Today I’m proud to present my guest Beth Anderson, Beth Anderson a multi-published, award-winning author in several genres, including romance and mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, Beth now lives in Washington state. She has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University, Moraine Valley College, and many libraries and writers' conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are at http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com .
I asked Beth several questions and suggested that she choose one or a few. She chose three, and came up with some fine answers.
John: What makes your protagonist unique? What are his or her passions? Does she or he have flaws?
Beth: In RAVEN TALKS BACK I have two protagonists who share alternating chapters. The book begins and ends with Raven Morressey’s first person chapters so she is my main protagonist, although Jack O’Banion, Valdez, Alaska’s chief of police, plays an equally important part in his third person chapters.
Raven is an Alaska Native, Athabascan tribe, who is married to a Caucasian male. They live in Valdez, Alaska with their three children. Although Raven lives in her husband’s world, she still retains a lot of her heritage, even though she was college educated in the lower forty-eight. She loves her sixties-to-eighties music and she’s a great gourmet cook, which will show up more in the second book of this series (as yet untitled). I don’t see her as having many weaknesses at all, since she’s basically a very strong woman, but at the beginning of this story, one weakness would be that she trusts her husband even though his recent actions have begun to baffle her. However, even though she is at first blind to her husband’s secret life, she’s forced by events beyond her control to acknowledge that she has also been hiding things from him.
John: What are your feelings about love and sex in fiction? Are they essential to plot and character development?
Beth: I think it depends entirely on the book. With romances, there are no holds barred anymore in so many books, but I mainly, in fact almost exclusively, read mysteries. I think that it does help to make characters more sympathetic if they love somebody, but I’m not convinced it’s important to add actual detailed sex scenes. Some like that, some don’t. If there’s a good reason for one, fine, and some authors do quite well at that, but when a writer adds sex into a book where there’s no reason for it, I have to question why the author did that. The thing is, there’s a subgenre for that, Romantic Suspense. Readers know that if they buy a romantic suspense novel there’s probably going to be a lot of sex. What I dislike is when a previously established no-nonsense mystery writer feels compelled to add in gratuitous sex that has nothing to do with the plot. My feeling is, if you want to write hot sex, go do it, but don’t interrupt a good mystery just to add in an unnecessary sex scene unless you’ve thought long and hard about it first.
John: Who is your favorite writer? What book made you want to be a reader? What writer made you want to be a writer?
Beth: My current favorite writer is Dean Koontz, although I haven’t read much of his stuff but I’ll catch up one day. ;-)
The first book that made me want to be a reader was a True Detective magazine I found under my grandfather’s bed one summer when I was about four and was furious that I could see the photos of all those murdered people, which fascinated me, but I couldn’t figure out who did it or why. By the time I came back to their house the next summer, I had learned to read and understand what I read. After that, I read every book I could get my hands on the whole time I was growing up.
I remember the exact book (but not the title) that made me very much want to be a writer, one written many years ago by a writer named Jacqueline Diamond, about two sisters traveling by rail on their way to Hollywood to meet up with their famous actor parents. I can even remember the exact scene. It was a short scene of the two sisters sitting in their train seats and one of them complained that she hated sitting on the horsehair seats because they made her butt itch. I laughed out loud when I read that sentence and my thought was, “This author was really having fun when she wrote this scene.” At the time I think I was eighteen, twenty, I’m not really sure, but although I had thought about writing books for years before that, it had never even once occurred to me that it was possible to have fun doing it. But reading that book, it sounded like fun. I wanted to write from that day on, although it was years before I ever actually did.
John: Thanks, Beth, for giving those questions so much thought. I wish you great success with all your writing, and especially with your new one, Raven Talks Back.
Now let’s let our readers know more about the book. Here’s the official rap sheet:
RAVEN TALKS BACK by Beth Anderson
Krill Press, ISBN 978-0-9821443-9-8
Beautiful Valdez, Alaska. Home of twenty-three-inch snow in the wintertime, but in the summertime, gorgeous mountain scenery where the early morning fog rolls down the mountainside, bringing soft whispers of the past with it. And this year...murder.
Valdez Chief of Police Jack O'Banion's take:
Voices. Visions. A sadistic killer running around loose, a hysterical woman, two teenagers on the verge of home-grown terrorism, everybody including the Alaska State Troopers and out-of-town media driving him berserk twenty-four hours a day. And now Raven wants him to arrest someone, anyone, because she thinks her husband is about to be charged with murder and she just can’t face it.
Raven Morressey's take:
She knows nothing she's saying to Jack makes any sense to him because it doesn't to her, either. After all, it's not every day a newly murdered, tattooed, headless and handless body is dug up in your back yard and then you start hearing voices of your dead ancestors and seeing things that never happened--at least yet. She just wants to keep her home together--at first. She's not trying to butt in and solve the murders in Valdez. But she just can't help it.
Want to get to know Beth Anderson a little better, and learn about her books? Check out these fine links:
Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Raven-Talks-Back/Beth-Anderson/e/2940012515407/?itm=1&USRI=beth+anderson#MeetTheWriter
Also available at your favorite independent bookstores nationwide.
A final note from John: During the Mystery We Write Blog Tour, I will be keeping track of the comments left for the guests on my blog. After the tour, I'll draw one name out of a hat, and that lucky person will be given a copy of my new book, Behind the Redwood Door, as well as a copy of my short story collection, Generous Helpings. But I'll need to contact the winner, so if you're interested, leave your email address at the end of your comment.