Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Interview with Debra Purdy Kong
9/29/2009 6:51:26 AM
[ Flag as Inappropriate ]
An interview with author of corporate capers Taxed to Death and Deadly Encryption.
In today's blog, I am showcasing the life and works of accomplished writer, Debra Purdy Kong. I first met Debra this summer at a local library event where we were both invited to do a reading from our latest releases. The excerpt she read was from her crime thriller, and for lack of a better word, it was a killer! Her description of a housewife returning home from an innocent night of taking her kids trick or treating takes a gruesome turn. Stepping through the front door, she immediately discovers a murder had taken place in her home. What follows is panic and disbelief; a harrowing situation described in detail, with a hilarious twist (can’t get the steak knife murder weapon out of my head)!
I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers.
DPK: Well, I’m a married mom of two who’s been writing novels, short stories, essays, and articles for nearly thirty years. I’ve held different jobs since I was 16 years old, mostly in clerical work, then stayed at home for 14 years to raise my kids. I also spent more hours than I can possibly count volunteering at their schools. When my children were older I worked in retail for five years, then quit to complete the final edits and publication of Fatal Encryption in April 2008. Eleven months ago, I decided to try something completely different so, at age 54, I was hired, and trained, by a security company to become a patrol and communications officer, which I really enjoy. Recently, they gave me supervisory training. Needless to say, the work’s given me new ideas for novels and stories!
LS: What I find so interesting is that you studied criminology, so I was expecting a protagonist that was crime fighting detective or lawyer, but a Canada Revenue Agency tax auditor? Who’d have thought a bean-counter/IT guy could lead such an exciting life? Please tell us about your debut novel, ‘Taxed to Death’, your principle character, Alex Bellamy and the inspiration behind this novel.
DPK: When I was studying criminology, I wasn’t thinking about writing novels or short stories. It was all I could do to write an essay and even then, I failed on my first attempt! Had I followed through with a career in criminology, I might have had a probation or corrections officer as a protagonist, but my life took a different path. After a lot of practicum experience, I realized I wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with real people in legal and emotional trouble, so I sold my car and left for Europe to travel, work, and think things through. While traveling I wrote letters home, started a journal and began writing short stories.
By the time I returned to Canada a year later, I was hooked on writing, but I was broke and, at age 25, staying with my mother. She’d heard about a secretarial job opening at a firm of public chartered accountants. I thought the job would be temporary, but I was there four years. From that experience, though, came my first novel and my husband who was an articling student when we met.
One day, I was talking about writing mystery novels over lunch with some articling students, when one of them said, “How come no one writes about us?” That sentence started the ideas flowing. I published the book in 1995, and started the sequel, Fatal Encryption, right away. Between raising children, volunteering, holding down part-time jobs, and starting another mystery series, the second book took a decade to finish. Three more years passed before it was finally published. But I’m tenacious.
LS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for Alex Bellamy in the sequel ‘Fatal Encryption’?
DPK: Fatal Encryption takes place 18 months after Taxed to Death ends. Alex has been between jobs awhile and is feeling the pinch financially and personally. The story opens Halloween night and his parents, who live in Palm Springs, expect him to attend a family reunion at Christmas. Feeling like the family failure, Alex doesn’t want to go, nor can he afford it. So, when his girlfriend, Lena, pressures him into accepting a temporary job as a systems analyst for a department store chain he reluctantly agrees. His job is to stop the prankster who’s been pulling all sorts of stunts on the store’s computer. But things turn serious when the store’s data is encrypted by someone who demands ten million dollars or he’ll destroy every single piece of data the store has. As Alex investigates, he discovers a connection between a man murdered on Halloween night and the sabotage. Also, his feelings for Lena begin to dissolve as he reunites with Jillian, the woman he was attracted to in Taxed to Death. So, you could say this book is also part romance.
LS: With so many published works was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
DPK: I’ve had two agents, one Canadian, the other American. Neither situation worked out well, so I currently don’t have an agent.
LS: Becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so we’re always pleased when a fellow writer is plucked from relative obscurity to land a book deal. Can you share that moment when you sold your story to Gypsy Moon Press?
DPK: Actually, here’s the truth. My experience with traditional publishers hasn’t been much better than my experience with agents. When I was first marketing Taxed to Death, I was offered a contract by a new small Canadian house; however, the publisher wanted me to invest several thousand dollars to produce the book. After doing some research, I realized my husband and I could do it cheaper, and so he created Gypsy Moon Press. Since then, a publisher who publishes books in electronic format has picked up the Alex Bellamy mysteries, so I guess I’ve gone the traditional route anyway, but using new technology.
