Beverly Stowe McClure lives a writerly life. She and her husband live in the country in Texas where Beverly ponders the comings and goings of quail and deer (though I didn’t ask if she does that in her pajamas). A retired teacher, she is never at a loss for inspiration for her lively children’s stories, chapter books, middle grade or young adult novels. Beverly and I met – virtually - just over a year ago at the Muse Online Conference. My small online critique group invited her to join us and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and her writing and torturing her with my work ever since.
Beverly, what inspired you to become a writer?
A: Reading to my sons and my students was my inspiration. When I was a child, I hated to read. But, thankfully, I grew up and discovered what I was missing: reading was fun. Reading great books, especially Newbery winners and honor books inspired me to try my hand at writing. I’m so glad I did, because writing is fun too.
Why young adult? Have you ever written anything else?
A: Young adult literature appeals to me because of its honesty and way of looking at the world when every event in your life is traumatic and a challenge. I have written a couple of middle-grade stories and a chapter book. I love writing for kids in these age groups too.
Which authors have helped shape your writing?
A: No author in particular helped shape my writing, but as I read to my sons and to my students, I met Dr. Seuss. Wow! His books were fun and my kids loved them and I loved them. Even though my stories are a lot different than his—no rhyme and for older readers—he started me thinking that I might write a book too.
Now, to the meat of the blogview:
When her mother runs away with the drummer in a rock band, sixteen-year-old Rebel Ferguson decides to do whatever it takes to bring her home.
How did the idea of the story develop?
A: Many children today grow up in single-parent homes or have stepfathers or stepmothers. The child sometimes feels as if he/she is responsible for the breakup. Seeing my students deal with these situations and the effects of divorce in my own family sparked the idea for Rebel. What’s a girl to do when her life spins out of control? This is Rebel’s dilemma.
Your opening is so strong. Sets the character, scene and conflict immediately. It drips with emotion. Was this your original opening or did you revise a lot to find this?
A: This pretty much was my original opening. I wanted to reveal Rebel’s thoughts about her mother and father because her emotions, being torn between her parents when she loves them both, are the basis of the story.
Rebel is a strong, independent character. She’s very likeable and relatable. How ‘real’ was she to you when you were writing her?
A: At times Rebel took control and I just followed along. I wanted to help her avoid the mistakes she made and cringed when she did certain things, but she has a mind of her own and went her own way most of the time. Rebel, as most of my characters are, is very real to me. If I don’t see her as a real person, the reader won’t either.
Describe your edit/revise process?
A: After I write my first draft, which is basically feeling out the plot and getting acquainted with the characters, I read the whole thing and jot down notes of problems I see. Then I start with chapter 1 again and make changes. Most chapters will need much revision; others just a little. I write 3 or 4 sentences for the scenes in each chapter on 3x5 cards for quick reference if I can’t remember what chapter a certain scene appears in. Then I don’t have to go back through the typed pages. I do this over and over, however many revisions it takes, usually 5 to 10. Then I give it to my critique group (thank you, Silverweb!) and let them show me where it doesn’t work. This group of writers is a recent experience for me, and I don’t know how I ever wrote without their advice. After plot holes have been filled and characters are developed with their quirks and individualities, I concentrate on spelling and punctuation and correct grammar.
How did you know when Rebel was DONE and ready to submit?
A: When I kept switching words around and then back again and couldn’t find anything else to change.
What was your favorite scene from Rebel? Why?
A: There are several, but I think the scene where Rebel visits her mother and drummer boyfriend is my favorite. Rebel makes some startling discoveries while she’s with them and, in a sense, grows because of these discoveries.
How can we get our hands on a copy of Rebel?
Ebooks seem to be a growing thing in publishing. You’ve had ebooks published. Have you enjoyed the experience?
A: Ebooks are okay, but I prefer to hold a print book in my hands. The new ebook readers that are out may make a difference, and it does save a tree not to use paper. I still have mixed feelings. However, for those who are reading impaired or have vision problems the ebook readers, with larger print, might be the answer.
Have there been challenges with ebook publications?
A: Oh, yes. Few people are impressed when you talk about your ebooks. There is a stigma to them that they aren’t as good as “real” books. This, in my opinion, isn’t true. The ones I’ve read are good stories. They’ve been edited and copy edited, like print books. More and more publishers are producing ebooks these days. They’re cheaper to make and with people having less money to spend on entertainment, ebooks might just catch on.
What other titles have you had published and where can we find them?
A: Listen to the Ghost - The story of a ghost who doesn’t want to be a ghost, a girl who wants to forget her ex-boyfriend with the lying lips, a one-hundred-year-old neighbor who talks in riddles, and a handsome sax player who changes everything. Amazon and Twilight Times Books
Secrets I Have Kept – The story of a girl who plays classical music on the piano and rides a horse and a boy who writes country ballads and rides a Harley and how they team up to rescue her father who has been kidnapped. Amazon and Wings ePress.
What is up and coming from Beverly Stowe McClure?
A: My historical fiction novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, will be released in summer 2009. My middle grade novel, Just Breeze, is scheduled for summer/fall 2009, depending on how the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, stating that all products for children under 12 must be tested for lead, including books, decision turns out. The publisher may have to close down because of this ruling. In 2010, my chapter book is scheduled for publication. Again, this all can change if this new law passes.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: If you’re interested in writing, don’t be afraid. Write. Read. Send your stories or articles out, again and again, as many times as necessary. Use the editors’ letters that say “not interested” as motivation to find the editor that “is interested.” I have a wall full of letters with nice notes, but still “no thanks” (I don’t like the word “rejection”) that remind me the editor found something in that story she liked.
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
A: My blogs are: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com
I’m also on Live Journal, My Space, Facebook, Gather, Ning, Multiply, Goodreads, Library Thing, Jacket Flap, Shelfari, and I may have forgotten some.
Thank you for interviewing me, Kai. I had a great time answering your questions.
---Thank you, Beverly, for sharing your story with us. Good luck with the promotion of Rebel and with your upcoming releases.