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An Interview with Deborah King, author of Glory Bishop


Though Deborah L. King has been a writer and storyteller her whole life, publishing her first short story at seven years old, she took 32 years to complete her first novel. Deborah loves storms, champagne, Old Time Radio, and 70s Blues and Soul. As a fiction writer, she loves the work of Octavia Butler, classic Stephen King, Peter David, and the illustrations of Dan DeCarlo. Thanks to an interesting childhood, she’s afraid of escalators, bill collectors, and sometimes fresh produce.

Along with being a Vulcan and a bread-bender, Deborah enjoys cartoons, baking, photography, and Star Trek. Born and raised in Chicago, she has managed to achieve all of her childhood dreams—artist, teacher, baker, photographer, model, writer—and still lives in the area with her husband and two youngest children. According to her daughter, she has “literally aced her life!”

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

When I was a child, I was a terrible liar. I made up stories about friends on one side of town to tell to friends on the other side of town. I made up stories about my own adventures and told them as if they were true. And all the kids believed me. In 6th grade, my friends and I decided to do a play based on the TV mini-series ROOTS. I was the head writer and threw myself into the task, and frankly, it was really good. Our teacher even said so. Alas, we were not allowed to present it… but I’d found a new outlet for my stories and a teacher that encouraged me to write whatever I wanted…and the rest is history.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

In 1992, I took a Women’s Writing class and each session, we would do a 5-minute writing sprint from a prompt. One day the prompt was “red” and for 5 minutes, I wrote a scene of a young woman carrying a pair of red pumps and hearing her mothers voice berating her. Later, in class and on my own, I expanded on that scene and the young woman eventually became GLORY BISHOP. That scene is actually included in the sequel, GLORY UNBOUND.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

In 1998, I got my first computer with AOL (America On Line) and had to pick a screen name. It could have been anything, and I always thought “GLORIA” was a really beautiful name for a girl. For my screen name, I shortened it to “GLORY” and then felt I needed a last name. Growing up, two streets over from where I lived was Bishop Street and there was a corner store that my mother would never let me walk to. Granted, I was 5 or 6, but I never forgot that street name. So my screen name became GLORY BISHOP, and the name seemed a perfect fit for my character with the red shoes and became my working title for the novel. My publisher liked the name and we decided to keep it.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

While writing GLORY BISHOP, I kept a few songs on repeat…and I mean playing non-stop for days and days. One was “Holdin On” by Citizen Cope and another was “A Case of You”…a Joni Mitchell song as sung by Prince. Even now, whenever I hear those songs, I feel exactly what I felt when I was writing certain scenes from GLORY BISHOP.

Describe your dream book cover.

The current cover of GLORY BISHOP is actually the second version. The first cover had a modern YA feel, and the publisher decided the birdcage would be closer to a women’s fiction feel. My ideal cover, I think, would be against the same light blue sky, but a headshot illustration of a featureless black girl with big hair held back with a headband, maybe purple. The girl would have her head bowed, praying or something. Take a look at the cover of MARY NOT BROKEN…I’d like something to kinda match that.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I spent a few years as a waitress and as a hotel front desk clerk, where I wrote what I (and others) felt were awesome short stories and novellas. Alas, those stories are all lost to time and carelessness. I’ve also written “adult” stories under a pen name that I’ll never share.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

OMG, it took over thirty years to finish Glory’s story, so I read a lot of books. For a while, I got deeply into Star Trek TNG books. I was also into Archie Comics and read the Harry Potter series a couple of times. I stuck mainly to fantasy and sci-fi and stayed away from anything with too much contemporary realism.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Haha…my perfect reader is somebody with the means to option the movie rights and to find a producer with a big budget! Hmmm… honestly, I just hope readers have their emotions tweaked and are entertained. I don’t want some English teacher in twenty years trying to analyze the meaning of the “white cabinets”. They’re meaningless… just a feature in an old kitchen. I think there are no hidden meanings or even life lessons. It’s just a story.

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