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An Interview with Deborah L. Staunton, author of Untethered

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Deborah L. Staunton’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Pretty Owl Poetry, Six Hens, and the MacGuffin, among others. Her poetry was featured at HBO’s Inspiration Room exhibit in New York City. She is a Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a finalist in the David Wade Hogue Rocket Man Poetry Award. Her poetry and short prose collection, Untethered, is the recipient of a PenCraft Best Book Award. Her children’s picture book, Owls Can’t Sing, is forthcoming from Two Sisters Press. She holds a B.S. in Education and a B.A. in Theatre Arts and lives with her husband and two children on Long Island, NY.

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

I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and worked in an early intervention program for special needs and medically fragile infants and their parents. I am also the parent of two special needs kids. I have a degree in Theatre Arts and have worked on numerous productions in stage management and lighting for both regular shows and children’s theatre.

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

My book’s title is Untethered—it came to me after I wrote the title piece in the collection and struck me as perfect because the book tells of the untethering of minds, relationships, and pregnancies.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I couldn’t have dreamed of a better cover I love everything about it—the color, the design, the artwork. I love how the “tree woman” reflects strength, nurturing, and being tethered to the ground yet it shows her kind of floating on a tiny piece of earth, reflecting both the tethering and untethering of the human experience reflected in the book. J.M. Barrie said, “For several days after my first book was published, I carried it about in my pocket and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded.” This is exactly how I felt when my book came out.

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

I hope readers take away an awareness that life experiences such as mental illness and miscarriage are far too often misunderstood and that the stigma causes tremendous pain on top of the pain that is already there. I hope my readers come away with more compassion and a willingness to give grace and to listen and support those who are suffering.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

Every person in my circle (family and friends) was incredibly moved by it and by my experience. People who have known me my whole life said that they had no idea how intense my childhood was and they have a new appreciation for what my family endured. In the play The Dresser, one of the actors says, “I don’t care if there are only three people out front or if the audience laughs when it shouldn’t and doesn’t when it should. One person, just one person is certain to know and understand and I act for him.” That is exactly how I feel about my writing.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have a children’s picture book called Owls Can’t Sing releasing on March 1st with Two Sisters Press and I am currently working on another poetry book which is a collection of elegies for two dear friends who died during Covid.

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