An Interview with Debra (Lauman) Kingsbury: I. Joseph Kellerman

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Deb (Lauman) Kingsbury is the author of two books and is an avid hiker, she is originally from Rhode Island but now resides on Arizona. You can read about one of her long distance hiking adventures in Hiking the Appalachian Trail.

We interviewed Deb today about her books. I. Joseph Kellerman and A Picket Fence in Pawpaw.

You can find Deb on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraLauman and here on Squidoo at: http://ramkitten.squidoo.com/.

Enjoy!

Squidoo Interview

by Bonnie Diczhazy, Squidoo Head of Community

How did you come up with the title for I. Joseph Kellerman?

That’s also the name of the main character, a troubled psychiatrist loosely based on a real man (now deceased) of a different name. The “I” is the initial of my 59-year-old fictional doctor’s first name — Isaac — which he hasn’t used since he was a child, when the last time anyone called him that was at the moment of an extremely traumatic event. As much as he can’t bear to hear anyone call him Isaac, Dr. I. Joseph Kellerman has long used that first initial on the “shingle” outside the Boston row house where he lives and works, as a reminder to himself — a penance of sorts — of what he’s believed for decades was his fault. The “I.” also has some other symbolic references related to Freudism.

As far as the rest of the name — Joseph Kellerman — it just popped into my head when I dreamed up the character. I liked the sound of it and also the mental picture of the face that immediately came to mind when I thought of it. Also, my character, like the real man, is Jewish, so the name is appropriate in that way, too.

Where did you get the idea for your second book: A Picket Fence in Pawpaw?

As with “I. Joseph Kellerman” and several other stories I’ve written, the plot and the main characters came to me while I was hiking. Something about the physical activity and the fresh air just gets my creative juices flowing.

And then the setting for the story and some of the minor characters were very much influenced by the small town in southwestern Pennsylvania where I was living at the time I wrote the book, including the twin sisters who owned the local beauty salon. They’d cut my hair in tandem while watching soap operas on the old TV they had in the shop more than they were looking at my head. Amazingly, my haircut was never lopsided, and I never lost anything BUT hair.

How did hiking the Appalachian Trail influence your writing?

It was on my 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail thru-hike that I wrote the first draft of “I. Joseph Kellerman.” I had so much time to walk with my own thoughts, day after day. I always paid attention to what was around me — not to mention my footing — but I also did a lot of daydreaming and “mental movie-watching.” Once the spark of an idea had been planted in my head by a hiking friend of mine, when she happened to tell me about the real psychiatrist she knew back in New York City, my imagination took off ,and I got to know to the story and the characters so well as I walked for hours each day. Then I’d scribble notes, bits of dialogue, scenes and settings while lying in my tent each night, mailing home chunks of that draft each time I’d come to a town with a post office. I was so physically, emotionally, and psychologically at peace and satisfied on that long trek, it was easy to be creative.

What was the hardest part of writing your books?

Honestly, the writing was the easy part. I enjoyed it so much, even when I sometimes made myself cry because I’d get so wrapped up in the characters’ lives. They were so real to me, and I loved every minute of the writing process. It was what came after that — dealing with the publishing industry and the marketing — that’s been the hard part.

What are you currently working on?

These days, my writing and working life, which are basically one and the same, are focused almost entirely on making a living. So I’m not doing as much creative writing for myself, for the pure joy of it and the joy of sharing what I conjure up with willing readers. I’d love to get back to that someday, but, for now, I’m very busy as a freelancer, working for several long-term clients as well as taking on a steady mix of isolated projects that come along.

My writing these days is, for the most part, devoted to articles, blog posts, website content, marketing campaigns, and an extensive non-fiction book series, all for other people and businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this type of work very much and am always learning new things, but I do miss the creative freedom of novel-writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m usually involved with other passions of mine, namely spending time with my husband and best friend, Jeremy, and our four-legged, furry family (our dogs), as well as hiking, Jazzercising, and volunteering for Search & Rescue. I’ve been involved with SAR since 2007, going on hundreds of missions as a member of our busy team, keeping up with ongoing training, serving as an operations leader, an instructor and a member of the Board, and taking part in other community-related SAR projects.

