Friday, February 28, 2020

#Friday Author Spotlight Interview with Debra Ann Pawlak @dapwriter

Suspense for the Romantic Heart ~ Author Spotlight with 
Debbie Pawlak 

Amy Romine : If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Debra Pawlak : My favorite city in the world is Rome!  There is such a unique blend of old and new.  I am sure that if I could live there for a year, I would come up with a remarkable story about the Eternal City and its glorious history.  And the pasta is to die for! I would probably return with a nice think manuscript, googobs of pictures and a few extra pounds.

AR : What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
DP: Most folks are surprised to know that I have steel rods and hooks holding me up!  I am a scoliosis patient and I underwent a 12 hour spinal surgery almost thirty years ago. It made all the difference as I am still here, writing and enjoying life.  It also helped me get a wonderful writing gig for a magazine called ‘Scoliosis Quarterly’, which was dedicated to scoliosis patients and their doctors. I had some wonderful assignments that allowed me to ‘meet’ some pretty impressive people.  Long live curvy girls!

AR : Give a shout-out to a fellow author.
DP : I would like to give a shout-out to my writing partner, Cheryl Bartlam Du Bois!  She is a talented and dedicated writer. I couldn’t ask for a better co-author. I am proud to share my book covers with her!  For many years, Cheryl lived in Los Angeles while I resided in Michigan, but we made it work. Now, she has moved to Florida and we are finally in the same time zone!

AR : What would the logline be for your book?
DP : ‘Bringing Up Oscar, The Men and Women Who Founded the Academy’ 
This book tells the story of how 36 men and women from all over the world, all walks of life, various levels of education and different socio-economic backgrounds ended up in a room together in 1927 Hollywood.
‘Soldier, Spy, Heroine’ (written with Cheryl Bartlam Du Bois)
During America’s darkest hour, a real-life Civil War soldier, nurse and spy emerged to wage war against the Rebels while keeping the ultimate secret—he was really a she.

AR : How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

DP : I have had four books published—all history related.  Since my favorite topic is Hollywood History, I have to say that ‘Bringing Up Oscar’ remains my favorite.  As a matter of fact, it was as named runner-up in the nonfiction category of the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival and took first place in the History:  Media/Entertainment category of the USA Best Books 2011 Awards. 
Early Hollywood is filled with unique individuals who shaped the movies we know today and they shouldn’t be forgotten.  Their stories and their contributions to shaping the cinema into the preeminent art form of the Twentieth Century are just as dramatic (and often times funny) as any film you might see.  Forward-thinkers and hard-working individuals, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. And what a motley crew, they were--former cowboys, Alaskan gold miners, Vaudevillians, and even one amateur anesthesiologist.

AR: What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
DP : There is always something to discover and what you find may lead you to your next project.  I discovered Sarah Emma Edmonds (heroine in ‘Soldier, Spy, Heroine’) while researching my book for Arcadia Publishing.  In turn, while writing the Sarah Emma Edmonds book, Cheryl and I discovered Fanny Campbell, who is the lead character in our newest historical novel (we are still seeking a publisher for this one) and through Fanny Campbell, we found Moll Pitcher, the psychic of Lynn, Massachusetts who was a spy for George Washington.  Moll is the subject of our work in progress.

AR: Does one of your main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
DP : Sarah Emma Edmonds is a special case. She was born in Canada, but settled in Flint, Michigan disguised as a man who sold bibles.  Eventually, she joined the Union Army and acted as a nurse, mail carrier and one of the earliest spies for the newly formed Secret Service.  Her story stands out and she has been inducted into the Michigan’s Women’s Hall of Fame along with such greats as Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, and Betty Ford.  No man was braver and certainly no more caring as she worked tirelessly for the Union cause.

AR : If one of your books was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
DP: Funny you should ask. ‘Soldier, Spy, Heroine’ started out as a screenplay, which was recognized at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and featured in the Beverly Hills Film Festival that same year.  As a matter of fact, we launched the book at Sundance. We would love Jennifer Lawrence to consider the part.

AR : Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
DP : In the mid-1840s, a best-selling novel, 'Fanny Campbell, The Female Pirate Captain: A Tale of The Revolution' written by Maturin Murray Ballou took the country by storm. It sold more than 75,000 copies for a quarter each and marked the first time that a book centered on a literary heroine who took charge of her own life. Fanny Campbell inspired many girls of the Nineteenth Century including Michigan's own Sarah Emma Edmonds who, at the onset of the Civil War, disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army. Likewise, Maud Buckley, the widow of a sea captain, was also stirred enough to get her own captain's license and sail the Great Lakes in the 1870s on her very own schooner, which she christened 'The Fanny Campbell'.
Now it's time for a new generation to hear Fanny's story and be inspired by her bravado and daring. In the second book they have coauthored, Debra Ann Pawlak and Cheryl Bartlam Du Bois have once again brought to life a heroine for the ages. It's time for a new generation to hear Fanny's tale, retold for the modern reader. 

Fanny Campbell found herself in the midst of a revolution when the British Colonies in the new world revolted against the Crown. Witnessing such rebellious activity as the Boston Tea Party and living with severe restrictions due to the ban of all things English, she fell in love during perilous times. When her intended was captured and imprisoned in Cuba, she took to the high seas, disguised as a man, named Bartholomew Channing, and commandeered a British brig to rescue her lover. Fighting, Pirates, rough waters, and English enemies, they were reunited and together they commandeered two more British merchant vessels and sent a notorious Pirate ship full of buccaneers into eternity. The captured British ships and their spoils were ultimately given to General Washington and proved invaluable during the Revolutionary War.

Set amid actual events such as the Battle of Lexington and Concord with real heroes of the past like Moll Pitcher, the famed Psychic of Lynn, Fanny’s story unfolds within a colorful period of American history and is sure to please history buffs and armchair adventurers, as well as inspire a new generation of women to meet any challenge head on. 

AR : What do you like to do when you are not writing?

DP: Lots of reading, travelling and spending time with family—especially my four little people.  And, of course, I love to watch old films—even the silent ones!

AR : What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
DP : It’s a little late, but I should have been a scenarist in Hollywood during the silent era.  Or maybe a title card writer. Hanging out at PIckfair with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford would have been at the top of my list.  Imagine hobnobbing with Chaplin, Lloyd and Keaton! Perhaps Irving Thalberg would have given me a job at MGM!

AR : If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
DP : “Come on in!  Let me take you to the library!”


Twitter:  @dapwriter


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