Texas State alumna stays true to Texas roots during COVID
Author Ann DeFee (B.A. ’67, M.A. ’75) said she is hoping that she can return home to Texas at the end of September to reunite with some Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters from Texas State University. DeFee has been keeping busy at her home in Virginia during the COVID pandemic – she just released her 15th book, A Summer Place (Bellastoria Press, 2020).
Set in South Texas, where DeFee grew up, A Summer Place is a love story about friends who reunite 20 years after high school. She calls it a romance that lasts through generations.
A graduate of Seguin High School, DeFee came to Texas State with law school as her ultimate goal – but life interrupted in the form of a wedding in her junior year. DeFee and her husband, retired Col. Robert Defee (B.S. ’67) have been married for 53 years and have two children, Natalie and Dustin.
Life as a military wife included 20 moves during her husband’s career. Her Texas State degrees are in political science, with minors in history. DeFee found time to get a second master’s degree in urban planning that lead to a job with a suburban town outside of Seattle. Before she began writing novels, DeFee said she taught school within the Department of Defense system, did a lot of volunteer work, and saw a lot of European cities as she was leading tours for the wives of Air Force officers.
DeFee said she always knew she wanted to write, but her interest was in mysteries, not the romance stories she is now known for. Winning a contest with the Romance Writers of America resulted in a meeting with an executive editor at Harlequin books. Her first book for Harlequin – A Texas State of Mind – “came out with a big bang” in 2005.
Three years ago, she left Harlequin and set up Bellastoria Press with two partners. They publish both print and digital works in several genres including children’s books, Southern fiction, romance and magical realism. “Magical Realism is where surreal becomes reality,” DeFee said. Her examples include ghost stories and stories of people who talk to the dead. Bellastoria expects to publish six to eight titles this year.
DeFee is currently working on a historical romance set in 1925 South Carolina. “I actually dreamed the plot. It is totally different than anything I’ve ever done.” Another book in the works is a suspense story set in present day.
Her own favorite authors include Harlan Coben, Laura Griffin, Sarah Addison Allen, and Karin Slaughter.
Asked if she had any tips for aspiring novelists, DeFee said: “You need to write what you know. And if nothing else, just write! You can always go back and change and edit it. Get it all out on paper and go for it!”
Most importantly, she added, “You have to love writing.”