Debra Kamza / Ampbreia Weiss
1. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.
I was born in Vallejo, CA but have lived in Everett WA since I was 5. My childhood was a mostly happy one full of countless pets, huge family get-togethers, camping trips, and lots of books. I have always loved reading, learning, and writing. For as long as I remember, I’ve written stories and poems and loved to keep my little brother and friends entertained with ongoing stories whose ends I teasingly left dangling. My older sister was annoyed, though, at my habit of getting up in the middle of the night to write whenever a dream inspired me, which was often.
I was raised a Pentecostal Christian, rebelled from its social divisiveness, anti-feminism, and boxed thinking when I was a teenager but fell straight into Shi-ite Islam not long after, not because I was particularly attracted to it but only because I was curious about it and greatly mislead about it by the Iranian guy I met in college and later married. Yeah. My book covers that in detail. Suffice it say her that I am seriously burned out on religion. I don’t mind if other people practice it; good for them if it makes them happy; but I’m long since done with it. It’s just not for me.
I used to play piano, sing, and even wrote some music as a young adult but have since lost interest in that. Having kids kind of diverted my attention from it in no small way. Little fingers on the keyboard you know? But my own little girl eventually took up where I left off all on her own initiative.
In the present, I’m married to a good guy now and we work together in an aerospace calibration lab. I also love to dabble in arts of all kinds, dress up with my family and go to festivals, and dance. I especially love belly dancing and have been doing it for seven years now.
2. What made you decide to write Lost in Foreign Passions? Were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events?
It’s a memoir of that turbulent time of my life when I mistakenly put my trust in a foreigner, went to live in his very troubled homeland, and adopted his religion just because it was so important to him. A three-year nightmare was the immediate but mind-opening result, not to mention the loss of my son. Writing it all out was a necessary catharsis for me and I thought it might help others as well. Even if not for all that, it was still the adventure of a lifetime and an important learning experience.
3. How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.
I honestly don’t really know how to do that other than to mention it in my blog now and then and to have an author site here and there. I have never had an agent, never found one willing to deal with that kind of political-religious hot potato. I did originally trust it to Publish America because they claimed they were a “traditional publisher” but ended up having to end my 7-year contract with them four years early due to very shady unprofessional, non-traditional behavior on their part. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to trust another publisher and, like the thing with religion, decided to go it on my own when the right opportunity presented itself: Amazon Author Central, which has been wonderful to me.
4. Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel? (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).
Happy and relieved I guess that someone actually cared and that they found my story worth their time. She was really enthusiastic about it and that felt wonderful, reassuring, you know. I’m confident in my writing ability, but I wrote this memoir AND published it despite my very real fear (a terror really) that people would judge me very badly for it or consider me hopelessly stupid for haven fallen for all I did. Nevertheless, it was a story I felt needed telling. I was being brave, you see.
5. Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.
Those who have read it have liked it very much. Many who know me personally or have heard of me from others have told me they’d like to read it and are disappointed that they can’t find it in brick and mortar book stores. But it really isn’t very widely known.
6. Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book? (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).
Well, I have two author sites: one for my pen Debra Kamza (former married name) under which I wrote my memoir at
and one for the fiction and poetry I write under the name of Ampbreia Weiss at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/BOOBNVPADM ,
only one book of which is posted there right now, Dream Lover.
These are the only two I have published through Amazon Author Central so far, but I plan on doing more.
I also have a blog at http://www.ampbreia.wordpress.com
where I write about anything and everything.
7. I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky number. Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.
I was staring right up the surgery lamp as they lifted me onto to table and peeled up my dress in order to shave me. I felt the cold of the water and heard the scrape of the razor below my abdomen while seeing only the lamp, a male surgeon, and a nurse. I knew they were going to cut me open yet, wrapped in a strange euphoria, I didn’t care.
They didn’t see me watching and acted as if I was still unconscious. I wanted to let him know I wasn’t, so I asked the surgeon if he could please arrange a mirror for me to watch the surgery in. I must have been out of my mind to want that!
