Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Debra Jayne East

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today’s guest is Debra Jayne East. Debra is here to chat about her debut novel RADIANCE…LOVE AFTER DEATH, a paranormal romance sure to tingle your senses. So, come along with us today as we slip from one world into the next.

Oliver and I are traveling in our sleek black limousine to Eden, North Carolina, one slick rainy evening to interview Debra Jayne East. Thunder explodes across the sky, followed by a flashing streak of lightning that illuminates a spooky cemetery on the end of a twisted road. . Rain hammers on the windshield, making it difficult to see. Suddenly, the car spins into the trunk of a tree, tossing us into the graveyard. When we awake, sunshine streaming, we spy our names eloquently inscribed on side-by-side headstones shrouded in desert roses. Unsure if we’re dead or alive, Debra floats toward us on a whisper of wings.

Sharon: Debra, where are we? Are we dead?

Debra: Almost, my dear. We're in the span of time between one second and forever. We are in that dimension between life and death; in the realm of the unseen world. It is invisible to the naked eye, but experienced spiritually by the soul. My dear friend Marena Jacobs has just travelled that passage of time. She's lying on the sidewalk there. Can you see her? Sharon and Oliver gasp.

Sharon: Well, as long as we’re all together, we might as well make the most of it and carry on with the interview, even though it is a bit peculiar being transported into another time and place. Oliver, dear heart, did the refreshments make it through the time tunnel?

Oliver, no worse for wear through the time tunnel, pumps his biceps, black t-shirt and low rider jeans intact. With a wink and a smile, he plucks up a desert rose and hands to Debra. Then with great ceremony, covers a tombstone with a picnic blanket and sets out Strawberry Zinfandel and stuffed portabella mushrooms while Watch over You by Alter Bridge echoes through the cemetery.

Oliver sloshes wine into three glasses, plopping a mushroom into Debra’s mouth.

Debra: Oliver, you are quite the charmer. Do you see that wrecked semi over there? I point for him with my long red fingernails. He ran a stoplight and hit Marena head on. Lucky for her she had someone watching over her or I wouldn't be telling her story. It just wasn't her time to die. 
I smile as Oliver gently plants a kiss on Sharon's neck.

Sharon sips her wine and helps herself to a mushroom. I’m glad your manners have improved somewhat, Oliver. You see, Debra, he used to ignore me in our other world. Now that we’re all settled, Debra, tell me all about RADIANCE…LOVE AFTER DEATH.

Debra: I gave angels a new beginning. Long ago they mated with mortal women and well, got swept away in a flood. What if this time...they could get it right? I got to explore all those possibilities in writing my first paranormal romance released by XOXO Publishing. It all started with finding a crooked heart-shaped stone. That part of the story is true. It was such a catalyst in turning my life around; I thought I would share it with others. Someone else found a heart-shaped stone, when she was at the end of her rope and wanted to die. I would like to take you on a journey with Marena Jacobs, who while on her way home from work one night, has a near death experience that alters her life. She never expected to meet the man of her dreams after she died. But something happened between them that changed her destiny forever. They had to be together whatever the cost. When we die are transported to the realm of another existence outside our earthly bodies. I believe in this other dimension our soul is separated from our body and that demons and angels both exist there. In my novel there is both. Just watch out if you come across anyone with a glint of red in their eyes because well...they won’t be angels.

Sharon looks around the cemetery, gulps back her wine and refills her glass. Ah, at the risk of sounding foolish, what made you want to write paranormal? 

Debra: Actually, I experienced things in my life that have no earthly explanation. I seemed to inherit a gift for reading people’s emotions. I mentioned finding a heart-shaped stone earlier. I was very depressed and going through a bad time in my life. I lost my first love. I reached down into the grass one day and there it was...the heart-stone. I couldn't see it until my fingers grabbed hold of it and pulled it out. I just felt my hand guided there by an unknown force. Then, I heard a voice clearly say, that even though my heart was broken and cracked like that stone, it was still a heart and I could still love. After that, two people came to me and said they knew I had found a heart stone. Now how did they know? I never told ANYONE! Since I have published this book other people have told me about finding a heart-shaped rock during a very tragic time in their lives. There are other things in the book based on true events but well...I'll never tell, I grin mischievously.

