Shelf Life: Debbie De Louise on Mysteries, Cats, and Connecting

Long Island librarian and novelist Debbie De Louise integrates her passion for reading with a passion for writing.

De Louise self-published her first book, Cloudy Rainbow, in 2008, and has since had seven books traditionally published. “I’ve written steadily since 2015,” the author said. “I’ve written six books with one publisher, and I’ve written one book with my new publisher. I’m still publishing with both of them.”

Through her school years, De Louise wrote for student newspapers and newsletters as well as local magazines. “I also wrote book-length material, but I hand wrote it,” she said. “It was before computers.” Largely unsubmitted, De Louise’s material remained in a notebook, unseen. “There was one piece I did submit, but it wasn’t accepted. And at that time I didn’t really try.”

The author’s focus shifted when her beloved cat, Floppy, passed away. She turned to writing to process her experience, and created a paranormal romance novel, Cloudy Rainbow, as a result. “It’s about pet loss,” De Louise said. “It has a theme of reincarnation. There’s romance in it too, and an accidental death.” After self-publishing the book, work and family put her writing on hold.

Now, as a reference librarian at Hicksville Public Library, De Louise lives a life re-immersed in books. “I’ve always read different genres, but I particularly enjoy reading mysteries because I like to solve puzzles,” she said. “I like to read books that challenge me to figure out who done it.” In fact, De Louise’s passion for mysteries and her work as a librarian were the spark that led De Louise back to writing.

After doing a library talk about Cloudy Rainbow, several patrons approached De Louise asking for more. “One patron in particular told me I should write another book,” De Louise said. “She encouraged me. It took me a while to go back to it.” 

From there, her novel A Stone’s Throw was born. In this first book of what soon became a mystery series, De Louise’s main character is a librarian. “She’s based on me, of course,” the author said. “I write what I know as far as work in the field.” Like her earlier work, De Louise incorporated an animal into her story; this time, a library cat named Sneaky. “I like to feature animals,” De Louise said. “They don’t play major roles, but I like to include them. Sometimes they lead the main character to clues.”

A Stone’s Throw found its publisher through social media. “There was a Twitter competition,” De Louise explained. “A couple of publishers wanted to see my full manuscript after I tweeted about it. One of them offered me a contract.” Her second book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, found its publisher through a similar process, and De Louise has continued to write for the publishers and expand her series ever since. 

“I think people enjoy mysteries because they’re a break from everyday life,” De Louise said. She said this is particularly true of mysteries in the “cozy” sub-genre. “With cozies, the characters are very important. They start to become like friends. You get to know a lot about them, and from book to book they grow, they develop. You get to connect.” 

De Louise’s readers are grateful for this connection. “I’ve had patrons come in to thank me for writing the book. It makes me feel good.”

“I’d like people to connect with me,” the author said. De Louise has an active social media presence—on platforms like Instagram and Twitter —- and also runs two blogs. On her main account,“Ruff Drafts,” she writes about her experiences and speaks to other authors. On the other, her character Sneaky the library cat interviews pets from other books. 

More about De Louise, her books, and events can be found on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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