Today we have two guest: Cheri Fuller and Bev Prescott. We did the interview with Bev and asked Cheri to do the introductions. So, here you go:
Astrid invited me to introduce Bev Prescott. It’s taken me a long time to come up with words that could even begin to do Bev justice. In addition to being wicked smaht (spoken in a Boston accent) and one of the kindest people I know, Bev is constantly working to improve her skills as an author. There’s absolutely nothing mediocre about this woman.
Bev Prescott is the author of three books: My Soldier Too, Step Into the Wind, and, her newest release, Blowback. One thing that can never be said about her books is that they’re light reading. Her books deal with tough topics that may make readers a little uncomfortable. And that’s what I like best about them. Blowback, while she tends to focus on the aspects of the book that deal with gun violence, was, for me, really about the family dynamics at work and how people deal with stress, dysfunction, and limited choices in different ways. No matter which of us is right, all of Bev’s work and research really paid off and she wrote a thoughtful and touching story that, I think, most everyone will be able to relate to on some level.
Coffee or tea?
The answer depends on the time of day. I always start with coffee in the morning. At one point, I tried to kick the morning coffee habit altogether but decided that life is too short not to drink coffee. Instead, I stick to the rule of moderation: one nice hot cup of coffee with a touch of half-and-half and honey in the morning. For the rest of the day, I drink decaf tea. My favorite is a blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, rose hips, mango, and passion fruit flowers by Tazo. It’s called Passion Tea. Very yummy.
What puts you in a bad mood?
Clutter. It makes me feel claustrophobic and scattered such that I’m not able to be creative or productive. That bugs the heck out of me. So, I try to keep my office tidy and the house organized. I can tell when my spouse knows that my mood has gone sour. She’ll put her shoes in the closet instead of near the front door.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’ll occasionally have a dream in which I’m able to fly. I always wake up feeling like I’m ready to take on the world after having a flying dream. So, if I had a superpower, my hope is that it would be the ability to fly.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
I’m fortunate in that my spouse travels frequently for work. Because of her travels, I’ve been lucky enough to visit really beautiful places such as New Zealand, Africa, Greece, Switzerland, and Denmark just to name a few. However, we’ve also traveled to places like Alaska and the Canadian Rockies where the goal was to immerse ourselves in the natural world. This question would’ve been difficult to answer before last year at this time. My spouse’s dream trip had always been to visit Antarctica. Now that we’ve been there, the answer comes easily. Antarctica blew me away and was unlike any place or experience I’ve ever had, so much so that I’m working on a book of essays and photographs about our trip. The book is titled Penguin Parables and will be published by Bedazzled Ink sometime next year. Antarctica is just such a stunning place: humbling, beautiful, and haunting.
Speaking of my spouse’s travels, her company is based in Switzerland. When I travel with her there, we always make a stop at the Sprungli chocolate shop in Zurich for champagne truffles on our way home. I normally don’t eat foods with refined sugar. But in the case of fine Swiss chocolate, I definitely make an exception.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Outfit my house so that it could generate clean power and heat completely off the grid. I’d quit my job, have a small farm, learn to play the ukulele, volunteer to teach environmental science classes to kids in Maine, and write full time.
And now on to the writing-related stuff:
For how many years have you been writing now, and how did you come to it?
I have degrees in law and science. Over the course of my career, writing has always been a part of how I make my living. But, I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing fiction. My first novel, My Soldier Too, was published in 2011.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
I write in order to explore why we humans do the things we do—to test our assumptions and maybe change the way we think about things. So much of our news and politics comes to us in ten-second sound bites. By writing, I hope to flesh out more fully the important issues of our time through storytelling. Writing to me is a challenge, a journey, and a way to say something that matters, I hope anyway.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
It takes me about a year to write a novel. Then it’s usually another six months or so for editing.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
Because of my full-time job and family, the time that I have to write is fairly limited. I write about an hour per day Monday through Thursday, and then about three to four hours per day Friday through Sunday.
When and where do you write the most?
I prefer to write early in the morning. The most productive time of day for me is between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. On my days off, I write in our sunroom overlooking the meadow. Otherwise, I write on the train into work in the early morning.
How would you describe yourself?
Serious, impatient, kind, and resilient.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
I think of my characters as hybrids of myself and people who I’ve crossed paths with over the years: average everyday Janes who are sometimes perfect and sometimes imperfect—characters who make mistakes but have good hearts. That’s most of us. Those are the people who I want to write about.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Delivering a good story in a way that resonates with readers and isn’t bogged down by the weight of errors. It’s not enough to have a great story to tell. One has to be able to tell it in a way that is structurally and grammatically sound.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, Leaving Time. It knocked my socks off. Now, I’m reading Collapse by Jared Diamond.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
One with lots of layers and nuance that goes beyond the basic structure of romance generally. I love a romance with characters who resemble average everyday people. I also like to go away from a book having felt like I learned something along the way.
What advice would you give new authors?
Know what you don’t know. Seek out help and advice from people who know a thing or two about writing and publishing. Don’t think that just because you have a great story that you also have a great manuscript. The process of writing is as much about getting the sentences and structure right as the story itself. If you’re not careful, your great story will be muted by the haze of poor writing.
What are you working on right now?
As I mentioned above, I’m working on a book of photographs and essays about our trip to Antarctica. Again, Penguin Parables will be published by Bedazzled Ink sometime next year.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
I’m in the process of sketching out a story that involves the subject of climate change. It’ll be a story that takes place in a dystopian future. It’s an important issue for our time that warrants exploration. It’ll be a journey for me and hopefully readers as well.
Finally, thank you to Ylva Publishing and Astrid Ohletz for inviting me to be a guest blogger. I’m honored to have been your guest. Cheers!
Thank you for welcoming our questions, Bev!
Check out her website to learn more.
The Ylva team