Friday , February 23 2024
"I alienated some friends, ignored my family for long stretches of time, and sometimes forgot to take the kids to school. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done."

Interview with Deborah Rix, author of ‘External Forces’

Deborah Rix 7Deborah Rix began writing in an act of sheer desperation. Caught in a labyrinth of red tape from the building department at City Hall, Deborah felt the need for a semblance of control and created characters that would do exactly what she told them to do. She discovered that she enjoyed it and continued writing until she had the makings of a trilogy. As a teen she hung out at loud rock and roll shows, sometimes using her older sister’s ID. She liked it enough that she made a career out of it as a music publicist and event manager. She and her husband have a couple of kids and live in Toronto, Canada where she is the proprietor of the opening soon-ish Lucky Penny, a neighborhood kinda joint. 

External Forces is her first novel.

Visit her website.

What was your inspiration for External Forces?

The story came from reading reports with dire warnings about one calamity or another mixed with astonishing advancements in the genetic revolution.  A zombie apocalypse aside, it seemed as if there were so many things on the brink of going terribly wrong or terribly right. I asked myself “What if?” What if this or that disaster does happen? It won’t be the end of the world as we know it, but what will happen next? And then it became “What if they all happen at the same time?” I blame Scientific American for both my fear and excitement about the future. 

Who is your target audience?

My main character is a 16-year-old girl, which puts it in the Young Adult category by reluctant default. A big theme in the book is the transition, when you are a teenager, from being rather self-centered to realizing that there is a whole world out there that you never really thought about or knew existed. So while teenagers can relate to and enjoy the story, I think there is an appeal on a different level for older readers who can appreciate the story from another perspective.  External Forces is also Science Fiction but doesn’t have aliens, spaceships, gee-whiz inventions, time travel or paranormal creatures. Or zombies. It does have wolves, but not the kind you fall in love with. 

External Forces 7Did your book require a lot of research?  

Google Earth is my friend. I did a lot of research on a whole range of subjects from solar eclipses and meteor impact simulations to how adrenaline is produced and how many seconds it takes to assemble a rifle.  In some cases, days of research and watching endless YouTube videos became one sentence in the book. I want to be as accurate and plausible as I can. I didn’t make up very many things, I extrapolated from factual information or asked experts to do it for me. I think that if I can get it right, I might as well get it right. 

What was your publishing process like? 

I did a fair amount of research, read all the blogs and how-to columns on how to get an agent. I spent hours upon hours researching each agent I queried and seeking advice on my query letter, my opening sentence, my first chapter. In the end I decided I had better things to do and I will really celebrate when I have more five star reviews than I have rejection letters. It would be lovely to have an agent and publisher on my side and if I find the time I will continue to pursue that, but I wasn’t prepared to wait and the whole process was too frustrating. I just signed with a distributor, which is a big step up for my book, and I’m looking forward to getting the second book finished because the whole process will be that much easier the second time around. 

How do you celebrate the completion of a book? 

This is my debut so I don’t have any sort of ritual. What I did do was crack open a bottle of champagne when my book first went live on Amazon. I sipped the bubbly as I stared at my sales page, waiting for someone to buy it. Then I taught my mother how to order from Amazon. 

How do you define success? 

I felt like a success when I got the first five-star review that made me say, “Damn! She read every single word I wrote and really thought about my book. And she loved it.” 

George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”  

I can relate. Writing was a compulsion that became an obsession. I grabbed every available minute that I could to write. I hardly slept; I woke up thinking about my characters. I alienated some friends, ignored my family for long stretches of time, and sometimes forgot to take the kids to school. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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