Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meet Debbie Vaughan

Today I am delighted to be interviewing the wonderful Debbie Vaughan. Even better this interview is being simulcast over on Cornelle Keveen’s blog. Debbie had me on Cornelle’s couch a while ago and it seemed only right I return the favour. I am sure his post will be all singing and dancing, disco balls, flashing lights, loud music you know the gig. Well, that is assuming he has managed to rebuild the set.  Last time we visited there was a little misunderstanding about what kind of grenade he wanted us to bring.

Hey, don’t blame me!  The man said bring hand grenades, I brought hand grenades.  How was I supposed to know he meant a drink?  I barely remember that interview!  He was the one who decided to juggle the damn things.

It was a simple mistake…anyone could of made it.


So, Debbie, before we start can you please empty your pockets.

How the Hell did those get in there?

Uh yeah, they will need to go in this bucket of sand.

Sorry, Leeann laid out my clothes.

*Puts bucket outside, smiles and pats the sofa* Now we are all safe, come and tell us a bit about yourself. How about a nice easy question to begin with?

Why am I worried?

As you know I am a huge fan of your writing.

Aw shucks, thanks!  <big grin>

Whilst you are, as yet, unpublished, you have written three books in a series. Can you tell us a bit about the story and the characters?

Well let’s see…We have Constance Bennett, human.  She’s had a rather tragic life but hasn’t let it get her down, much, except she’s sort of given up on the whole sex thing.  She has a couple of real close friends and her paraplegic dachshund, Willy, to keep her company.

Then we have the new man-about-town, at least at night, Thomas Nathaniel Thornton.  You’ll notice his initials are TNT, believe me, there’s a reason for that. He’s da bomb! :)  He’s a mover and a shaker in the vampire community but deep down he’s a good ole’ boy with a Texas drawl and a large...belt buckle.

Belt buckle? Belt buckle? Is that a euphemism?

What did you think I was gonna say?

Well if you didn’t mean belt buckle you could have said – you know - we’re all adults here. But belt buckle it is *wink*

Last, but by no means least, is Rafael, Raf, to his friends.  “Just Raf, like Cher.”  My best description of him is a young Tony Curtis channeling Richard Simmons.  Believe me the combination is lethal.  He’s old as mud, gorgeous, gay and proud of it!  Oh, and possibly the first vampire-- of course in my world just because it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck-- doesn’t mean it’s a duck.  LOL

There are others in my cast but those are the A team.

Vampires live among humans, many like Tom, are the power behind those who rule the world and have been for ions. While a blood substitute has made it possible for them to make their presence known without much fear of reprisal, it leaves a little something to be desired. Okay, a LOT to be desired.
I should mention at this juncture another well known writer has used synthetic blood as a medium for her vampires to “come out of the coffin.”  This is not a patent concept.  Blood substitutes and extenders exist in the real world. They are of limited use in human medicine but have found some success in the veterinary community.  See, I do research.  :)

Vampires are a popular theme in the urban fantasy genre of late. Your books are not about your average vampires, so what makes them different?

Lots of things really.  I suppose the first would be they are not the bad guys in my series but rather another misunderstood minority just trying to fit in with the “normal” folk.  I also put a different slant on the whole vampire legend.  What if vampires aren’t really demon spawn?  What if they came from… shall we say, slightly higher origins, but had bought-in to the whole stereotypical vampire hype?

Have you always been drawn to the dark side?

Well, yes but not in the way you would expect.  I adore the whole idea of “monsters” and things that go bump in the night.  The flip side is they don’t frighten me.  I have always felt an affinity for them.  I root for King Kong, the hunchback, the Wolfman and especially the vampires in film and prose.  They are so sensual, so tragic so, YUM!  What’s not to love?  ~~fans self~~ Is it hot in here?  I think I’m having Frank Langella flashbacks…

If I hear noises under my bed I’ll know who to call then.

Why?  You got Frank under there?

Moving right along, what things in life inspire you to write?

