Oh dear, how much space do we have? I could fill quite a bit of it with possible answers to this question! But seriously, much of my identity—both as a writer and as a woman—is tied up in my role as a mother. I’ve been mother to my son for exactly half my life; a long time. My life and my writing took a sharp turn after he was born. In fact, his first five years were the only ones (save for my own first five years) when I didn’t write anything at all because all my creative energies were tied up in him. When I did start writing again it was with a completely new perspective and as he grew older and we confronted many challenges together, that perspective changed yet again. So, being a mother has absolutely informed my writing as well as every other aspect of my life. We’ll have to discuss my days as an international double agent another time!
WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Baking! This has become an absolute passion of mine over the last few years; so much so that I’ve actually had cakes commissioned for special events. I started easy about ten years ago with pies and simple cakes, but then I got really ambitious and started experimenting with flavors and especially with design. This is how I came to make, among others, an Angry Birds Cake, a Stonehenge Cake, an Algebra Cake (to celebrate my son getting through a particularly difficult course), and an Artists Only Cake with a paintbrush, fruit, and canvas all made out of candy. It’s an expensive hobby; I have spent untold sums on things like disco dust and now actually own a cake airbrush kit (I know, it’s out of control), but I love it. These cakes are an amazing outlet for me; a creative puzzle I get to solve that takes far less time and uses different muscles than writing. You can see many of these cakes at my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DebraGinsbergWriter in the photo album “Sweet Process.”
WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I’m quite sure I was born this way. At five, I started dictating stories to my mother because she could write faster than I could and it took too long for me to get my ideas down on paper. Then I made her type them out because I wasn’t allowed to use her typewriter and I wanted my writing to look professional. I was always a big reader as well, which my parents encouraged by letting me have as many books as I wanted and never censoring my choices. So I spent a lot of time in bookstores and my desire to be published was born in me at almost the same time as my desire to write. I have always written for an audience—even at the age of five.
WHERE? Where do you write?
My writing space is at home—a small area between the kitchen and dining room that is cordoned off by two paper screens from Cost Plus. The screens are important because before I put them up, the people in my house would talk to me, interrupt me, and just generally assume I wasn’t working even though I had my head down and was pecking away at the keyboard. Once I put the screens up and they could no longer see me, it suddenly became a private space. We call it the Cone of Silence, even though it is not remotely cone-shaped and looks more like one of those outdoor showers.
WHY? Why do you write?
I write because I am compelled to. Writing is simply what I do. That may sound a bit precious, but it’s true. What I didn’t say earlier about knowing I wanted to write from the age of five was that this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there is a great deal of joy in it for me and knowing what you want to make your life’s work tends to make your direction pretty clear. But it’s also a curse when it doesn’t work, when you feel as if you won’t be able to do it any longer because it won’t pay the bills, or when you think you couldn’t possibly be good at anything else and maybe you aren’t even so good at it anyway. Ultimately, though, writing is as much a part of me as my DNA. After one particularly happy cake session wherein I produced three theme cakes in a short period of time, I told a friend that maybe I could have a crack at baking for a living. “Sure,” she said, “but you’re always going to write.” This is true.
Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Debra! I wished I'd 'met' you a few months ago as I frantically called everyone in the city looking for someone/anyone who could make an Angry Birds cake for my five-year-old's birthday party! :) So you not only write, but bake! I did look at your facebook page and your cakes are amazing!
Now I'm not able to giveaway on of Debra's cakes, but I do have a copy of her book WHAT THE HEART REMEMBERS up for grabs! This giveaway is for US residents only (sorry!) NO PO BOXES!
Here is Charlotte's review of WHAT THE HEART REMEMBERS