Hope you're all enjoying the holidays. Let's keep that Christmas spirit going a little longer by chatting with a fab author. Say hello to Debra Purdy Kong.
Welcome, Debra. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I put myself through school by working as a secretary. After graduation, I sold my car and spent a year traveling and working in Europe, where I kept a journal, wrote long letters home, and began my first short story. I wound up working for a firm of solicitors in London, England, and sharing a flat with an aspiring singer/actress, who loved my writing. By the time I came home, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I also knew it would be a long time before I made a living from it, if ever. So, I returned to secretarial work, then married, had two children, and continued writing whenever I could. I still love it; probably always will.
The European trip happened in 1979, so I've been writing for most of my adult life. Fifteen months ago, I signed a contract with TouchWood Editions, and left my part-time job, working in security (which turned out to be great book research) to write fulltime. It's been the best fifteen months of my life!
Tell us about your books. What are they about?
I self-published two mysteries that feature a young tax auditor, who stumbles into murder and finds himself in way over his head. Both books are centered around white-collar crime. For the first book, Taxed to Death, it's fraud, and in Fatal Encryption, it's computer sabotage.
How did the idea of the stories come to you?
My Bellamy novels came out of my secretarial experience while working for a firm of chartered accountants. One day, I was having lunch with articling students and talking about mystery novels, and one of them said, "How come no one writes about us?" And I thought, yeah, why not? Because a lot of the C.A.s I met certainly didn't fit the stereotype.
The idea for my Casey novels also grew out of a work experience many years ago. I was doing temporary work for the bus company many years ago, when I learned that the company employed undercover security officers to catch thieves, perverts, vandals, and so forth. I thought this was a great idea for a character. After I published Taxed to Death, I began my first Casey novel, but it took a long time and twelve drafts before The Opposite of the Dark came to light, so to speak.
Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I have all three, actually. A critique group of writers, none of whom write mysteries, yet they offer a unique perspective. A colleague is currently reading the fourth Casey novel straight through for continuity and pacing, which really doesn't work in critique groups. I also do a lot of self-editing! 80% of my writing is actually editing.
I hear you! What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part is tackling the second draft. I like to write a book straight through, and although I have an outline for most of it, there's still a lot I need to change and it feels like it takes forever to make those changes in the second draft.
Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
I have to have something to drink: coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, decaf green tea or peppermint tea in the evening, or a glass of water. Picking up the mug is my way of pausing to think about a sentence or paragraph I've just written which I'm not sure about.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Well, I don't know if it's a super power, but I'd have endless energy!
I need some of that, lol. Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: subway, rhinoceros, and candy machine.
Desperate for a Milky Way, the rhinoceros charged through the subway and crashed into the candy machine.
Why do the Madagascar movies come to mind? LOL. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
I'd love to give a shout out to the wonderful reviewers and readers who've taken the time to say they like my books. And a huge shout-out to my critique group who've been so amazing over the years.
And finally, where can people find you and your books online?
They can find me on Twitter @debrapurdykong and on Facebook. I also have a fan page called Casey Holland Transit Security Mysteries. I write a weekly blog about the strange and outrageous goings on in the white-collar crime world, and contribute to a shared blog all about the writing world at http://writetype.blogspot.com
All of my books are available on amazon.com, amazon.ca. Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption are available on Kindle, and The Opposite of Dark is available at iBooks and on Kindle.
Link to reviews and book trailer for The Opposite of Dark can be found here.
Debra, thank you so much for chatting with us. Your books sound great. Good luck with all your writing!