Updated, Aug. 3: Boucher emailed us with the following news, “Because my book did not arrive the book signing for Oblivia will now take place on Saturday, August 10 from 1-3 p.m. at the Booky Joint.”
Local author Debbie Boucher, home in Mammoth for another two weeks before she returns to teach the fourth grade at the International School of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, will be signing copies of her latest novel, Oblivia, at the Booky Joint on Aug. 3 from 1-3 p.m. Oblivia is a finalist in the 2013 ForeWord Magazine contest in the mystery category.
Boucher is the author of two previous novels, Back to Normal and Millennial Fears, both award-winners self-published through Outskirts Press. Her latest novel takes a departure from the Eastern Sierra to explore the lives of two Peace Corps volunteers, Dan Mora and Jamie Morgan, working in Bolivia. When Dan goes missing, Jamie returns to Bolivia to search for him, learning in the process that “nothing is ever as it seems in a country she and Dan have grown to love, a place they call Oblivia.”
The Sheet sat down with Boucher at the Looney Bean to talk about the Oblivia, the evolution of her writing, and when to expect a fourth novel.
Sheet: What was the inspiration for Oblivia?
Boucher: I was down in Bolivia teaching, and a very sad thing happened at the end of my time there. A young Peace Corps volunteer disappeared, and still to this day they do not know what happened to him. To me, there’s no story there, other than the grief and confusion that everyone experienced after. But as a fiction writer, there’s huge potential.
Sheet: What was your biggest challenge in writing the book?
Boucher: This is the first time I’ve ever had a male protagonist. I’m 61 years old, trying to channel a late 20’s Chicano guy. I had to do a lot of research and reading to get the voice right. The feedback I’ve had is that I did.
The female protagonist [Jamie Morgan] is based on my cousin, a Peace Corps engineer who traveled all over the country installing rainwater collection systems and drilling wells. The character is based on her, as far as her soul, and the type of person she is. She helped tremendously with the technical part of the book.
Sheet: This is your third novel, now. Have you seen your writing evolve since your first novel, Back to Normal?
Boucher: I think Oblivia is the best yet. I have won awards for every single book I’ve written; Outskirts Press encourages authors to enter award competitions, and it’s nice to be recognized. With Oblivia, somebody said, ‘That’s a very ambitious structure.’ I have Dan’s story begin in the past and end in the present, and Jamie’s story begins and ends in the present. When that person read the book, he said, ‘You did it.’
Sheet: It seems like the voices you’ve created in your novels have been well-received thus far.
Boucher: It’s nice, being recognized for good writing. My books don’t fit into neat genres. I can only write what I write, and if somebody thinks I write well, that’s really nice.
Sheet: I hear many people talk about writing a novel, but it’s something that most people rarely motivate themselves to do. What gets you to sit down and do the work of writing?
Boucher: At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I’m an 18-year survivor of breast cancer. That definitely changed my outlook on life. When I considered an uncertain future, I thought to myself, do I have any regrets? I thought, I always wanted to write, and all I’ve done is talk about it. I want to be a writer. So I sat down and started writing.
Sheet: Are you working on a new project yet?
Boucher: My fourth book is based on my father’s family saga. When it will come out, I have no idea. With my teaching in Trinidad and Tobago, writing has gone back to a hobby rather then a vocation. But it’s a good story; I think my family will be happy when I get it down.
Debbie Boucher will be signing copies of Oblivia at the Booky Joint from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. Copies of her book will be available there, or can be purchased on Amazon. For more information on the author, visit www.debbieboucher.com.