Who’s That Indie Author? Debra Purdy Kong

Debra Purdy Kong

Name: Debra Purdy Kong

Books: Casey Holland mystery series: The Opposite of Dark, Deadly Accusations, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, The Deep End, Knock Knock, The Blade Man, A Gold Satin Murder

Genre: Crime Fiction

Background: I live near Vancouver, British Columbia and I’m the author of eleven mystery novels (three of them are out of print). After many years spent learning the craft of writing and the business side of things (I’m still learning), I now mentor newer writers through workshops offered by my local community center.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer? In 1979 I spent a year travelling alone through Europe and working as a legal secretary in London, England. I wrote a lot of letters home, kept a journal, and began writing my first short stories to fill my evenings. I wound up with a roommate who encouraged me to keep writing. By the time I came home, I knew I wanted to write fiction for the rest of my life.

Do you write full-time? If not, do you have an outside job or other responsibilities? For most of my adult life, I’ve either raised kids, volunteered, and/or worked part-time at various jobs. It was never my goal to write full-time, since much of my inspiration comes from getting out in the world and doing things. As a retiree, I still don’t write full time, although I now devote a fair chunk of my days to marketing and promotion, blogging, and book reviewing. I also have two young granddaughters whom I love to spend time with.

Where do you get your ideas for characters and plots? My ideas come from real-life crime stories happening here in Vancouver and other parts of Canada. Some ideas are also inspired by my experiences. For example, my fourth book, The Deep End, is largely set in a youth detention center, so I relied heavily on my volunteer experiences when I was a criminology student. I’m so glad I kept journals back then.

Have you ever written yourself into a story? I can’t say that I’ve ever written myself into a story, but when I first started writing the Casey Holland series many years ago, Casey and I shared some traits. My character hasn’t aged the way I have, and I find that we have less in common. I did use my work experience as a security and communications officer to create the character of Casey. She’s a transit security guard and I worked security on campuses, however, the basic training would have been the same.

What route did you take to get published? Describe your experience. Like many authors, my publication journey has been a roller coaster, starting with two agents I worked with on two series. When that didn’t pan out, I eventually found a small press to publish the first four books in my Casey Holland series. But the publisher decided to cut a number of authors, so I self-published the following three books. I’ve also worked with another small press who published two of my novellas until health issues forced the publisher to shut down. With the fantasy I’m currently working on, I might try the agent route again, well aware that the odds are long and that it’ll take patience.

What kinds of things do you do to promote your book? My promotion strategy is fairly straightforward. First, I connect with local writers and do both online and in-person events with them such as readings, launches, book signings, or workshops. I find that working with others is much more fun. I also connect with the rest of the world through my blog, newsletter, and social media. Book promotion sites that are recommended by marketing guru David Gaughran have also proven to be helpful. One of these days, I’ll learn how to properly advertise on Facebook and Amazon.

Have you ever had a book-signing event? Tell us about your experience. I’ve had several book signings, one at a library, others at community centers, and virtually. My favorite and first launch was held in my home one autumn evening. We had food, wine, and lots of laughter. I loved It, as did my guests, so maybe it’ll happen again some time.

Do you belong to a writer’s group? If so, is it in-person or online? Tell us about your experience I’ve belonged to at least three writers’ groups over the years, but my current group is a small online group I formed when Covid restrictions kept us all at home. I chose three people I already knew through creative writing workshops. I chose them for their commitment to writing, their willingness to give honest feedback, and because I thought we’d work well together. It’s been amazing.

Name three unread books on your bookshelf. Three unread books on my shelf are Playing the Long Game, which is a memoir of Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. I’ve actually started that one.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is watch my mother go through dementia and then pancreatic cancer. On the writing front, the hardest thing I ever did was write my grandfather’s eulogy, as requested by my aunts. They were quite the editors, but in the end they were happy with the piece.

What advice can you give to new writers entering the writing and publishing arena? First, practice writing as much as you can. One good way is to keep a journal. Also, read all types of books, including how-to books on writing. Take courses and workshops. You’re not going to get it right the first time, or even the second or third, but if you focus on just one thing, you’ll make progress. Second, connect with other writers in your community. One good source are libraries some of which host book clubs, writers’ groups, and writing-related events. Attend events either online or in person. Third, take care of yourself physically and emotionally. The writing life isn’t a sprint but a marathon filled with twists and turns that you can’t control. Writers can let self-doubt paralyze them. Negative self-talk is inevitable but see it for what it is and carry on. The journey is everything, not the endgame.

Website and social media links:
Website: debrapurdykong.com
Twitter: @DebraPurdyKong
Facebook: facebook.com/DebraPurdyKongAuthor
Blog: debrapurdykong.wordpress.com
Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/debrapurdykong

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76 thoughts on “Who’s That Indie Author? Debra Purdy Kong

  1. Debra is a fellow British Columbia author and a writer I admire for her tenacity as well as her engaging books. I enjoyed Debra’s answers to your excellent questions. I especially like this – “The journey is everything, not the endgame.”

    1. Thank you, Darlene, and I’m happy to see you here! I haven’t been to Europe since my travelling days, but I did venture to Madrid and Barcelona, cities I’m sure you’re familiar with 🙂

    2. Hi Darlene – yes Debra’s outlook is the best way to be. Thanks very much for the visit and for commenting. I’m so happy to see everyone connecting here 🙂

  2. What an interesting interview! Nice to meet you, Debra. I love your advice to other authors and I’m enamored with your past work experience. Alone in Europe for a year? How brave!
    Thanks Barbara!

    1. Thank you, Kimberly. Yes, I remember being both excited and terrified as I got on the plane from Vancouver, but it was one of the best growing experiences I’ve ever had. I was 24 at the time. Travelling still had its risks but I was really lucky.

