Thursday, October 27, 2022

Q&A with Deborah Driggs




Deborah Driggs is the author, with her late grandfather, Mark B. Arrieta, of the new novel Son of a Basque. The novel is based on Arrieta's life. Driggs is an actress, model, life insurance professional, and healing coach.


Q: The author Gigi Levangie said of Son of a Basque, “Though offered as fiction, this terrific, moving, and thoroughly engaging book shares an important piece of history that I hadn’t yet discovered and gave me a new perspective on the immigrant experience.” What do you think of that description, and how would you describe the balance between history and fiction in this novel?


A: Gigi is a friend, and she knew the book was based on my grandfather's life. Because he is no longer with us, it was difficult to tell if all the events he wrote about were 100 percent accurate, but in my heart I know that my grandfather had a beautiful story to tell. He was definitely a survivor. He walked into fear without hesitation--a true warrior.


Q: What did you and your mother think when you discovered your grandfather's manuscript, and at what point did you decide to work on it and get it published?


A: It was the only item we took from my grandmother's house when she died in 2017. My grandfather had died in 1998, and the manuscript had been sitting in a box for years. By the time I opened the box and started to go through it, the pages were out of order and some were even missing. It took me months to put everything in some type of order and make sense of it.


For me it was emotional to read this work because I knew it was based on his life but I did not know about most of it, especially his working as a prison guard at San Quentin.


Q: What did you learn about your grandfather, and about Basque history, from working on the novel?


A: I learned that my grandfather was a warrior, a war hero, a survivor, and most importantly, a devoted family man. I spent a lot of time researching Basque history, and now I am on a mission to visit and spend time in the Basque Country!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: Reading this story is like escaping to a different time in history. I hope readers will feel as though they are right there with the main character as he trudges through adversity and loss and keeps going. If we can learn about trauma and how people survived it, then that is knowledge we can put to use in our own lives. 


Son of a Basque puts into perspective what life was like in the military during wartime in a way I have not read before. The main character demonstrates so much strength that it stays with you days after reading.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I write a weekly blog, I am a healing coach, and I have written my memoir, which outlines my struggles with addiction. I am also in the process of turning Son of a Basque into a screenplay.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I wrote a chapter in a book called Here Comes the Sun, which was published in July 2022, and I still audition for acting parts to this day.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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