Debra Jayne East was born the oldest of six girls in Martinsville, Virginia. For as long as she could remember, she loved to keep journals, write poetry and short stories. She researched her family tree and suddenly she understood why. Her distant relative, Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author, born in 1862, who co-wrote a series of novels with cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Learning about her heritage encouraged her to follow her dreams. After she encountered a near-death experience during a routine surgery, she realized her time had come to follow her heart and realize her calling to be a writer. Her first novel, Radiance:Love after Death was released by XOXO Publishing in June of last year.
Debra lives in North Carolina close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoys photography, volunteering and spending time with her family. Currently, she is nearly finished with a second book in her Radiance series and also working on a science fiction novel.Ms. East loves to set her stories in the rural areas surrounding her home.The idea came to her for her first book when after a long depression from the break up of her marriage, she found a crooked heart-shaped stone in the grass near by. It reminded her that even though hearts get broken and scarred from loss that they are still capable of love. Finding the stone renewed her will to go on, and she realized it had a message for anyone recovering from heart break. She passes that message on in Marena Jacobs, her gutsy endearing heroine in Radiance:Love after Death. She hopes her readers will take to heart the wonderful message of a crooked heart-shaped stone that saved her life and inspired a book.
When Marena Jacobs drove home on a cold, rainy night to Eden, North
Carolina, she never expected to meet the man of her dreams, after she
died. Surviving a near fatal car accident, she slowly recovers from a
traumatic brain injury and crushed leg. In the months ahead, she
remains haunted by what happened in the seconds of time she passed from life to death. Was it real or imagined?
Before the accident, her life had almost come to a tragic end.
Contemplating suicide, she found a crooked heart-shaped stone in the
grass that saved her. She realized that it carried a message. "Even
though your heart is broken, it's still a heart, you can still love."
A stranger was about to prove to her how true that was!
What inspired you to begin Writing?
Well, after a break up of a long marriage I found myself alone and starting over in my forties. I was depressed and discouraged. My hope was nearly gone
when I found a crooked heart- shaped stone in the grass. I heard a message loud and clear inside my mind. Even though your heart is broken, it's still a heart,
and you can still love.That rock saved my life and inspired me to weave its story into a paranormal romance novel.It first started on a trip to the library. I read a wonderful book called A Secret Garden by Francis Hodgins Burnett that hooked me instantly. I loved how reading made me feel adventurous, inspired and happy without leaving my room! At seven years old, I then wrote my first story called Ghost and Sabre that my best friend bought for her brother who liked "scary" stuff. I knew I was on to something because being a kid, I didn't even think about anyone wanting to read it. it. She wanted to buy it on her own for her brother. Gee, I wonder if he still has it, lol? I'd like to see it after all these years!
Please share about your latest book.
Marena Jacobs never expected her life to end in near tragedy. While driving home one night in a bad storm, she passes a young boy walking alone in the rain. While she stops to find a place to call for help, her car stalls in the path of an oncoming tractor trailer. Moments later, as she lay dying on the sidewalk, she is offered a second chance at love from an unexpected source. Months alter,waking up from a coma , she must start rebuilding her life. Marena struggles to recall what happened in those seconds of time she passed from life to death. Was it real or imagined? The tall, dark stranger climbing in her window is about to help her remember.
How did you decide to publish this book? Why?
I was watching Stephanie Meyers on television one day, and suddenly she spoke into the camera. She said if anyone had a desire to be a write they should just do it. When she said that I "knew" my book would be published. Why? I think the message of the heart-stone is a message that wants to be heard.
What is your advice to beginning writers?
My advice is to not accept the first publisher who wants to sell your book. Investigate and ask other writers how they are treated. There are lots of bad publishers out there. Three years is a long time to wait to end a contract. Next, don't be afraid to ask for changes in your promotion if its not working for you. It's still your work.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?
It seems funny now, but at the time it was daunting. I did not know how to type well or use Microsoft Word. I taught myself and well, I'm still learning. All my book was written in long hand and had to be typed.
Most writers are readers. What books are on your "to-read" list?
I can't wait to read K.D.Emerson's, Digitus 233 and Karen Magill's Broken Flowers. These ladies can write!
Where can readers find out more about you and your book?