My guest author today is Debra Coleman Jeter. She is a Vanderbilt University professor who has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.
Tell us about The Ticket:
Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit right. When she wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray. To learn more, view the book trailer: https://vimeo.com/50187275
What prompted you to write this novel?
First, I wanted to write something to show of how little importance wealth really is, though we often spend way too much time thinking about money. Once I decided to write about a family with financial troubles winning the lottery, then I thought it might be interesting if someone else bought the ticket and gave it to them ... which leads to a lot of the twists in my plot.
Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?
There are actually two important messages. One is that wealth might not bring all the good things we sometimes envision and might create more problems than it solves. The second message is to treasure the moments with your loved ones; we never know how long we will have them in our lives.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I prefer to set my novels in places I can see vividly, having experienced something similar in my own life. So I typically write about small southern towns: Paradise, Kentucky, in The Ticket, patterned after the small towns of Mayfield, Murray, or Benton, in western Kentucky, where I grew up; Sugar Sands, Alabama, patterned after Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, where my family has vacationed regularly for years; Bell City, Kentucky, where my grandmother grew up with eight brothers and sisters. I’ve spent a month each year in New Zealand for about 12 years, so eventually I plan to set a novel there.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
I have a colleague at Vanderbilt whose signature on his emails reads “Never, never, never give up.” I think this is what I would tell writers. That, and write what you care deeply about, rather than what you think the market is ripe for.
Debra is having a giveaway on her website. To learn how to enter a drawing for a Kindle Fire, visit her media page at: http://www.meaghanburnett.com/the-ticket/
If you'd like to connect with Debra, you can find her:
Website and Blog: www.debracolemanjeter.com