Site icon Finding Jesus in the Everyday

Author Interview for The Past Ever Present by Debra Coleman Jeter

About the Book

Book:  The Past Ever Present

Author: Debra Coleman Jeter

Genre: Memoir

Release Date: August 2020

A fly-on-the-wall account of making a television show, and a great examination of country living in the first half of the twentieth century, The Past Ever Present revolves around the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. When Clay is cast as a regular in the TV series Christy, his grandfather Clifton serves as his on-set guardian. The series is set in a poor farm community, which is eerily similar to the one where Clifton grew up. Being on the set of the show provides a dramatic transformation for both, as Clay comes of age and Clifton comes to terms with his past.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

Debra Coleman Jeter has published in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her first novel, The Ticket, was a finalist for a Selah Award, and her most recent, Song of Sugar Sands, a finalist for a 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Her short story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a competition sponsored by Christian Woman; and her book The Past Ever Present (originally published as Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson) was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards.

As the mother of Clay Jeter and the daughter of Clifton Coleman, Debra Coleman Jeter is uniquely qualified to tell their story.

More from Debra

For those of you familiar with Catherine Marshall’s novel Christy or with the two-season CBS television series based on that novel, The Past Ever Present should feel like an old friend. For those of you not familiar with Christy, consider The Past Ever Present an introduction to something you are bound to love.

I remember the day my son Clay was invited to audition for a television show called Christy. I did not make the connection, though I had read Christy years earlier. Then he was invited for a call-back in Townsend, Tennessee. It was there we first realized Kellie Martin (star of Life Goes On) had been cast as Christy; she was there that day, and Clay recognized her. Then I had a chance to read a section of the script, and I recognized the story, to my delight.

If you haven’t read Christy, you should. It is simply wonderful. If you love it, or if you are interested in true tales about child actors (my son Clay), or about growing up during the Great Depression (my dad Cliff Coleman), I hope you’ll love The Past Ever Present. The book was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards.

Clay is cast as a regular in the series Christy, filmed in the hills of eastern Tennessee, at the age of nine. Much of the usual struggle for recognition and approval associated with the Hollywood industry finds its way to this isolated mountain community.  Because both Clay’s parents are working full time, his grandfather Clifton serves as Clay’s guardian. The television series being filmed is set in a poor farm community, much like the one where Clifton grew up. The show brings back memories for Clifton and, while Clay is working, he watches and remembers. The book highlights parallels between Clay’s antics and Clifton’s memories of his own, in addition to the parallels between the characters and their adventures in Christy and those in Clifton’s past.


What role does God play in your writing career?

God has blessed me in more ways than I can articulate. My children are among the most generous-hearted people I know and my husband, sister and parents among the most loving. They each in their own way provide role models for me. My son was a child actor, and he was cast in the television series Christy based on the novel by Catherine Marshall. Unlike many experiences of child actors, the producers and principal director on the set treated him with kindness and respect. He was introduced to the art of filmmaking without any exposure to drugs, sex, or violence in the process. This experience provides the basis for The Past Ever Present.

What has been your favorite book that you’ve written? Why?

My parents were children during the Depression, and they knew what it was like to have very little in the way of material things. Yet they never look back on that time as being anything other than blessed. Still they are very careful with money. I got to thinking about how easy it is for people of our generation to get obsessed with wealth and the things it can buy. People sometimes risk their families, their freedom, even their lives in its pursuit. But would it really bring happiness? I explore this issue in my first novel, The Ticket, and also in the nonfiction book, The Past Ever Present. These two are closest to my heart.

What is the hardest aspect of writing?

Getting started, always!

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you think that helps (or hinders) your writing?

Being an introvert helps, I believe, because writers need to spend so many hours alone, with only our own thoughts and imagination for company.

Would you rather always be an hour early or be constantly twenty minutes late?

I am constantly late, though not usually twenty minutes and not intentionally. At the last minute (or last 10 minutes), I always find something else that needs doing urgently. This drives my husband crazy. He would prefer to be an hour early. Being an hour early feels like wasted time, unless I plan ahead and bring a book, or work.  

Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?

Summer, definitely. I love to be in the water—whether snorkeling, water skiing, boogie boarding, or just floating around—which may explain the setting for my Sugar Sands series. My family suspects me of being a selkie, or so my husband tells me. Look it up—I had to.

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here:

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at:

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 8

Inklings and notions, December 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 10

Blossoms and Blessings, December 11 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 11

For Him and My Family, December 12

deb’s Book Review, December 13

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 14

Stories By Gina, December 15 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

Artistic Nobody, December 16 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 17

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 18

Spoken from the Heart, December 19 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, December 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 21


To celebrate her tour, Debra is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Exit mobile version