Debbie grew up in southeastern Washington State among the apple and cherry orchards, where Amado arrives in PAYMENT TO THE DESERT.  During high school, she lived in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico with a Mexican family for one year. She majored in Spanish and Psychology at Whittier College in California and received a Masters in Social Work from Boston College.  Due to wanderlust and life with a military husband, she has lived in five countries and eight states.