Debbie Terranova

Up close and personal with author Debbie Terranova…

Debbie is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction. She specialises in ‘fiction with a conscience’: stories based on real, controversial issues.

Author Debbie Terranova - loving the writer's life.
Author Debbie Terranova – loving the writer’s life.

As a Fellow of the State Library of Queensland, she is researching ‘Women and WWII’.

Her books are:

  • Enemies within these Shores (Historical fiction, WWII)
  • Baby Farm – The Brisbane Mysteries #1 (Crime / Mystery)
  • The Scarlet Key – The Brisbane Mysteries #2 (Crime / Mystery)

Author Q&A:

Why do you love this photo?

Debbie Terranova shortly after the first delivery of Enemies Within These Shores.
Shortly after the first delivery of Enemies Within These Shores.

It was taken shortly after I took delivery of the first print run of ‘Enemies within these Shores’. The novel was the culmination of a 10-year labour of love, based on a true story of civilian internment in Australia during WWII. The protagonist, Luigi, was a sugar cane farmer from north Queensland who was arrested without evidence and incarcerated without a trial. Luigi was also my father-in-law.

What is your professional background?

I have a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Psychology) and Master of Public Administration, both from the University of Queensland. I was formerly a strategist in human resources and managed offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service.

Best things about being an author?

Meeting new people and making new friends. Being an author opens up a whole world of people who love the written word.

Your favourite holiday destination?

I have two: Berlin and New York City. The former is a 25-hour flight west from Australia (where I live) and the latter is 25 hours east. My daughter and grandchild reside in Berlin, and my son is in NYC. With each family visit, I take side trips to other countries, the most recent being Norway, Poland, the Canary Islands, Italy, and Canada.

Your hobbies?

Travel and writing.

Your favourite movie?

I don’t have one favourite movie, however a film that I have enjoyed over and over is the 1939 classic, Gone with the Wind.

Your favourite book?

Again, there is no all-time favourite. I love the writing of Kate Grenville, Kate Morton, and Jane Harper.

Is there a favourite TV show?

I’m a nerd. I watch documentaries and current affairs. The TV is virtually stuck on the ABC. 

Your favourite way to spend a Sunday evening?

At home in my daggiest jeans with a fresh-cooked meal, a bottle of pinot noir, and Sam, my soulmate of more than 40 years.

Favourite quote?

‘Prose is architecture, not interior decoration’…

Ernest Hemingway.

The best thing a reader has ever said to you?

‘I just finished Enemies within these Shores and absolutely LOVED your portrayal of Barmera. I was born there and could picture it all so clearly in my mind … even the old railway station that is no longer there’… 

Before writing Enemies, I had briefly visited the tiny town of Barmera in the Riverland District of South Australia. My research of the district and its significance as a centre of civilian internment during WWII had really tugged at my heart. It seems that my emotional attachment to the place came through in the writing. I felt truly complimented. 

What is the funniest thing a reader has ever said or written to you?

‘Needs more sex’…

That made me smile. I specialise in crime mysteries and historical fiction. While there are some romantic elements, erotica is not a feature of my books (and that is unlikely to change).

What drives you to write?

Inspiration can come from literally anywhere: real life, documentaries, newspapers, archival sources such as I enjoy digging up little-known facts and incorporating them into my stories. Inspiration for the main character of The Scarlet Key was a heavily-tattooed woman of fifty-something, spotted in the coffee shop at Bunnings Hardware. The resultant novel explores the question of ‘why?’.

Would you like readers to contact you?

Absolutely! My website,, contains all sorts of information about civilian internment during WWII, forced adoptions, tattoos and lots more. My email is

News Links:

Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation offered a range of fellowships awarded between 2015-2018. These fellowships focused on new insights into the Queensland experience of WWI and its aftermath. READ ARTICLE

For more up close and personal with author Debbie Terranova read her musings:

Carolyn Martinez

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