Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
I have too too many good memories! I had so many, I wrote them all down in my other published work:Apricot by Debbie Bumstead. It is a memoir of a sixties childhood filled with exploration and discovery. The memory that pops into my mind now is the time I rode a black bear. I was four and the bear was a tamed animal that a man had brought to a store parking lot to show. The man asked if I wanted to ride the bear, and I agreed. I was a timid little girl, scared of grown-up humans, but not of a big black bear!
About your education
I mostly loved school, though when I was little, kids teased me because of my last name, Bumstead - one year I was affectionately called “Bummy.” I went to college hoping to become an elementary school teacher, but my extreme shyness caused me to give up after being left alone in charge of thirty mischievous first graders one morning. So I majored in Art. Later I went back to college and earned an M.A. in English Literature and Writing.
What career did you plan during your education days?
I wanted to be a veterinarian or a child psychologist. Though I didn’t formally accomplish either, I have always cared for pet animals in my home and worked with children in my jobs.
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
My inspiration comes from deep inside me. It is a need to communicate the strong feelings that are universal to all loving people.
What hurts you most in this world?
The thing that hurts me most in this world is cruelty towards children. Partly because I was sexually abused as a young girl, I have always wanted to protect little ones from the dangers of those evil acts perpetrated by men who use their superior strength and knowledge to damage growing lives forever.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? Were you able to overcome it? How?
My husband got sick in the last few years of his life. He beat back certain death at least three times. His courage and the abilities of his doctors kept him going. While he faced this challenge, my challenge
was to somehow survive the sadness of seeing my loved one grow weaker and weaker. Then, after his death, there was the challenge of accepting grief and working forward despite the loneliness. Writing, painting, helping children learn to read, pool exercise, and lots of getting together with friends has helped me.
If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
One reason I made the main character in The Destruction of Alice have red hair is because since I was little I’ve been attracted to redheads. If I were to be a character in one of my favorite books, I think I’d bePippi Longstocking from Astrid Lindgren’s series of children’s books. Pippi has red hair in two long braids, and she is immensely strong and kind to other children. Though she is mischievous, she is always good, true, loving, and she saves the day for all her friends.
What is your favorite genre and why?
If a book is well-written, I will like it, no matter the genre, but if I have to say just one genre, I guess I’d pick the classic novels from the 19th and 20th centuries. Charles Dickens’ books create whole worlds to live in for awhile. Make Way for Lucia by E.F. Benson gives me a delightful vision of an English village peopled with eccentrics. Another favorite genre is the memoir, in which I get to see through other people’s eyes the universal theme of growing up. My very favorite memoir is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.
What is the purpose of your writing?
I believe I began writing as a child simply because I loved to read and wanted more than anything to make a book just like the books I read, but different. As a teenage girl, writing became my method of communicating. I was very shy in person, but through my writing I could show others my inner thoughts and feelings. I think even now as a grown woman, I still yearn for other people to know me through my writings.
Which of your work published so far?
Over the course of my life I’ve had about 30 different poems, short stories, and articles published in various magazines. Though I had a literary agent for awhile, my longer writings were not picked up by any big publisher. That’s when I found Amazon’s CreateSpace, where anyone may bring out their story, if they take the time to write, edit, etc. on their own (or with paid help). The books produced are beautiful paperbacks with colorful covers, as real as any publisher’s book, but much more various and unique in content because more than just a few popular writers are now available to us all.
So far I have published these books:
What are your forthcoming writings?
I have two more books in mind. Both are written, but not yet ready to send in. One is called Dear Dr. Pullias, Volume I - 1968-1978, a collection of letters to and from Dr. Earl V. Pullias and Debbie Bumstead. Dr. Pullias was a greatly admired educator who wrote the best teacher’s manual: A Teacher is Many Things, as well as several other books. He was famous in his own field, much loved by many former students and friends, and I believe that in his letters to me as he counseled me and became my friend others will find wisdom and comfort.
My other book is That’s My Beatrix! It is a historical storybook for middle grade children about a girl growing up in 1910 Alabama as the daughter of a sharecropper farmer. It is endearing and funny with episodes concerning making friends, buying a doll, surviving a tornado, among others.
What are your future plans?
My future looks much like my present, except that I will be growing older as I go along. I have achieved the goals I worked for as a young woman: a house of my own, loving family, pets, freedom to write and paint and be with friends. I am at the point when I should take up something new to keep myself lively - maybe I’ll learn line dancing or vegetarian cooking or car repair!
What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
Plot is important in writing, but it is the hardest thing for me to master. In real life, life goes along day by day, but in a book there must be a whole idea to bring the action together with foreshadowing and consequences. So I must eventually look at what I’ve written in the first excitement of creation and find the plot to bring the story to its natural conclusion. Character, description, and dialog come easily to me. The theme of a novel is the lesson, the why of the story; the theme brings readers in and satisfies them when at last good triumphs in the book’s battle of good vs. evil. In my novel The Destruction of Alice good comes to Alice despite the destructive acts of sexual abuse that made her struggle for happiness so hard.