Home > NewsRelease > In Conversation With Debora G. De Farias Author of Standing Tall
In Conversation With Debora G. De Farias Author of Standing Tall
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest Debora G. De Farias author of Standing Tall.Debora graduated in Dentistry from the University of Brasilia,followed by a Master's Degree in Health Sciences, she also obtainedher equivalent D.D.S degree from the University of Florida when shemoved to the United States in 2001.

Debora is passionate abouther health career, literature and arts. An avid reader since the ageof four, she grew up surrounded by books, fascinated especially bythe true stories of those unknown heroes and heroines that are partof our history.

She lives in Jacksonville,Florida, with her husband, Toan Nguyen, and their son, Andrew. Whennot writing, reading, or promoting beautiful smiles, Debora can befound painting. Her art reflects her interest in travel and culture,the realistic depictions of the transformative effects of light andcolor.

Good day Debora andthanks for taking part in our interview.

Norm: Pleasetell our readers a little bit about your personal and professionalbackground.

Debora: First, thank you for thisincredible opportunity! Thanks to the readers out there too. I am aBrazilian, a dentist, a wife, a mother, and more recently, an authorand a painter.

I grew up in Brasilia,Brazil, where my family still lives. I always wanted to be a dentistand that became a reality when I graduated from the University ofBrasilia in 1995.

By that time, I wasthinking about following an academic career, therefore I completed aMaster program in Health Sciences, after my residency. Nevertheless,Destiny had other plans. I met my husband before I finished myMaster, and we got married two years later. He is an American and anelectronic engineer in Florida, the reason why I moved to the USA.

Norm: I notice youspeak and write a few languages. How has this impacted your writing?

Debora: I think it forcesyou to go beyond your comfortable zone. It forces you to read andlearn more. Portuguese is my native language, but I was veryfortunate to learn English when I was a teenager.

I always loved Englishmore than Portuguese), so the process of learning English as asecond language, and now writing a novel in English was actually fun.

I did take some classes inSpanish after my first trip to Buenos Aires (that was when I realizedjust knowing English and Portuguese would not be enough in thatcountry), and although I cannot speak or write in Spanish as well asI would like, I can read it and I can communicate when needed.

People ask me if I wrotemy first book in Portuguese, and they get surprised when I say “no”.The book was written in English. I actually had a little hard time totranslate it to Portuguese. Portuguese is a beautiful language, butextremely complex, full of rules that I have forgotten!

Norm: Whatdid you find most useful in learning to write? What was least usefulor most destructive?

Debora:  The most useful aspect in learning to write was having a clearoutline. Learning to create a road map was decisive. I would not havea great book if it were not for all that I learned in one singlebook: Save The Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. I am abook obsessed.

I need a book withinstructions to fry an egg. Therefore, when I went to a FloridaWriters’ local meeting and they told me about this book, Iimmediately got it. It was a lifesaver. I am sure there are othergreat material out there, courses and so on. I had no experience inwriting. But I trusted that book and my instincts. It seemed itworked well, for me at least.

I am not sure if I trulyencountered anything destructive. The entire process was actually funand relaxing. I knew I had this story to tell, to write, andeverything literally felt into place.

Norm: Howdid you become involved with the subject or theme of Standing Tall?

Debora: I had part of this story in my head.The romantic side of the story. I only knew few things: theprotagonist would be a female with a strong personality; she would bea healthcare professional (as a dentist, it would be easier to writeabout someone in the health field);  her name would be Ceciliamy great-grandmother’s name); the story would be set in BuenosAires, Argentina (I love that city, its rich culture, music,architecture).

Thatwas it. I had no idea I was going to write a historical novel. Thatwas not in the plan at all. Until my local book club, a groupcomposed of several Brazilian women, suggested the novel, TheAir You Breathe, by Frances De PontesPeebles. 

This book portraits a deepcomplicated friendship between two very different women who grew upon a sugar cane plantation in the Northern Brazil and their passionfor music, samba.

The story is inspired bythe lives of Carmen Miranda and the songwriter Chavela Vargas,tracing the story of Brazil from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, aswell as Hollywood’s prevailing attitudes toward foreign and femaleartists.

The sensitive, poeticwriting evokes Brazil’s rough beauty and the sensual lure of themusic shapes the protagonist’s lives. The Air You Breathehas the power to leave an indelible mark on the reader’s soul.

It was only after readingDe Pontes Peebles book that intuition whispered into my ears“what about writing a historical novel, based on the life of afirst woman? A first woman who became a doctor, for example, inArgentina?”

As I searched on Google“first woman physician in Argentina”, I could barely believe whatappeared in front of my eyes – the name Cecilia Grierson.

An advocate for women andchildren’s rights, Dr. Cecilia Grierson, the daughter ofimmigrants, was the first woman who became a doctor in her country.

She was a teacher and acommunity leader. She incredibly founded the first School of Nursesin Latin America, during a cholera epidemic, while still being theonly woman attending medical school. She was a freethinker, an artlover, a world traveler. She was the perfect inspiration for a greatnovel and yet, there was little information about her personal life,her struggles, her battles and victories. She was the typical unknownheroine, calling out to be discovered.

From that moment on,imagination took the lead. A creative outline was born and the storygrew, based on dedicated research and unexpected encounters.Characters and new chapter sets came to life as I was transported tothe turn of the twenty century.

A friend of mine inCalifornia once told me that “sometimes, the story and charactersfind you when you least expect.” I truly believe this was my case.

