What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi, I’m Debra Chapoton. I was born and lived my whole life in Michigan.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I first considered myself a writer when I got an advance from a real publishing house just last year.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Yes, almost ten years. “Edge of Escape” went from concept to novel to contest to total rewrite to self-published to discovered. Then it was bought, translated into German, retitled and is a debut success on another continent. I retained the rights to the English.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
“Sheltered”: Five troubled teens confront demonic forces and deal with their problems in different ways; paranormal meets psycho meets budding love.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I’ve written most of my books in three months time, but then it takes many more months to edit, work on the dialogue, shape the plot, flesh out the characters, etc.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
My favorite character in “Sheltered” is Megan because she has made a life-changing mistake but is strong enough to reverse the consequences.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
For “Sheltered” I started with a desire to write a paranormal novel about demon-possession and concentrate on the manifestations of demons as portrayed by historians of two thousand years ago. What the ancients saw as demon possession then science and medicine today would call epilepsy, schizophrenia, mental disorders, and so on. But what if that’s not true? What if demons exist (and I believe they do) and what if they mimic those problems? Next I wrote out my characters’ names, relationships, habits, appearances, quirks, and individual problems and then put them in an unsupervised living condition. I wrote scene one and then let the characters take it from there. As they interacted with one another, stuff happened (and stuff I planned didn’t happen) and the plot took off. I chased behind waving my notes and clicking on the keyboard from time to time. It was fun.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Absolutely. Every character has a little bit of me to start with – I just can’t help it. As I write out little character sketches I often add a note that this person will have an attitude like [name of former student] or looks like [a certain relative], or has the same habits as [that jerk down the street]. I even use first and last names of people I know or former students, but mix them up.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Every book should have a message if not a moral. “Sheltered” has a number of messages since it hits on the subjects of teen suicide, self-mutilation, depression, homelessness, and the occult. There’s definitely a moral to the story, but different readers will interpret it in opposing ways based on their own beliefs. That won’t make everyone happy, but it will make everyone think about some pretty deep stuff.
Where can readers follow you?
I have a Blog: www.edgeofescape.blogspot.com
Twitter Name: @ChapChica
Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/grammarguru.