Author Feature: Deb Loughead

Payback
In Payback, Dylan O’Connor is in trouble again. While riding his bike home after dark, he has a run-in with a truck but doesn’t give it a second thought until police show up at his door the next day. CCTV cameras put Dylan at the scene of a crime, and when the police question him, Dylan realizes he was an inadvertent witness. But he doesn’t tell them the driver of the truck was Jeff Walker, a nasty piece of work. Dylan knows it’s in his best interests to keep his mouth shut. Then he starts getting stalked by Jeff’s weirdo sidekick, Eliot Barnes, a classmate of Dylan’s. Is Eliot trying to protect Dylan, or is he making sure he stays silent? Payback is the fourth story featuring Dylan O’Connor after The Snowball Effect, Caught in the Act and Rise of the Zombie Scarecrows.

What planning and research did you do for you book?

My character Dylan just seems to find trouble wherever he goes, and with his uncanny ability , to find his way into questionable situations and back out again. This book is also based on character judgment, and how easy it is to make one, without being fully away of what lies beneath a person’s demeanour. Everyone you meet is carrying something. Everyone has a reason for their actions and behaviour. With each new adventure, Dylan is becoming more aware of this. The Eliot character has baggage he’s trying to deal with. As soon as Dylan realizes this, his attitude changes. My research is based on trying to understand what makes people tick, and incorporating that into my writing.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?

Story making. What a privilege to be able to spend my hours and days creating new characters and spending time with them and their stories. And being surprised at how they take over they narrative and lead me toward the denouement.

What’s your favorite movie or TV show? The show you binge watched the fastest?

I binge watched Breaking Bad. That was some of the best TV writing I’ve ever enjoyed. I loved Stranger Things too, and House of Cards, and The Crown, The OA, and Black Mirror. One of my favorite movies ever is the Princess Bride. That’s some splendid storytelling!

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Treating myself to a new book. And chocolate. Always.

What do you admire most in a book?

Getting pulled into a captivating plot line. It needs to suck me in quickly. I’m not themes patient person. I’ve thrown books across the room in the past, wondering how they ever got published.

Payback

 

You’re stranded on a desert island and are allowed 3 books–which do you choose?

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2, my English Lit university tome; Complete Poems of Robert Frost, 1949, because each poem is a story; The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, because I’ll probably need some whimsy!

What’s your favorite genre to read? To Write? What draws you to these?

I’ll read anything that captivates me and keeps me turning the pages. I do love a mystery, but what story doesn’t have some version of a mystery at its core! I like writing mysteries too, because of the challenge of developing irresistible and convincing plot lines, and creating characters that will draw the reader in and compel them to keep on turning the pages.

What has been your most unlikely adventure?

Miramichi, New Brunswick, April 2004. I experienced a medical emergency while hiking through the woods at French Fort Cove, following an aboriginal drummer along the winding trail as he summoned Grandfather Eagle. I was scheduled to read a poem along the pathway, at the top of a staircase hewn from logs. But as I negotiated the slippery, precarious trail, I had a feeling it wouldn’t happen. I felt myself growing weaker and weaker. I knew that I had to read at the top of those steep steps. Willing myself to climb as my energy seeped away, I felt as if I was slipping out of my skin as I dragged my weary body upward step by step. Upon reaching the top, I leaned against the solid comfort of a pine tree trunk, then sudden tunnel vision before darkness, and I slumped to the ground. I didn’t think I’d be spending my first night in a health care facility when I booked that trip. And receiving two blood transfusions. But I was left with an interesting tale. And the next night I read my prize-winning poem, that has since become a Scholastic picture book, at a rollicking East Coast kitchen party. Within us we all carry the stories that shape us, don’t we?

What is your favorite book from your childhood?

Pussy Willow by Margaret Wise Brown, a kitten’s journey to finding himself and where he belongs. I still have it, my favorite Little Golden Book.

Deb Loughead

Deb Loughead is the author of more than thirty-five books for children and young adults. Her books have been translated into seven languages. She has also written and directed children’s plays and taught creative writing classes. Deb lives in Toronto, Ontario. For more information, visit www.debloughead.ca.

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