Unpublished Author Extraordinare: An Interview with Beth Hull

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Dear Readers, I am going to start a new blog segment where  once a month I interview unpublished authors who are on their way to getting published by doing “the deal:” Butt in Chair, revise/revise/revise, polish, query, reject/reject/reject, polish some more, partials out! And pray, pray, pray! If you believe, you will receive. So “Keep on Believing.”

My first interview is with my good friend and awesome YA author, Beth Hull. I  love her most recent novel, Savage Autumn.  It is about a very responsible teenage girl, Phoebe,  who…well…falls madly in love with the wrong guy (a deadly wolf man). 

Here’s Beth! Enjoy her interview!

7NB: Where do you get most of your ideas and inspiration?

BH: Two of my novels were inspired by dreams, but Savage Autumn came from one of those what-if wonderings: What if a control freak teenager lost control in the worst way—what if she lost her ability to remain in control of her humanity?

7NB: Do you have a set writing schedule, or are you more of a “when the mood hits” kind of girl?

BH: I would love to have a set schedule, and I sort of do. It’s whenever my daughter is sleeping. So basically, an hour in the afternoon, and two hours in the evening before I have to go to bed. However, I’m pretty flexible when it comes to accommodating Real Life and making time for my husband and friends.

7NB: Can you compare Phoebe, the main character in Savage Autumn, to anyone you know in real life?

BH: Not really. She has traits that I recognize in others, but she’s definitely her own person. Her need for control is something I see in myself, and that’s helpful because it’s easier for me to identify with her as I write.

7NB: Can you share any details about your current WIP (work in progress)?

BH: I can’t say too much because I don’t know exactly where it’s going yet. Actually, that’s not true. I know where I’d like it to go, but sometimes my stories change as I write them, and I need to leave room for inspiration. But the basic situation is this: A witch twin, separated from her brother at birth, needs to sneak out of her coven find him.

7NB: What does your writing workspace look like? I see you have provided us with a photo!

BH: If I’m writing by hand, I’m usually on the couch with about six notebooks and a few other books scattered around me, all within easy reach. Blankets are necessary, as is my trusty cat sidekick (sidecat?), Clark.

The computer area is a disaster area because I share a tiny desk space with my husband, and we’re both “pilers.” Once the piles start toppling over onto the keyboard, we spruce up a little. Our computer is in the basement. I think of it as my writing lair.

7NB: Right now you’ve finished a YA novel, and your WIP is a YA novel. Any plans to write for other age groups?

BH: No immediate plans. My first novel (which will never ever be published and I now think of this as a good thing) was an adult novel, and I could do that again, but most of my ideas have been YA-oriented. I’m really enjoying young adult literature right now, both in my reading and writing.

7NB: What is your favorite YA novel of all time? How about your favorite book on the craft of writing?

BH: My favorite YA of all time is The Hunger Games, which has, I think, the best hook ever, and I love Katniss’s voice. Suzanne Collins is my hero. However, I’ve read a few of Sarah Dessen’s books multiple times: This Lullaby, Dreamland, and The Truth About Forever. They just make me feel good about life. They’re comforting.

My favorite book on the craft of writing, since it cleared up basically all of my questions on plot, is Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham.

7NB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

BH: I made little books and magazines throughout my childhood, but I really got the inspiration to write stories from my fourth grade teacher, Sally Gilstrap. She encouraged me to write, and keep on writing.

7NB: Are you currently seeking an agent’s representation? What are the qualities you look for in an agent?

BH: Bring on the agents! (Well, I guess I really only need one.) My dream agent is someone who knows the business and is professional and personable. I’m looking for someone who is as committed to my novel as I am. If this sounds like a personals ad, well, it sort of is.

7NB: What is the best advice anyone has given you with regards to your writing?

BH: The best advice I received is what writers hear all the time, and that’s because this advice is golden: If you love it, keep writing no matter what.

7NB: You’ve always struck me as a very positive, upbeat person when it comes to your writing. I think all aspiring novelists can use a bit of the positive in their lives–any tips on how to keep the hope alive, even when the query rejections try to smother it?

BH: What got me through a couple of bad weeks recently was thinking that even if Savage Autumn never gets published—even if none of my novels are published—I still had fun writing them. Yes, I wanted to tear out my hair on occasion.

I also have to remember that I am improving. I got ZERO requests for my first manuscript (the one I am now happy will never see a printer), but I’ve already had some positive responses for SA. So even if SA goes nowhere in the end, imagine what the next book could do!

7NB: What is your experience like, balancing writing and motherhood?

BH: It’s hard. But it’s difficult to balance writing with any sort of full-time responsibility. Honestly, though, balancing was more difficult when I was teaching. Teaching responsibilities never stop. There’s always another lesson to plan or another set of papers to grade. Even if I made the time for writing I found it hard to focus because my brain kept wandering over to my teaching responsibilities.

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard for different reasons, but at least when I carve out writing time I can focus better on my writing. Sure there are other responsibilities (there will always be dishes in the sink or laundry in the hamper) but the idea of not getting those things done doesn’t seem to distract me as much as the fear of disappointing a classroom full of teenagers.

7NB: To learn more about Beth Hull and her YA projects visit her website at www.bethhull.com.  You can also find her NiFtY interview on me on her webpage!  Enjoy!

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