One of the best parts of being a writer is watching your writer pals succeed---and what a year it has been! Starting with Shelagh winning the PEN NE CBC 2009 Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award (see her interview) and now Bette Anne Rieth, interview following, wins for 2010! And in between, new writing buddy Lynda Mullaly Hunt sells her book to her dream editor, and the lovely Caroline Rose announces some great news about her own verse novel. Caroline is promoting and giving away a copy of 3RR, by the way, on her blog as part of Elana Johnson's Spread the Awesome.
Now I hear Pam Farley has won the Tassy Walden, a prize for unpublished writers from Connecticut! (not on the website yet) Yay Pam! (Photo of Pam below, at my signing.) Maybe with a round of hearty applause you could persuade her to do a Six Authors interview...hmmm.
(Ed'd: I'm rubbing my eyes, am I reading it right? Lynda also won in the YA category!! Whoa, congrats again to Lynda!)
But let's get back to Bette Anne: I've been a fan of this writer's work for several years. She's got it all---the emotion, the tension, poetic language, the pacing. This one below is contemporary, but she also has an amazing historical novel handy. Keep your eyes peeled for Bette Anne! We're gonna be seeing a lot more of her work!
Title: Greetings from the Miracle
Genre: Young Adult
After fleeing her New Jersey foster home, fifteen-year-old Deena Reed takes to the road in a rusty Buick with Charlene, ex-con and the mother she hardly knows, and Billy, a teenage drifter Charlene has picked up along the way. Deena is searching for a miracle: A home, family, someone who will stand by her, no matter what. Her only compass is a postcard from a place called the Miracle Motor Lodge with a message from Grammy, who raised Deena and died three months ago. I wish you were here. But on a road trip where old hurt and new betrayals add up as fast as the miles, only Deena can decide if she’s headed for a miracle or another dead end.
1. Every good story starts at the point of change. What is the point of change in this story?
When Deena decides to leave Big Foster’s (her foster home) with her mother, Charlene, an ex-con, and Billy, a teenage drifter. Good or bad, Deena is ready to take her chances with Charlene. She’s ready to change her world.
2. What do you want that you can’t have? How would your main character answer the same question?
I want one life to live and one life to read. So many books. So little time!
Deena wants her homemade pies to have the ability to magically change a person. She wants to feel good about herself again. Since Grammy died, she’s developed a little stealing problem and she’s beginning to think it runs in her blood. She wants Grammy to be alive again and Grammy and Charlene to be reconciled. And Billy. Yeah, it’s bad, but she wants him.
3. Did another book serve as a model for yours, either in structure or inspiration? Tell us how.
Not one book, but many. I’ve always been a big fan of Anne Tyler. A favorite is A Patchwork Planet. I love Tyler’s exploration of the question: Can we escape the sins of our past? The short stories of Jill McCorkle were also an inspiration. I’d never read her until an early draft of “Miracle” was read at an SCBWI first-pages session and an editor on the panel suggested I read Crash Diet. Wow! If you want to study voice, or still struggle to understand what voice is, read McCorkle. (Thank you, Alexandra Cooper.)
4. Tell us about a real-life person or situation that crept into this book.
Oh, boy. Well, it’s hard to write a book about a mother-daughter relationship, and not have elements of your own creep in. I loved my mom. I miss her. (She passed away while I was writing the book.) We had our good times, but we had our hard times, too, our roadblocks. So, yes, she’s in the book. I’m in it. And her rolling pin is definitely along for the ride.
5. Wildcard question: What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate?
I will preface this by saying I am not a food adventuress.
My husband and I were living in Arkansas. We were invited to a barbeque up in the Ozarks. Our host offered a plate of small round things. Turkey fries, he called them. After I ate a few, he politely explained that they were “the part of the tom turkey that goes over the fence last.” I have to say they were quite good. I had a few more.
6. What are you wishing I would get around to asking already? (And what’s the answer, wise guy.)
What’s the best writing advice you ever received and listened to, really took to heart?
Write every day. A gem from Patricia Reilly Giff. When I’m at it everyday (I write in the morning before the day job), I’m at my best. It sounds like simple advice, obvious really, but for me, who had been a “when I have time,” or “when I’m inspired” writer, it was a breakthrough.
7. This manuscript is complete—what are you working on next?
Actually, I have two things simmering on the back burners as I finish revising Miracle: One is about a teen musician and her pirate muse. The other is about a girl who hears voices in an old church. Both stories involve daughters and mothers in conflict. (I’m beginning to see a pattern here.)
I catch Billy watching me in the rearview mirror, and something about him, maybe the black hair and glasses, or maybe the cartoon T-shirt, makes me think of a superhero before the tights and cape, before the hero’s sure he wants to be bothered with superpowers and saving the world. “You should put on your seatbelt.” He pulls a ticket from the toll machine.
Charlene thinks he’s talking to her. “I don’t wear them. It reminds me of riding in those prison vans, shackled. Handcuffed.”
But Billy’s eyes are still on me. I turn to the window, pretending I don’t see him hand Charlene the ticket, I don’t see the way his muscles move under his T-shirt.
The Buick lumbers away from the tollbooth. Charlene tucks the ticket in the sun visor above her head. The same motions get repeated in the minivan that emerges from the booth next to us, and the SUV next to them. The mother turns, checks on the kids, the family settles in for the long ride. I think of all the times I rode the bus with Grammy and stared down into those kinds of cars, wishing I knew what it was like to ride in one.
And then there’s the place I’ve always kept inside, a place for Charlene and me, just us, a place small and cozy. I can see it in my mind. I can feel its walls holding in my hope.
Your mother is nothing but trouble, Grammy said. Your mother will never change.
Charlene turns and checks on me. The Buick gathers speed. I take Billy’s advice and buckle up.
I know a place, and this is my chance to find it.
Agent info: I wish
Contact: On Facebook as Bette Anne Rieth
Blog: Under construction at http://barieth.blogspot.com/
Thanks for playing along, Bette Anne! Can't wait to read all of Greetings from the Miracle.
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