Monday, June 26, 2023

Deborah Crossland Interview - The Quiet Part Out Loud

Photo Content from Deborah Crossland

Deborah Crossland (she/her) teaches English and mythology at her local community college and writes myth-based, contemporary novels with a feminist bent for young adults. She is passionate about making education accessible for everyone. She lives in Northern California with her husband and her daughter's very spoiled, retired service dog. The Quiet Part Out Loud is her debut novel

Greatest thing you learned at school.
This is going to sound strange coming from someone who taught high school for 10 years and college for eight, but I didn’t really like school. Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning (and still do!), I just didn’t care for the way we were required to be so passive in our own education. So I guess the greatest thing I learned at school was how to be the kind of educator that puts the student in charge of their learning. As a teacher, I utilize lots of projects that allow students to focus on the important critical thinking skills they need. I also have omitted any point system from my grading—this really freaks out my top students, but instead of focusing on how many points they’ll need to earn a certain grade, the focus becomes the learning process.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
Oh gosh, that creative thing has been following me around for a long time! As a kid, my friends and I used to put on shows in my backyard with costumes and choreography and everything. Once, we put on Annie—we were ambitious middle schoolers—and invited the neighborhood for a show with a free Sunday dinner with the price of admission. Luckily for us, my mom was a great sport. She might’ve been a bit surprised when she realized what we did, but she somehow managed to stretch her dinner so everyone had something. As far as writing, I didn’t really start writing seriously until my own children were in high school, but books have been in my blood since my earliest memories!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
As Dorothy Parker said, "If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do for them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy." (Of course, I don’t advocate actual violence!) In all seriousness, if someone wanted to be a writer, the number one thing I would say to them is to be clear about what your goals are as a writer. If those goals are centered around external rewards, you will probably never be satisfied because the goal post is always moving. Write for yourself, to explore and to express, and you will live a fine life.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Funny enough, there was this global nightmare happening, and my son moved home from college for his last semester. He was an audio engineer major, and all his assignments were group projects where he had to write the music scores then mix them, all without headphones! He would play the same bits of music over and over until he was satisfied, and I thought that would be the death of him or me for sure! He did his best turning his room into a sound proof music studio, but let me tell you, sound proofing has a long way to go!

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
I really enjoyed writing the summer party scene! I was taking Heather Demetrios’ How to Write Bingeable Characters course, and the culminating assignment was to write a scene using what we’d learned about keeping readers turning pages. Normally I like to write a book “in order,” meaning from the beginning to the end, but for some reason, I chose to write the scene where everything changes for Mia and Alfie even though I was nowhere near it in my actual draft. First, I wrote it from Alfie’s point of view, but then I wrote it from Mia’s, just to explore how perception is so closely related to what’s happening within a person, or in this case, a character. It was in this scene that I learned a lot about the supporting characters and their secrets as well. Overall, a fun experience!

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I actually wrote about this in my dissertation! Stories are literally wired into our brain as a means of survival. We humans depend on imaginative ways, both consciously and unconsciously, to create order. Every species finds some way to communicate in order to survive, but humans appear to be the only ones who do so through story. We engage our entire psyche through stories and respond in both conscious and unconscious ways. Narratives help us connect through time and space with our ancient and future selves to reveal truths not necessarily evident in facts. Imagine how much children and teenagers gain from stories, especially when the narrative focuses on what might be considered non-traditional heroes. As we settle into a story, we also settle into the hero’s place, so as the hero gains moral fortitude, the reader gains empathy.

  • 1. Ruchard the duck is based on a real, enormous rubber duck my son somehow acquired in college.
  • 2. I used my own experiences living through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake to write Mia’s experience, including the part where tourists run outside to collect rubble from collapsed buildings.
  • 3. The sheep in Alfie’s notes come from actual notes someone gave me in high school.
  • 4. I made up Alfie’s last name based on what happens to him in the story.
  • 5. I used a map to measure how long it would take Mia to walk from San Francisco State and USF and blocked out real landmarks on her journey.
  • 6. Alfie and Mia’s love story is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
  • 7. The blind man who gives Mia and Simi directions is based on the blind seer trop in ancient stories.
  • 8. Devi is named after the supreme being in the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. Her power is “Sakti,” or the power of the Divine Feminine.
  • 9. Eco mythology/psychology is one of my favorite disciplines, which is why Devi tells the story of her willow tree.
  • 10. I cried approximately one million tears while writing this book.
Best date you've ever had?
After my high school’s senior night, the boy I was dating took me to the lake where he had sparkling cider chilling in the water. He’d gone earlier in the evening and set up a little, hidden picnic for us. It was so sweet! Oh, and this is the same lake I had in mind when I wrote Alfie and Mia’s date nights.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I was lucky enough to travel through Europe after my high school graduation. One of the stops was at Francis of Assisi’s tomb. I had just been introduced to the film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon my senior year, so I was very excited to visit the person who was the subject of that film. When we arrived, the whole place had been commercialized, and it made me so sad because his entire life’s mission was to get people to love the simple things in life. I’ll never forget that lesson.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I got a PhD in mythological studies with an emphasis in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. The school’s motto is “Animae Mundi Colendae Gratia,” which means the care of the soul in the world, and the five years I spent there taught me how to live with this at my core.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Absolutely! As an educator, it’s part of my job.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I always have some movie going on in my head. I’m usually mapping out a scene, and I “watch” it until I fall asleep.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?
Definitely the right side!

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Okay, this is weird, but I always get nervous driving under an overpass in case someone drops something and makes me crash. I blame the Final Destination franchise.

What is the first job you have had?
My first job was at a donut shop, and to this day, I cannot eat donuts! Of course this was in the 80’s, but the grease the donuts were fried in was rarely cleaned and the whole shop felt like it had an oily sheen. Luckily I didn’t work there long, but it obviously left a mark! I can’t even smell a donut without getting nauseous.

For fans of You’ve Reached Sam and A Heart in a Body in the World , this searing and heartrending teen novel follows an ex-couple as they struggle to reunite in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

High school sweethearts Mia Clementine and Alfie Thanasis had a plan to escape their town for college in the east. Mia would leave her hard-core evangelical home for Sarah Lawrence College, and Alfie would have a new place to pursue his three baseball, poetry, and Mia. But when Alfie got offered a scholarship to the University of San Francisco the same week the entire town found out about Mia’s mom’s affair with their church’s pastor, Mia’s world imploded and she pushed everyone away…including Alfie.

Five months after the worst summer ever, Mia is crashing at her best friend’s dorm at San Francisco State, just a few miles away from the University of San Francisco, praying she never runs into the boy whose heart she broke. And Alfie is trying to make the most of his freshman year while struggling to reconcile with the abrupt ending of his first love.

When Mia and Alfie’s paths cross for the briefest of moments, Mia realizes she never should have let him go and Alfie’s suppressed memories and feelings boil to the surface. But their reunion is cut short when a massive earthquake rocks San Francisco, leaving them to stumble desperately across the rubble in search of the ex they still love before the city crumbles—taking one, or both, of them with it.

You can purchase The Quiet Part Out Loud at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEBORAH CROSSLAND for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Quiet Part Out Loud by Deborah Crossland.

1 comment: