Interview with Debbie K. Lum

What genre do you write and why?

When I first began writing, I honestly wasn’t sure which genre I was in! My books were about a love story but they also had tension with a central mystery. I didn’t realize it, but I was writing romantic suspense. Now I can’t imagine writing anything outside of this genre!

Tell us about your latest book.

I Can Handle Him is about a young woman who falls for a man rebuilding his life but when disaster strikes, he must fight to prove his innocence and to protect his true love. It’s also a great story of best friends: the young woman, Quinn, and her best friend Tory. They are reconnecting for a summer after Quinn has graduated with her Master’s and Tory is about to finish law school. Their history as friends is deep, and there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. Even when the unimaginable happens, one of them gives unwavering support, even at her own expense. And in the center of it all is a hot-looking, troubled man who ends up his own journey of rebuilding and love.

What did you edit out of this book?

Actually, not much! This is my fifth novel so I have developed a solid outlining process. I take a binder and have one sheet of paper for each chapter where I outline what I want to have happen. I didn’t have to edit much out, but I did have to add chapters.

How was this book published? (traditional, small press, self pub, etcc...)  Why did you choose that particular publishing route?

I’m self-published and have never looked back! When I first began, I read how you are supposed to query agents – like ten a week – so I began sending queries and sent a total of five when I stopped. I questioned why I was doing this when I can control everything if I self-publish. I think if your goal is to be a published author, and maybe you have invested in a degree in writing, then seeking and landing an agent probably fits with your goals. For me, I was on a journey of self-discovery so self-publishing allowed me to control that journey. Here’s a good example: I recently participated in a large book fair and my booth was next to a small publisher. They had two or three copies of books from each author they represent. The most they could sell for an author is two or three copies. I sold dozens of books from my booth plus I had a blast meeting people! Also, I’m seeing a trend where small publishers require the authors they represent to have their books professionally edited before submitting manuscripts. I get my books professionally edited, so if I’ve already checked that box, why do I need that publisher? I think it comes down to your goals as an author and what is important to you and how you want to measure success.

How do you select the names of your characters?

After I scribble out my character attributes, I use a baby name book for inspiration. I try to balance main character names with one unusual name (like Quinn in I Can Handle Him) with a more common name (like her best friend, Tory). Sometimes I give a nod to a real friend. In I Can Handle Him, I had a friend helping me with attributes for a particular character and when it came time to choose this character’s name, we just couldn’t get past my friend’s real name. So, the character Daniel in I Can Handle Him, was born. When I was writing my first book, Plebeian Revealed, I was in a store looking at a beautiful dress that I imagined would be the kind of dress a character would wear. It was a Ralph Lauren dress and that’s how I came up with the name Lauren, the main character of the Plebeian trilogy.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?

Oh yes, I do read reviews! Positive reviews give me life and energize my day. I’m so happy when I hear that my books gave a reader an enjoyable experience. Those reviews make me want to write more! And actually, I have agreed with some things the not-so-positive ones have pointed out. Recently a reviewer said a character in Plebeian Revealed was so annoying she wanted to slap her in the middle of the book and I was like, “me too!” But I know that character’s annoyance was by design. I needed her to be weak and mushy because when a similar situation happens in the second book, Plebeian In Danger, her reaction is remarkably different. She has learned. She is stronger. But her sudden boldness really screws things up then!

Who are your favourite authors?

This question exposes my weakness: I’m not a reader! I have not read a book in years. And I hear that as a writer, I’m “supposed” to be a reader, but I’m not. I’m not a movie-goer either. I should probably add “read a book” or “see a movie” as a New Year’s resolution!

Where can a reader purchase your book?

All of my novels can be purchased wherever books are sold. Paperbacks are available on Amazon and or any retailer can order for you. eBooks are available on Amazon,, iBooks, GooglePlay, Smashwords and Kobo.
Who inspires you?

You! I find inspiration everywhere. I may see a woman at the mall with a style I think would be perfect for a character. I read social media posts from friends and get ideas, like the cheap, couponing boyfriend in I Can Handle Him and his refillable movie popcorn bag came from a post I read. At a local diner in a city where I lived, the breakfast regulars were so fun, I developed characters in my novel The Doctor, the Chef or the Firemen around them. Positive (and negative) inspiration is all around. I’m always looking and learning!

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I saw a TV commercial for a self-esteem campaign encouraging little girls to dream big and do anything they want. I thought: why not grown women too? I had an idea in my head, a daydream really, from letting my mind wander during my daily treadmill walks (as I try to lose the ten pounds I’ve been trying to lose for the last twenty years.) One day I got off of the treadmill, sat down at my desk, started my computer, opened a blank Word document, and started typing. I typed for a month! Releasing those thoughts was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Then I literally Googled “What do you do if you think you wrote a book” and that Google search started an incredible journey (one where I still, unfortunately, haven’t lost those last ten pounds)


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