13 Feb 2015

Author interview with Debra R. Borys

Hi Debra! Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Box of Rain is the third book in my Street Stories suspense series. This time the street kid reporter Jo Sullivan needs to help out of a jam is Booker T Brooks, a homeless 21-year-old scholarship student just trying to use education to improve his life. All his hard work means nothing to the police, however, when he finds a diced up gang banger in a dumpster. Especially when the people he trusts the most seem determined to make him look guilty.

What inspired you to write it?
Each book in the series sort of represents a different “type” of kid you might find living homeless on the street. The first one, Painted Black, is about two runaways, one who’s a graffiti artist and one who turns to prostitution to survive. The second, Bend Me Shape Me, is about one of the many youth diagnosed as mentally ill, which means no one wants to believe her when she says her psychiatrist is responsible for one friend’s suicide and may be targeting her brother as his next victim. In Box of Rain, I wanted to call attention to kids who have the brains, drive and morals to be successful in life, but aren’t recognized as such because of circumstances beyond their control. Their path to a happy life is blocked because of what has happened to them, not who they are.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover? 

It’s a very literal image. Booker is digging through a dumpster when he finds the decapitated body of someone he knows. It is spring in Chicago, the rainiest spring in years. He literally finds the corpse in a box filled with rain, thus the title and the front cover image.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I guess maybe it’s the ability to participate in danger and life-threatening situations without really putting myself at any actual physical risk. But it’s not all about the genre. There are lots of suspense stories that I don’t enjoy. To appeal to me, a book of any genre has to have characters that I want to know, that I want to survive and succeed.

What made you want to become an author?
Reading. I loved visiting the worlds I found between the covers of a book and wanted to create worlds of my own.

How do you come up with character names?
First names and nicknames for main characters just sort of come to me, suggested by what I know of their lives and their personalities. For secondary characters, and sometimes for last names, I have been known to just scan a phone book or a list of baby names if nothing comes to mind right away.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett. It’s historical fiction, but she writes such layered plots and characters that I’ve read this book, and the whole Lymond series, at least five times.

Who, or what, inspires you?
People who are willing to spend their time and open their heart and their hands to the outcast, the misunderstood, the less fortunate. People who look beyond the outside of a person to try to see who they really are at the core, and are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Where is your favourite place to write?
On my laptop. Have laptop, will write. I prefer being somewhere I can remain uninterrupted, but I am not opposed to having things happening around me as long as they aren’t intrusive.

Name two of your favourite authors.
Dorothy Dunnett for the reasons mentioned above, and Madeleine L’Engle. I admire them for both their books and for the way they lived their lives.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I love learning new software programs. For Box of Rain, I bought the program Scrivener, which is a great tool for writers and for a few weeks after that, it made me even more eager to get to work every time so that I could figure out how I could use its many cool features to make the writing better and have fun doing it.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
I have moved back in with my mother after forty years of living on my own. You think you’re a grown up until you do something like that and fall back into childhood patterns. J I guess you are always a cute little baby to your mother—I know that’s the way I see my sons, and they are both in their mid-thirties.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’m starting a cozy mystery series and hope to get that first book published this year. Then next near another Street Stories novel. If I could procrastinate less, I might even be able to get two books a year out, one in each series.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
I would love to live in, for at least a few months, a small cottage somewhere in the UK or Europe, near the sea. I would write, get to know the neighbors, and really feel like I belonged there as one of the locals.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I’m afraid my answer will be boring. Because all I can ever remember wanting to be was an author. Of course, I also hoped I would go to Paris or Greece and meet the man of my dreams, too. That didn’t happen, but one out of two isn’t bad odds for dream fulfillment.

Debra R. Borys is the author of the STREET STORIES suspense novels. A freelance writer and editor, she spent four years volunteering with Emmaus Ministries and the Night Ministry in Chicago, and eight years doing similar work at Teen Feed, New Horizons and Street Links in Seattle. The STREET STORIES series reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive. Her publication credits include short fiction in Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Downstate Story and City Slab.
Website   Twitter   Amazon   Goodreads

The Street Stories Series

Painted Black

Bend Me, Shape Me

Box of Rain
In Box of Rain, cousins Shorty Davis and Booker T Brooks grew up in pretty much the same circumstances: single mother, too many siblings crowded into a small ghetto apartment. So what makes one kid choose violence as his method to survive living on the streets and the other choose education? Jo doesn’t know or have time to worry about it. She’s dealing with her own issues when her estranged father comes to Chicago to participate in a cancer clinical trial. When a severed head turns up in an alley dumpster, however, she’s thankful for an excuse to shift priorities and find out why all the evidence seems to point to the one kid least likely to have committed the crime.

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