The desire to write –
When she was nine-years-old, Debra read the poem, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died” by Emily Dickinson. That little poem stirred something in her—a desire to capture on paper compelling moments of life in a simple way. From then on she wrote little books of poetry. Debra always longed to write fiction but non-fiction was a natural place to start her writing career. As a mental health therapist, clinical supervisor and former educator, Debra has specialized in post trauma treatment for all of her career.
At age 31, a publisher in New York offered Debra a contract to write two series of workbooks for children and teens healing from trauma. Her nonfiction writing took off from there. She has published more than fifteen books written to help children, teens and families recover from traumatic life events. She also served as a consultant to the award winning video series: Saving Our Schools from Hate and Violence (HeartLand Media, San Francisco, CA). One of her most meaningful projects, The Emotional Recovery Resource Kit was created at the request of her New York publishers in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The project was a privilege and honor for her to write; it was one small way to contribute to those impacted.
Over the next few years, Debra’s desire to venture into fiction grew stronger. The story of Zetty began to consume her thoughts, paper tablets, and even the backsides of her gas receipts. She was determined to make the leap into fiction and went to work learning the craft. Written during stolen moments between work and motherhood, Debra finally gave birth to her award-winning novel, Zetty.
The landscapes of life—
Raised on the warm sandy beaches of San Diego, Debra enjoyed a fun-filled childhood including bonfires, boogie boards, and family road trips. When not at the ocean, she consumed a steady diet of old westerns and musicals, something she still admits a weakness for. Her debut novel, Zetty, takes place in Windansea, California, a small, beautiful beach community in San Diego. Like the main character in the story, Debra grew up with a love for the ocean, cowgirls, neighborhood dance shows, pianos, golden retrievers, and art. Friendship and motherhood have always been central themes in her life and will always be central in her characters’ lives as well.
After graduate school, Debra moved to upstate New York with her husband, a native New Yorker, and lived there for nearly four years. They returned to San Diego where Debra completed a Ph.D. in Psychology and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Oregon. She misses the San Diego coast, but now her home backs up to lush green fields, horses, stunning sunsets, and hazelnut orchards. Southern California was the inspiration for her first novel, but it’s in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest that she’s found her vision for the next one.
Debra has one grown daughter and is semi-retired to allow time to do more of what she loves: write fiction and care for her granddaughter. Married for 35 years, she and her husband live with their two loveable labs in Oregon.