Today on Meet the Author we’re talking to the lovely Beth Duke all about her newest book It All Comes Back To You, Magical old ladies, Henry VIII and beautiful book covers…..
Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Book Club Fiction
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m an Amazon #1 Best Selling author and the recipient of short story awards on two continents.
(I’m eyeing the other five.) I’ve been writing fiction for about eleven years; I started out with short stories and wrote for a few magazines.
I live in the mountains of my home state, Alabama, with my husband, one real dog, one ornamental dog, and a flock of fluffy pet chickens. I am the proud mom of the most wonderful children in the world (of course), Jason and Savannah.
I love to bake, especially cupcakes and macarons. I watch way too much Food Network, but actually cook way too little food.
I adore terrible puns―the worse, the better―my sense of humor has definitely groan over the years.
I spend a lot of time joining book clubs for discussion, and I love every minute. Almost all of them include wine and fun people.
Traveling with my family is my favorite thing. We’ve been all over Ireland and the UK, which is my happy place. I’ve toured Italy and New Zealand, Vienna and Paris, Switzerland…next stops will be Prague and then Norway to see the Aurora Borealis. I can’t wait!
What inspired you to start writing?
I was living in Florida and missing Alabama, particularly my grandmother. To paraphrase Kathryn Stockett, like many authors, I began to write in a voice I missed. My grandmother passed away in 2011, and I suspect everybook I write is going to feature a magical old lady.
So far, they all do, including the new one I’m writing.
How many books have you written and published?
I have written and published three books, Delaney’s People and its sequel, Don’t Shoot Your Mule, and It All Comes Back to You.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
My first book, Delaney’s People, will always hold a special place in my heart―but my favourite has to be my latest, It All Comes Back to You. I feel very close to the characters, and the book has introduced me to so many wonderful people.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
I don’t have any special process. Sometimes a name just seems to fit. I’ve met people and loved their names so much I worked them into a book, though, like “Johnny Bible”. I loved it so much it had to be used! I named a character after a friend in my latest book, and she’s a banker modelled on Kris. She’s pretty much taken from real life, right down to her description, her husband and dog in photos on her desk…the whole shebang.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I think I’d choose Ronni from It All Comes Back to You. She’s smart and funny and resourceful. Plus, she’s a nurse! If I’m choosing a man, it would be Rick O’Shea from the same book (I toldyou I have a pun addiction―he’s a law enforcement officer teased about the name “Ricochet”).
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
Oh, man. I can’t choose one. John Irving astounds me, and A Prayer for Owen Meany is a cherished book he wrote. Its message is so deeply moving, yet framed with humor.
I love and admire so many geniuses, from Stephen King to Barbara Kingsolver to Margaret George to Fannie Flagg to Ken Follett to Nelson DeMille. My taste is pretty eclectic.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
I wrote truly horrible poetry as a teen. It’s all been destroyed for the safety of posterity. My first short story, Jewels, is the fictional creation I remember best.
As far as non-fiction is concerned, I probably remember articles I wrote for my high school newspaper among my earliest efforts.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I’ve spent most of my professional life in marketing, advertising and sales. That’s been handy as an author.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Oh, wow. My initial reaction is to jump back to Henry VIII’s court, because I’m so obsessed with that era in history. I recently found out he ordered the execution of a Neville ancestor of mine. So cool! Well, not for him, but for me.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I lost my brother a year and a half ago, and it was very sudden. I think I have to choose him.
What are your favourite things to do?
Reading is my number one hobby and always has been. Travel, as I’ve mentioned, is another. I absolutely love exploring new places and cultures. I bake, but not like the superstars I admire on, say, The Great British Bake Off.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Lots of choices here. The first that comes to mind: I accompanied my mother to pick up her cat at a veterinary clinic in Alabama. The place also catered to birds; cockatoos and the like. I began chatting with a woman waiting for her cockatiel, and she had the strongest Eastern European accent. I was enthralled listening to her; she had dramatically dark hair and eyes, and in my mind she was some sort of exotic Gypsy.
I finally asked her where she’s from, expecting the Czech Republic or Hungary. Instead, she answered, “Mobile (Alabama).” She gestured to her head. “Eees spider bite. Eees make me talk this way ever since from toxin.” I told her how fascinating I found that, and she nodded to her husband across the room. “He like it very much.” The man grinned and nodded emphatically.
I have never heard of such a thing, and probably never will again.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Never publish anything without a professionally designed cover. It really is that important.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Also, It All Comes Back to You (Hey, I had to do that.)
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
This is the official synopsis of It All Comes Back to You:
War’s over, cherry-print dresses, parking above the city lights, swing dancing.
Beautiful, seventeen-year-old Violet lives in a perfect world.
Everybody loves her.
In 2012, she’s still beautiful, charming, and surrounded by admirers.
Veronica “Ronni” Johnson, licensed practical nurse and aspiring writer, meets the captivating Violet in the assisted living facility where Violet requires no assistance, just lots of male attention. When she dies, she leaves Ronni a very generous bequest―only if Ronni completes a book about her life within one year. As she’s drawn into the world of young Violet, Ronni is mesmerized by life in a simpler time. It’s an irresistible journey filled with revelations, some of them about men Ronni knew as octogenarians at Fairfield Springs.
Struggling, insecure, flailing at the keyboard, Ronni juggles her patients, a new boyfriend, and a Samsonite factory of emotional baggage as she tries to craft a manuscript before her deadline.
But then the secrets start to emerge, some of them in person. And they don’t stop.
Alternating chapters between Homecoming Queen Violet in 1947 and can’t-quite-find-her-crown Ronni in the present, IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU is Southern Fiction at its hilarious, warm, sad, outrageous, uplifting, and stunning best. In the tradition of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and Olive Kitteridge, Duke delivers an unforgettable elderly character to treasure and a young heroine to steal your heart.
Where to buy: Amazon
Thank you so much Beth for this brilliant interview! So many interesting things here and I LOVE that you have fluffy pet chickens 🙂
Hope you’ve all had a brilliant day my lovelies. Any questions for Beth, then give her a shout!