      1. I agree it’s a wonderful growing experience. I backpacked through Europe with my friend at 23, but only for 6 weeks. I couldn’t have done it alone.
        Have a great weekend. I’ll look for your books. 😊

      2. Wow, Kimberly – that’s impressive and for 6 weeks! I did a Europe trip when I was 24. We didn’t backpack but we used the Eurail pass to travel for 2 weeks and had a very loose itinerary. That was fun but I couldn’t have done that by myself.

    1. Hi Debra – WOW what a fantastic conversation you have going here – I’m sorry I’m just getting to read all the comments today. I worked all weekend and I’m now just catching up. I’m so happy to be hosting you! You have connected with so many wonderful people here – that’s terrific!

      1. No problem, Barbara. We all lead busy lives 🙂 The response has been overwhelming and I’m so happy to have provided info that others find useful. Thanks again for hosting me!

    1. She’s performing a wonderful service for indie authors. Discoverability is one of our greatest challenges, and I really appreciate the opportunity to appear today 🙂

  3. Debra, I relate to so much of your story. One thing we have in common is being self-published. I admire other feats you have accomplished: spending a year traveling alone through Europe and authoring so many books. All the best in your book marketing, a journey I’m also on at the moment. I agree, connecting with readers is the very best part of promoting our work.

    1. Hi Donna! Oh I’ve been reading your conversation with Debra and it’s so great to see you two connect! Isn’t that fun about blogging? Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and read about Debra. 🙂

  4. I love Parksville, although I haven’t been there in quite a few years. We used to take our kids there and stay near the Rathtrevor Beach. We’re hoping to bring our grandkids there in a year or two.

    1. Hi Jill – I’m glad you had a chance to meet Debra and learn about her writing experiences. Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you are doing well 😊

  5. Thank you very much for the introduction, Barbara.

    Debra, I live in Penticton although I work in Northwest Territories. I didn’t know about your books, but I will add you to my list. I’m retiring in October and will finally be able to read for enjoyment. Cheers.

    1. Thanks so much Lynette. I love Penticton, and have spent a number of summers visiting the wineries along the Naramata Bench. I have a couple of good friends who live in Penticton, so it’s always great fun when I have the chance to visit the area.

    2. Hi Lynette – I’m glad you had a chance to stop by and meet Debra. You are collecting a lot of great books for your retirement TBR list! Thanks for the visit 🙂

  6. Thanks, Barbara, for sharing Debra and her writing journey. I wonder what made you Debra write in the crime genre. Thats a tough and often dark writing style. Congratulations on your success.

    1. Thank you, Grace. I’ve always been interested in trying to understand what makes people do what they do. So, I studied criminology in my twenties and volunteered in prisons and a youth detention center. I found that I’d rather create fictional stories than work in law enforcement or corrections. In fiction, I at least have some control over the outcomes.

    2. Hi Grace – I’m so glad that you could stop by to meet Debra and learn about her writing experiences. I liked Debra’s comment that she has always been interested in what makes people do what they do and how her criminology background helps her do this.

  7. I so enjoyed this interview!!! I spent a semester overseas as a student in Cambridge, England, in 1979. We did a great deal of travelling and it was so much fun. I always love to hear about how people start writing…I too, think a journal is such a great idea.

    1. Hi Linda – thank you for stopping by to meet Debra and learn about her writing experiences. How great you were in Cambridge – I would love to visit there 🙂

  8. What a great interview, I really enjoyed it. I never considered creating my own writing group, but I love the idea of a small group of similarly dedicated people coming together. 🙂

    1. Hi Ari – I’ve been toying around with the same idea, since I’ve read about other writers doing the same. Thanks so much for stopping by to meet Debra!

      1. Barbara, you’ve met so many great authors, you can probably find 3 or 4 like-minded people who’d be interested in forming an online group. I’ve found that 4 people works really well for me.

    2. Thank you, Ari. I’ve found it really helpful. It works for me because I knew the authors and know their skill level and work ethic. By chatting with authors on places like this, you might well find like-minded people who are interested in starting a small group of 3 or 4 people.

      1. Thanks Debra, I can see finding people with the same passion and work ethic would be important to keep a writing group effective. 🙂

  9. Hi Barbara, it is lovely to find Debra Purdy Kong featured here and to learn about her path to publication. Her’s has been quite a diverse one and I’d be interested in which publishing experience she liked the best.

    1. Hi Robbie, that’s an interesting question you posed about which experience I liked best. For me, it’s a 50/50 split because I love the control and creative freedom that self-publishing offered, but the expenses for a professional editor and jacket designer, and to print copies, were steep. I loved that I didn’t have to put any money upfront with a traditional publisher, but I didn’t like publishing based on their schedule, which was once a year. I know that not all publishers work that way, though. With both self-publishing and traditional publishing, marketing and promotion is mostly your responsibility and expenses, for the most part, come out of your pocket.

      1. Hi Debra, this has been my experience too. For me, it is definitely swings and roundabouts when it comes to my choice of publisher. Different advantages and disadvantages for traditional publishing versus self publishing. On the whole, I prefer the control offered by self publishing. Thanks for your comprehensive answer.

    2. Hi Robbie – thank you for stopping by to meet Debra and learn about her experiences with writing and self-publishing. I always like hearing about how writers get their work published. Hope you’re doing well!

  10. Hi Barbara, thanks for introducing us to Debra. I enjoyed the interview, reading about her publishing experiences, and her advice for new writers, especially to stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. These lines resonate: “Writers can let self-doubt paralyze them. Negative self-talk is inevitable but see it for what it is and carry on. The journey is everything, not the endgame.”

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