Thursday, February 2, 2017

14 Days of Sweet Stories: Debra E. Marvin's book, "Why Not?"

Interview with Debra E. Marvin, author of Why Not?

Alexis: What is the significance of your story’s title?

Debra: I was intrigued when Forget Me Not Publishing proposed a Valentine Matchmaker series because titles had to be from conversational hearts. True to form, I researched candy heart phrases from early in the century (Text Me was NOT an option). I chose "Why Not" because it was unusual and a challenge to integrate into my novella.

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Debra: I’m covering much of Arizona with my Forget Me Not novellas and looked for a period and a lot of upheaval. I love the Grand Canyon and was interested in the era when tourism began to boom.

Alexis: Describe the era in which your story takes place.

Debra: In 1914, Arizona was a brand new state yet surprisingly modern in its laws. As a fan of ‘national park architecture’, I was immediately drawn to the real-life Mary Colter, the renowned designer for the Fred Harvey Company. In an age when women had so few opportunities in a man’s profession, she excelled as an architect. I knew I had to place her in my story. 

Alexis: Tell us about the heroine of your story, Amber Wynott. What is she like? Describe her heart, hopes, and dreams. 

Debra: Amber has an easy life due to her family’s money, but longs to pursue a career and prove her art is more than a hobby. She’s definitely idealistic and naïve about the real world, and eager to work for equality. She desires freedom from her family’s expectations but must hide all her insecurities. Maybe they’re right! Amber has such drive to see the world set in order, that she tends to make decisions for others—the exact treatment she’s bristled under for years. 

Alexis: What dream is Amber pursuing and why does it lead her to the Grand Canyon? 

Debra: Amber longs to be an architect as an extension of her passion for drawing and design. When she learned that the Sante Fe Railroad and Fred Harvey Company had a female architect designing many of their showcase hotels and rail stations, she would not be stopped. During 1914. Mary Colter was responsible for two landmark buildings at the Grand Canyon village.

Alexis: What kind of architect does Amber dream of being? Does she want to design houses, office buildings, restaurants? Explain. 

Debra: Amber has jumped into becoming an architect without thought of specializing. What she lacks in forethought she makes up for in enthusiasm. All she needs is for someone to believe in her.

Alexis: Tell us about the hero of your story, Stone Morrison. What’s he like? Describe his personality, heart, and hope. 

Debra: Stone is a good match for Amber because he too needs to see how his drive to succeed can blind him to the effect on others. He likes rules and order unless it’s in the strained relationship with his father. Keenly aware of the political, social and financial tensions at work in the tourism boom, he must put his success aside long enough to keep the two sides from destroying each other and the canyon. 

Alexis: Why and how did Stone become a “master builder”? 

Debra: Stone’s maternal grandfather was a stonemason who created functional yet beautiful buildings. Despite pressures to follow his father’s career, Stone continues to pursue a future as an artisan even if it breaks his relationship with his father. But Stone has one big secret standing in his way.

Alexis: Describe Amber and Stone’s meet-cute. What is their first impression of each other and what obstacles do they face in being together? 

Debra: Stone is under deadline to accomplish work on Hermit’s Rest when Amber shows up, all pretty and impractical (he assumes) just as he’s loading goods off a railway car. At the moment this chauvinistic Neanderthal (she assumes) levels his first frustrated glare on her, a misstep on her part causes a bag of mortar to burst at Stone’s feet leaving him covered with white dust. Not surprisingly, Amber and Stone’s annoyance with each other grows until their mutual desire to help the citizens of Grand Canyon Village makes them work as a team as acts of sabotage increase. By watching each other they more easily see places for their own growth.

Alexis: Who is the person who plays matchmaker with Amber and Stone? Why is this an “unlikely” role for that person? 

Debra: Stone’s mentor for this season in his life is not a stonemason, but an old miner with unique eyes into what people are hiding. He sees Amber and Stone are equals in ways they can’t, and inconspicuously pushes them together (and manages a bit of romance on his own).

Alexis: What’s the moral to this story? 

Debra: To succeed, we must set goals and be willing to sacrifice at times to achieve them. To really succeed, we need to find out how to balance that determination with the bigger picture of how our choices affect others and our own future.

Alexis: What was your favorite part about writing this story? 

Debra: Stone and Amber had a charged relationship from the start. They fought like crazy which made me eager to see them realize what they were really fighting—their interest in each other!

And, I loved the research. Thankfully, I’ve been to the Grand Canyon a few times and there are great resources on this time period as it became a protected resource and then a national park. The addition of the Grand Canyon Railroad was the big step in tourism, and the tension between residents and big business I refer to in the story isn’t just for plot purposes.

Alexis: If you could spend a day at a coffee shop with Amber, what would you talk about with her? Why? 

Debra: I’m sure Amber and I would talk about Mary Colter and about the political powder keg of women’s rights during the 1910s and 20s. And she’d thank me for bringing that hunky stonemason into her life.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Debra! Would you like to share any closing thoughts? 

Debra: Thank you, Alexis! This has been a treat. I hope readers take a chance on WHY NOT and the entire collection (only 99 cents) and consider following me on Amazon or one of my other countless social media. I love meeting new readers and reviewers!

Author bio: 

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. 

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. Her published novellas include, “Alarmingly Charming” in Austen in Austen Vol. 1 from WhiteFire Publishing, “Desert Duet” and "Starlight Serenade" from Forget Me Not Romances. 

Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.

Blurb for Debra's book: 

Love Puts These Two On the Edge!
Grand Canyon, 1914

Society girl Amber Wynott’s wintry escape to the Grand Canyon provides a chance to pursue her dream and prove she has what it takes to be a successful architect. It doesn’t take long to realize the incredible scenery can’t hide the simmering anger between ‘railroad money’ and the struggling locals.

Which side is master builder Stone Morrison on?

Amber has met her match in the handsome, hard-headed man. He’s been directed to keep an eye on her, but when iron meets iron—oh the sparks! As their unlikely old matchmaker tells them, pride goes before a fall, and this is a bad place to fall. Will danger finally knock some sense into the pair?

Buy Debra's book on Amazon. Her book is part of the Valentine Matchmaker Collection. 

Connect with Debra:
Amazon Author Page -
Facebook Author Page -
Twitter -
Website -
Pinterest -

Enter the book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Alexis! Interview questions make for some of my favorite blog visits. I love to find out more about authors, so I appreciate you giving me the chance to answer. I look forward to chatting with your readers!

    1. You're welcome, Deb! Thank you for being my guest! :)

  2. I'm also doing a giveaway for new newsletter subscribers - $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!
    here's the link:

  3. This looks SO cute! Congratulations, Deb!

    1. Thanks DeAnna! I had a lot of fun writing it. Sometimes the characters really take over the story and these two did.

  4. Sounds like a fun idea to work with, and a better one to read. Congrats, Deb!

  5. Thanks Anita! I sure wanted to go and visit the Grand Canyon again, but now I at least have a couple great research books as 'mementos'!

  6. Such an stirring story! I can't wait to read it!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! I really appreciate you stopping in!


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