LS: This is certainly food for thought for all those writers desperately seeking an agent to get their works published! You have had more than fifty short stories published over the years. How long had you been working as a writer before you embarked on writing ‘Taxed to Death’, a full-length novel?
DPK: I’d had only two or three short stories published before I started writing Taxed to Death. One of the reasons I’m so slow is that I love to work on other projects while writing a book, and I do like to take a long time between drafts, so I can look at the work with really fresh eyes. For some strange reason, working on just one story or book isn’t enough. I feel far more comfortable if I have 3 or 4 different things going on.
LS: This is called multi-tasking to the max! I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
DPK: I’m very disciplined about dedicating a certain amount of time to writing. Although that time has shrunk drastically since I began my security job and I started promoting Fatal Encryption. On work days, I’ll devote perhaps an hour to writing and an hour to promotion. On my days off I double that at the very least. If I’m really lucky—which isn’t often—I’ll write three hours a day.
LS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know.
DKP: Oh, I’m definitely a plotter. I tried to write Taxed to Death without an outline and found myself restarting the book too often because the plot changed direction in a way that didn’t make sense by the midway point. I need to keep track of subplots, red herrings, events, motives, actions, and character traits on paper. Having said that, though. I start my outlines very detailed for the first third. Outlining tapers off during the second third, and is maybe a sentence or two per chapter for the last third. By that point, the story is telling itself based on the foundation I’ve laid. Many times, I’ve veered away from an outline when something isn’t working. After all, they’re only guidelines, right?
LS: They are just that, and as you are the master of your literary universe, you pull the strings. Now, with these two novels and numerous short stories in your writing portfolio, where do you find your inspiration?
DPK: I find inspiration by getting out in the world and seeing what’s going on. My jobs, my children, volunteerism, and my past have all provided plenty of inspiration. Ideas also come from news events that I find horrendous, strange, outrageous, or funny.
LS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
DPK: I don’t have any real rituals before writing. Writing time is so scarce that I try to get right to it. It takes about ten seconds to get into the story which is something I’ve trained myself to do with years of practice! What I always do while writing, though, is drink tea. I don’t make a pot because once the cup is done I need to get up and stretch and relax my mind anyway. I’m starting to drink more coffee now – my security job has corrupted me because of those 5:30 a.m. wakeup calls. I had given it up when I was pregnant with my son 15 years ago, but what can I say? 5:30 is tough!
LS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
DPK: I had this problem a lot during my first decade of writing and solved it by going for walks to relax. I also read books about writing. I find so many books—even how-to—books inspirational that I can’t wait to get back to work after reading one. Going to a writers’ conference also helps!
LS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
DPK: After the 9/11 tragedy, I know of a number of writers who stopped writing for awhile because they thought their work was suddenly unimportant, given all the horrible things happening in the world. Even before that day, I sometimes asked myself if it mattered whether I wrote or not. It’s only stories, not life and death stuff. It’s not as important as raising happy, healthy children. But then a fan letter came and later a compliment by a stranger who walked up to me and said “I really liked your book”. And I realized I was giving people something to take their minds off the serious stuff and that this is important. Writing is important. Writing well is the goal. Being recognized for my work is the dream.
LS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
DPK: The most important thing I’ve learned is that the journey is what matters most. I love the process of writing from first draft to last. My goal is to keep developing so one day someone will say, “Wow! That’s the best thing I’ve read in a long time!”
LS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
DPK: Right now I’m reading a collection of prose and poetry by a member of my writers’ group, Addena Sumter-Freitag. Her wonderful book is called “back in the days”. She’s a seventh generation black Canadian who was raised in Winnipeg. And she writes from the heart and soul and with a truth that absolutely grips you by the throat.
LS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from these corporate capers into other genres? Can your fans expect another Alex Bellamy novel in the near future?
DPK: I see myself still writing, but what I’ll be working on is the big question. I’ve put the Alex Bellamy series on hiatus to focus on my other series featuring Casey Brisseden, a transit security cop. I’ve written the first two books, I’m on the fourth draft of the third book, and have plotted the fourth. Once these titles are released I’d like to work on something else.
I was at romance writers’ conference about 18 months ago and loved the many different subgenres that have emerged over the past 20 years. While I was at the conference, an idea for an urban fantasy sprang to mind. It’s about a witch, a hospital, a romance, and some strange goings on. I’d really love to be working on that, too.
