Friday, August 24, 2007

Debra Webb Finishes Book 66!

by KJ Howe

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday, the Romance Bandits are lucky to have talented and prolific author Debra Webb joining us. Feel free to ask Deb any questions you may have about writing or the publishing industry. This warm-hearted Southern gal always goes out of her way to help others. Here are a few interview questions to kick off the day!

KJ: Congratulations on the upcoming release of TRACELESS, a single title romantic suspense from St. Martin’s Press. The conflict between your hero and heroine, Clint and Emily, fairly sizzles. Clint has been in jail for ten years for the murder of Emily’s best friend and Emily was a key witness in his trial. When Clint is released on parole, Emily comes back home to confront him, while the real killer remains at large. Fantastic set up. What inspired you to write this story?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDW: First, I love wounded heroes. Clint is a man who has been to hell and back and believes he has lost everything, including his ability to care for anyone else. I love proving those big, tough guys wrong! As far as the plot, I grew up in a very small town much like Pine Bluff. Your mistakes follow you to the grave. The whole small town dynamics appeals to me on a very primal level. I find it fascinating how the “family” mindset of small towns reacts to such a heinous crime. Yes, I’m twisted. I know.

KJ: Switching from category to single title is a fascinating process. Can you tell us about some of the challenges/joys you faced when writing the larger books?

DW: The transition was relatively painless in theory. I really wanted to write “bigger” books. I mistakenly thought that a bigger book meant a bigger plot and that’s simply not the case. A bigger book is one with meatier characters and the exploration of those characters to a greater degree. The plots of my “big” books are actually simpler than many of the category length books I’ve done. But the characters are far more fully developed and the setting is an equal character.

KJ: Your Colby Agency books have become a Harlequin institution. How did you come up with the original idea? And, most importantly, after blowing up the Colby Agency building last Christmas, where are you going to house Victoria and her amazing staff?

DW: I wish I could tell you that I’d had this grand plan with page after page of future events mapped out right from the beginning. I didn’t. I simply had a woman, Victoria Colby, who had lost the man she loved with all her heart as well as her only child. I gave her the Colby Agency to focus on and a wonderful romantic interest in Lucas Camp. The rest evolved with the stories. I love the Colby Agency! I can’t imagine ever ending that series. Of course, Victoria and her people will have a fabulous new home. Check out Colby Rebuilt coming from Harlequin Intrigue this November.

KJ: Congratulations on receiving the Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine this year, a well-deserved honor. I believe you’ve written over 60 novels (yes, 60, this is not a typo!). Can you talk a little about your writing process (when you write, are you a plotter/pantser, etc.)? How do you come up with new names for your characters? I can’t imagine how many you’ve had!

DW: Oh, wow. Yes. Number 66 comes out this November in only 8 years. Looking back, I can’t believe how fast time has flown. It has been an amazing journey. I have to thank my many friends, like you, Kim, and RWA, of course, for helping me get here. I’m not a plotter usually. I prefer to get the general idea of where I’m going and just write the book. I start with a character that I want to write, then I add history and then the plot develops from there. Sometimes I start with a plot idea and develop the characters around that. It’s never the same. Names are easy. I have the character in mind and then I give him or her a name that fits his or her personality.

KJ: What advice would you give unpublished writers in today’s market? Where should they focus their efforts?

DW: Always, always focus your energy on the work. Your voice, first and foremost, is what will get you published. No matter how amazing your story idea, the voice must shine on the page. The only way to develop your voice is to write. It’s kind of like working out, you hate it but it’s necessary. Keep writing, never give up no matter how many rejections hit you in the face. Just DO IT!

KJ: The Romance Bandits love secrets. Perhaps you might give us a little insider’s information on NAMELESS, your next Single Title from St. Martin’s?

DW: Now, talk about heroes, the guy in NAMELESS is to die for. Ryan McBride is the epitome of what I love in a man. Vivian Grace is his match on every level. NAMELESS will be released on February 5th. Look for a special sneak peek at the first chapter in the back of TRACELESS. As for a little secret...hmmm...there is one thing that scares, big, bad, I-don’t-give-a-damn Ryan McBride to death...but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is!