Sharon: Tell me about the research for a time travel.

Debra: Myself and one of my close friends had experienced near death during accidents. I remember being able to communicate without actually talking which was cool. I became interested after that and read every book I could get my hands on. The best book was called "Closer to the Light," by Melvin Morse, Paul Perry and Raymond Moody. It was about the near death experiences of children which to me was irrefutable. Then I saw a documentary on Lily Dale, New York which is a spiritualist community. I became drawn to this place like a moth to the flame. There are mediums in Lily Dale who can contact the unseen community. The houses are haunting yet beautiful. Lily Dale became a very climatic scene for my heroine, Marena Jacobs.

Sharon: One of your characters is blind. Being blind myself, I’m curious about how you handled the writing of this character?

Debra: I have always felt there was something mysterious and sexy about the eyes of a blind man. I'll have to admit, I have an amazing blind muse for guidance. He is a celebrity of sorts, so he has asked to be kept confidential for now. Many of the feats in my book were actually done by him. He rides horses, he has a black belt in karate, he cooks, builds things and he even mows his yard. He is one of the people who knew about the stone. He was in another state when he told me he could see it in his head and just remember he is blind. He couldn't see it so once again , how did he know? Do you hear twilight zone music, lol?

Sharon: I find it interesting and quite impressive that you were so greatly influenced by an Irish author. Do share.

Debra: My sister traced our family tree back to Britain. We noticed our relatives kept on using the same family names every hundred years or so. I had always loved my aunt Violet. Turns out she was named after a great aunt of mine, Violet Florence Martin. Violet and Edith Somerville were second cousins, and became lifelong companions and literary partners. A horse riding accident contributed to her death in 1915. Edith Somerville continued to write under their joint literary names, claiming that they were still in contact. Perhaps this is where my "gift" comes from, I reply with twinkling eyes.

Sharon: And you have another book to follow in this series. What’s in the works?

Debra: I am currently working on part two called Remnant...A Kiss from the Past. I'll sum it up by saying the things that go bump in the night from Lily Dale are coming to Eden. You know the old saying. "Where goodness is; evil follows. I’m nearly finished with a poetry book called Scattered Roses. I will then work on a science fiction novel about a urban legend called Snipe Hunt.

Sharon: Before Oliver and I are transported back in time, please share a favorite legend or superstition with me.

Debra: Actually, I can kill two birds with one stone. There is a legend around here based on true events. Its called the Brown Mountain lights. They are seen on the lower end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I will quote what many articles say about them. “Many individuals, scientific groups, and scientists have attempted to explain the ongoing phenomenon. None of their explanations fail to account for
one aspect or another of the lights. A 1922 study by Georgia Tech made the most frequently made conclusion. The lights, their report summarized, defy simple explanations."

They even based an X-Files show on them. My novel "Snipe Hunt," which is an urban legend about a mythical animal that roams the woods, will be tied in with the Brown Mountain lights. Hey, North Carolina is the place to be for bump in the night tales.

Oliver produces a copy of Radiance …Love after Death.

If I might be so bold as to ask for your autograph, love angel?

Debra: "Why Oliver, I thought you'd never ask."

Over dessert, oh so decadent cinnamon cream cheese bars, Debra will read an excerpt. Thank you, Debra, what fun this otherworldly interview has been!

Marena Jacobs was not your typical heroine. She was in her forties, overweight, divorced and a workaholic. She never thought she would be looking for love again at her age.

Driving home one rainy night to Eden, North Carolina, a near fatal car accident spirals her life into the twilight zone. Marena lay dead on the sidewalk, but her life was far from over. She had met the man of her dreams after she died.

Something happened in those seconds of time she passed from life to death. In the weeks ahead, she wakes up from a coma no longer overweight and haunted by what happened
to her. She realizes her true love had been watching her all along. "Beware of strangers," her grandma had always said. Now she knew why.

First, a blue jeaned leg with a black harness boot comes through the window and the other, soon after.

