Wednesday, June 4, 2014

INTERVIEW: Debbie McGowan

The lovely and enthusiastic Debbie McGowan comes to us today with her fantastically wild photo. Debbie says, "This is a photo of me in a hat (a rare occasion) - this is of me and fabulous Paul – an amazingly talented musician, musical director and all round perfect human being. We were at a friend’s wedding, and they had one of those crazy photo booths. We were sober too!"

Hello Debbie and welcome to The Hat Party <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

A drunken relative has just insulted LGBT fiction up one side and down the other. Plus they spilled their drink on you in the process. What is your most articulate response?

“Whilst I respect your wrong opinion, I fear you may be significantly under-estimating heteronormativity as the driving discourse of not only mundane interaction, but also its continued permeation of all aspects of contemporary culture, to the extent that we refer to fiction in terms of difference—LGBT fiction, but not STRAIGHT fiction. As Foucault contended—”


“Michel Foucault? Belgian philosopher, founding father of post-structuralism? He suggests—”

“Who’s Fuke-All and what the fuke has he got to do with—”

“You spilled your drink. Oh, and by the way? I think your brain cell is using that ice cube as a raft.”

Ha! Yeah, right! I’d probably just swear and consider myself very grown up if I walked away without “accidentally spilling” my drink on them.

A genre-specific virus has attacked you, rendering you INCAPABLE of writing your chosen genre. What do you do now?!

Panic! Agggghhh!

No seriously, I’m a genre crosser. I can handle it.

I’m told I have an incredible talent (or dreadful tendency) for subtly twisting things into what I want them to be—ask my high school English teacher, who bet good money on me failing. I passed; he didn’t pay up. He also used to write rude words on my essays.

Essay Title: Full Moon

The boys on the back seat of the bus were ready; pants unfastened, hands grasping waistbands, waiting, waiting, for that perfect moment to occasion…

Teacher’s comment: Utter bilge. Were you absent when we studied werewolves in contemporary fiction, Debra?

Be honest. Be TOTALLY honest. How’s your handwriting?

Legible! It was APPALLING at school. Back in ye days of olde, music had to be handwritten, and I wasn’t allowed to study it, because my manuscript looked like a blotting pad. I still can’t do joined-up writing, like a real grown-up, and I write with my paper at almost ninety degrees to the right, but I’m a teacher, so it has to be readable, and I can do writing on the board like a pro! But yay for word processing!

You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)

“Not even this teeny, tiny, little one?” Josh dangled the strawberry in front of George’s face.

“Not even that teeny, tiny, little one.” George screwed up his nose and shoved Josh’s arm away. Josh shrugged and put the strawberry between his teeth, moving closer.

“How about we share?” He pushed his open lips against George’s, biting the fruit so that half of it tumbled into his mouth.

“See, now that’s sexy,” George said, watching Josh select another strawberry. This time, he held it with his lips, and as their mouths came together, the fruit passed from one to the other a couple of times, before George bit into it, the released juice trickling down his chin. Josh caught the drip with the tip of his tongue and traced it back up to George’s lips. “Hell, that’s sexy,” he muttered, with difficulty, around the probing tongue. He closed his eyes, relieved and disappointed to feel Josh move away. However, a second later, he was neither of those things, for a cold, wet sensation on his chest made him jump. He looked down.

“Oh God,” he groaned. Beyond that, he was lost for words.

(from Breaking Waves - a Hiding Behind The Couch novella, released June 1st, 2014)

Do you know any cool party tricks and are you brave enough to do them at parties?

I can play two descant recorders at the same time - with my nose! And yes, I have done this at parties, and sober!

If you were to dedicate your book to someone who has no clue they changed your writing life—who would it be, and why?

Mr. Wright: my teacher back in fourth year juniors (I think that’s fifth grade in the USA). He was amazing—insane, eccentric, a-maz-ing. He sometimes brought his dog to school, and he’d play the piano in lessons (Mr. Wright, not the dog; I love a good dangling modifier :) ).

“Sir” (as is the customary address of male school teachers in the UK) would write McGillyGoody (his nickname for me) in HUUUGE letters right across the board. I had a few other good teachers over the years, but Mr. Wright was the only one to inspire me, motivate me, believe in me, make me want to try harder—pushed me to do so and never, ever made me feel “less than”. Sometimes, when I’m fighting the doubts within, it is the memory of being in his class that wins me round. He’s starstuff (in more ways than one), and I owe him, big time.

What do you wish more people knew about you?

I genuinely have no idea how to answer this question. There are lots of things I wish people knew about me but they probably ought not, and things they do know about me that I wish they didn’t. I suppose the one thing above all would be that I am passionate with a fury about the things I believe in and the things I love, but I don’t feel comfortable displaying emotions in public. Like for instance, going to a concert and wanting to dance and clap and stuff - can’t do it, but want to. Being able to speak out against injustice and not worry about the fact that I’m bawling my eyes out - gah! I hate being so introvert sometimes.

In the past I’ve been judged as emotionally distant and uncaring, and I’m really not these things. I just don’t have the balls to be all shouty, stampy-feety, crying, laughing, dancing, clapping, madness.

Which is, of course, why I am a writer!

How do you handle reviews? Would you rather have NO reviews ever or a slew of stab-ya-in-the-gut negative reviews? 

Hm. I’d like to say I’m a big girl and I don’t get furious and rant like I’m possessed when I get a review I don’t like, but… 

To be fair, if the review is reasonable and honest, I’m OK with that. Us self actualisers like to know how better to strive towards elusive perfection. What I hate is the people who either leave lowly numbers of stars and don’t bother to say why, or totally get the story wrong and then criticise it on that basis. For example, someone gave Hiding Behind The Couch three stars (which is OK), citing the reason of it not being a very good mystery. Well, you know, it’s not actually a mystery? But anyway, moving on…

If you could go back to any point in your timeline to encourage yourself, when would you go and what would you say?

