Hello everyone! Today I bring you a new author interview- The lovely Deb Rhodes!
Tell us a bit about your book
I wrote the poems in Brightwood Street Chronicles to express the reality of growing up with sexual violence. Each poem represents a different aspect of my world back then. For instance, Steady Hands tells of my passion for writing in a household that had no use for literary aspirations and, in fact, ridiculed my writing dreams. Holy Ground expresses the incongruity of my mother’s air of refinement at church each week with her passive domestic self who failed dismally at protecting her children.
What would you say is the genre for your book
These are confessional style poems, written in free verse form.
Where did the inspiration come from?
My passion for writing began shortly after my stepdad (my abuser) entered my life during my seventh year. For lack of any other means of expressing my trauma, I turned to writing both as a means of communicating my sorrow and as the only way I could process what was happening to me.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
We lived on Brightwood Street during the years of my abuse. Since I was the family scribbler, or chronicler, it seemed fitting to use the word ‘chronicles’ to describe the nature of these poems. They are a written record of my family’s particular madness.
How long did it take you to finish writing the book before the first edit? How many drafts were there in total?
I began writing the poems about ten years ago. It was a slow process, mainly because in the beginning I didn’t have it in mind to write enough poems for a book. As I began the arduous work of healing from my childhood wounds, I would infrequently be haunted by a particular phrase or sentence rolling around in my mind that compelled me to commit words to paper. Some of these poems were scribbled down in haste and then thrown into a drawer. Years later I’d come across one and realize that it wasn’t all that bad. I’d edit it as impulsively as I’d originally written it. Nothing was deliberate, it was all done in the heat of emotions that drove me to write these down, and then later drove me to perfect them as much as I could without smoothing off too many rough edges. I was going for emotional content, not poetic form. Some of the poems read unevenly, but I’ve kept them that way so as not to lose the original emotional force.
I don’t think I could guess how many drafts there are of these poems. Some I got nearly right in the first draft; they needed only minor corrections. Others were more of a struggle and some might have been rewritten half a dozen times before I was satisfied that they conveyed what I wanted them to express.
How did you celebrate being published? Did you have a launch party?
I didn’t exactly celebrate, it was more like I plunged into a deep depression. Somehow it felt as if I’d exploited my own pain, and that didn’t feel like something that should be celebrated. I’ve since come to terms with publishing my poetry, having remembered that my whole purpose in publishing these poems was to give my younger self a voice, as well as to speak out on behalf of children everywhere who are going through such trauma and also have no voice.
Would you care to give us an extract?
This is an excerpt from Rough Draft:
I’m writing you out of my soul the nub of my pencil scratching the comfort of truth on every line, knowing you can’t snatch away my tablet now, or stop me from writing what I really did all those many summer ago while mother waited on you hand and foot, and my cheeks burned hot with secret shame and someone oh someone forgot to rescue me.
How do you beat writers block? Any tips?
For me there’s a world of difference in dealing with writer’s block with my fiction, and writer’s block with my poetry. When it comes to writing poems, no amount of trying to coerce myself helps. I find I have to be in a certain frame of mind, and probably that’s mainly because the subject matter I’m dealing with is so personal. I can’t deliberately sit down with the idea of writing a poem, and I also can’t simply decide to work on a rough draft. It must come from a place deep inside that I don’t seem to be able to access at will.
Do you have any hobbies apart from writing?
I love to knit and bake, and I used to do a lot of altered art, though not so much these days. I spend time with my grandkids, and I also do a lot of beta reading.
When you write, do you consider yourself to be a plotter or a pantser?
This doesn’t really apply to my poetry, but when I write fiction I’m not much of a plotter.
Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
Read twice as much as you write. Immerse yourself in good writing. Don’t try to imitate it, but let the varying styles move you and broaden your mind. And, of course, write your little heart out every chance you get.
If your book became a film- who would you pick to play the main characters?
I can’t even imagine . . . though I would love for Frances McDormand to be in there somewhere. As my mother, I suppose.
I see you have new work in progress- care to tell us about it?
I’m currently working on a memoir, and several novels.
Lastly, where can readers find you and your book on the internet?
My book is currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.
There is a link to it on my website at:
I’m also on Goodreads:
Thankyou so much for sharing your reason why you wrote your poems and such a brave lady! Big hugs and praise to you 🙂