Author Interview with Debra McLain “To Conquer Or Die Trying”

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Introducing Author Debra McLain

Debra McLain resides in California. She is mother to, two daughters and three granddaughters. She works in agriculture, although her passion is in writing. Her dream is to publish a best seller regarding her twenty-eight year battle with an eating disorder and the spiritual awakening that followed. She is a newly published author of the poetry book To Conquer Or Die Trying. It is with great pleasure that we introduce Author Debra McLain to you.

Creative Talents Unleashed: Hi Debra, thank you for agreeing to this interview

Debra: I am honored to be asked for an interview. Thank you.

Creative Talents Unleashed: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Debra: My childhood was so different from anyone I know. From the ages of 3 to 11, we were homeless quite a bit. About every other year, we would move from California, to Texas, then back again. My stepdad was a traveling Pentecostal preacher, so we attended revivals every week, one town after the other. Often, we relied on the generosity of others for money, food and clothing. Many times, we lived in the car or a tent by the river. My brother and I suffered scholastically because of it. By the time we would start a new school, they had already learned things that we knew nothing about.
When I was 14, my mom and I moved to Lemoore, California. It felt like home for the first time in my life. I started high school here and discovered how much I loved English, History and Literature. Five years ago, I made one of my dreams come true and purchased a gorgeous brick house built in 1908. Restoring it back to its natural beauty is an ongoing project, but well worth the time. I have two daughters and three granddaughters that remind me daily of my many blessings. They remind me that no matter how hard life gets, there is always something to be grateful for.

Creative Talents Unleashed: So when did you fall in love with poetry or writing in general, when did you decide this life was for you? Tell us a bit about that discovery process.

Debra: I started reading poetry by Sir Walter Scott in 1998 after I discovered he wrote books regarding my McLain ancestry. I now own hundreds of antiquarian poetry books; Longfellow, Moore, the Brownings; I love them all. There is nothing more nostalgic than reading a book written by a literary genius from the 1700 or 1800’s. Romance was so different then. It was an art form. I wrote a few poems in 2006 – 2007 after my brother and dad died. My grief was overwhelming, and I needed a way to release the pain. I did not feel the need to write again until November 2014. I wrote a poem about child abuse and anorexia; and posted it on Facebook. It received a lot of attention in the few poetry groups I was in. So many people requested to share the poem, so I created a page. The poem has been shared over 600 times and received thousands of likes. That was when I had my ‘aha, I am a writer’ moment. ‘Innocence Lost’ was just the beginning. I have written over a hundred poems in the past 5 months; as I now write almost daily.

Creative Talents Unleashed: Why do you write, what is it that you’re trying to communicate through your work?

Debra: I write because I think too much. Poetry is a way to get the thoughts out of my head. Writing a 20 minute poem helps to release doubts, fears, anger, etc.

Creative Talents Unleashed: Where does your inspiration come from, what might inspire you at any moment to write a story or poem?

Debra: Most of my poems are about my life. There are a few fiction pieces that I was inspired to write after seeing a photo or watching a movie. I tried my hand at a few fairytale pieces as well.

Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the hardest thing about writing your book?


Debra: There was nothing hard about writing my book. I have a great publisher.
Thank you, very much.

Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the easiest thing about writing your book?

Debra: The whole process was simple. From the manuscript to the book cover, everything has flowed so smoothly.
Creative Talents Unleashed: There are many authors who say that in the process of writing a book you learn things about yourself. Did you learn anything in your book writing process about yourself, if so what?

Debra: Yes, I did. I learned that I am braver than I realized. It took a lot for me to put myself out there. Writing about sexual abuse is a touchy subject. To allow friends, family and coworkers to read about that part of my life, took a lot of courage. Many of them never knew about it, until they read it in my poetry.

Creative Talents Unleashed: What in your view is the role or responsibility of a writer or poet, if there is any?

Debra: I believe a writer should write from the heart. If I had to write a poem on a deadline, it would take away some of the passion.

Creative Talents Unleashed: What are your ambitions as a writer, where do you hope to see yourself in say 5 years?

Debra: I am in the process of writing my memoirs; that will touch more on the subject of my 28-year battle with an eating disorder. I have been writing in diaries and journals since I was 12 years old; so finding the content is the easy part. The hard part is reliving the emotions that I was going through at the time. I am hoping to complete my book this year.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Who is your favorite writer or poet? Perhaps you have a favorite quote from them that you would like to share.

Debra: “Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.” ~ Sir Walter Scott

Creative Talents Unleashed: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who have dreams of publishing or making writing a career choice?

Debra: Just write.
Every day, if possible. Then, use social media to get your writing out there. I used to share only the poems that I thought were great. Now, I share them all, because even my not so great poems are describing how I felt in that moment. It may be what someone else needs to hear.

A poem from her book To Conquer Or Die Trying

I Am Love

I am in Love,
with life and everything around me.

My life is peaceful,
a calm that spreads to everyone I meet.

I am filled with laughter,
a joy that radiates from my soul.

My life is in harmony,
a melody is found in every situation.

I release all illusions of anger,
misunderstandings, sadness, and discord.

I am Love.
You are too.
Breathe it in.

© Debra McLain

Preface . . .

When I was five years old, I used to dance around the house, pretending I was a ballerina. I would twirl and spin, without a care in the world. Those moments of joy rarely lasted long, as there was always a boogey man hiding under the bed.
My mother taught me to respect my elders, do not talk back, and never question adults’ actions.

A childhood of mental, physical, and sexual abuse caused a lot of anger and self-hatred. At fifteen years old, I became bulimic and anorexic. Any time I felt that my life was out of control, I turned to my eating disorder. It was always there, promising me that everything would be okay if I just followed the rules. The problem was that the rules kept changing and I lost all control.

After twenty-eight years of suffering from an eating disorder, I reached into the depths of my soul and pulled out the pain, one memory at a time. I began writing poetry as a way to release all of those words that I was not able to put a voice to.

Not long after I began my healing journey, my brother and father died within eighteen months of each other. Once again, writing poetry saved me from falling into the deep pits of depression. There were days when I could barely function. I lay on my bed sobbing uncontrollably, only to wave my white flag and surrender to the pain. During this time, I discovered that the McLain surname originated from Scotland. My ancestors were from the highland clans. The motto on the family crest reads ‘Vincere Vel Mori’, which is Latin for ‘To Conquer or Die’. It is the perfect name for this book. With Gods help, I have conquered all of my mental demons, without dying. For this, I am grateful.

Please Visit Debra’s Author Page for more details:

Also Available on Amazon:

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5 replies

  1. Debra, What a wonderful interview. I enjoyed hearing about your journey and continue to enjoy reading your book as well. Best of luck to you my fellow poet…


  2. Wonderful interview. I love your work Debra, keep it up!


  3. A very interesting interview & what a life you have lived Debra. You definitely have material for poetry in your life, very well done.x



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