In Monday Spotlight, we share information about and highlight members of the regional arts community.
This week, we spotlight an author who continues to make a mark on the national book scene, Paula Treick DeBoard. DeBoard’s third novel, “The Drowning Girls,” will be released on April 26 by Harlequin MIRA, the same publisher of her first two critically acclaimed books, “The Mourning Hours” and “The Fragile World.”
Home base: I was born in Napoleon, Ohio, and went to college in Iowa, but I’ve lived in the Modesto area for most of my life. I’m your basic Midwest Modestan.
What you do: I write books, and I teach writing. My first novel, “The Mourning Hours,” was published in 2013, followed by “The Fragile World” in 2014 and “The Drowning Girls” (available April 26). I spend several hours a day staring at my laptop screen and pounding away at the keys, usually in Starbucks or at the Queen Bean. I haven’t quit my “day job” as a teacher yet – I just can’t seem to walk away from it, and most of the time the grading and planning and reading (all those things teachers do) are a nice complement to my writing life. I began my career at Ripon High School in 2001, taught junior high at Joseph Widmer School in Lathrop, and since 2011, I’ve been working at the college level. Now I teach writing at UC Merced and at Modesto Junior College. You could say that I find ways to stay busy.
How you knew: Writing used to be a hobby that I practiced in my “down time” (a rare commodity for an English teacher). But really, I’ve considered myself a writer since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and in one way or another, writing has always been part of my life. In 2008, I decided to take a major leap and enrolled in a low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. Talk about a long commute! Not everyone needs this kick in the rear to write a book, but I did. The feedback from my peers and mentors sharpened my skills, and at that point I decided not to treat writing as a hobby anymore. My master’s thesis was a rough draft of “The Mourning Hours,” which sold in 2011 in a two-book deal. It’s been full-steam ahead since then. In many ways, writing brings together all the sides of my personality – the quiet kid, the reader, the critic, the person who likes to lose herself in a project for hours on end. I create things, and that’s pretty cool.
Go ahead, brag: “The Drowning Girls” releases on April 26, and the book has been chosen by Target as part of its Emerging Authors program. My publisher, MIRA, is also re-releasing “The Mourning Hours” at the end of May. It was a bit of a sleeper hit and continues to do well. Right now I’m working on a fourth novel, which will be released in 2017. I didn’t expect anything at the beginning of this journey – I said all along that I would be content no matter what happened. With that in mind, every moment along the way has been fantastic. Sometimes I’m asked what has been the best thing about being published, and I can honestly say that everything is the best thing – every email from a fan, visit with a book club, or workshop in a classroom is a chance to talk about something I love. Also, there’s this: Once, the audio book for “The Mourning Hours” was the second-best-selling book on Amazon, right after one of the “Harry Potters.” It was only for a brief moment, but I have a screen shot as proof.
Check you out: There’s a book launch party for “The Drowning Girls” on Thursday, April 28, from 6-9 p.m. at Tresetti’s on 11th St. (Modesto). It’s open to the public, and all book lovers are welcome. Barnes & Noble will be on hand to sell books and I’ll be signing. On Saturday, April 23, I’ll be reading with some of my UC Merced and MJC colleagues at Fresno’s LitHop literary festival (lithopfresno.wordpress.com). I’ll also be reading at Ripon Memorial Library on Tuesday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m., and that’s also open to the public.
Online: Information about my books and upcoming events, as well as my sporadic blogging, can be found at www.paulatreickdeboard.com. The books themselves are available in paperback, e-book and audio from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other booksellers.