I am absolutely thrilled to be interviewing Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Enchanted and The Child Finder, for our inaugural guest spot on the 2019 Debutante Ball.
I had the good fortune to be introduced to Denfeld’s work through my mother, whose book recommendations I always take seriously. With The Enchanted, she hit it out of the park, and I soon had to follow that with reading Denfeld’s latest release, The Child Finder. I would not be exaggerating if I said that this work represents everything that I, as a writer, aspire to achieve. With an absolutely captivating use of language, Denfeld explores some of our world’s darkest realities with an uncanny ability to find the beautiful and the magical within the darkness. She is truly a writer to watch, and we are so honored to have her here.
Rene Denfeld is the bestselling author of The Child Finder. Inspired by her day job as a death penalty investigator, her lyrical novels have won many prestigious awards. In addition to being the Chief Investigator at a public defense office, Rene has been a happy foster mother for over twenty years.
You can find her at the following:
Without further ado, here is my interview with Rene Denfeld!
Which talent do you wish you had?
I wish I was a better dancer. Remember that Elaine segment from Seinfeld where she dances? That’s me!
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I come from a very poor, violent background. My stepdad is a registered predatory sex offender. I was homeless by the time I was fifteen. One of my first jobs to get off the streets was in a McDonalds. I wrote about it for Broadstreet. I’ve been supporting myself since I was young, and as I tell my kids, there is no shame in working! Among the jobs I’ve worked: bartender, deli worker, punk rock club manager, waitress, and a stint working in a drunk tank. Over ten years ago I got my investigator’s license and since then have worked hundreds of cases as an investigator. I’ve worked with sex trafficking victims, exonerated innocents in prison, helped refugees and more. The work has been incredibly inspiring and healing for me.
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I have an inexplicable love of cabbage sandwiches. That’s right. White bread, mayo, and freshly shredded cabbage. Yum!
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) September 8, 2018
Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?
Books saved my life. Every day after school I ran to the local library and stayed there until closing. Books became my sanctuary, my solace. I got my imagination from books, but also my sense of values and hope. As you can tell from my novels, I loved fables and fairy tales as a child. Where else can you find children who are trapped in horrifying situations, being burned or buried alive, and yet they still use magic to escape? Those stories were beacons of hope for me.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’m going to say something radical. I don’t believe in paying to play as a writer. Now, if you get a lot out of classes and the like, then go for it. But you do not need to go wildly in debt getting a MFA or spending gobs of money to become a writer. In fact I caution aspiring writers to think carefully about the business end of writing. It is very difficult to make money as a writer. I get worried when I see aspiring writers bankrupt themselves. It’s not necessary. Get a library card. Read voraciously and read widely. Immerse yourself in literature, and write, write, write. Find like-minded writers to share your work with, or take affordable classes at community colleges. There’s a ton you can do on the cheap. Remember we write to tell stories, to share the magic of the world and the poetry of life. If you can afford to spend money to get there, and it gives you pleasure, then by all means, don’t stop. But do not feel you need to spend money. Think instead of what kind of day job will fill your life with purpose and joy. Think about volunteering or fostering or helping others. Think about creating a life that will bring identity and solace for the times when the words or paychecks do not come.
The Child Finder is a international bestseller, with a starred Publisher Weekly review, an Indie Next pick and more. Paula McClain says, “Denfeld delivers an emotional wallop as well as page-turning suspense.” The Child Finder is a rare novel that celebrates the strength of women to save each other and themselves.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of The Child Finder today! You can also enter to win a copy by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook. We will contact the winner on Friday, September 14th (US Only).