Author Interview: Debora De Farias


JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Debora. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

DDF- Hi Jeanie, thank you for this opportunity to connect Authors and Readers together. I live in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. I am a dentist, a spouse and a mother of an eleven-year-old funny boy. I love traveling, reading, writing and being outdoors, not necessarily in that order… A perfect fun day is the day when everything goes smooth in my dental office, I come home to my boys for a little walk and talk before dinner; usually there is always a great book to enjoy at the end of the day, after reading a page or two to my son. Depending on the time of the year, planning a little get away makes any of my day perfect too.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

DDF- Probably the end of the 19 century, beginning of the 20 century, before the World War I. It is fascinating all the accomplishments, changes, cultural and technological explosions that happened in that period. I also find the parallels about that time and the ones we are currently living very pertinent.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

DDF- There are so many great historical figures, it is hard to pick a single one. Maybe Marie Curie and George Sand. They were simply brilliant, ahead of their time, fearless. I would ask them how they learned to be so confident. Maybe it is genetics!

JMR- Debora, how does a dentist come to be a writer of historical fiction?

DDF- It is an interesting, maybe a slightly long story. I never really planned to become an author, although I love books and I am always reading. I definitely did not plan to write a historical fiction book. I had a romance story in mind, but when I started writing, I did not like it at all. Therefore, I “gave up”. Until my local book club suggested the novel, The Air You Breathe, by Frances De Pontes Peebles. This book portraits a deep complicated friendship between two very different women who grew up on a sugar cane plantation in the Northern Brazil and their passion for music, samba. The story is inspired by the lives of Carmen Miranda and the songwriter Chavela Vargas, tracing the story of Brazil from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, as well as Hollywood’s prevailing attitudes toward foreign and female artists. The sensitive, poetic writing evokes Brazil’s rough beauty and the sensual lure of the music shapes the protagonist’s lives. The Air You Breathe has the power to leave an indelible mark on the reader’s soul. It was only after reading De Pontes Peebles book that intuition whispered into my ears “what about traveling back in time and writing a historical novel?” 

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your character? 

DDF- Yes! Standing Tall is primarily set in Buenos Aires, with one full chapter that happens in Paris. Thankfully, I was able to visit Buenos Aires right before the pandemic, in December 2019. I had been in that city for a week in 1997 and I returned in 1998, staying there for an entire month. I was also in Paris for ten days in 2001. I believe I felt closest to my character in a very small museum in Buenos Aires, named Casa Fernandez Blanco. It is actually one of the few residences from the early 20th century that remains intact in the city. The museum still feels like a mansion, with all the impressive large collection of silverwares, fans, dolls, toys, costumes, dresses, paintings and furniture, with a grand piano by the staircase. I was very inspired at that place, so I used that location to show my readers where my main two characters were connected at the first time.

JMR- Debora, tell us about your new book, Standing Tall.

DDF- Standing Tall is a remarkable book, carefully researched. It is the story of an ambitious young woman, daughter of immigrants, who became the first female physician in her country.  In a time when women were expected to be stay at home wives, Cecilia's interest in medicine, originally as an attempt to save a friend, who was ill, takes her on a complicated and fascinating journey that is filled with twists, turns, unexpected relationships, challenges and love. Although she dazzled Argentina at the end of 19 century as the first woman to become a doctor, Cecilia Grierson is haunted by disturbing dreams. Cecilia believed she had left the traumas of past relationships behind, but when chance brings her first love back into her life, Cecilia’s world turns upside down. "Standing Tall" is a moving story set in the progressive era of the Golden Age. From the Pampas to Buenos Aires and to Paris, "Standing Tall" reveals much of the vibrant culture and realities of life in South America, in a book replete with historical details, personal conflicts and love.

JMR- Writing about ‘real’ people can be a challenge. How much were you able to find about the life of your character, Dr. Cecelia Grierson? She seems like she was a remarkable and formidable woman, were you at all daunted at taking on her life?

DDF- I was lucky to find two great biographies about Dr. Cecilia Grierson. My favorite one came from a bookstore in Argentina, entitled Vida y Obra de Cecilia Grierson, by  Asuncion Taboada. Cecilia Grierson indeed was a remarkable woman. My connection with her was greater than the hesitation in taking her life, portraying it in a novel. I felt honored to be able to write and bring back to life such an incredible human being. In this novel, it was my job to not only describe the great accomplishments of the real Cecilia, but mainly to show what she possible felt, her emotions throughout  her daily routine.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

DDF- I am researching for a second book that will follow the same theme as Standing Tall. An unknown female heroine in the USA, during late 1880’s to 1940’s. I already have the protagonist, another healthcare provider, but there is not a lot published or written about her life. I will have to research a lot and be much more creative in this second book, remaining faithful, as much as I can, to the costumes and realities of that time.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

DDF- They can get more updates about the book and reviews on my website,

Also follow me on Instagram @defarias.debora and on Goodreads, where I have an Author’s Blog with monthly posts.

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

DDF- Many people ask me “How did you find out about Cecilia Grierson?” To answer that, I usually say, “I think actually she found me.” I knew I want to write a book where the main character would be a woman, a healthcare provider. Because I am a dentist, I have several friends that are doctors, nurses, physicians; it would be easier to write about them. Second, I knew my protagonist name would be Cecilia. I like the name and it is the name of my great-grandmother. Third, I knew the story would be set in Buenos Aires. I love that city, its culture, architecture, history. So after reading The Air You Breathe, one day early morning I was driving to my office when the question came to mind, “what about writing a historical novel, based on the life of a first woman? A first woman who became a doctor, for example, in Argentina?”. I immediately used Google Voice and the name Cecilia Grierson showed up. I could barely believe it.

In the words of author Richard Denney, “Authors do not choose a story to write, the story choose us.”

JMR- Thank you, Debora for stopping by and a great chat. Readers, I know you'll love to see more about her book, so I've included a link to Amazon US. 


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