I’m not sure I would interfere. Sure, I’ve been through some really difficult times, but they have made me who I am, and I wonder… If I went back to fourteen-year-old me and said, “DO NOT SKIP SCHOOL!” and then I passed my exams, my path would be so different, and I honestly wouldn’t want that.

Maybe I’d just go and plant a little whisper in my ear, “Keep going. It gets better. Just keep those Queen songs a-playing and you’ll get there.”

And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kind of dachshunds? 

Well all of them, obviously, but when I was about eight we went camping in Wales and the tent “next door” had two long-coated dachshunds—one brown with black, one black with brown, like the inverse imprint of each other. They seriously took up my entire holiday. They were the first dachshunds I ever met and so cute. I wanted to take them home. I wasn’t allowed, which is just mean!

~ ~ ~

For info on all of my books, plus links to purchase, visit:

Hiding Behind The Couch Series

The story of The Circle…
Nine friends from high school,
Nine friends for life. 

Psychotherapist Josh Sandison and his friends haven’t had it easy. Teenage pregnancy, child abuse, parental divorce, bereavement, mental illness, eating disorders, coming out—between the nine of them they’ve been through it all—together.

We first meet up with the friends as they enter their “late thirties”—a second ‘coming of age’, when they, as do we all, reflect on past achievements, and wonder what yet is to come.

But there are secrets and lies that have been lived too long and the past is starting to catch up with ‘The Circle’.

Hiding Behind The Couch (book 1) and the short story prequel Beginnings are available to download for free from

In The Stars Part I: Capricorn–Gemini (book 4) is also available as six separate episodes - ‘reader sets price’ on Smashwords.

June 2014: 

Breaking Waves (novella - a gay romance)

Your invitation to join Josh and George on their Cornish honeymoon. A short summertime romance with sun, seaside, strawberries and much soul-searching for two people very much in love, but carrying more baggage than a UPS 747.

In The Stars Part II: Cancer–Sagittarius (book 5)

The Circle is in flux. It's been a hectic six months and as the friends head into the heat of summer, more trials await that will truly test the bonds of friendship.

And just who did kill Alistair Campion? Could the answer be in the stars?

NOTE: Hiding Behind The Couch is not “pure” gay romance. It is contemporary fiction—a literary soap opera, which some readers have described as “a bit like Take That, with something for everyone”. Erotic scenes are occasional, and are descriptive, not explicit.

Checking Him Out 

Engineer Sol Brooks is a happily married man, so people keep telling him. He and Elise have been in Boston for eight years, he loves her, and she loves him. They’ve got a great apartment that’s kept its value, they’re both up for promotion, and he can hook-up with any guy he likes—all the sex he wants, so long as it’s of the “no strings” variety. And that’s all fine and dandy…until a chance meeting at the checkout.

His accent. He was British—English, in fact, with a hint of something else, and the words poured off his tongue like maple syrup trickling off hot pancakes. They slid over my skin, pooled around me, stuck my feet to the floor. I was still staring at him. Damn.

I turned back to Elise to find her slamming the last of the groceries onto the belt. She had on her thunderstorm face, the one where her eyes flash with danger and darkness falls, thick and heavy. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow either, but at some point the thunderclap would come, and then the torrential downpour.

Oh boy, was I in trouble.

If you can’t wait for the release (Summer 2014), Chapter One is available here:

Sugar and Sawdust

Jorje’s sister worries about him. He’s a successful model with a serious passion for fashion—a pretty boy, who looks a lot younger than his twenty-two years. And he’s sweet and kind. Guys take advantage of him, playing him to get at his money, or just to be seen with him on their arm, which is why sister Taylor has taken over control of his finances, his grocery shopping, even his love life. So it’s not looking good, when Jorje wakes up with no recollection of the night before, a whopping hangover and a ton of missed calls from Taylor…and a mystery guy in the bed.

“Where the hell are you? I’ve been calling you for almost an hour!”

“I was, err, busy.”

“Yes, well, I don’t really think I want to know about that. So whose place did you end up at this time? How old is he? Do you even know his name? Please tell me you haven’t…”

Jorje held his phone away from his ear, listening to the continuing barrage of questions. He totally got that Tay worried about him, but he was twenty-two and could look after himself. OK, maybe that was overstating things slightly, given that his lack of answer was down to not having one. He didn’t even know where he was, let alone the guy’s name. However, the aroma of bacon drifting up the stairs was alluring enough to warrant trying to find out.

“Look, Tay. I’ll call you later, OK?” He quickly pressed “end call”, tugged on his T-shirt and followed the smell to its source. Pausing on the stairs, he took in the view of the open-plan lounge and kitchen. And there was mystery guy, just finishing up loading bacon onto thick wholemeal toast—one-handed, because the other hand was occupied…

There’s a bit more to whet your appetite here:

Also Promoting…

Love’s Landscapes (Don’t Read in the Closet, 2014)

About the Author:

Debbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, covering life, love, relationships—the whole shazam. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at 17, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At 25, she went back to college to study social science—tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!

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  1. Wonderful & bizarre. In other words, a Hat Party Interview. WARNING: I am so using this in something, "I just don’t have the balls to be all shouty, stampy-feety, crying, laughing, dancing, clapping, madness."

    1. Ha! I think you could write a book of all the little snippets of mine you say you're going to include. ;)