Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introducing Debbie Fuller Thomas

Gentle writers and readers, this site is for you! We want to give a shout-out to some of our followers: Lady Catherina, Miss Daisy Anne, Melinda Patton, Jimmy Davis, C D, Karen, Lilac Grandma, Hope Wilbanks, Jan Parrish, and Nichole Osborn. More welcomes to come on Monday!

Conflict is central to fiction, but how do you create a work of fiction that is tense, difficult, and sometimes even frightening, yet make it a place readers want to go to, spend time in, and get to know well?
I think when readers fall in love with characters, they will follow them anywhere. When a connection is made, when the reader knows what the character wants and how impossible it is to get, they don't want the character to go in alone. Those of us who loved The Lord of the Rings followed Frodo right into Mordor. The fear, physical exhaustion and despair were palpable, but we climbed Mount Doom right beside him, and were left yearning for more when the story was over.

Where is the strangest place that you had a brainstorm and had to stop and write down an idea or snippet of dialogue?

My daughter used to accuse me of not paying attention to her Little League games because she could see from the outfield that I was writing in my notebook. My husband accused me of writing most of my first novel during his sermons, and he's probably right. But when I started Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, it was on the way down to Disneyland with my family after my last radiation treatment for breast cancer. I had purchased a magazine to read on the road, and an article gave me a great idea. I think I felt like I had permission to resume my life at that point. I wrote in the car for seven hours, and finally had to stop when my family insisted that we go into the park.

Of your favorite books, what one do you wish you had written, and why?

I wish I had written Leif Enger's book "Peace Like a River" because of the beautiful prose, but more importantly, because
he wrote about faith and miracles in such a way that they unfolded from the character's life, as one reviewer said, 'without a hidden agenda.'

What are your favorite things to do to take a break during a long writing session?
I really enjoy
cooking comfort food. I'll put on a pot of soup, roast a chicken or make a pot pie (I always make my own pie crust). It makes the house smell so good. Then I might enjoy an older classic comedy like "The Philadelphia Story" or "Holiday Inn," or a newer classic like "What's Up Doc?"

How do you know that you have achieved what you're aiming for in a particular passage you're writing? (That is, before showing it to someone else - what rings your internal chime?
I think of Robert Frost's quote, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." If I dig deeply and draw from my own desires and failures, and can transfer that to my characters and their situations, I feel successful. If they are flawed but they don't quit believing or striving to change, I know I'm on the right track. They can make me cry, but they can also make me laugh.

Tell us about the relationship between your writing and your spiritual life
When one suffers, so does the other. When I depend on God to be my 'muse' and ask him for the words and the story, He always provides. But if I get busy, or try to write on my own, it's worthless junk. Likewise, writing helps me to ask some hard questions of God. Why do kids die? Why do marriages go bad? How do we recognize truth when we see it? I think it's helped me to be a little more authentic in my relationship with God, and He's been graciously tolerant!


Latayne C Scott said...

One thing I learned about you, Debbie, from both meeting you in person and reading Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, is that you are still waters that run very, very deep. What you write comes from what seems to be an infinite underground spring of precise observation.

You did a wonderful job in your novel of making two unique POVs credible -- and not only that, really making the reader care about both of them. Plus you have the ability to understate and use symbols (the mother's fingernails, for instance) so effectively. I'm looking forward to more from you, and very proud to be associated with a writer of your caliber.

Latayne C Scott

Kathleen Popa said...

So true what you said about following Frodo into Mordor. We do it every time, don't we?

And I'm so glad you write in church - I've done that. I took a whole character from a visiting preacher during his sermon. He probably thought I'd fallen under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the way I was taking notes, the way I couldn't write fast enough.

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon is riveting - a total immersion into the relationship between a mother and daughter who are literally strangers, and their struggle to love and trust one another. Latayne is right, Debbie: still waters run deep. You look so normal, and yet you write with such depth and grace.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Thank you, Latayne and Katy, for your kind words. Coming from the two of you, it is high praise indeed! And I am exceedingly grateful that I appear normal on the outside. As writers, don't you sometimes feel that our thought processes set us apart from other 'normal' people? I told my husband that I didn't even know two of my characters fought until I got them into the same scene together. He said, "Now you're scaring me."

Patti Hill said...

All I can add is thanks for being a part of Novel Matters, Debbie. You're amazing. I ditto all the things Latayne and Katy said and wished I said what YOU said.

I have tons to learn from you.

Anonymous said...

Debbie: I agree with all that's been said here. You're a great writer and a great person/friend. I love that we're in this journey together. I can hardly wait to read Raising Rain. May the Lord continue to bless you with good health, wonderful family relations, and inspiration.

Bonnie Way aka the Koala Mom said...

That's hilarious about the places you've written! :) And I like your comment about following Frodo into Mordor. So true.

Martin Reaves said...

Debbie, you are my hero.

Kindred Heart Writers said...

I love your blog. Thank you for coming together to provide such wonderful information for writers. I was touched by the Robert Frost quote. As beginning fiction writer this blog is inspiring. I feel the passion in each one's posting.

I look forward to reading more from each of you.


Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I feel so fortunate to be part of this blog. I hope we are able to inspire and encourage you on your journeys.

Sharon & Patti, thanks-it's a joy to be among such talented people.

Koala Bear Writer -I think I know my way through Mordor blindfolded by now!

Marty- I expect a plug when you hit the bestseller's list!

Kindred Heart Writers - We'll try our best not to disappoint.

Laura J. Davis said...

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader...thanks for that! Very good advice that I will take to heart.

Bonnie Grove said...

I'm on the last BIG PUSH of intense line edits today with my hawk-eyed editor. Great inspiration found here on your post, Debbie.

Bless you, darling!

Nichole Osborn said...

I second what Laura said!

Hope Wilbanks said...

Interesting insight! Thanks for the shout out. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm realizing that one of the most unique elements of Novel Matters is the "comments" section. The back and forth with all the bloggers and readers is where so much of the chemistry is happening.

This blog almost feels like a brainy literary group where someone presents the program and then the discussion begins. I'm loving this. It's become one of my can't-miss blogs.

Bonnie Grove said...

I like what you say about connection and conflict, Debbie. It has so much to do with the reader caring about, cheering for resolution - and finding it.

I wonder if I read to find resolution to my own life's conflict, to see it reflected there on the pages.....

Jennifer Erin Valent said...

I'm with you on the junk that comes when I'm not relying on the Lord for guidance in my writing. I've scrapped literally everything I didn't feel came from Him. It just never works! But then, I suppose everything in a Christian's life is like that.

Lori Benton said...

Bonnie, thanks for making me aware of this blog. Looks like it's going to be a good one.