LS: Thank you so much, Debra, for taking the time from your hectic schedule to share in your experiences and inspiring authors to look at other possibilities when it comes to publishing their works! You have certainly paid your dues and I wish you great success in all your writing endeavors.
For more information about Debra Purdy Kong and her novels ‘Taxed to Death’ and ‘Fatal Encryption’ check out:
Follow Debra on Twitter: .DebraPurdyKong
Where to buy the book: amazon.com, amazon.ca, Goodreads, my website and Dead Write Books in Vancouver at
Dead Write Books
#1 4333 West Tenth Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V6R 2H6 Canada
More Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Carlie Cullen Interview - Saturday, August 24, 2013
Kit Grindstaff Interview - Saturday, August 10, 2013
Shannon MacLeod Interview - Saturday, August 03, 2013
Brian Rathbone Interview - Saturday, July 27, 2013
Graeme Ing Interview - Saturday, July 20, 2013
Alison DeLuca Interview - Saturday, July 13, 2013
Christine Nolfi Interview - Saturday, July 06, 2013
Sara Furlong-Burr Interview - Saturday, June 29, 2013
Tamela Buhrke Interview - Saturday, June 22, 2013
Heidi Garrett Interview - Saturday, June 15, 2013
Loren Kleinman Interview - Saturday, June 08, 2013
Leanne Shirtliffe Interview - Saturday, June 01, 2013
Hannah Fielding Interview - Saturday, May 25, 2013
Erica Lucke Dean Interview - Saturday, May 18, 2013
Amber Lea Easton Interview - Sunday, May 12, 2013
Ruth Nestvold Interview - Saturday, May 04, 2013
Rose Garcia Interview - Saturday, April 20, 2013
Robert Pruneda Interview - Saturday, April 13, 2013
Lance Burson Interview - Saturday, April 06, 2013
Rachel Thompson Interview: - Saturday, March 23, 2013
Samantha Martin Interview - Saturday, March 16, 2013
Lisette Brodey Interview - Saturday, March 09, 2013
Jack Whyte Interview Part Two - Saturday, March 02, 2013
Jack Whyte Interview Part One - Saturday, February 23, 2013
Molly Greene Interview - Saturday, February 16, 2013
Dionne Lister Interview - Saturday, February 09, 2013
Anita Reynolds MacArthur Interview: - Saturday, February 02, 2013
Alicia Kat Dillman Interview - Saturday, January 26, 2013
John Gregory Hancock Interview - Saturday, January 19, 2013
Adriana Ryan Interview - Saturday, January 12, 2013
Jennifer McConnel Interview - Friday, January 04, 2013
S.M. Boyce Interview - Saturday, December 15, 2012
James Tallett Interview - Saturday, December 08, 2012
Melissa McPhail Interview - Saturday, December 01, 2012
Roz Morris Interview - Sunday, November 18, 2012
Tania Johansson Interview - Saturday, November 10, 2012
Dale Ivan Smith Interview - Sunday, November 04, 2012
Respect Your Readers - Sunday, October 28, 2012
Greta van der Rol Interview - Sunday, October 21, 2012
Justin Bog Interview - Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thanksgiving Day: Gratitude - Saturday, October 06, 2012
Steena Holmes Interview - Saturday, September 29, 2012
Kenneth Hoss Interview - Saturday, September 22, 2012
Patty Jansen Interview - Saturday, September 15, 2012
Joshua E. Bigger Interview - Saturday, September 08, 2012
Joyce Damask Interview - Saturday, September 01, 2012
Marketing & Twitter - Saturday, August 25, 2012
Henry Herz Interview - Saturday, August 18, 2012
Kristin Bair O'Keeffe Interview - Sunday, August 12, 2012
William Linde Interview - Saturday, August 04, 2012
Micheal Rivers Interview - Saturday, July 21, 2012
Robert James Russell Interview - Saturday, July 14, 2012
Becka Sutton Interview - Saturday, July 07, 2012
Canadian Authors Feature - Saturday, June 30, 2012
Gini Koch Interview - Sunday, June 17, 2012
M. Pax Interview - Saturday, June 09, 2012
Karina Halle Interview - Saturday, June 02, 2012
Novice Writing Mistakes - Sunday, May 27, 2012
Pippa Jay Interview - Sunday, May 20, 2012
Glenn Starkey Interview - Saturday, May 12, 2012
Maurice G. Nicholson Interview - Saturday, May 05, 2012
How I Select Followers on Twitter - Saturday, April 28, 2012
Shaun Allan Interview - Sunday, April 22, 2012
Darlene Foster Interview - Saturday, April 14, 2012
Kim Aleksander Interview - Saturday, April 07, 2012
Hope Collier Interview - Saturday, March 31, 2012
John Kolson’s Writeado: A New Online Writing Tool - Saturday, March 24, 2012
Jeff Shanley Interview - Saturday, March 17, 2012
Stephen England Interview - Saturday, March 10, 2012
Everett Powers Interview - Saturday, March 03, 2012
The Kindle Prime Experiment - Saturday, February 25, 2012
Edward Lazellari Interview - Saturday, February 18, 2012
Connie J. Jasperson Interview - Saturday, February 11, 2012