"I'm coming in, don't be afraid!" a deep voice bellowed. A man, maybe in his early forties, straightens up in front of the curtains, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone that tall in person before. He has to be six-foot eight or nine at least with long, brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. He's wearing a chambray shirt neatly tucked into his jeans. He stands there quietly, in a black over-coat and dark sunglasses. Just who has climbed in my window? He turns his head as if he's scanning the room.

"Could you manage to not look just yet, please? I'm in the tub." I try to grab the towel but can't reach it, so I just fold my arms across my chest. My face has to be red as a beet.

"Don't worry, I can't see you," he says calmly.

"Well, I'm right here in front of you. Hard to miss my red face," I snap.

"Honest, I can't see you, I'm blind."
I almost laugh, but I don't.

"Who are you?"

"David Martin. I'm two days late, I was supposed to be here Thursday, but the train had some mechanical problems which caused a delay."

I recalled, after a few seconds, that Selena said earlier that the person never showed up who is supposed to stay here. What is his name oh darn. it's Martin.

"Oh. well," I stutter. Mortified, I wonder what I'm going to do. Things like this always happen to me.

"What's your problem here, maybe I can help?" He takes a few steps closer. 

"Are you really blind?" I ask, unsure.

"Well, see if this will help you decide. He pulls out one of those folded, walking canes. Instantly leaping through the window when he whistles, is a small brown and white cocker spaniel dog.

"Meet Bradley, my official Seeing Eye dog, and this is my walking cane," he smiles.

He uses it to walk closer to me sweeping from left to right. He manages to avoid objects in his path, and he stops just a few feet away. Not a bad looking fellow, just intimidating, I think to myself.

My mind starts racing, and suddenly, I wanted to get out of this situation before
it got any worse. I realize I can stay in the tub all night, or get on with the evening, and ask him to help me. I swallow my pride. I become flustered but I try to sound calm.” It’s nice to meet you David. I seem to be stuck in the tub. I've been in an accident, and my knee isn't quite healed yet. Could you help me out?"

"I'll try."

I'm glad if I had to be stuck in an embarrassing predicament, that it's a blind man who has come to my rescue. The absurdity of the situation puts a blush on my face.

Before I could dwell on it too much, he comes over and lifts me out of the tub, into his arms. I'm getting him wet, but he doesn't seem to mind. As he holds me, his eyes never once look towards my face, or down at my body. Despite the fact, he seems unaffected by my nakedness; my body chooses to respond against my will.

A flush of excitement surprises me. He is so strong and the most masculine type of male I'd seen in a long

Where to reach me on the web:
Buy Link

I am the oldest of six girls from a rural community in Martinsville, Virginia. Writing has always been an escape for me. I found out it runs in my blood. Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author who co-wrote a series of novels with her cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a relative of mine from my father's side. She passed her love of writing on down to me and I couldn't be happier.(So, that's why I enjoyed doing journals, bingo!)

A few years ago after almost dying during surgery, I decided I needed to leave behind a legacy for my children and grandchildren. I had always loved to write but I wasn't much of a typist, and it took me several months to learn Microsoft Word. I never gave up. Then I thought about Violet who had to write under a male name to get recognized in the publishing world back in the 1800's. She never gave up. If you want to do
something you find a way! Being a procrastinator though, I had put my manuscript on the shelf.

The final encouragement came from Stephanie Meyers. No, I don't know her personally but she spoke on Oprah one day. She looked into the camera and said some of you have a dream to be a writer so do it! It was a message meant for me! I mailed it off.

I KNEW it would be published. Three months later the wonderful people at XOXO Publishing said they believed in me and my novel, Radiance...Love after Death. I am the happiest I have ever been. Don't just follow your dreams embrace them!


Sharon Donovan said...

A warm welcome for Debra Jayne East. Come sit with us in the cemetery.

P.L. Parker said...

Interesting interview, perfect background for writing paranormal. I personally love paranormal and time travel in particular. Congrats on the release and much luck with sales.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Sharon and Debra

What a fascinating story this sounds.Loved the interview -oh thanks Oliver, a cup of chai tea, just what I needed!

Great interview ladies, glad you all survived to tell the tale, and I wish you many, many sales, Debra.