Everything!  I think that’s part of being a writer, the least little thing sends your mind off on a tangent.  Granted, I lived in my head a lot, especially as a child.  My vivid imagination often runs away with me.  Give me a “what if?” and I will give you a hundred scenarios for the situation.  Is the man helping change the tire for the lady at the side of the road a good-Samaritan or a serial killer selecting his next victim?  Will he be struck by a passing car forcing the lady to save him from the clutches of death by turning him vampire?  Vampires pop-up a lot in my imaginings.

When did you first get an inkling that you could write, and when did you first act on it?

I used to make up stories to keep myself amused as a child.  They often involved knights on white chargers coming to my rescue and were filled with talking animals.

When I got older and learned to read I was voracious.  We had to write book reports for school and my teachers always selected mine to be read aloud.  In high school I was blessed with two wonderful Literature teachers who thought I was gifted and urged me to pursue my passion.  I had a few pieces published in the school paper but I never thought of making it a career.  Life got in the way.  But I kept reading!  Then about thirty years ago I came up with the idea I could write a book, a romance, with time travel and a paranormal element.

The story was written in long hand, and ended up being about 150,000 words! (It was the era of the epic novel.)  Oddly, the story generated some interest but none of the publishers could pigeon hole it.  I was asked to remove the mystery, to focus on the romance, to make the setting all past or the present.  Crossing genre lines wasn’t allowed then.  I wasn’t willing to make those changes, so I shelved the idea.

You recently entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition. I have read your entry and I love it. However I do know this is a rewrite of something your originally wrote many years ago. Looking back, how has your writing changed from when you first wrote it?

That’s true.  Dare to Dream was the novel I wrote thirty years ago.

I suppose the biggest change to my writing has been to lose the purple prose.  I read a lot of historical romance back then and purple was “in”.  The Dare to Dream submitted to ABNA was only about 52,776 words, a third of what it was originally.  I like to think my energies are more focused now.  (It isn’t God but the Devil in the details!) I credit my critique group with helping sort the wheat from the chaff.  Without ERA to guide and encourage me I might have thrown in the towel again.

The business end of writing is brutal.

I’m afraid Dare to Dream didn’t interest the ABNA panel.  That’s not totally unexpected.  While not erotica, it does carry a lot of heat and sensual content, so probably not the best fit for the contest. I have started schlepping it to publishers.

Now that you are not as young as you once were and not as old as you could be, do you think life experience has enriched your writing?

Absolutely!  No matter what a writer may tell you, their own lives are reflected in their work.  Now I’m not saying they have a hunk chained in the basement waiting to be flogged or a vampire under the floorboards in the closet, but the everyday goings-on sets the tone for what the characters do and how they relate to the reader.  Perhaps I relate with my characters more than other writers.  <shrugs>  My heroine, Connie, is a very big part of me or perhaps, the other way round.

What is a typical day for Debbie Vaughan?  Do you have set hours when you write or do you grab the time when you can?

I wish I could say yes.  I like a set routine and thrive on order but that hasn’t been the case for the last few months.  My life has undergone some major changes and I am still struggling to get everything in order.  I have re-entered the workforce after thirty odd years which is thrilling and scary as hell!
My typical day starts at 5:30 am.  I let the dogs out and go feed the horses.  Then I feed the dogs, me, get ready for work and leave the house about 7:45.  When I return from work, I repeat the morning chores and try to set things to rights, washing, cleaning house, yard work, that sort of thing.  I check with ERA and do my weekly critiques and get to read all the stories before the rest of the world. Then I check critiques of whatever piece I have up.

When I’m working on a new piece, I tend to be absorbed by it and will often not leave the computer for hours. All ten of my dogs lie around and watch me pound away at the keyboard. Needless to say, these days most of my writing is accomplished on the weekend.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Well, I’m trying to get Haven, the third book in the Legacy Series, through critique and I’ve just started book four.  I have the title: Heaven and Earth!

Only the title?

Well, you have to start somewhere…

Gees, I’m exhausted just reading that. I may need to take a lie down on Cornelle’s couch once we’re done.

He did very well with the selection.  Red chenille!  Very posh and comfy.  * Debbie bounces on the sofa*

I have heard you talk about your muse, so give me a description and tell me who is in charge, you or them?

I am totally at Raf’s mercy.  He calls all the shots and is constantly surprising me.  I had no idea he would be my muse, but from the moment he stepped into the scene, he took over.  Don’t tell him, but his was supposed to be a minor role, sort of the comic sidekick.  Now an entire series revolves around him, his relationship with Connie and Tom and how they’re linked.  I hope everyone will get to meet him soon and, love him as much as I do.

You know I love him. What’s not to love about a flamboyantly gay Tony Curtis look alike?

My very thoughts!  Oh, and he NEVER lies.

When do you usually get plot motivation?  How do you keep hold of those ideas before they disappear into thin air?

At the most awkward times!  I get a lot of them while I am driving or mowing the lawn.  I bought one of those digital voice recorders, but all I could hear was engine noise.  So, I try to hang onto them until I reach my notebook or computer.  I have a file called “story notes” I stash them in.  I don’t make outlines.  Why bother when Raf will step in and change things anyway.  I come up with an idea and he runs with it.

What has been the most exhilarating moment to date in your writing life?

Oh geeze, I've had several.  The first was when I entered a grossly under edited Midnight Sun in the 2009 Get Your Stiletto in the Door Contest sponsored by the Chick-Lit Writers.  I didn’t win, but I received a very high score and the judges loved my voice and characterization.   As an unknown, I can’t tell you what that validation did for my spirit.  That same work is now being considered by two New York houses.  While there is no guarantee either will accept it and offer a contract, knowing they think I am good enough to consider put me over the moon.  I could probably leap the sun if they would contact me before I die.   LOL

I have also had the opportunity to meet one of the nicest authors on the planet, Ms. Charlaine Harris, who has been a huge inspiration for me and through her board another author, Amber Green.  She asked if I would like to join ERAuthors.  What was she thinking?

One of the things that inspires me most about you is your attitude.  No matter how many times you get a knock back you pick yourself up and soldier on. I am sure there is a publisher out there that will publish your books but that’s easy for me to say.  How do you stay motivated despite the setbacks?

I try to put a happy face on it, but I get depressed like everyone else.  I learned a long time ago if you dwell in your misery, misery is all you will have.

This is a very difficult industry to break into, especially now with the digital revolution.

When I first sent Dare to Dream out thirty years ago.  I sent the full manuscript.  No one wanted a synopsis or query letter, they wanted to see the finished work.  And, they sent it back with suggestion and notes in the margins!  Those times are long gone.

Now everything seems to hang on a couple of well written sentences.   If you can’t write a great tag line it doesn’t matter how good the manuscript may be, they’ll never ask for it.  The big houses no longer accept unsolicited work; you have to have an agent.  That is harder than it sounds. Agents seem to be in a holding pattern, waiting to see which way the wind will blow with e-books.  It’s frustrating and requires a lot of patience.  Something I have in short supply.

One of my favorite authors is Laurell K. Hamilton.  In one of her old blogs she stated she had to send her first Anita Blake manuscript, Guilty Pleasures, out over two hundred times before she found someone willing to take a chance on her.  I have had a lot of rejections, but I am nowhere near her mark!  Yet.
You need more than talent to become a successful author.  You need a thick skin, perseverance and patience but more than anything else, you have got to believe in your work.

Obviously people can’t buy your books but I do know you have a number of free reads available. Where can people go to read them? And discover the joy that is the imagination of Debbie Vaughan.

I have a website: www.debbievaughan.com where you can find some snippets of my manuscripts as well as reviews and excerpts from some of my author friends.  There is also a link:  Get Bit by My Free Reads which will redirect you to my Blogger site: http://www.getbit-bymyfreereads.blogspot.com/
I have a novella called Tom’s Story which will give you a more detailed look at my series hero.  There is also a short story titled, Query This Sucker! Memoirs of an Angry Author, a tongue-in-cheek look at my publishing frustrations. Just click the title is the subject bar.

