Today, I'd like to welcome Debra Shiveley Welch, author of “Spirit Woman” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Award winning author Debra Shiveley Welch was born in Columbus, Ohio and has lived in the Greater Columbus area all of her life. She now resides in Westerville with her husband Mark and son Christopher. Debra is the author of six books: Spirit Woman, Cedar Woman, and winner of Books and Authors Best Native American Fiction award, Christopher Meets Buddy, A Very Special Child, which received the FaithWriters Gold Seal of Approval – Outstanding Read Award, Christopher Bullfrog Catcher, written by her son at eleven years of age, Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, winner of the FaithWriters Gold Seal of Approval – Out Standing Read, Books & Authors Excellence in Literature, Books and Authors Best Non Fiction, and AllBooks Reviews Editor’s Choice awards, and “Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams.” Currently Debra is writing Brave Heart Woman, Christopher’s Family Table, featuring recipes from a Chopped and Chopped Junior champion.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
I don’t know. I think it would depend on what had happened. Keeping in mind that breaking the law yourself would probably worsen the situation, it really would have to be the circumstances that would dictate my actions. That said, you never know what you’re going to do until faced with it. I do know, however, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I could not kill unless it was in self-defense. Even then, it would haunt me all of my life.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Being alive is existing. Following your passion is living. When I was young, my body used to hum. I could feel my youth and was full of vitality and energy. As I age, my body has slowed down to a purr, but my brain is still humming, vitalized and energized. Why? Because I write. I write about my loves, my family, both birth and Lakota, I write about the things that remind me that I am alive.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Oh, gosh, what doesn’t? I’ll hear a tune or see a bird take off. Maybe the breeze carrying a certain scent. The play of light on a wall, memories, hurts, loves, triumphs, failures. I’ve been writing since I was a child. It just seems to be what I was meant to do, I hope with some finesse and style.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
We are hard wired to pro-create. It’s built into our makeup to make little versions of ourselves. However, as we have advanced, the need to have children, albeit still partly driven with the desire to keep the human race going, is now flavored with a desire to protect another human being, to nurture, to love, to give someone a better life than we had. So, today most of us who have children by design, do so because we want the joy of raising a human being, of mentoring them, helping them on the road to adulthood and just to love and be loved. I for one adopted. I have too many things that I could pass on to duplicate myself to whatever degree. So I adopted a baby boy born with cleft lip and palate. Why did I do this? Because I wanted a child to raise and nurture, and due to my childhood abuse, save. So I, with my husband of course, adopted Christopher. We were the seventh couple called and he was on his way to Children’s Services. He is the joy of my life. Mothering Chris helped to heal many of the scars from my childhood. In mothering him, I mothered the little Debra who so desperately needed it. In loving him and in his loving me, I shed so much of the pain from my childhood abuse. So, I saved Chris, but he in turn saved me. There is a twist here. After DNA analysis (for me to find out exactly what all was wrong with me, and Chris to give him a medical record) we discovered that we are fourth cousins. I think God was winking.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Spirit Woman" ?
Each book has its own challenges, but in this case, it was in writing scenes that I normally would not write. They were difficult, very difficult, but they had to be written to tell the story.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
In October of 2012 and again in January of 2013, I came so near death that the doctors were telling my husband to order the coffin. Both my husband and son were distraught, but I kept assuring them that I would not die. Not this time. You see, in 1977 I did die, but was brought back. I’d walked this path and was familiar with it, and from these three experiences I learned that I, and most of us in this world, are much stronger than we think we are. We can endure as long as the will is there. I wasn’t ready, and I knew that I wasn’t ready. My son was not at a point where I could feel secure in leaving him behind, so I made the decision to stay. We are capable of so much more than we realize. We just have to find the courage to grab life with both hands and take control of our destinies.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "Spirit Woman" ?
Spirit Woman is the real name of a real woman. Nickie Bahiti (buy-a-tie – ghost or spirit) called me one day to talk about the abuse she was suffering under her husband’s hand. She was planning to leave him, and wanted to talk to me to calm down, get her thoughts straight, and get out of there. When I went to powwow that summer, I mentioned Nickie’s telephone conversation (with her permission) to my sisters and they told me that I needed to write her story. Spirit Woman is the story of Nickie and three other women’s true stories of domestic abuse. It is a fictional work, and their four stories are woven into one.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
I analyze it, look it over, and try to determine how much of it is accurate. I find this especially helpful in my writing. I use beta readers and their input is priceless. I’ve had a few give me advise on a certain scene, and they were so dead on that, when I rewrote it, even I could see how much it had been improved. We learn more from our mistakes than our triumphs, so ignoring criticism can be a very bad habit to get into.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
As I mentioned, Spirit Woman is the fictionalized story of four women who suffered from domestic abuse. Yes, there are scenes that are difficult and there is some violence and profanity (kept to a minimum) that was necessary to tell the story, but it should be read. Every woman, and yes every man should read this book. Not all of the scenes are about abuse. It covers six months in the life of Nickie Bahiti Greene (not her real maiden name), is the second book of the Cedar Woman Series, and within it there is also romance and hope. Brave Heart Woman will pick up where Spirit Woman ends….or does it? Believe it or not, there is even some laughter. I guarantee that you will fall in love with Beau and with Officer Foster.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Wow! Okay, let me muddle through this. “Nothing” would suggest a void. Even black holes contain matter, so is a void possible? Okay, enough with the scientific slant. Nothing: I have nothing; there is nothing between us. Impossible. There is always something. Nothing is an absolute, and excepting math, and we’re not even sure about that now, there are no absolutes. So “nothing” would have to be a subjective concept unique to each person.
Thank you Debra :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out “Spirit Woman” on
Nickie looks into the windows of the houses she passes. She had done so since a little girl: peering into the lighted rooms of other families, wondering if they were the kind of family she so longed for. Were they happy? Was everyone behind the panes of glass loved? All she wants is to be loved, to be one of those people behind the window, but love eludes her until she meets Jay.
Will he be the one to rescue her from loneliness, or will he make her wish that she could break through the window…and run?
Based on the true stories of four women, "Spirit Woman" will be a tale that you will remember for years to come.