Sally Dubats - Saturday, February 04, 2012
Selecting Writers For My Author Feature - Sunday, January 29, 2012
Tarek Refaat Interview - Sunday, January 22, 2012
Toby Neal Interview: - Saturday, January 14, 2012
Thomas A. Knight Interview - Sunday, January 08, 2012
Linda Poitevin Interview - Sunday, January 01, 2012
2011: A Year in Review - Monday, December 26, 2011
Angeline Kace Interview - Sunday, December 18, 2011
Eden Baylee Interview - Saturday, December 10, 2011
Cyndi Tefft Interview - Saturday, December 03, 2011
The Conference Experience - Sunday, November 27, 2011
A.R. Silverberry Interview - Sunday, November 20, 2011
Suzy Turner Interview - Sunday, November 13, 2011
Patti Roberts Interview - Sunday, November 06, 2011
Raine Thomas Interview - Sunday, October 23, 2011
LK Gardner-Griffie Interview - Saturday, October 15, 2011
Jonathan Gould Interview - Saturday, October 08, 2011
Brian Rathbone Interview - Saturday, October 01, 2011
Matthew Merrick Interview - Sunday, September 25, 2011
Dean Lappi Interview - Saturday, September 17, 2011
J.T. Ellison Interview - Sunday, September 11, 2011
Carolyn Arnold Interview - Sunday, September 04, 2011
John Kolson Interview - Sunday, August 21, 2011
Megan Curd Interview - Saturday, August 06, 2011
Elena Aitken - Sunday, July 31, 2011
When Book Reviews are Misleading… - Sunday, July 24, 2011
Deborah Riley-Magnus - Saturday, July 16, 2011
Jessica Subject Interview - Sunday, July 10, 2011
J. Alexander Greenwood Interview: - Sunday, July 03, 2011
When Social Networking is no so social... - Monday, June 27, 2011
Dannie C. Hill - Monday, June 20, 2011
Shay Fabbro Interview - Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Genevieve P. Ching Interview - Monday, June 06, 2011
Al Boudreau Interview - Monday, May 30, 2011
Jennifer Hudock Interview - Monday, May 23, 2011
Paul Mansfield Keefe Interview - Monday, May 16, 2011
Rusty Fischer Interview - Monday, May 09, 2011
Jason McIntyre Interview - Monday, May 02, 2011
Emlyn Chand & Novel Publicity - Monday, April 25, 2011
Steve Umstead Interview - Monday, April 18, 2011
John Betcher Interview - Monday, April 11, 2011
Kimberly Kinrade Interview - Monday, April 04, 2011
Inspiration & Where You Find It - Monday, March 28, 2011
Christie Yant - Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Amy J. Rose David Interview - Monday, March 14, 2011
George H. Sirois Interview - Monday, March 07, 2011
Linda Nagata Interview - Monday, February 28, 2011
Adventures in Editing or... Is it Done Yet? - Monday, February 21, 2011
Greg Messel Interview - Monday, February 14, 2011
Jen Wylie Interview - Monday, February 07, 2011
Katie M. John Interview - Monday, January 31, 2011
How Do You Measure Success: - Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Avery Tingle Interview - Monday, January 17, 2011
Kristie Cook Interview - Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ren Cummins - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
A Wish For the New Year - Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Trish Wolfe Interview - Monday, December 20, 2010
Jesi Lea Ryan Interview - Monday, December 13, 2010
Cat Connor Interview - Monday, December 06, 2010
How to Make a Story Ring True - Monday, November 29, 2010
Sharon Bially Interview - Monday, November 22, 2010
Donna Carrick Interview - Monday, November 15, 2010
Brenda Sedore Interview - Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Robert Feagan Interview - Monday, November 01, 2010
Of Book Signings, Volunteering & Option Agreements… - Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Daryl Sedore Interview - Monday, October 18, 2010
Seven Day Blog Tour Begins October 17th - Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Todd A. Ritter Interview - Monday, October 04, 2010
Cheryl Kaye Tardif Interview - Monday, September 27, 2010
Claude Bouchard Interview - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Dr. Peter Clement Interview - Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Elizabeth Isaacs Interview - Monday, September 06, 2010
Introducing a New YA Fantasy - Monday, August 30, 2010
Interview with Author Gene Doucette - Monday, August 23, 2010
It's All About the Books Part 2 - Monday, August 16, 2010
It's All About the Books - Monday, August 09, 2010
When to Abandon Your Manuscript - Monday, August 02, 2010