He gave me a startled look, dropped whatever he was holding and ordered the nurse to him on the double. Dazedly, I watched the nurse put together a hypo and even that didn’t bother me (usually, such a sight would have made me cringe). Then, recovering himself nicely, the surgeon inserted the hypo into my IV, telling me, “You will fall asleep in ten seconds.”
I didn’t believe him. I giggled while he counted to ten. It was the last thing I remembered of the surgery room.
Two days later, I awoke in a hospital bed in a dirty and dimly lit room. A stranger — a tall, swarthy, young man — was sitting, asleep, in a chair at my side. I couldn’t move my hand to nudge him, so I patiently waited for him to wake up on his own. When he did, he jumped up with a show of great excitement and said, “You have a son, Honume Jon!”
I almost had heart failure at this I was in such a total amnesiac stupor. I gave him a long stare. “A son? How could I have a son when I’ve never been pregnant? Who are you, anyway?”
“I’m your husband Peeshee jon. Don’t you remember me?”
I didn’t remember him or anything else. I demanded proof of everything he said. I checked my belly for signs of pregnancy: It lay flat as a pancake with nothing of note moving within. I thought nothing ever had been in there. As disoriented as I was, I think I expected being pregnant to be proof of having just delivered a baby. I wanted to see marriage documents. I wanted to know where I was and, when he answered that, where the hell Iran was.
He willingly showed me marriage documents and where Iran was on a world map, but it didn’t mean anything to me. The last thing I could recall was being in high school, and that was foggy.
Seeing the baby was all that would make any of this real, but that was the one thing the dark young man failed to produce on demand. I bugged him endlessly to see the baby he swore I’d had. Why couldn’t he show me this baby if it really existed?
For this last he offered no answer.
A day and a half passed during which the stranger, Reza, stayed with me almost constantly, making his wild claims, sleeping on a lower bed at the side of the room, and taking savory meals of choloe kebab. I was brought nothing but bouillon and juice. My stomach churned in hungry protest at this unfairness. Besides being discombobulated to say the least, I waxed a bit cranky.
“When are you going to show me the baby you claim I had?” I demanded for what must have been the umpteenth time. “I don’t know why you people are telling me such a thing when you’re not prepared to prove it. Is this some kind of elaborate hoax? because if it is, your hoax has got holes in it. This place is furnished like a hospital, but get real: it’s filthy! Everyone knows that hospitals are sterile and new mothers in them are allowed to hold their babies as soon as they’ve given birth. So where’s my baby?”
Reza was, by now, waving his hands in desperation for me to shut up. Finally, he swore he’d get me the baby if it were the last thing he did that day. He did too, within the very hour. He chased the nurse in with him and had her place the warm, flannel wrapped bundle in my arms.
At first, even then, I didn’t believe the baby could be mine. I thought, for one thing, that a mother would remember nine months of grueling pregnancy. I didn’t remember any of it. Secondly, the baby was huge: almost ten pounds. He was either a month old already or had come from a much larger woman than I was. Heck, I knew my own size at least: five foot nothing and ninety-five pounds soaking wet.
The baby was beautiful, though. He had huge black eyes, a shock of curly brown hair, and the sweetest little grin on I’d ever seen. The feel of him against me was like the tickle of a kitten’s purr at my side. Well, I thought, he certainly is a sweetie even if this is a trick. I still didn’t think he could possibly be a newborn. I thought that, besides being much smaller, newborns were always bald, red-skinned, and incapable of smiling. This baby, if he was mine, put lie to that theory.
For nearly a half-hour, they let me hold him. He smiling at me nearly the whole time, snuggled in the crook of my arm but when he started gnawing on his fist, then crying, I didn’t know what it was about. The nurse did. She came rushing to take the baby from me, saying it was his feeding time and she had a bottle ready for him in the nursery. She was gone with him before I’d even thought up a protest.
I started regaining my memory from that moment on.
*** Debra is a great friend and colleague who I’ve known for MANY YEARS. We share a common interest, we both lived in Iran while married to our Iranian husbands and had traumatic experiences. I urge you strongly to read her book. Debra also designed the cover of my book, so her talent runs LONG!