Debra R. Borys

Debra R. Borys has over ten years freelancing experience ranging from fiction to articles, feature stories, press releases and radio spots. I interviewed Debra last year on Literature & Fiction. She has joined us today to talk about her latest novel, Bend Me, Shape Me.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Debra.

Debra BorysDebra: I recently returned to small town Illinois to be closer to family, but I spent over fifteen years living in Chicago and then Seattle where I volunteered with organizations that offer services to homeless youth and adults.  Getting to know people who live on the streets struggling to survive changed the way I think of them and  sparked an interest in creating my Street Stories suspense series.

I have been a serious writer all of my adult life and have had several short stories published in addition to the first novel in the Stories series, Painted Black.  I operate an on-again/off-again freelance writing and editing business that helps fill in my time and pay a few bills.  I have two grown sons and an adorable mixed breed small dog named Sophie who enjoys keeping me company by the computer.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Debra: With the Street Stories series I wanted to create an awareness of the people who are homeless.  Too often we walk by without looking at the person standing on the street corner or if we do notice we jump to negative conclusions about who that person is.  There are a wide variety of people living on the streets and they all have different stories to tell.  While the stories in my novels are fiction, they are based on reality.  If you find my characters interesting, I guarantee you will find the real people you can meet on the street or at the shelters even more enjoyable and surprising.

Briefly tell us about your latest book.

bend-me-beta-finalDebra: In Bend Me, Shape Me, Snow Ramirez is convinced psychiatrist Mordechai Levinson is responsible for one kid’s suicide and is targeting her brother as his next victim. But no one will listen to a seventeen-year-old street kid, especially one diagnosed as bi-polar.  When her squat mate Blitz slits his own throat in front of her, she knows it’s time to convince someone to trust her instincts.

Once again, reporter Jo Sullivan finds herself the only person willing to listen to one of Chicago’s throwaway youth.  Helping out kids less fortunate than herself keeps her mind off her conflicted feelings toward her father and his battle with lung cancer.  To save Snow, however, she risks her own life in an unexpected twist of events.

What’s the hook for the book?

Debra: My plots are inspired by real life news stories.  For Bend Me, Shape Me an article about a family suing their son’s psychiatrist planted the germ of an idea.  Their autistic son had been exhibiting violent and dangerous behavior after beginning treatment and because the family insisted on further investigation, the police discovered the doctor was actually a paranoid schizophrenic who planned to brainwash his patients into becoming his own private security force.  I simply asked myself “What if?”  What if the patient had no family, no one who cared what happened to him?  What might the end result have been?  For me, the end result was this book.

How do you develop characters?

Debra: The street characters in the series are inspired by the people I met on the streets of Chicago. In some cases, they are loosely based on specific encounters I had, or may be composites of people My protagonist Jo Sullivan is much more negative and dark than I am, but she shares the same concern for helping the homeless and has a thing for tequila, like me.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Debra: People will be able to identify with Jo the easiest, simply because she is the more “normal” character in the way she thinks.  What’s more, she cares and her caring draws the reader into that same emotion. But it is Snow who seems to grab the most attention from readers.  As one reviewer put it: “Snow is strong, brave, troubled and incredibly fierce.  Watching her open up and trust was profound.”  “Snow is a powerful character who has been a part of too much darkness for a girl of eighteen. She is street wise and has spent her youth protecting her brother Alley and drowning her sorrow in pills.”

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Debra: For this book I started using Microsoft’s OneNote to keep track of plot, characters and research.  I created a notebook for the series and then created tabs that will relate to all books in the series, such as Characters, Locations, Research, etc.  Each tab can have many pages; for instance, each character has his or her own page where I can keep track of their traits and background stories.  The tabs can also be grouped into sections, so I create a section for each novel with one page for each chapter where I summarize what is to happen and also record notes and checkpoints I want to remember to go back and look at later.  You can create multiple notebooks for projects and I have begun one for a new cozy mystery series I am working on currently.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Debra: I’ve been very pleased with the reviews of Bend Me, Shape Me so far.  The review excerpts posted below are typical of what’s been said across the board

“Borys offers fascinating characters, a look at inner city homeless children and combines it with a suspenseful mystery that kept me flipping the pages….The pace slowly built towards the climatic conclusion keeping me engaged. Borys did an excellent job of bringing all of the threads together.” — via Caffeinated Book Reviewer

“True to Borys style you get a very surreal feeling of what life on the streets is really like. It’s gritty, dirty, frightening, and cold. She portrays this life effortlessly, and before long you’re pulled into this harsh life these kids live. The plot moves along at a good pace throughout the story, slowing and spiking at just the right points, and the characters are fleshed out so well that you immediately feel a connection to them – even if you’ve never lived the same kind of life.” — via Darian Wilk.

“The author uses vivid imagery that will stay with the reader, and may even haunt you a little when you’re done reading. These books have definitely caught my attention and I can’t wait to see what comes next.” — via Jenn’s Review Blog

What are your current projects?

Debra: Because I recently moved back to small town Illinois where I was raised, and also to do something a little lighter in tone, I am writing a cozy mystery which I hope will turn into a series.  The title is A Bull By The Horns and in it a country wife who is the caretaker of an art colony established on a working farm tries to solve the murder of a famous literary writer.  Or is he?  Suspects include a painter, composer, poet and mystery author, as well as an irascible old neighbor upset at the establishment of such an “artsy, fartsy” community a mere five miles from his doorstep.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Debra: Details and news are always available at my websites: http://www.Debra-R-Borys.com and http://www.StreetStoriesSuspenseNovels.com.