KJ: There we have it...just like a romantic suspense author to leave us with a cliffhanger! Deb, thanks for joining us today. If you have questions for Deb, please feel free to ask. And don't forget to pick up TRACELESS. It's a un-put-downable read!


CJ Lyons said...

Hi Debra!!! Loved the Cosmo excerpt from TRACELESS--hot, hot, hot!!!

Can't wait to get my hands on the book!

Debra Webb said...

Thank you, CJ. It's very exciting!

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Debra

Great to see you here! You probably won't remember me but we've met several times, I'm Kelley St John and Janice Lynn's Brit friend.

I'm a HUGE, HUGE fan of your Colby series. They're all upstairs on my keeper shelf. Can't wait to read Traceless too.

My question is that when Lucas was first introduced, he worked for a mysterious boss who really intrigued me. Will he ever get his own book?

Oh and now that I've gushed *grin* how do you write so many books, so quickly?

Julie Miller said...

Hey, Deb!
Wow-Kim Lowe and Debra Webb all in one place. I enjoyed reading the interview.

I just wanted to let you know that I placed my order for TRACELESS at Waldenbooks last night. My reading group selected it for next month's read.

I'm psyched to get my hands on it next week. As much as I love your Colby Agency books, I think this "meatier" story is going to rock!

Julie Miller

Claudia Dain said...

Having just started a series I plan to write forever, I love hearing about your Colby series! So, it is possible to keep it going forever, spinning out new threads and keeping all the backstory straight, AND finding the creative strength to develop a whole new world in TRACELESS. Whew! I'm relieved. And excited for you. Congrats, Debra!

Debra Webb said...

Hey Anna,
Thanks! I love writing the Colby Agency. Remember Lucas's original boss (Safe By His Side) was a bad guy. The man who became his boss later, Thomas Casey, was in the Specialists trilogy. I hope one day to do more Specialists stories!

Thanks, Julie!!!
How cool about your reading group. This is all so exciting!

Thanks, Claudia. Yep, it's possible. The 30th Colby Agency book comes out next February. Number 29 is out this November, COLBY REBUILT.

Shane Gericke said...

How do you work so hard yet stay so fabulously young looking???


heidi ruby miller said...

First of all, good interview, K. J.

I like what you said about focusing on voice, especially the part about continuing to write even in the face of rejections. That's an important point and why so many writers give up just before their big break.

Thank you for the thoughts,

Caren Crane said...

Debra, I'll admit, it was painful for me to read about Clint's experiences when leaving prison and hitting town again. How in the world did you get in his head to write that?

And with such huge public opinion against Clint from the start, was it hard to pace the turn of the tide for the rest of the town? You are too right about small town life--you are who you were forever!

Thank you for the great read!

Cassondra said...

Hi Debra!

Thanks for joining us in the Bandita lair. It's an honor to have you here. Traceless is going on my buy list now. LOVE those tortured heroes. I think the lower the author takes them, the better it feels to the reader when the healing comes.

I wanted to say thanks, mostly, for all you do to give back to the writing community. I got to hear you speak at a chapter meeting in Nashville a few years back, and your dedication to helping new writers was clear then, as it is now. Thank you so much for that!

And Kim! Great interview!

Caren Crane said...

Debra, I also meant to mention that Regan Black is one of my critique partners. I know you guys are friends, so I feel like I know you!

Kim Howe said...

Debra, thank you for being with the Romance Bandits and sharing your expertise! Sixty-six books, I'm going back to bed at the thought! Seriously, I also very much appreciate your wisdom at explaining a bigger book isn't more plot, it's an exploration of character. I can't wait to pick up Traceless and read how your characters spring to life. Congratulations on your amazing success.

From Donnell Bell via KJ!

Keira Soleore said...

Sixty-six books in eight years?! That's more than eight books a year. WOWOWOWOWOEEE!

Debra, an honor to meet you. Thanks KJ!

Your Clint sounds like tough hero material, but I'm so intrigued by how he gets his HEA. I'm going to be sure to pick it up. Did you have much trouble selling this premise? Did you get push-back from publishing houses and agents?

