Meet Author Deborah Fezelle and her Latest Suspense Novel What’s Past is Prologue

HOPress-Shorehouse Books is so proud and excited to release this new installment of the Nick McDeare suspense series  WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE from Deborah Fezelle.  We always like to introduce our authors to readers. Understanding an author makes the book or novel so much more interesting.  You can buy WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE on Amazon in paperback or eBook format. In fact, check out the entire series!    

Tell us about yourself and writing history.

I began acting when I was five, and the theater consumed most of my life. After training in the Drama Division at Juilliard in NYC, I had a long career as a stage actress before turning to directing. Simultaneously I indulged in my hobby of writing, but it didn’t become serious until the unexpected death of my sister. Sherry Yanow and I wrote the first 2 books in the McDeare series, along with 5 plays (all staged), 2 web series and a screenplay. When Sherry decided to pursue other opportunities, I stuck with the McDeare books and have now written 3 more novels solo. Having traveled the globe extensively, I spent a great deal of time in England, London in particular, enabling me to bring foreign locations into the books. People tell me I write cinematically, and I think that’s true. I see things through the lens of a camera, which is why the books are dialogue heavy. I like to allow the characters to inform the readers.


Why is this McDeare series so special to you?

The first book was inspired by the unexpected death of my only sibling, my younger sister Chris at age 36. We were extremely close, and I was devastated. To deal with my grief, I created two brothers, Nick & Andrew, one tragically killed, the other dealing with the fallout of his loss. So the story was personal from the beginning. Even the spirit of Andrew was drawn from an incident that happened to me a few weeks after Chris’ death. I had a dream about her that was real in every aspect, including my waking up in the place where we had our conversation, the scent of musk all around me, and still feeling her curly hair against my face when she hugged me. All the books are personal, none more than the new one, WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE. Add to this my passion for New York City (pre-pandemic, where I still set the novels), my background in the theater, a love for mystery, and I have the perfect vehicles for writing.


Is it difficult going from a writing team to being the sole writer on a project like this?

It was an adjustment at first. Sherry and I had a system, and it worked for us. PROLOGUE is my 3rd solo book, so I now have my routine down. I’m far more disciplined than I thought I’d be! I’m at work by 6 AM, keeping at it until I feel my brain tiring. Some days it’s 4-6 hours. Other days it’s longer. I constantly go back over sections and fine-tune. Plus I have a sounding board in two talented friends, Cynthia Dickason-Scott and Josh Grenrock. The three of us go back to our days at Juilliard. They read the early work and give me invaluable feedback. Josh was especially important with PROLOGUE – I wanted a man’s POV with Nick & Patrick. Finally, when I believe the books are in good shape, I have test readers who give me their initial reactions.


Why is this installment of the series so important to you?

I feel like I’m about to walk through a minefield, not wanting to give too much away … With the lockdown during the pandemic, I had far too much alone time with nothing to do but write and think. I found myself looking back over my life, at the choices I made. It forced me to face something I’d blocked for decades. It shook me to my core, but it ended up being cathartic because I turned it into PROLOGUE. This book deals with a scourge that is still prevalent. You read about it every day or hear about it on TV. After a while you’re no longer shocked. You become complacent. There have been books written on the subject, fine psychological analyses that don’t reach the average person. I wanted to tackle it in the form of a novel, to allow the reader to literally be there with Nick and Patrick when they come face-to-face with it. To feel the fallout for both afterwards. I hope after reading this novel, people will speak up more often. It’s better to be wrong than to say nothing, even in these litigious times. THIS MUST STOP. Which is why this book is so important to me.


Will this finish off the McDeare series, or do you see it going in other directions?

As long as there are new stories to tell, the series will continue. I’ve already written 70 pages of the next one. Are the books going in a new direction? In some ways, yes. I’ve brought the focus in on the core characters, the family. I’ve purposely created a canvas of people that I can now draw upon for different storylines. And I have a closet full of old characters that I can resurrect to stir the pot. For example, Lyle Barton in FULL CIRCLE. Roberto Martinelli & Ozzie Mancuso in DISCRETION. And James Lovelock in PROLOGUE. Nick & Jessie will continue to dance in each other’s orbit, their endgame out there in the ether. PROLOGUE introduced 2 new characters who will remain important – Patrick, of course, whose story is far from finished. With the exception of Nick, Patrick is the most complex character I’ve created. And then there’s Father Joe, a foil for Nick. Tough Nick McDeare & a priest? Sure, when the padre is as edgy & unpredictable as his counterpart.   


What other writing do you want to do?

I’ve contemplated writing about my years at Juilliard. I was there at the beginning, part of the original 4 classes in the new Drama Division. I played opposite classmate Robin Williams in NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, and I cherish my memories of him. I feel the same way about Chris Reeve, who was also in my class. But the book wouldn’t be about name-dropping. It would focus on 36 young, hungry, disparate aspiring actors coming together in scary NYC in the turbulent ‘70’s. How we hung together and survived the rigorous training of the classical theater. We were taught and directed by the best, directors who are still working on Broadway & in the West End today. They winnowed us down to 16 by the 3rd year, and then our class imploded. We became notorious because of it. It’s quite a story. We’re still a tight group today, in constant touch.


What is the most positive aspect of writing this novel and the series?

Like Patrick with his singing, I work out what I’m feeling in my novels. I’m still an actress at heart, “inhabiting the skin of the characters.” There was one section of PROLOGUE that I was dreading, that I knew would be the most difficult writing I would ever tackle. When I finally got to it, I wrote it in one session, the entire thing, and most of it remained intact throughout editing. It literally poured out of me. Afterwards I had to walk away from the book for 3 days in order to let it go. Writing can be therapy, and never more so than with PROLOGUE. As for the series, these characters have become old friends. I know them intrinsically. Sometimes I’ll sit down to write a chapter that I’ve mapped out in my head, but what comes out on the page is completely different. It’s as if the characters have a voice of their own, and I’ve learned to follow their natural flow. Twenty-five years ago I fantasized about getting out of bed and sitting down at the computer to write. Now I’m living the dream. After a lifetime of working in the arts, I consider myself a very lucky lady.

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