
How do you approach cover design?
I usually want it to show a character or some important aspect of the book. It should pique the reader's curiosity or appeal to him or her in some other way. The original "Woman of Sin" cover was criticized for being misleading, but to me it seemed very appropriate. It is a Christian book, but Alysia didn't start out being a Christian! This cover was eventually changed because my designer found an image using the same model that I liked better. Then it changed again when I went with a traditional publisher. It has reverted back to the second original now that I'm indie again but will probably be redesigned soon. Some of the marketing research I've done suggests it's beneficial to change covers once in a while.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm very content with my Kindle Fire.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Actually, setting the books at Free causes more downloads than anything else. Of course, people have to know it's there, so paying a reputable site to promote it on their site or blog would be necessary as well. In the case of "Child of the King", one of those sites gave me one free day of promotion as one of their own marketing strategies, in the hope I'd buy a promotional page from them in the future. It happened without my knowledge, and when I noticed there were a lot of downloads, I looked at my emails and found where they explained what they had done. There were over 25,000 downloads in that one day at Amazon. This of course led to readers purchasing the other books in the series.
What do you read for pleasure?
Romantic suspense, historical fiction, or a combination of both. Which is also what I write. I also enjoy reading Christian/inspirational non-fiction.
Describe your desk
Full of books and papers, but organized. I can't think in clutter. Some people prefer it but it's distracting to me. I'm very thankful for my computer and that we don't have to use typewriters and carbon paper anymore.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I live in the suburbs of a small city now, but I grew up in Memphis and I have very fond memories of that time. Living in a large city exposes you to different sights and sounds and opportunities. I remember riding my bicycle quite some distance over the city streets to the local library. When I got my driver's license I was literally all over the city, to the different shopping malls and theaters and restaurants. A portion of my book, "Place of Peace" (this title may change) is set in Memphis, and I used my knowledge of the city in writing it. It's more than just a knowledge, though--it's a feeling and an atmosphere that instills itself in you when you live in a place for a long time.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Child of the King" is the third in the "Woman of Sin" series. Although Book II, "Man of God', seemed to wrap things up, it left room for a whole new book with Paulus and Alysia's daughter as heroine. Rachel had endured something very traumatic as a child, and in "Child of the King" she must deal with it as an adult. It was fun creating someone who might or might not be a match for her. I have received several requests for another sequel, and we'll have to see how that goes. I have a head full of other historical time periods I'd like to write about in the meantime! (Update: I've since written another book and I'm working on a new one.)
What are you working on next?
It will be a change in genre for me. It's a novel of the paranormal with what I hope to be a recurring character in a series. I plan to keep my readers updated on my website.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Child of the King: Book Three in the Woman of Sin Trilogy
Price: $4.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 108,730. Language: English. Published: May 23, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » Classical Greece & Rome, Fiction » Christian » Romance
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
As a child, Rachel had left part of herself in Rome...something she thought irreplaceable. And now the one man who can help her find it again does not share her beliefs. As Metellus escorts her to Rome by command of the emperor, Claudius, she'll be challenged again and again to recover not only her faith, but her ability to love.
Man of God: Book Two in the Woman of Sin Trilogy
Price: $4.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 86,390. Language: English. Published: May 23, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » Classical Greece & Rome, Fiction » Christian » Suspense
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Paulus Valerius, former legate in the Roman army, and Alysia, the woman he loves, face danger and betrayal--and the maniacal emperor, Caligula--as they seek to spread the word of God from Jerusalem to Rome. From its suspenseful beginning to its violent and inevitable finale, this is an unforgettable story of those who choose to share the atoning power of the cross, no matter what the price.
Woman of Sin: Book One in the Woman of Sin Trilogy
Price: Free! Words: 127,250. Language: English. Published: May 22, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » Classical Greece & Rome, Fiction » Christian » Romance
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
From the intrigues of Rome to the palaces of Jerusalem, Alysia finds that she cannot escape her enemies--neither the powerful Roman legate who stole her heart, nor his jealous stepbrother who wants to destroy her. Sold into slavery during the turbulent reign of Tiberius Caesar, she escapes to Palestine where she encounters a man named Jesus, and her life is forever changed.
Shadow of Dawn: A Civil War Romantic/Suspense Novel
Price: $4.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 86,940. Language: English. Published: May 20, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Christian » Suspense
Catherine Kelly barely knows the man she marries and he's immediately called to join the Confederate army.When he returns shrouded in black and accompanied by a mysterious woman,Catherine is overwhelmed with conflicting emotions.The appearance of a handsome stranger heightens her confusion and she can't deny a growing attraction to him. A maze of deceit leads to murder and fear for her own life...
On This Night: A Civil War Mystery
Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 65,540. Language: English. Published: May 20, 2019 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
(4.00 from 1 review)
Mallory thought she was safe, until the secret she shared with a former slave came back to haunt her that October night in 1865. The war was over...yet, for her, it would never be over. She couldn't have foreseen that her secret would lead to murder, nor did she expect it to lead to love. It was a night of strange and twisted revelations that threatened to change all that she believed.
Place of Peace
Price: $4.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 93,970. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2010 . Categories: Fiction » Christian » Romance, Fiction » Historical » General
(4.25 from 8 reviews)
Genny Romayne is determined not to marry the man her father has chosen for her.Her pursuit of independence leads her to a man she will come to love and hate, and sets them both on a quest for truth that may cost them their lives...This novel journeys through one of the most perilous times in the post-Civil War South, and tells of a love between two people that-try as they might-neither can resist.
Summons From a Stranger
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until March 9!) Words: 40,060. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2010 . Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Mystery & Detective, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance » General
(4.60 from 5 reviews)
Lindsey Sims is staying with her older sister's best friend, Julie, while her parents are on an Alaskan cruise. Julie Evans has received a mysterious letter from a man she's never met but who is, in a way, part of her family. Lindsey accompanies Julie as she reluctantly answers the summons, and is caught in a grown-up world of greed, jealousy, and murder.