Many congratulations on the career achievement award from RT.

Helen said...

Great interview Debra this books sounds fantastic I love a good suspense usually read historicals but I will be keeping my eye out for this one and recomending it to my Daughter who reads a lot of suspense books.
Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Oh goody Debra on more Specialists books - It was Thomas Casey I meant. There was something about him that appealed as much as Lucas!

And ooh on Julie being here too - adore your Precinct books.

*sigh* it's a good day in the Bandit's Lair!

regan said...

Hey Debra! Great to see you here on Romance Bandits! And great to see the St Martin's release at last! I can't wait to dig in to it.

Congrats on your latest awards and career milestones - couldn't happen to a better person and terrific author!

Regan Black

Aunty Cindy said...

Debra, THANX A BUNCH for hanging out with us in the Bandit Lair today!

66 books in 8 years?!?!?! Aunty is FLABBERGASTED!

I notice your hands are not showing in your picture... Let's SEE 'EM! I'm thinking they MUST be bionic for you to have written that many books in that length of time! FESS UP! Are you really Super Fingers?!?!


Beth said...

Thanks for joining us, Debra! I have Traceless in my TBR pile and I can't wait to have a day when I can dive into your story *g*

66 books in 8 years?? Wow! That is so amazing! You're truly an inspiration :-)

Debra Webb said...

Shane, ha! Thanks! I have a lot of support from my family!

Heidi, exactly! Voice is first, all else is second.

Caren, it was tough to turn the tide of the town in a realistic manner. But, I grew up in a small town and it was pretty instinctive. I think the secret is to move slowly. I love writing the male POV. Especially the wounded guys like Clint. I pay attention to the men in my life and I read a lot of male oriented magazines like Maxim.

Debra Webb said...

Cassondra, thank you, thank you for the wonderful compliments. I love storytelling and I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity.

Caren, Regan Black rocks!

KJ, thank you. St. Martin's actually loved the premise. But I think it was easier because I wrote the first 80 pages with the synopsis. "Showing" them was far better than "telling" them.

Helen, one of my fav historical authors is Lyn Stone. Thanks for recommending me to your daughter!

Regan, good to see you!

Anna, thanks again!

Aunt Cindy, we all must have some secrets!

Beth, thank you!

Debra Webb said...

Thank you for having me. I want to apologize to everyone for not being available as I should have been. One of my daughter's best friends died in a horrible accident yesterday and we are just devastated. Say a prayer for a fine, fine young man and the family he left behind. Jonathan Miles Christian will forever live in our hearts.


Helen said...

My thoughts are with you and your family at this sad time.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Debra, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. My heart goes out to you in this difficult time.

Thanks for coming to see the Banditas. Come back and say hi! I've got to say I'm in absolute awe of someone who is as prolific as you are. Congratulations on your success. Your new book sounds absolutely fantastic. Can't wait to read it!

Keira Soleore said...

Debra, so sorry to hear about your daughter close friend.

Beth, congratulations!! Just saw the news posted on the site. Hope you'll blog about your Call story. Sending virtual champagne and roses to you!

Caren Crane said...

Debra, so sorry to hear about Jonathan. Though he is not suffering now, his family and friends certainly are. Peace and comfort be with you all. Your family and Jonathan's are in my thoughts and prayers.

paranovelgirl said...

I wish you 66 more for starters, Debra! I love romantic suspence and that's what I write too.
Do you ever fear running out of ideas?
Franny Armstrong

Kate Carlisle said...

I'm too late to ask questions but wanted to stop by and tell you, Kim and Debra, what a great interview this was. I can't wait to read Traceless. It sounds fabulous!

I'm so sorry for the devastating loss of your daughter's young friend. My thoughts are with you.

Debra Webb said...

Thanks to all for your condolescences (Spelling?). This has been a very sad few days for us. I can't tell you how much Jonathan will be missed.

And thank you again for all the wonderful compliments. I am so thankful that I'm able to do this.

And, Franny, if you stop back by, so far I haven't had any trouble coming up with new ideas. But there's always a first time!


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