GC: Beth, you are infamous for being the author who wrote and wrote and wrote passionately until finally, one of your books, and an amazing one at that, was published by Penguin in 2011. Can you talk about how your ideas come to you, how you plot your stories and what inspires you?
I love each one of those books, too, but I can look at them objectively now and say that they aren't any good. Well, most of them. I still have hopes for one or two of them, but other than that, no, they aren't good. Part of that was that I was still learning how to write and how to tell a good story (two different things).
My writing process now is simple: I just sit down and write. I don't plan. I don't outline. I just start writing. If I get stuck, I will brainstorm with pen and paper--other than that, I just write it all on the computer. First drafting is the fun part--it's discovering the story and laying down the path. After that, I buckle down with revisions. That's the hard part.
GC: What made you never want to give up on your dream of being an author? Was there ever a time you did give up? If so, what put you back on the horse.
BR: The tenth novel I wrote, I wrote specifically for publication. I thought I was writing what the market wanted. I thought, by that point, that would be the only way to sell a book.
And that book didn't sell.
Around that time, I started to feel depressed. I'd been writing for ten years! Ten novels! And none of them were good enough. I sacrificed time with my family, time relaxing and sleeping, money for supplies and conferences, and so much more...and I had nothing to show for it but ten unpublished novels.
Then I started working on ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I didn't even do it on purpose. I didn't intend to write another novel. But I *enjoy* writing. It's what I do for fun. And this novel that I did for fun because I just love to write became the novel that was published and changed my life.
GC: (If you didn't know, dear reader, Beth and I are pretty good friends. We bonded before her book hit the printers over a similar taste in music, so I feel I must as the following question.) Just past the title page of Across the Universe you list the lyrics of the Lennon & McCartney song of the same name; how did music mold your writing process and can you point to any songs that shaped pivotal chapters?
BR: "Across the Universe" was always my fave Beatles song--it reminds me so much of writing. If I didn't feel like working, I'd put that song on, and it would pump me up to get started.
Another one that influenced me a lot was "Fact/Fiction" by Mads Langer. I like the sound of it, and the words reminded me of Elder.
And it's so cheesy to say, but....I also listen to Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" a lot. I was writing the end of the novel *just* as she got on television and became a viral video and...*sigh* I know it's cheesy.
GC: You mean these?
GC: You and I met face-to-face at the Breathless Reads tour last February in Raleigh, North Carolina and of course I know how much fun I had, but I would love to know, as I'm sure readers do, what kind of affect that tour had on you, getting to sit around and talk about your book with people who are as passionate about AtU as you are? Was there any one moment or experience that defined that time for you?
BR: I was *so* nervous about that tour! First, I was going to be with four other wonderful and uber-talented ladies...and I was sure that they'd be way high on their pedestals, and I'd be on the ground carrying luggage around. And at every event, I was certain that people would buy everyone else's books and no one would bother with mine. But of course neither of those things happened. Ally, Andrea, Kiersten, and Brenna are lovely wonderful people who I now think of as friends (and please, Penguin, send us on tour together again!!), and everyone I met on the tour was so gracious and kind. If anything, I'd say that the tour became a time when I really accepted that this--a writer--is who I am now. I've been writing for years and years, but I always hesitated to label myself as a writer. I was a wife, a student, a teacher--and I sometimes wrote. After the tour, I felt like a writer.
GC: I'm glad you feel like you're a writer, because... you are! What can we expect to see in the upcoming sequel, A Million Suns?
BR: Many things!!!! Most of which I can't tell you about. But I will say this: At least two things you think are true from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE are actually lies...
GC: A true writer to the end, Beth has left us with the most excruciatingly wondrous spoiler possible! *le sigh* Thank you, Beth!