1st Anniversary Blog: A Celebration of Authors - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Kathy Chung & the SiWC Part Twp - Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Kathy Chung & the Surrey International Writers Conference Part One - Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Deanna Jewel Interview - Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The Happiest Indie Author (me) in the World! - Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Author Effect - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Jacqueline Pearce Interview - Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Peggy Richardson Interview - Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga Interview - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The Importance of a Critique Group - Saturday, May 29, 2010
Zoe Winters Interview - Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Zoe Winters Interview - Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Tonya R. Moore Interview - Monday, May 03, 2010
Write On Bowen! - Monday, April 26, 2010
Dayna Hester Interview - Monday, April 19, 2010
Luke Romyn Interview - Monday, April 12, 2010
Rhonda Carpenter Interview - Monday, March 29, 2010
Lacey Weatherford Interview - Monday, March 22, 2010
K.M. Weiland Interview - Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords Interview! - Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Jo Lynne Valerie Interview - Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Dan McNeil Interview - Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Catherine McKenzie Interview - Tuesday, February 16, 2010
8 Years of Writing! 8 eBook Winners! - Sunday, February 07, 2010
Birthday Blog (or an Ode to Aging Gracelessly) - Monday, January 18, 2010
Interview with Paranormal Author Kate Austin - Monday, January 11, 2010
Riley Carney Interview - Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Ask an Editor - Monday, December 28, 2009
Lee Edward Fodi Interview - Monday, December 21, 2009
Interview with YA Author James McCann - Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Researching Historical Fiction with Diana Gabaldon - Tuesday, December 08, 2009
kc dyer Interview & Enter to Win an Autographed Novel! - Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Bev Katz Rosenbaum Interview - Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Writing Tips I Learned from Terry Brooks - Tuesday, November 17, 2009
An Interview with Tamara Sheehan - Monday, November 09, 2009
YA Author Loreena M. Lee Interview - Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Why Do I Blog About Other Authors? - Thursday, October 29, 2009
Critique by Author Jack Whyte - Tuesday, October 27, 2009
BookCamp 2009 - Monday, October 19, 2009
Participating at VCON 34 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Therese Walsh Interview - Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Interview with Debra Purdy Kong - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Twitter – The Power of the Tweet - Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Part Two: Publishing in a Foreign Market - Tuesday, September 15, 2009
An Interview with author Christopher Belton - Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Part Two of the Caroline Leavitt Interview: - Thursday, September 03, 2009
An Interview with Author & Book Reviewer Caroline Leavitt - Tuesday, September 01, 2009
An Interview with Kathleen Bolton - Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Interview with author/artist Scott Kessman: - Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Interview with author/artist Scott Kessman: - Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Part 2 of the Kim Falconer Interview - Thursday, August 13, 2009
An Interview with Kim Falconer - Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Part 2 An Interview with Alan Baxter - Thursday, August 06, 2009
An Interview with Alan Baxter - Tuesday, August 04, 2009
If You Write It, They Will Come (buy it)… Not! - Sunday, July 26, 2009
Lori A. May: Author Extraordinaire - Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Merits of a Writers Conference - Sunday, July 19, 2009
Part 2 Publishing in the Digital Age - Thursday, July 16, 2009
Publishing in the Digital Age - Monday, July 13, 2009
Writing Tips for the Novice Novelist - Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Flog the Blog - Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Do's & Don't of a TV interview - Saturday, June 27, 2009
Mortality & Writing - Friday, June 26, 2009
The Art of Editing 101 - Tuesday, June 23, 2009
How To Write When Suffering from Bad Memory Retention - Saturday, June 20, 2009
Finding Inspiration from Others - Thursday, June 18, 2009
To Blog or Twitter... - Tuesday, June 16, 2009