It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Debbi Lynn, author of Road Noise.
About Debbi Lynn:
DJ Lynn / Debbi Lynn writes mystery, thrillers, science fiction, and sexy modern romance. Favorite books include Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, Drift by L.T. Ryan and Brian Shea, authors Paula Hawkins, Dan Brown and Michael Grumley, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, graphic novels including Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, and for fun, all the creative Dugald Steer pop up books.
Debbi reinvented her life from business writer to creative in 2014 when she changed her job type to self-employed, bought a tiny trailer and traveled for 18 months – alone. She traveled in her ‘Writer’s Retreat’ and maintained a website and blog called LiveLaughRoll.com. In 2018, after the trailer was destroyed in a flash flood (while it was parked near Tubac, Arizona), she decided to stay a while in southwest sunshine.
Much of her career incorporated her background in behavioral science working with companies in advanced technology marketing in Silicon Valley. She also designed, manufactured, and sold one of the original children’s shopping cart seats, and is founder of the VIP Silicon Valley Tech Tour (she was a technology history nerd, too), and was founder of an international tech-focused public relations firm. She is also an artist, and you can see a handful of pieces on her website.
She’s the daughter of a church pastor and missionary parents who didn’t celebrate Christmas or really anything at all. She found this appealing but it forced her become a questioner of all things. This ultimately resulted in navigating her life path with a cynically raised eyebrow about pretty much everything. She’s an aloof introvert (or is that the same thing?) so writing is a good career choice.
Other books include: In the Land of Bugs and Rain, Running with Chickens and Leaving Madmen
About Road Noise:
DJ just wanted a life uncomplicated. Instead, she was barely 40 with four failed relationships, a college-age daughter who hated her and a witty preteen son with ADD. At the root, she supposed, were the men. There was the long dispatched unambitious Marley, who preferred surfing to work while waiting out his inheritance. But she was only 19 then, so stupidity figured in to that one. On his heals was Tom, the Armani wearing womanizer. Then Jason. She couldn’t hate him. He had more scars than she. But the one that brought her to this point was Jim, a man ten years younger who loved her just as she was. He had just died of leukemia.
She decided to run. Well, more like a tame three-month road trip with her preteen son. She also made a decision about men. She would think of them like dessert. She would avoid them except for the occasional short-term indulgence, usually resulting in remorse and quickly taking a digestive enzyme.
Author Interview with Debbi Lynn:
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- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I reinvented my life from business writer to creative in 2013 when I started an online magazine called Livelaughroll.com, where I interviewed and reviewed digital nomads and various products and small RVs. My goal was to travel the US myself and write. So, in 2014 I bought a small trailer and lived in it in San Jose at a trailer park for six months while I figured out how to use it (I didn’t have a clue!). At the same time, I began to transition my job type to self-employed and soon began to travel by myself in my little trailer. I called it the ‘Writer’s Retreat’. It changed my life. It gave me time to think without interference from family and friends, some of which we’re not at all encouraging. One member of my family was very unhappy that I was quitting a good job and “spending money on something so silly.” I had worked my entire life from the time I was 16 and by that time, I figured I was entitled. My kids were grown. I had a little bit of money in the bank – not much – but I had a plan.
It was during that time that I started a couple of books including the one that I just published – Road Noise. Although, it is titled Road Noise, that book is about a 3-month road trip I took in 1995 with my preteen son.
But in 2016 I got tired of traveling all the time. Later that year I went to Costa Rica for two months with my son and a few friends. I’m still writing about that experience. In 2017 I decided to call the sunshine of southern Arizona home – at least for a while. In late 2019 I was starting to get restless an find a new place where I could write without interference. I made plans to go to Europe for a while. And then the pandemic happened…
Being the introvert that I am I wasn’t as bothered by the pandemic seclusion as some. I spent the time doing my artwork and finishing the Road Noise book. I also fell off a ladder while doing a large wall hanging art project. It was a bad fall and my arm is now permanently damaged, so I decided to embrace my situation – I didn’t really have much choice – and started calling myself the “writer with the shattered arm”. I also started a website to help others with long term arm injuries called Arms & Elbows: https://armsandelbows.com/.
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I don’t know about everybody else, but for me the hardest part is narrowing down all the things I have to say. I know that a key element for all writers is to edit themselves. That is, to remove paragraphs, maybe whole pages that don’t work and I think for all writers this is extremely hard to do. I’m also an artist and the same issue applies. There’s a point at which you’re over-stating, over-working the art and it becomes very hard to find that place to stop.
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
That may depend on the type of book you’re trying to write. If it’s a business book then maybe a big ego is helpful, at least in terms of promotion, but I wouldn’t read it. I read an article quite a few years ago that you can’t be really good in business unless you’re a narcissist. I was married to a narcissist and worked with many. The first book I wrote many years ago was about my divorce and what a traumatic time that was in my life. Some of that comes out in my latest book, Road Noise. Psychologically there is a difference between narcissism and big egos, but the line is thin. The older I get the more I realize how damaging this personality type can be to all of us. Personally, I think a big ego is damaging to a writing career and that appealing to an audience is about understanding who your readers are and identifying with them in a real and honest way and I don’t think that’s possible if you have a giant ego.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t think I TRY to be original. I have to be. I can’t write something that I don’t what to write about. For instance, I like to read some romance books, but I could not spend my entire writing career writing romance even though I know it’s a big seller. The same is true for young adult fiction. Although my interest-genres may vary, I have to stick with what I feel. The current novel I’m working on is urban fantasy. Although, it has romantic/seductive and fantasy elements the characters are very much part of me.
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I remember the day—the actual moment. I was a young marketing manager for a technology start-up company. All my confidence skills had been learned from Glamour Magazine. Looking back, I might have made better choices. There was an article I lived by that said always act as if you’re on camera. In other words, pretending you were always being observed made you more conscious of what you were saying and doing.
I was the only female manager. Every morning before work I would skim-read the Wall Street Journal. I walked into the office one morning to find our top 3 managers (all men) standing in the lobby chatting. I said hello and joined the group. They were talking about something I had just read that morning in the WSJ. To join in the conversation, I found myself saying, “Oh, yes. I read in the Wall Street Journal this morning about that merger.”
The men acknowledged my comment and continued their conversation, but I quickly realized something critical. The way they spoke and used words was as if they had first-hand knowledge—as if they knew these people—had been there at the merger board meeting. I, however, found the need to qualify my statement with, “I read it in the WSJ…”It was a big ah-ha moment because I realized the simple way they phrased a sentence exhibited complete confidence.