Interview with Apex Reviews:
Beth, thanks for joining us for this interview. Thanks also for the opportunity to read Courage In Patience. We're looking very much forward to learning more about it.
Where did you get the idea for such an incredibly compelling story?
The issues in the book are, unfortunately, much more common than people want to believe. I gave voice to characters who were all having to face very scary issues. I allowed the story to tell itself.
Are any parts of the book autobiographical? If so, which ones (or can you say)?
I think it's a lot of people's story. More than anything else, Courage in Patience is about freedom through truth.
Why does David have such a hard time controlling his temper?
David's temper comes from a feeling of helplessness. Rather than acknowledging the helpless feeling, David gets angry. He learned tools for dealing with his rage, but, as you can imagine, the spectre of his daughter having been victimized so brutally plugs right into his feelings of helplessness-- particularly since he feels so guilty for not being a part of her life as she was growing up.
Why does Cheryl refuse to leave Charlie - much less admit that he actually did all the despicable things that Ashley says he did?
That's a very good question. I think that women who behave as Cheryl does are, at their core, selfish people, so invested in living a lie that they will do anything to maintain that lie. As Ashley learns, it would take unimaginable guts for her mother to face the truth. Her mom's not made of the same stuff as Ashley is.
Throughout all that she has to endure, Ashley displays incredible strength and resiliency. Is that common for someone her age?
I think so. I think that people are, at their core, much stronger than they allow themselves to acknowledge. That said, honesty (authenticity) is sometimes excruciating. As Dr. Matt says, "Life's messy."
How were you able to craft such original, full-dimensional characters as Bev, ZZ, Dr. Matt, and even Billy Ray?
I have a very well-developed imagination. Our reviewer absolutely gushed over how much she enjoyed the book - so much so that she raved about it to our entire staff!
What's next for you?
I've started the sequel to Courage in Patience-- it's called Hope in Patience. I felt that Ashley's story needed to be continued, and I also wanted to address the fall-out from the censorship brouhaha caused by Bev teaching Chris Crutcher's Ironman.
Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
Through my writing, I hope to communicate to teenagers (and others) that, even when it feels like they are most alone, they are not. Never, never, never give up. There is hope.
Thanks again, Beth, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!
INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG ADULT BOOKS CENTRAL
Questions About Writing & Your Career
· Did you always want to be a writer?
-- I don't know that I always wanted to BE a writer, but I can't remember a time that I WASN'T a writer. Does that make sense?
· Do you have any advice for young writers?
-- Simple: JUST WRITE. Just allow the thoughts in your head to slide right down your arm, through your fingers, and onto the page.
· If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
-- I AM a teacher. I'd be a teacher no matter what.
· Are you working on anything now?
-- I'm working on the sequel to Courage in Patience. It's called Hope in Patience.
· What is your working environment like?
-- I write either while reclining on pillows with my laptop on my legs, or at my kitchen table. Most of Courage in Patience was written in the middle of the night at my kitchen table, on my laptop.
· What is your working style?
--I re-read A LOT. I re-write A LOT, not so much because I decide to DO rewrites, but just changing a word or moving text or adding to what's there, based on my impressions when I re-read what I've already written. I also-- and this is going to sound SO weird, but, oh, well-- I also print out a chunk of my book at a time, especially after I've made significant progress on it. I put the pages in a binder and re-read and edit while I'm walking on the treadmill. I keep sticky notes nearby and slap one on a page when I find something I want to change. Sometimes I scribble a note to myself so I'll remember. The time flies and I get heavy duty-thinking done at the same time! It's very..intense. And weird. I know.
· Do you believe in outlining?
--I might make general notes to myself but they're not so much an outline as crib notes to myself. And I never feel as if I'm bound to those ideas; everything remains fluid. It's almost like I'm saying to myself, "Okay, pretend that.."
· What is your goal as a writer?
==I strive to be as authentic, honest, and real as possible.
· What person or person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?
==That's an impossible question to answer, partly because I am influenced by so many people, and partly because I am not at liberty to disclose one person in particular's name. We'll just call him A Very Wise Person.
· What's the best piece of advice you ever had on writing?
--Chris Crutcher told me that he avoids writing characters that are too close to himself. I thought that was very good advice.
· What was your big break?
=When Kunati Books contacted me in August and asked for the remainder of my manuscript.
· How much of your writing is based on your own experience as a child or teenager?
--Probably no more than anybody else who writes uses their own experiences as a launching pad.
· Do you prefer to write longhand, on a typewriter, or on a computer?
== I prefer writing on my laptop; however, I will admit to sitting through boring meetings and, while appearing to be taking notes, I was actually writing scenes that I was basically watching unfolding in my mind. Then I went home and added them to what I had on the computer. Presenters in meetings tend to frown on the tap-tap-tap noise of my laptop keyboard, so I write that stuff in longhand.
Questions About Reading & Influences
· What authors have influenced you the most?
==Chris Crutcher, Joyce McDonald, Stephen King (for his writing advice; I avoid scary stories!), Judy Blume, T K Kenyon, Carl Hiassan, Lois Duncan, Deepak Chopra; the songwriters, Chuck Pyle, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, Shawn Colvin, Eliza Gilkyson, Cat Stevens…I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody..
· What are you reading right now?
--I just finished Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, by Fannie Flagg. It was cool and surprising.
· What's on your current reading list?
--Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates; The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Running a Half-Marathon-- I'm not actually an "absolute beginner", but I'd really like to run a half-marathon this year and I want to find out how to do it without doing excessive harm to my 42-year-old-body.
· What was your favorite book as a child?
== I loved Forever by Judy Blume. Actually, I loved ANYTHING by Judy Blume. And I also read The Hardy Boys series. I read Nancy Drew, too, but I liked The Hardy Boys better.
· What is your favorite book now?
==Wow, that changes all the time, but I would have to say that Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes made me realize that there was an audience for the stories inside of me. That was a watershed moment for me, reading the realistic way Chris writes. I have everything he has published; I integrated themes from his book, Ironman, into Courage in Patience, and paid homage to his use of first and third person in Ironman by doing the same in my own novel.
What is the one book no writer should be without? On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King.
What writing magazines or other resources do you find most helpful?
==The Kunati Author Group, my publisher's listserv that I belong to as a Kunati Author, is an amazing resource.
Questions About Personal Stuff & Fun Stuff
What are some of your hobbies?
--Writing, obviously; reading; distance running OR run/walking OR daydreaming about actually running for a long time; I have a cool flower garden in the summer that attracts butterflies; I grow pine trees for reforestation; I love folk music and kind of collect it and nurture my growing familiarity with it. And I love hanging out with my daughters and husband, playing board games or cards, and laughing really hard. My children are hilarious . I love animals and have a houseful of them. Too many, actually.
How does your spouse/significant other feel about your writing career?
--He is very proud of me!
What's your favorite movie?
--An Unfinished Life
If your book, Courage in Patience, was turned into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
--Wow, I'd have to think about that one for a long time. John Cusack would be a fantastic "David". I've always been a John Cusack fan.
What's your favorite (or least favorite) book turned movie?
--My favorite book that was turned into a movie is An Unfinished Life, which was actually a screenplay BEFORE it was made into a book, even though there are significant differences between the book and the movie. But I love them both.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
--Racial epithets piss me off.
What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would?
--"What's it like, having a New York Times best-seller as your debut novel?"