Weekend with a Writer: Beverly Stowe McClure (Part 1)

Weekend with a Writer is a new monthly feature on this blog, and it is my great pleasure to start off the series with Beverly Stowe McClure. Beverly writes young fiction, and a few weeks ago, we read one another’s novel at the same time. It was a great experience, and I look forward to introducing you to a fellow YA author.

 

Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure

If anyone had told Beverly she’d be a writer someday, she’d have thought they were crazy. When Beverly was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, she hated to write. So what happened to change her mind? Here’s what she has to say:

When did you realize that reading was fun?

In spite of my rocky relationship with books, I attended the university which meant reading hundreds of books. (What was I thinking?) Surprisingly, I graduated with a degree in elementary education and became a teacher. Yes, I know, an unlikely career for me. But life has a funny way of pointing us in certain directions. My teaching was the beginning of my love of reading and writing. Listening to my students report on the Newbery books they read, sometimes dressing the part of the characters, other times acting out a favorite scene woke me up to what I’d been missing: Reading was fun. I also read to my sons and fell in love with Dr. Seuss. And I started wanting to write too, to have children read my stories and become the characters, for a time.

Why did you choose to write for children and teens?

Actually, children’s books chose me. I discovered that I enjoyed reading books for young people, especially for teens, more than adult books. I think I’m still a kid and don’t really want to grow up.

How did you get started writing?

I really had no idea where to begin, so I took a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Through them I learned the basics. I began by writing articles based on science experiments and art projects we did in school. At this point I was teaching fifth-grade science, reading, spelling and art. After a couple of years of submitting my articles, I sold my first one to Happiness, a TV type magazine. I still have the money in a frame on the wall. Other articles sold to leading children’s magazines such as Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. and others.

Why did you decide to write novels?

I was having fun with the magazine articles, but my dream was to write a novel. So I signed up for the Institute’s course on novel writing. Two years later, my first full-length story was complete. It now resides in a box in my writing room. Maybe someday I’ll revise it and send it off, maybe not. Since then five of my stories for teens have been published. The latest one, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, is scheduled for released June 15, 2010. I also have five more stories under contract.

 What is your writing schedule like?

I’m a morning person and like to write from about 9 to 11 or 12 AM on my current WIP. I usually have 2 or 3 stories going at a time.

I prefer a schedule. (The ex-teacher in me, I think.) Every day I write down what I hope to accomplish that day. I don’t always complete everything on the list, but I get the basics done.

In the afternoon, I do promo work, post on blogs, and answer email or run errands.

Where can we learn more about you and your writing?

My sites are: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

                     http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

                     http://rebelinbluejeans.wordpress.com

                     http://justbreeze.wordpress.com

                     http://lizzieswar.wordpress.com

 

*Tomorrow I will post my review of Beverly Stowe McClure’s Just Breeze. *

Author Q & A

Author Q & A

Did you always want to be a writer?

No, not exactly, but I remember when it first occurred to me, though. I was in eighth-grade English class, the first day of school, and the teacher called my name. “Kimberly Blackadar,” he said. “That is the name of an author!” I was only thirteen, and my best pieces of writing were often folded and passed across the room, but still, his prophetic words stayed with me, year after year, until I sat down at my computer and started my first novel.

It sounds like your teacher planted a seed. So do you believe in the power of suggestion?

Absolutely! I spent eight years in the classroom, and I never took that role lightly. I recall sitting in an interview with a colleague of mine, and when we were asked what we did best as teachers, we answered: “We find something special in every student and celebrate it.”

Now, after leaving the classroom, what is your typical day like?

Well, I’m a homeschooling mom with a pilot for a hubby, so it’s not overly conducive to a writing career. But then again, how many authors have the ideal situation? Most juggle careers, families, and other obligations─all while trying to complete their writing projects. Writers, however, must excel at time management and set firm deadlines─usually in terms of pages per day or week.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes, read, read, and then read some more! (Okay, now I sound like a teacher again.) But don’t just read books in your genre; expose yourself to all works of literature. I vacillate between contemporary fiction and the classics, finding the greatest inspiration from the written word.

Do you need to be inspired to write?

No, I am always eager to write, but I have to be in a place for writing─either in my office or out in nature. I wrote a good portion of my first novel while at the beach and when I was up in Alaska. I think location─and a little ambiance­─is important. Especially when writing romance novels.  Of course, I’m not suggesting typing by candlelight, but soft music, comfortable clothes, and chocolate do evoke the muse.

Speaking of romance novels, aren’t they all the same?

Well, there are two probable endings for a romance novel: it’s either happily ever after or a Kleenex moment. But what makes them unique is the obstacle course along the way, and for fictional romances, it is more like crossing a mine field─with one explosive moment after another.

Where do you come up with your “explosive” ideas?

When I’m out on my long runs, my imagination really goes places. So my husband bought me a digital recorder to capture those ideas; unfortunately, when I played it back, I couldn’t follow it. I sounded like a breathless 911 caller leaving the scene of the crime, and now I’m back to relying on my memory.

After coming up with the idea for your first novel, how long did it take you to complete it?

The published version of Nothing but Trouble after Midnight took around six months to write, but it was preceded by two abandoned manuscripts. Even though the characters remained constant throughout the writing process, the relationship between the main characters, Rob and Chloe, evolved with every draft. At first, I created Rob to fulfill the friend role, but over time, I grew quite fond of him, and consequently, so did Chloe.

Aw, Rob and Chloe… can we expect more from them in the future?

NBTAM is the first of seven young-adult novels in the 7C’s series, with each book focusing on a different girl, but Rob and Chloe will be ever-present throughout the series. Chloe is the prominent link in the friendship chain.

Besides your current series, are there any other books on the horizon?

Yes, I am timelining a standalone adult novel tentatively titled In the Rose Garden. Conceptually, it is very complicated and will demand more of me as a writer. But I am eager for the challenge.

Is there any form of writing you would rather avoid?

Yes, anything autobiographical─like answering interview questions.

But isn’t all writing autobiographical?

I certainly hope not! My characters will encounter many hardships over the years, and my life has been rather pleasant so far…

 

Young adult literature is the fastest growing sector of the publishing industry, and a 2008 Newsweek article reported that book sales for ages 12-18 climbed a staggering 25 percent.

*This post is from my author’s press kit. A full press kit is available upon request.