Debbie DiGiovanni is a paralegal-turned-novelist. Born in Tokyo, Debbie has spent most of her life in Southern California. She enjoys hiking, singing and spending time with her family at their home in Huntington Beach, California.
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October 6, 2006
In this interview, Debbie DiGiovanni --- author of JAMAICAN ME CRAZY, CONCESSIONS and the Motherhood Club series --- discusses how she began her writing career and what inspired her latest holiday tale. She also reveals what popular series is on her reading list nowand shares a few of her well-intentioned and whimsical dreams for herself and her family.
Question: When did you first start writing?
Debbie DiGiovanni: I began writing poetry and keeping observation journals on my children in my twenties.The first actual book I wrote was a couple of months after my little brother’s untimely death a few years ago.In my grief I unearthed a gift I knew was there but never pursued.And I found a beautiful secret:writing makes me very happy.
Q: How did you come up with the storyline in JAMAICAN ME CRAZY?
DD: I noticed that many people around the holidays were disappointed instead of experiencing joy.They seemed stressed and worn out and simply forgetting the magic of the holidays.I wondered what would happen if they took off to someplace tropical, but not perfect.Would they miss their families?Would they remember what Christmas was really about?Would they like curried goat?
Q: Are the characters based on anyone you know or did you make them up?
DD: All of them are made up from bits and pieces of people I know (and maybe even a little of me).But I never plan it that way.The characters usually tell me who they are.
Q: What were your favorite and least favorite things about writing this book?
DD: My favorite thing was getting to know the characters and going on a journey with them.The least favorite thing was that I had so much tragedy during the months of writing this book (including my mother’s death).Still, it was good because I had something to divert my attention.
Q: What inspires you to write?
DD: The act of writing inspires me to write. It’s fun, interesting, challenging, and it is such a part of me I hope to be bent over the keyboard in my old age (but not using a cane).
Q: What books are you reading right now?
DD: I’m reading The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series which is set in Botswana.Mma Ramotswe is endearing and Alexander McCall Smith is brilliant in his simplicity.
Q: Tell us about your family?
DD: I have nine brothers and sisters who have lots of children. My husband has a wonderful family he shares with me, and they are nearby.We have two daughters, beautiful and smart (and as different as night and day).My eldest is married to a great guy and they have a daughter who, not surprisingly, is also beautiful and smart.But the most courageous of the bunch is my father.He is 86 and is in a nursing home suffering with Parkinson’s.He smiles, and everything is my world is as beautiful as I’ve ever seen it.
Q: If you could have one dream come true, what would it be?
DD: Of course, I want my family to be safe and happy and love God.But if I may be selfish…I would want to travel to far-off lands and stand gawking at artwork and architecture and artifacts.I would also like to visit a jellybean factory.I hear they have one here in California so that dream might come true.
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