Interview with Deborah M. Piccurelli
Deborah M. Piccurelli is the author of In the Midst of Deceit, her first inspirational romantic suspense novel. When not writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family or friends and shopping for bargains. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons.
Recently, she has put aside several other manuscripts to work on books with subjects of a darker nature. Her goal to finish a current work in progress is the year’s end. After that, it’s agent hunting, and on to the next project.
What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book?
I received the call from the publisher when I least expected it. I had my mom and my niece over to watch videos. When the publisher told me she wanted to publish my book, my heart started pounding out of my chest. I was speechless. After a very short conversation about whether I'd accept, I asked, "So what's next?" The pub laughed.
Tell us some of the background behind the idea for your stories and about the story itself.
I began by deciding I wanted to have one of my characters an unbeliever. I settled on that being the hero, Slade Mitchell. Next, I wanted him to be in a dire situation, and really needy, so I made him suffer head trauma from a near-fatal skydiving incident that leaves him wheelchair bound. Of course, there had to be not only suspense, but romance, too. Enter the heroine, Stasi Courtland.
Slade lives in the fast lane; Stasi is a spiritually grounded, conservative woman. But Stasi would be Slade's rock throughout his entire ordeal, offering solace and hope. Before his accident, Slade had been a top-notch financial advisor. Stasi works from home in the IT field, doing background reports for clients. I needed an occupation where she could be around to help Slade much of the time, and this was perfect.
In light of Slade's business, I came up with the embezzlement scheme, and ran with the story from there. I'm a seat of the pants writer, so I only knew the beginning, some things in the middle, and the end. These days, I'm into more of the dark stuff to build a story around.
I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character whom you relate to and who made an input on your life?
Because of Slade's physical limitations, he needed to learn to stop trying to do things in his own strength and rely on God, once he became a Christian.
What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?
Patience. ‘Nuff said.
Any future plans for your writing that you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?
I’d like to cross over to the general market. For the stuff I’ve been writing since In the Midst of Deceit has been published, I think it would be a better fit.
Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published, especially from someone who has just broken in?
Study the craft, and become adept at it. Many times, I thought I was ready for publication only to find out I wasn’t. You never really stop learning, and there’s always room for improvement.
Any writer’s resources you could recommend?
I love Writer’s Digest Magazine and have always looked forward to what I would learn in its pages. Writer’s Digest Book Club is another of my favorites. You can earn a free book with every four books you buy. What a great perk! The Right-Writing blog is great for lots of free information, as is Faith*in*Fiction. Also, belonging to organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers is a huge help. There are really so many more, but not enough time or space to accommodate them.
What is the process you use when writing a mystery/suspense?
I hope this doesn’t sound trite, but I have no definite process. As a “seat of the pants” writer, I have the beginning, some things in the middle, and the end. What happens in-between is up to the characters. Of course, there are times when things don’t gel, so I’ve got to go back and make that happen.
What is your system to keep the story/clues organized?
I have a very brief outline, which is more like a list of things that happen in the story. I am constantly adding things to it, or changing things.
Tell us a bit about the research you had to do for this story.
I had so much fun doing the research for it. Because the hero, Slade loves parachuting, I visited a drop zone, had them explain the mechanics of a chute, and show me how it’s packed. I watched some jumpers, too. And, no, I didn’t jump myself. I probably should have, but I’m just not that adventurous. The thought gave me palpitations, and I did have children to think about. LOL!
I also interviewed a neurologist who joked that he hoped no one happened to be listening in on our conversation and think we were planning a murder. There was also the young man I spoke with who was an IT specialist and made himself available to answer my questions, no matter how silly. We also had intense conversations regarding Christianity.
In your book, you use the villain’s point of view. Tell us other writers how you dealt with that and the challenges you found using it.
For some reason, I had no problem with it. What does that say about me? LOL! I love being in the villain’s point of view, using what I know makes him/her tick to advance the story. Villains are fun, because you can loosen up and let them do things your main characters can’t.
My main challenge is to be careful not to let him/her overshadow my main characters. But I guess for the villain, as with our hero/heroine, we should start with a profile and really get to know him. What’s happened in his life that brought him to this point? What type of personality is he? What were his parents like? His siblings, if he has any? I know this is all standard stuff, but it works.
To learn more about Deb and her writing, visit her website.
And don't forget to visit our contest page where you can leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Deborah's book!