Debbie was born in the small town of Monroe, North Carolina. She grew up with a passion for animals and sports, her favorites being cats and tennis. Her childhood involved playing outside as much as possible, inventing games to play with the kids on her street, and exploring the local woods and streams surrounding her neighborhood. Many a summer day consisted of building a fortress between trees, decorating it with a mossy carpet and nearby wildflowers, and then imagining a story for the characters who would live there.
Academically, Debbie was consistently at the top of her class, mainly because of her obsession with learning new things and never wanting to be wrong about anything. She was quite the speed reader, finishing Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” book (over 418,000 words) in a day and a half when she was twelve years old. In her teens, she became enthralled with the idea of becoming an FBI agent which later morphed into a keen interest in detective stories involving criminal investigations.
Debbie attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, receiving a bachelor of science degree in public health with a concentration in biostatistics. Math and science came easy to her and while she enjoyed reading, writing was an exercise requiring a lot more energy and thought. Debbie decided to avoid as many college classes as possible that involved writing papers.
Upon graduation, she landed her first significant job, a software developer, abandoning the public health focus of her education for the lure of an attractive salary and an exciting corporate position with global travel. Her career in technology grew, but as time went on, Debbie realized how much she enjoyed writing. At first, she tested out her writing skills on technical documentation and business correspondence, but eventually, she began keeping a journal and writing short stories while on beach vacations. The art of writing fiction was incredibly creative. Debbie loved that you could make up anything you wanted, quite freeing compared to the type of writing required in a corporate business setting
Debbie met her husband, Scott Peek, while both of them were getting their hair cut. A year and half later, they were married and have been together ever since. An artist and graphic designer, Scott’s talents sparked Debbie’s creative spirit. Debbie always felt she lacked creative talent, envious of those who could easily produce beautiful artwork or write breathtaking lyrics. But Scott convinced her she was more artistic than she thought, giving her the confidence to try her hand at writing.
Another major inspiration was her discovery of the JK Rowling Harry Potter collection of books. Debbie read the first book per suggestion of her sister-in-law and was so entertained, she immediately read the remaining six books, falling in love with the characters and their trials and tribulations. She dreamed of writing a children’s book that would entertain while illuminating the importance of friendship and appreciating each other’s differences.
Debbie loved tennis from an early age. Many of her vacations as an adult were focused on intense tennis training. To satisfy this passion, Debbie took a break from her corporate career in 2000, becoming a fulltime tennis teaching professional. She eventually became a high school tennis coach for both boys and girls at a private school in Raleigh, North Carolina, a role she still maintains today.
During her eight-year tenure of teaching tennis fulltime, Debbie learned a lot about children and their imaginations. She loved to listen to stories they would tell, amazed at how inventive they could be. Debbie honed her creativity by routinely making up new tennis games to engage her students in the learning process with a focus on having as much fun as possible.
In 2008, Debbie rejoined the corporate world, taking on a software development management role in a contract research organization. She gave up her tennis teaching, but continued her high school tennis coaching even though having two jobs left her very little time (or energy) for doing anything else. It was during this time period Debbie decided she would use the bit of spare time she had to express the imaginative ideas bottled up inside of her.
In 2009, while riding with her husband on a car trip for a fall vacation, Debbie came up with the idea for Creaturapolis. She jotted down an outline of the story, a list of possible animal characters and sports they may play, and identified some central themes for the plot. But once she returned from vacation, the ideas were squirreled away in a cabinet and weren’t rediscovered for a few more years.
In late 2011, Debbie began using Sunday afternoons to write Creaturapolis, the only time she really didn’t have commitments to other things and other people. Some days, her creativity flowed and the words just poured onto the pages. Other days, she would struggle to get ideas out. Often, when she was stuck, Debbie would research the habits of different animals around the world and stumble across something unique that would spark a part of her story. But only having one afternoon a week limited what progress could be made. Years passed by. The book seemed to have little chance of making it to the finish line.
In October 2019, Debbie again decided to detour from a demanding career, leaving her contract research organization position to focus on her high school tennis coaching and a business job that afforded a work/life balance. Life threw a curve ball in early 2020 with the worldwide explosion of the COVID-19 virus. Debbie’s spring high school tennis season was canceled and her business job search was dramatically slowed. But Debbie’s positive “glass half full” mentality made her realize this was the perfect opportunity to dive into her writing and finish Creaturapolis. What better thing to do when you are stuck at home for months on end?
With little to no distractions, Debbie finished her first novel in the middle of May 2020 and after helpful insight from family members and friends, Creaturapolis was published September 8, 2020.
Continuing to write short stories, Debbie also intends to write more children’s novels as well as an adult fiction novel. She hopes her journey to writing will inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter what zigzagging path it takes to get there.