Teresa K. said...


You and I chatted before. For I live in NC and I told you Eden is very close to me.
We have a lot in common and I hope we can talk about them sometime in the future. You give me hope.
I'm Native American and I wanted to tell you there is such thing as a Snipe. I'm of the Snipe clan. It's a marsh wetland bird. Maybe you have heard of it. It's a Sandpiper bird. That's what a Snipe is. Most people don't know this.
I till this day don't understand how this myth got around.

Snipes are very cunning little birds and very busy.

I love this story's background on how it came about. I can relate to your heroine in many ways. I wish you much success with this book and I do hope we can stay in touch. Us North Carolians need to stick together, lol.

Hi Sharon & Oliver thank you for bringing Debra to us.

Teresa K.

Calisa Rhose said...

Very interesting. Just last night my dd called for Jesus to rebuke satan because she saw familiar 'shapes' in the tall grass just beyond the yard light. Whether they were 'real' or not, I will be calling to have the property blessed!

Debra Jayne East said...

Thanks for all the comments so far, they have been so inspiring!As a wonderful thank you for a great interview with Sharon and that sexy Oliver, wink, all who comment will be in a drawing tonight and 9:00 pm for the Heart-Stone pendant by Sandra Pendragon who created it.Thanks you all!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Patsy, yes Debra's paranormal certainly has my interest.

Sharon Donovan said...

Lyn, dear friend, thank you for popping in to chat. Doesn't this series sound enticing.

Sharon Donovan said...

Teresa, what an interesting story you shared. Isn't Debra delightful and she can certainly spin an intriguing tale of romance.

Sharon Donovan said...

Calisa, wishing you and yours blessings.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Debra, you are quite welcome. Interviewing you was a delight. I'm so excited to read Love After Death, it sounds captivvating. How lucky someone will be tonight to win the heart!

Oliver said...

Hello my lovelies, Patsy, Lyn, Teresa, Calisa, Debra and Sharon. Plenty of wine, Chai tea, mushrooms and dessert, so dig in my pretties. Wink wink

Debra St. John said...

Hello All,

I can't believe it's Wednesday again already...and time for another spotlight.

I always love a good thunderstorm...and it's always nice to meet another Debra!

Congrats on your release. Time travels seem impossibly tricky to write. I'd admire anyone who tackles one. And, as always, thanks for a great party Sharon and Oliver. (kiss, kiss)

Oliver said...

Debra, love, just not a party unless you're among us. A glass of wine, kiss kiss

Mindy said...

Hi Sharon, Oliver and Debra :)
I love the excerpt for Radience... Love After Death. Your background of finding the heart stone just when you needed it most is inspiring.
Another book on my TBG (To Be Gotten, to read) list :)

Mindy :)

Debra Jayne East said...

Teresa K you are the winner of the heart-Stone Pendant Congrats!Contact me with your address!

Melinda said...

Love the interview. I love paranormal. Congrats on the release

Walk in harmony,

Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

Awesome! I love this. What a wonderful place to have this interview. This book just draws a person into the story, and this sounds like an emotional read which are my favorite. Oliver you are exceptional in your timing and subtle romancing the moment...*S*
Teresa, I know about the Snipe. .. and isn't it strange how things get started?
Debra, I can't wait to read your book, and have had it on my gotta have list since I first read the blurb last week.
Thank you for the wonderful post!


Oliver said...

Darcy, Mindy and Melinda, a glass of Zinfendel in the cemetery wink wink

Sharon Donovan said...

Mindy, Melinda and Darcy, thank you for visiting Debra, Oliver and I in the cemetery. I thought it befitting to conduct the interview here. Teresa, congratulations on winning the awesome heart pendant.
Debra, you've been a delightful guest. Best of luck with Radiance Love After Death. Can't wait to read my copy.
Until next time may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and blessings,
Sharon and Oliver

Mary Ricksen said...

Debra your book sounds like my favorite kind of story! I look forward to a wonderful read. Paranormal is my thing for sure!
Oliver, you'd better be nice to Sharon, she pays your salary you know. And she is a great boss lady!
Offer to refill her glass will ya!