Author Spotlight: Deborah Maroulis

May 17, 2019

We are excited to feature YA author Deborah Maroulis and her debut novel, WITHIN AND WITHOUT (Lakewater Press May 28, 2019). Enter to win a copy of her book!

cover © Robin Ludwig Design

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

I’ve always loved writing. Most of the stuff I wrote in high school was suuuuuper dark, though! I was addicted to Prince songs and Anne Rice novels, so I’m pretty sure there’s a reference to the color vermillion in every poem (hangs head in shame). I never thought seriously of writing for public consumption until just a few years ago, although it had always been a dream. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who encourage and support me to do so. Having a background in studying other people’s writing has helped immensely! I have to say, however, that I didn’t learn to write fiction in a classroom. It was only by writing and implementing feedback from people better at it than me did I begin to hone the craft. 

I taught high school English for ten years and now teach dual enrollment, college-level classes on high school campuses for my local community college. Hanging out with teens absolutely influenced my writing. My students offer fantastic fodder for Wren’s adolescent eye-rolling. Plus, they helped me make sure my slang use was on fleek, haha... (I’ll see myself back to 2014.)

Congrats on your book, WITHIN AND WITHOUT. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

WITHIN AND WITHOUT is about Wren, a teen girl who struggles to navigate having to live on her granny’s vineyard during her parent’s divorce and finally getting noticed by her crush, all while battling an eating disorder. As her relationship heats up, she isolates herself from all her friends, including her bff. 

Originally, the story centered on what would happen if a quiet girl was suddenly separated from her outgoing best friend. But as stories often do, they grow into something more. The element of changing friendships is still at the heart of the story, though.

Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

I think something in between? WITHIN AND WITHOUT is my first endeavor writing a novel, but it took about two years of ripping it apart and threading it back together to make it something an editor or publisher would take seriously. Even after getting the deal, the book went through a major revision—one that turned Wren’s story into what it is today. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received at Lakewater and am a better writer now because of it.

When you were writing this novel, did you or your characters have a playlist?

Oh, did I! There were a few songs I played on repeat. Skinny Love by Bon Iver was in heavy rotation. So was a lot of Death Cab by Cutie, Twenty One Pilots, and Taylor Swift. (Wren is complicated, haha!) I also listened to a lot of Benny Goodman and Nina Simone while writing scenes including Wren’s mom and Granny. For revisions, I needed something without words, so I relied heavily on movie scores to block out noise.

What projects are you working on now?

I have a book about to go on submission about a boy who has the perfect girlfriend, and they’ve devised the perfect life plan to take care of his sister who has epilepsy and intellectual disabilites. It’s just he can’t stop thinking about the imperfect girl with no life plan whatsoever. 

What advice would you give your younger self?  

Not that I would listen, but go easy on yourself and enjoy where you are while you’re there. I mean that literally as well as figuratively. If things are going well, they won’t forever. If things are tough, they will get better. It’s a balance, and the only way to not be a puddle of anxiety is to feel the feelings and know they’re temporary.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up! Writing is a difficult, isolating endeavor, and getting the words just right is soooo hard. Listen to generalized feedback—the kind you’re getting from more than one source—and let the other stuff go. Oh, and read everything. Reading in your genre is great, but I find so many cool craft ideas outside of YA contemporary that I like trying in my own work. Above all, try and remember why you write, and have fun.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

Hmm, well I don’t advertise it too widely, but my own story is similar to Wren’s. I’m not comfortable adopting the #ownvoices claim, but I struggled in my late teens and early 20s with an eating disorder. That unhealthy relationship with food definitely affected my self-esteem and the choices I made at that time. One of the reasons I wrote this book is so teens who suffer from similar issues can see themselves and, hopefully, a way out.

Where can people find you online?

You can find me here: 
Twitter as @yaddathree
IG as @deb.maroulis
FB as @byDebMaroulis
Online at

Born and raised in a small town in Northern California, Deborah Maroulis is lucky enough to surround herself with the things and people she loves. She teaches English and mythology at her local community college, studies myth and depth psychology in her Ph.D. program, and writes contemporary Young Adult novels. She lives in a slightly bigger town than the one she grew up in with her husband, newly-adult children, and her daughter’s very spoiled, semi-retired service dog.

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  1. This book sounds so important and will help so many feel represented and others to better understand what their peers are going through.


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