Now some questions just for fun…

Should I be worried?

Looking back over your life what was your favorite year and why?

1978 and I’m not telling LOL *grin*

You’re the second person who has answered that question and refused to say why. Am I sensing a conspiracy?

My lips are sealed.

Favorite movie and favorite movie quote?

Gone With the Wind: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”  I also like when Rhett scoops Scarlet up and tells her …well never mind.

Maybe you’d better change the subject?

Okay, if you were stranded on a desert island what book would you take to read and why?

Besides Gone With the Wind?   *Debbie flips her hand and raises a brow*

Something to make me laugh.  Any of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, except the last one!  The last one makes me crazy.  Or any of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plums.  Or, there is this Aussie writer who cracks me up…her name is on the tip of my tongue.  Oh yes, Lillian Grant!  I love Happy Birthday, Nancy Tobin.  I understand you have another comedy, Male Order, guaranteed to keep me in stitches and I can’t wait to get my hands on Speak to Me of Abduction.

What is the stupidest thing you ever did?

Stayed married to the wrong man for 38 years.  Luckily, I recently got over it.

I guess it was an easy mistake to make.

Let’s just say my best and worst quality is my unyielding loyalty and leave it at that, shall we?

Thanks for having me.  We need to do this again real soon, only the next time I’ll be Debbie Vaughan, New York Times Best Selling Author!

*Gets up and hugs Debbie.*

Is that a Glock in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Dammit!  I’m gonna kill Leeann when I get home.

*Debbie stuffs three hand grenades into the pocket of her slacks.*

Do these make my butt look big?


::A disturbance offstage gives prelude to a very well timed interruption::

“What do you mean I can’t go out there?  Hmpht.  Here read this and get outta my way.  Yeah.  That’s what I thought you said and the name’s Cornelle Keveen.”

:: That Big Easy glide distinguishes his stride onto the stage.::

Yeah, I bet you two weren’t expecting to see me here in one piece were you?  Zip it Debs and make sure you take those hand grenades with you this time.

Lillian, quit trying to look innocent.  It ain’t working for you.

For those of you reading this in the dark, I’ll bring you up to speed.  These two women are destructive guests.  That’s all I can tell you.  If you want to know more, drop by my blog and read their last appearance there.

I loved the interview ladies.  Ms. Vaughan’s mystery has been revealed at last.  Good job Lillian.  It was rather amusing to see her squirm.

I wanted to sneak in on you two to plug a new concept over in the new studio that my lawsuit against you will finance.  It’s called “On the Character’s Couch.”

Readers will get to delve into the minds of both Author and their lead characters as they sit down across from one another for a little interaction that you will only find at Cornelle Keveen’s space.

I know.  It’s kinda brilliant huh?  And just think.  I owe it all to Lillian’s misdirection and Debbie’s misinterpretation.

::Hands them both their legal notices with a kiss, a pinch, and a wink.::

You’ve both been served Big Easy Style.  ‘Whoa Nah Ya Heard Me?’

Cue the band.  I’m outta here.

What the f…?  Did I ask him to juggle?  I don’t think so!  Call my attorney!  No, wait…Call Leeann.  <Maniacal laughter fills the studio.>

*Lillian shakes her head and sighs* I really need to get a better class of guests around here.


  1. Stumbles in. "Debbie, get that glock out of my back." Sheessh!!

    Grinning, waving at Lillian and Debbie. Hi, Ladies! Awesome interview. Yes, yes, I will behave myself here.

    There's no strip poles, damn it!

    Love y'all and Debbie, please remember me when you're famous!

  2. I just want to thank you for having me on today. It was a blast...well, not an actual blast...
    Anyway, with one minor exception, I had a wonderful time. I'll take care of him, later.

  3. I promise to remember EVERYONE, Jadette. You might want to remind Cornelle.