I met Debbie about 15 years ago at a class given by Rabbi Bassous at Congregation Etz Ahaim, when my eldest was a baby. You can learn more about Debbie by reading her Bayit and Garden blog, then scroll down to the bottom of any post and read one of her many other blogs. Or visit one of her stores on the right sidebar of her blog. Debbie always has something interesting to say, so I knew she would come up with some great answers to my writing questions. Enjoy.
1) When did you realize that you like to write?
I really don’t know. I do remember writing poetry and Haiku – I still remember a few – when I was 7 I wrote a poem about Helen Keller:
When 1 ½ years old was sick in bed
Burning with fever
Her mother hoped it would go down
And it did
But poor, young, Helen was left
Blind and Deaf
I also wrote a Limerick about Pesah (Passover):
ערבי פסחים you can’t eat before
You can eat as much as before
But I don’t remember actually writing stories. I would make them up in my head to help me fall asleep, but I rarely wrote them down. I did write for the school newspaper in elementary school and college (not high school, strangely enough) and I even had my own little “newspaper” I did on a pad and called “the Deli News”.
2) When did you realize that you like to read?
I learned to read when I was about 4 (I learned to read Hebrew before I learned how to read English – I learned both from my parents) and I used to like to read signs and Dr. Seuss books. But when reading got harder (no pictures, lots of words per page) I lost interest. Well, I still liked reading biographies and other non-fiction that I DIDN’T have to read for school. I reacquired a love of reading as an adult.
3) Which authors influenced you in your youth? Which authors or writers influence you now?
When I was younger, I loved Dr. Seuss, but I also loved those orange covered biographies – my brother and I read the John Quincy Adams biography over and over again.
I was influenced at one point by Oscar Wilde, but also by Rod Serling and all those books and stories we read in Hebrew classes. I’m not sure who influences me now – I love JK Rowling and Angie Sage, Rochelle Krich, Sharan Newman, Anne George. I also was influenced by articles I have read, my tech writing instructor, and some of my high school teachers.
4) Have you ever taken a creative writing course?
Once, when I was in high school, I took a creative writing class as part of an art and music summer program that the city I lived in offered. I didn’t really learn much; the teacher was really more interested in drama (which she taught for a double period) and for the most part ignored the writing students.
5) Have you ever studied journalism?
I majored in TV/Radio, took some journalism classes, wrote for the newspaper and had a sports program on the radio once a week.
6) Do you find writing or talking an easier way to express yourself, or are both writing and talking similar vehicles of self-expression for you?
I usually find talking easier, but there are times when writing helps me organize my thoughts and points. This is particularly true when I’m writing about politics, religion or emotions.
7) Have you written short stories or poetry (or would you like to do so)?
Yes, I wrote my first picture book “The Princess Who Wanted to be Beautiful” and illustrated it myself. I also printed some copies out on my computer printer. I’m still trying to convert it (and another picture book, “The God Star”) to .pdf format so I can sell it on line. I also wrote a cookbook (that is available on line) and “The Single File” (a collection of singles articles I wrote) and “Zoning Out” (a collection of “Twilight Zone” style stories), which I would also like to find a way to sell on line.
I asked Debbie to provide a favorite quote or poem. Here are her selections:
Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)
by: Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)
NEVER saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.
I also love “Jabberwocky” “Father William” and the beginning of “The Walrus and Carpenter” (I don’t like the part where they eat the oysters) by Lewis Carroll (I can quote “Jabberwocky” word for word and large portions of the other two – I can also recite the two poems above).
Among my favorite quotes are:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
“I can resist anything but temptation.” Oscar Wilde
“You no canna fool me, there’s no such thing as a sanity clause.” Chico Marx
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