Author Interview with Beckie Weinheimer, CONVERTING KATE Viking Books 2007
Authors : Interviews : Beckie Weinheimer
A November 2007 interview with Beckie Weinheimer, author of Converting Kate.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I am bad at spelling and grammar. My essays were always full of red marks. But then in high school I took creative writing and my teacher gave me an A on my first poem and wrote, "Send this to a magazine." That was the day I decided I wanted to be a writer!
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Read. Write. Follow your passions. Follow that voice in your head no matter how strange and different it is, because that is your voice and that is what sells books!
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
Are you working on anything now?
Always. I have about ten projects with files and have seriously started two novels and have one that is currently being considered.
What is your working environment like?
I live in a high rise in Queens NY. I have a little cubby of an office with a nice big window and on clear days I can see JFK and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean. My husband works outside the home, my daughters are raised so I have it very quiet. But this has not always been the case. When I wrote Converting Kate I had two girls in high school, was active in their lives, volunteered, had a huge house and yard to take care of and was trying very hard to keep George W. Bush out of office. Well we see how that went. I had a desk in my bedroom and I could only write when no one was at home and when no one was sick or mad or hurt or upset. It's still the same, if my girls or husband and I aren't at one with each other I can't write. So I try to get along with them so I can write! Ha ha!
What is your working style?
See above. I write about three hours a day at most. I read every day. I do emails and publicity and walk and the day is over.
Do you believe in outlining?
No. I am totally impulsive, but I have a vague idea of where I am going, where the end of the tunnel is in my mind.
What is your goal as a writer?
My goal as a writer is to connect with those people who are looking for someone to understand them. I have found that through books. I have felt understood by an author I never met. I want people to feel less alone. That is my goal.
What person or person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?
My husband. Hands down. He supported me going to graduate school at Vermont College. He edits everything I write. He acts as my publicist. He believes in me. He tells me when my writing sucks. He's my hero.
What's the best piece of advice you ever had on writing?
Patricia Lee Gauch, editor and author. To follow your own voice. If you ever get to hear her talk on voice, well listen. She is the best!
What was your big break?
Finding an agent who believed in my first novel, and who is still trying to sell it. In the meantime he easily sold CONVERTING KATE.
How much of your writing is based on your own experience as a child or teenager?
Facts? Very few. Hear, soul, emotion? Tons!
Do you prefer to write longhand, on a typewriter, or on a computer?
Computer! I don't know how Dickens and Austen did it. I did write some things in college that my professors suggested I rewrite and submit to magazine. But I didn't want to retype it so I didn't do it. I am a lazy, high tech writer.
What authors have influenced you the most?
Too many to mention. But I had the honor of working with four writers at Vermont College and they have probably influenced me the most. Ellen Howard, M. T. Anderson, Adam Rapp and Phyllis Root. All my heroes!
What are you reading right now?
I just finished BOOT CAMP and loved it.
What's on your current reading list?
I want to read all the books nominated by the American Library Association for Best Books of 2008. (I'm honored to be on the list). There are so many wonderful books on that list!
What was your favorite book as a child?
Heidi. My mother had 9 children. I was the oldest. She had little time to read to us, but when she was on doctor's ordered bed rest before my triplet (yes triplet) sisters were born she read the other five of us (I was six then we had four year old twins, and then two year old twins),the book HEIDI. It stayed with me forever.
What is your favorite book now?
To Kill a Mockingbird
What is the one book no writer should be without?
I can't answer that, but instead I would say no writer should be without a library card. I love libraries. I donate my time for author visits and writer's workshops wherever I go, to give back a little of what they have all given me.
What writing magazines or other resources do you find most helpful?
The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators is my favorite place. They have wonderful bulletins, reference material on about any question a YA author could have. And they are just nice people!
What are some of your hobbies?
Ha. Email. (I feel I spend enough time doing it now it is seriously a hobby or addiction). Movies. My husband and I watch a netflick every evening and go to see all the new films we can each weekend. Cookies. I love baking cookies. Walking, kayaking, swimming. Shopping. I love shopping for clothes in the clothing district of New York City. Really good deals. And Ross And Target. Or really nice stores when they are having clearance items. I love clothes!
How does your spouse/significant other feel about your writing career?
See above. He is my biggest supporter and most brutal critic!
What's your favorite movie?
Tie between LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and DEAD POET SOCIETY
What's your favorite (or least favorite) book turned movie?
Favorite. BBC's zillion hour production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. My girls and I have watched it over and over and my husband has had many good long naps in front of the television while we do.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would? (With answer, please!)
I am so open and people seem to sense that and ask me whatever they want, I can't think of anything. I don't drink. Couldn't when I was part of the church I grew up in and now when asked why I don't I say, I am so uninhibited if I drank, I'd probably strip and dance down the street naked. I am an open book, that likes to hide and hermit up and then come out and be a people lover again