Debra Burroughs heard many stories about her large Mexican family's history, particularly from her mother and grandmother. She would relay these family stories to her friends many times over the years and they would always say she should write a book about them.
After continual encouragement and gentle prodding from her husband, she finally decided to do it. Now that their children are grown and gone, Debra has found a quiet place to write in their home in Boise, Idaho.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
She Had No Choice is based on a series of true stories told to me by my mother and grandmother about their lives. This book is a fictitious novel, but it was inspired by those true stories. Both women had a difficult, but triumphant life and went through many difficult situations. At times, it was very difficult to write about some of the cruelties and heartbreaks they suffered. Can you imagine writing about a night your grandmother is badly beaten by her husband? Or the day your mother got a letter from your father telling her that he had found someone else and wanted a divorce? Even though this book is fiction, having to relive those real experiences was very hard for me.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started writing in high school. I wrote a poem that won an award and was published in a national high school poetry book. Then I joined my high school newspaper, became the Feature Editor, then the Assistant Editor. At the same time, I had a teen column in the city newspaper for two years. Off and on over the years I started a number of books, but life got in the way and I never finished them. But finally, I began to write my first book in 2009 and finished it in 2010.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (if any)?
I wouldn’t say I had challenges getting my first book done because I went through a small press publisher. I had met the publisher at a writers workshop she was putting on, and I learned from her that only about 14% of books are published by traditional publishers, and more and more traditional publishers are not taking a chance on a new unknown author. And even the authors they do accept and choose to take a chance on, they still expect the author to do most if not all of the marketing and promotion for their book. So, I decided to have the small press publisher do my first book, to hold my hand and walk me through the process. But after that, I decided to educate myself on the publishing industry and learn what I needed to know to do it myself. So I indie-published my second book, She Had No Choice. I hired a professional editor, hired a cover artist, learned about formatting for ebooks and interior layout for print books. I am constantly studying and learning how I can market my books better. It’s funny, I have people asking me for advice now.