Frequently Asked Questions about Deborah Davis's Writing
About Deborah's Writing
Why do you write for teens?
Who needs good books and stories more than young adults, who are figuring out who they are in relation to the rest of this insane and yet beautiful world? I write for teens because I think it’s an important thing to do, and because the stories that come to me tend to be from the point of view of a teenager. And maybe, just maybe, some part of me is stuck in adolescence. Or not stuck, but happy there. It’s a fascinating place.
Is it fun to be a writer?
Some things about being a writer are fun, like going to writers’ conferences, where I can hang out with other writers. When I’m not on a tight deadline, I love taking breaks when I want, going for a bike rides when the sun is out, or figuring out a story problem while hiking in the East Bay Hills. It’s fun when new ideas come to me for stories or characters or an interesting way to develop a scene. But mostly, writing is just plain hard work, requiring a lot of concentration and keeping myself glued to a chair.
What's hard for you about writing?
Spending a lot of hours alone. Rewriting. Thinking analytically about a story—What would this character do in this situation? What is the meaning of this story? How can I write a fantastic ending that will leave readers thinking and talking about my book for days? And being patient: persevering to answer those difficult questions, and taking the time the time to write a scene or chapter or whole book three or six or a dozen times until it sings.
Where do you get your ideas?

Many ideas come from my experiences, although by the time they filter from my memory to my imagination, they aren’t recognizable as mine. For example, Not Like You draws from some of my relationships, meetings with alcohol, time in New Mexico, and personal losses—but Kayla’s story is completely different than my own.

Some ideas just come to me, and I can’t tell you from where. That’s a big question, along the lines of ‘What is God?’ and ‘Is there a collective consciousness?’ Our brains are amazing—their capacity to remember, to forget, and to reshape the details of our sensory and emotional experiences. Is the imagination simply a function of the individual brain, or does it tap into something larger? Hmmm.

What is your writing schedule?

It’s variable. I’m basically a 9 to 5 writer, with those hours chopped into 2- or 3-hour segments when I focus on one chapter at a time. At some point most days I go for a walk, run, or bike ride, and when I go is dictated more by the weather or when I can walk with a friend than by any regular schedule.

When I’m starting a novel, I’m like a dog circling and circling before it settles down to sleep. I might circle for days, weeks, or months before dropping into the focused, dreamy state in which a story becomes so engaging and alluring that it pulls me along. Sometimes it feels like a fight to find the main thread of a story, and during those times my writing schedule is more erratic. But overall, I’m very disciplined, in the sense that once I commit to a story I see it through, no matter how long it takes.

Are you in a writing group?

Yes. It helps to get good feedback on my work-in-progress, so I’m in a group with other experienced writers. We meet once a month, and while we like to schmooze and gossip, we mostly focus on critiquing each other’s work.

For more information about how I became and am still becoming a writer, please read my autobiography.
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