Norm: You are adentist. How did you balance your practising dentistry and writingthe book?

Debora: I laugh every timeI hear this question…I read and write at night, after dinner,shower, tucking my ten-year-old in his bed. My husband helps metremendously with house and my office chores. This way I can be adentist during the day and a writer at night.

Norm: What was the mostdifficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most aboutwriting this book?  

Debora: The most difficultpart was to start a chapter. Every single one of them, except thefirst one (for some reason I had the beginning of the first chapterin my head, for years…)

I remember staring at thecomputer and typing: Chapter 2. (Deep breath). Now what?Nevertheless, those moments were brief. I cannot remember whatexactly made me start the chapters…but the words and ideas came.One thing led to another. I did all the research almost at same timeI was writing.

As I researched, severalcharacters were actually born, based on the history of real men andwomen that crossed my way. I remember walking to a library one day toget a book for my son. At the entrance, the book, The Dream Lover,by Elizabeth Berg was on display. Somehow, the title caught myattention and I borrowed the book. I loved it. That was when Ilearned about Lord Byron and George Sand. If you read my book, youwill find those names there too.

What I loved the most?Those unexpected encounters. The serendipity. The inspiration foundon little corners. The books I read, the unknown stories they shared.I also love the fact that there was no draft.

I wrote the manuscript,read it couple of times, send it to my editor and that was prettymuch it. 

Norm: What wereyour goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel youachieved them? 

Debora: My goal? To havethe entire world reading this book. It is an audacious goal, but Ihave an audacious book to share. Seriously! (LOL). I also want peopleto be inspired. Inspired by the story, by the character, and in away, by the author.

Although this is a bookset in the beginning of the twenty century, the parallels with thecurrent time always amaze me. The subjects involved, the writings andthe message are all very pertinent for this post pandemic era we livein.

Norm: Didyou write the book more by logic or intuition, or some combination ofthe two? Please summarize your writing process.

Debora: Great question. Ibelieve both. However, more intuition…perhaps. 

Half of the book wasplanned. The other half was not. The last chapter took a verydifferent turn from what I originally planned and expected. So yes,there is structure, there is order, and there is law in writing.

However, for me, there wasa lot of unexpected great lines and messages that simply appeared inmy heart or in my mind or both. When I think about that, I cannothelp but being thankful for the Creator, the Greatest Artist andAuthor of all…I believe all great things come from above;therefore, a great book would not be an exception. The words ofSalman Rushdie fits this perfectly: “Books choose their authors;the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.”

Norm: Is there anythingof you in Standing Tall? If so, please elaborate.

Debora: Oh Norm! You area killer! I cannot elaborate that! (LOL). One thing I learned withthe brilliant author Neil Gaiman is that an author always leave apiece of himself or herself in their pages, and vice-versa — thebook itself leaves something in the author. Even if the book is abouta mermaid being saved by a prince on a unicorn!

Norm: In fiction aswell as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with theirmaterial to tell a good story or make a point.  

Buthow much is too much?  


Debora: I took the libertyto make a historical book. It is a fictional book, so we must haveliberty with our material to tell and produce a good story. I do notthink there will be a black and white answer to this question.

We cannot measure libertyand there is no set of established rules regarding our “freedom ofspeech”. We must analyze the historical context (in the case ofhistorical novels), the author background and the target audience.

At the end, you must havenot only a good story, but also have characters that you would beproud of and vice versa. If your characters could come back in reallife and sit down in a café with you, would they be proud of you,what you have created, or would they not sit with you at all?

Norm: Did you learnanything from writing your book and what was it?  

Debora: I learned so manythings. I learned women are more resilient than what I thought. Ilearned that, many times, we do not get the immediately recognitionfor our values, efforts, dedication, hard work. And that could stillbe okay. I learned there is so much history, love and great storiesout there that need to be told, must be told. I learned:“Yes, we can.” Yes, we can Stand Tall.

Norm: How has yourenvironment/upbringing colored your writing?  

Debora: My passion forbooks, arts, traveling and international culture is spread all overthe book. The book would be utterly boring without my own experiencesin these areas.

Norm: What projects areyou working on at the present? We would love to hear about them.

Debora: I am stilloverwhelmed by the recently publication of Standing Tall, andthe warmth readers’ response. For this reason, I am enjoying thispart of the ride.

I am trying to promote thebook and have feed backs from authors and readers all over the world.I am also working on having the book translate into Spanish andPortuguese, so we can have it published in South America, Portugaland Spain.

In addition to that, I dohave an idea for a second book. It will follow the same theme/ genre.Another great woman. American one this time. 1870’s to 1900’salso. Little is known about her, so I have tons to read, learn andcreate. But that is another chapter down the road.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Standing Still?

Debora: Theycan follow me on INSTAGRAM

My bloginside Goodreads Debora De Farias (Author of StandingTall) | Goodreads


Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could invite three people, dead or alive, toyour dinner table, who would they be and why?


Debora: Love it.

1)     J.JBenitez. I am an unconditional fan of this great Spanish author andinvestigator. His books changed my life.

2)     Einstein.Not sure how we would care a conversation, as I hate math…but Iwould love to just sit with him and admire he for who he is.

3)     Michelangelo.I would probably make Leonardo da Vinci jealous for my choice). Heis simply…phenomenal.

Norm: Thanks onceagain and good luck with all of your future endeavors 



 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
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