I also have sites set up for each book where you can read the reviews and any news about events: www.BendMeShapeMe.net  and www.PaintedBlackNovel.com .

You can walk into your local bookstore and ask them to order you a copy of either book. If you prefer online shopping, both print and ebooks are available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and ebooks can be also purchased at Kobo.com

Thanks for joining us today, Debra.

Debra Thank you for this chance to share my work with your readers again.

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Frank Fiore

Frank Fiore is a bestselling author with more than 50,000 copies of his non-fiction books in print. He has now turned his talents to writing fiction. His first novel is the five star rated cyber-thriller titled Cyberkill. This was followed up with the five star rated three book series titled the Chronicles of Jeremy Nash. His latest work is a book of speculative and Sci-Fi short stories titled The Oracle.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Frank.

FrankFrank: I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I wrote “To Christopher” under the guise of a book to my young son that leads the reader through social commentary, personal experience and entertaining stories, which take the reader on a thoughtful journey through the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation. My writing experience also includes guest columns on social commentary and future trends published in the Arizona Republic and the Tribune papers in the metro Phoenix area. Through my writings, I’ve shown an ability to explain, in a simplified manner, complex issues and trends.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Frank: In high school. I started a novel but never finished it. Then one summer while in college I did finish a complete Sci-Fi novel. I still have it. It was derivative and not very good.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Frank: Number one – I want to be a noted author with a following. Not get rich, necessarily – which would be nice – but to know that what I have written has entertained my readers and perhaps informed them at the same time.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

The OracleFrank: It’s called The Oracle and consists of a series of short stories tied together by means of a background story – a story within a story (similar to Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man). And like the Jeffrey Archer and Twilight Zone stories, the Oracle short stories are written with surprise endings.

The background story begins with a young musician on his way to Phoenix from Los Angles for a concert. He is given a car by his manager and shortly after entering Arizona it breaks down. Out in the middle of nowhere he decides to hitch a ride to the nearest town for help. While waiting for a ride, the weather turns inclement and he seeks refuge at a ranch house inhabited by an old and lonely couple. They invite him in and persuade him to stay for dinner.

After eating, they retire to the living room. After a while, the old woman offers to show their guest some of their three dimensional slides on their old-time stereoscope.

Being polite, the young man decides to endure the request. His hosts carefully remove a set of slides from a shiny metallic box from under the coffee table and place the first one in the stereoscope’s viewer. They instruct the young man to hold the stereoscope up to the living room lamp and focus it towards the viewer.When the viewer is focused and the light hits the slide, something amazing happens.

The still 3D image begins to move!

The first image he sees tells a tale that happens to be one of the short stories in the series. At the end of the first story, the young man turns to question his hosts on this wonderfully strange device. The couple just smile and offer him another slide. He asks again what the device is and where did it come from. The couple respond that the device is an ordinary stereoscope of the early 1900s that they purchased from a Sears catalog many years ago.

But the slides – ah yes, the slides. That’s another matter indeed.

What’s the hook for the book?

Frank: The main overall story and the all the short stories end in a twist – like the old Twilight Zone episodes. Some stories are meant to shock while others are whimsical. Either way, the endings are not predictable.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

Frank: Many years ago, I started collecting ideas for my novels. I created file folders for each proposed story I would write. As I found any and all material that fit the story line, I would drop it into the assigned folder. This would include websites, books, news items, magazine articles, videos, etc. etc.  This process has worked well for me in helping develop my stories.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Frank: I’ve completed five novels and currently doing research on a sixth novel. I have at least three more in the hopper.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

Frank: Plot. Plot. Plot. Without plot characters have nothing to do. Plot first then develop characters to drive the plot. And in the process, SHOW don’t TELL.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

Frank: A fellow popular author colleague of mine. Write, write and write. Create a back list of books. If one takes off, readers will flock to your other books. The more books you have in the marketplace the better return on your writing time when your first book becomes popular. Then Tom Clancy – yeah, that Tom Clancy – told me to don’t suffer over a book. Complete and go on to the next one.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Frank: I’m from Brooklyn, New York. A Brooklyn boy gets right to the point and in a way that communicates quickly and efficiently.  You would know this if you ever spend time around New Yorkers. So that’s how I write. Conversationally without long boring narratives. If you want a quick entertaining read, then the The Oracle fits that bill.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Frank: This is for the Chronicles of Jeremy Nash.

 “I read Frank’s Jeremy Nash trilogy on the beach in Mexico over Christmas vacation. It was perfect. The characters were believable, the plot kept you guessing, the twists were surprising, and the action kept you turning the pages. All the books were a terrific read, written in a style that just keeps your eye moving and your imagination seeing what’s going on. Now I’m waiting for Nash’s next adventure.”

What are your current projects?

Frank: I’ve just finished my fifth novel. It’s called Murran. I expect this to be my breakthrough novel because it is steeped in politically incorrect controversy. It is getting very good reviews from my beta readers.

Murran is the story of a young African-American boy named Trey coming of age in the 1980s, and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a ‘crew’ in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a violent drug gang. He is eventually framed for murder and flees with his high school teacher to his Maasai village in Kenya. There, Trey learns what a true Black African and African culture is, goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, becomes a young shaman, and returns to America to confront the gang leader that framed him.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Frank: Check out my author website at www.frankfiore.com and my blog at http://frankfiore.wordpress.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Frank.

Frank: Thanks for the opportunity.

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