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Interview with Debra Burroughs, Author of She Had No Choice

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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.

Have you written a book that you have not been able to get published?  If so, can you share a little about it with us?

No, I don’t have any books I’ve not been able to get published because I know have the knowledge and tools to publish my books myself. I have many author friends who queried agents and publishers for years, have 200 or more rejection letters saying the book was good but they didn’t think it would sell, and have decided to self-publish and are doing very well. That is the group I move in, and we help each other with tips and advice to all succeed together.

How did you come up with the title?

As I was writing the story, there were just so many times that the characters in my story had no choice, or very little choice, in the paths their lives took them. The story starts in Mexico in 1918 when the Spanish Flu pandemic had ravaged the Ramirez family’s small village and the surrounding towns and villages. To save the lives of their surviving children, they had no choice but to brave a perilous midnight crossing into the U.S. That was just the beginning of a difficult, yet inspiring Sofía Ramirez’s story.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

The next book I’m working on is a romantic suspense novel set in Seattle, called Three Days in Seattle. It is scheduled for release in February, 2012, in time for Valentine’s Day. If anyone would like to follow my progress on it, you can check out my blog  www.DebraBurroughsBooks.com, “Like” me on Facebook at Debra Burroughs (Author), or follow me on Twitter at @DebraBurroughs, where I tweet interesting quotes from my books, among other things.


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About Tracee Gleichner

  • Carlotta Maria Shinn-Russell


    I ordered your book for my collection. I love it; it is like my We Smoked Our Sister. Family history passed down through the generations. It mirrors We Smoked Our Sister set in the 1960’s. So many of the ups and downs and hardship especially right after the great depressions was insurmountable is seem. Your book will take a 5 star place. I will treasure my copy and hope to get you to sign it one day.