Occasionally I try to lie around and do nothing for a while … but I’m not very good at that.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Wow. Hm. I’m not very good in the advice department either, especially when it comes to this ever-changing world of publishing and self-publishing. First and foremost, though, I guess I’d say — as cliche as it may be — write because you love it. Focusing this advice on fiction-writing, I’d say write for the joy of it and to bring pleasure (and other emotions) to others. If you can make potential income a secondary thought and write primarily for the pleasure of the pursuit and the sharing factor, that’s excellent in my book.

As far as writing novels, sure, it’s possible to make a living from that, but the percentage of those who really make significant income as novelists is relatively small. Very small, actually.

That said, if you really want to get what you’ve written out there in front of readers, then you’ll have to put the time into learning the ins and outs and different options available in the publishing industry today, not to mention branding and marketing. And you’ll need to be persistent. Unfortunately, the adage “if you write it, they will come” doesn’t really hold true for most of us. Unless you just want to give away some books or ebooks here and there (which is fine), you’ll have to do the hard work to get it out there. So try to have fun with that too, I guess.

A Picket Fence in Pawpaw by Debra (Lauman) Kingsbury

Bonnie Diczhazy, Squidoo's Head of Community will be interviewing up and coming authors for Squidoo's "Authors On Squidoo" Series. If you're an author who'd like to be interviewed please e-mail her at bonnie@squidoo.com. Squidoo royalties from the author series lenses go to the Room to Read charity.

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  • DaisyDixon Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:23 pm
    I think your books sound very interesting, and will put them on my to-read list. I like the advice you give to new authors and your realistic take on the industry. I agree that you should write because you enjoy it and not just to make money. Great interview, loved hearing about your books as well.
  • Ramkitten Feb 06, 2014 @ 11:13 am
    Thank you for the interview, Bonnie, and all of you for your nice comments. I appreciate it very much!
  • trevorjb1406 Feb 06, 2014 @ 5:55 am
    Very nice interview and lens. Interesting how you managed to be creative and walk at the same time. Being a writer sounds like really hard work to me! Good luck with your books.
  • SherwinG Feb 05, 2014 @ 8:15 pm
    Great books and a great interview. Wot 2 books. Congratulations on your success.
  • theraggededge Feb 05, 2014 @ 5:23 pm
    I loved I J K. I didn't know you had a second book out, Deb. I must get to it. Great interview Bonnie.
  • Susan52 Feb 05, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
    Loved reading what went into the character building and writing process. Perhaps I should take up hiking... Great interview!
  • grammieo Feb 05, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
    My library is growing with some fantastic reads...................thanks for interviewing Deb for us all! Great interview!
  • KathyMcGraw Feb 05, 2014 @ 12:54 pm
    I too have read Deb's books, and many, many of her adventures like spending time in Nepal with their search and rescue dog group. The one piece on Squidoo that Deb wrote, "A Man Called Screamer" (I think that's the name) I have admired her writing, and have been lucky enough to be one of her clients. This was a good interview, I enjoyed it!
  • DebMartin Feb 05, 2014 @ 12:18 pm
    These sound like books I'd very much enjoy. It seems the Appalachian Trail has influenced many a good writer.
  • tonyleather Feb 05, 2014 @ 11:16 am
    I shall have to look out for these titles!
  • partybuzz Feb 05, 2014 @ 10:24 am
    I've read I. Joseph Kellerman and A Picket Fence in Pawpaw and both are wonderful books. I recommend them! Deb is a very talented writer.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Feb 05, 2014 @ 10:06 am
    Congrats to Deb on all that she has, and is, accomplishing. I have always appreciated her writing. Hiking does the same thing for me in terms of exercising my creativity. Would love to do one of the long walks Ramkitten has experienced.
  • JaguarJulie Feb 05, 2014 @ 9:59 am
    Debra, you are such an inspiration to the rest of us. Amazing to think of hiking 2,200 miles -- usually, each weekday, on the treadmill, I strive to almost hit the 2 mile mark. Can't wait to see what's next. ;)