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Local author’s newest novel explores life after tragedy

Paula Treick DeBoard recalls her childhood as one of solitude.

“One of my earliest memories is of my sister playing with her friends and me nearby writing in my notebook,” said DeBoard. “I was always a reclusive kid who enjoyed writing. It’s been a passion my whole life”

DeBoard’s love of putting pen to paper has not waned since, but instead been translated into two book deals for a total of four novels.

“It can be hard to say you’re going to be a writer,” laughed DeBoard, noting the inconsistent nature of the profession.

However, after teaching for eight years at Ripon High School she knew it was time to take the plunge towards pursuing her true passion and pursued her Masters of Fine Arts through the University of Southern Maine. It was during that time that she wrote her 150 page creative thesis which eventually took shape as her first novel, "The Mourning Hours." The novel details a family’s life in rural Wisconsin when the girlfriend of the son and superstar wrestler goes missing, a pressure that DeBoard makes palpable as she largely focalized the story through the eyes of the youngest daughter.

While DeBoard says she has not experienced a great deal of tragedy herself, she is drawn to explore the fall out of a disaster due to her interest in newspapers.

“I’m a newspaper reader and I always wonder what happens to these people,” said DeBoard of the crime stories she reads.

This interest has supported her venture into what she calls writing “very realistic fiction,” something that is also explored in her novel "The Fragile World" which was released in October.

Starting microscopically with one detail, "The Fragile World" was inspired by a fear DeBoard herself harbors: a surprising midnight phone call.

“The phone ringing in the middle of the night has always been something fearful to me,” said DeBoard. “While it could be a prank call or something, there has always been this very real fear that something has happened to someone I love and I built the story around that panic.”

The protagonists of "The Fragile World" are the Kaufmans, a seemingly normal family who receive that dreaded call in the middle of the night announcing that their son, who is away at school, has been killed. This death fragments the family and similar to "The Mourning Hours," DeBoard explores what is often the worst part of a tragedy: the ensuing time after the shock has worn off.

"The Fragile World" as well as "The Mourning Hours" are available for purchase at Barnes and Noble and online at

When DeBoard isn’t busy writing, she teaches at San Joaquin Delta-Community College in Stockton. DeBoard is currently working on her third novel which is slated to be released in early 2016.