Thursday, September 18, 2008

Enchanting Interview: Beth Fehlbaum

How long have you been writing?

All my life. I began writing professionally when I began writing Courage in Patience-- even though I didn't realize at the time that I was writing something I would submit for publication.

What do you like best about being a writer?

I love being in "the zone", when I am so immersed in what I am creating, I am lost in the story and unaware of the passage of time.

Why Young Adult?

I really enjoy being around teenagers. Truth be told, however, I did not set out to write a Y.A. book-- and, actually, Courage in Patience is appealing to people across the age spectrum.

Best part of writing Y.A.

The letters I get from teenagers, and the things they say to me that let me know they really "got" what I was trying to do with Courage in Patience.

What's your writing schedule like?

I wrote Courage in Patience in the wee hours of the morning, before work, and on the weekends. I am still very much a middle-of-the-night writer.

What's your writing process like?

I usually start out by rereading much of what I've already written and revise and rewrite, then add to the story.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I require massive quantities of Diet Coke nearby and Chuck Pyle music on the iPod when I am writing. I do a lot of copy-editing by printing out chunks of what I've written, putting it in a binder, and reading it while I'm on the treadmill. I keep sticky notes & a highlighter nearby to mark areas I need to fix-- a comma here, quotation marks there, change this word, etc.

What inspired this book?

My own recovery from childhood sexual abuse was the catalyst. I have always written as a way of processing my own life, and in the course of therapy, I was writing short stories and poems and sharing them with my therapist. One day, he suggested that I try writing a novel. It took me about four months of trying to pull myself out of my own head enough to stand back and look at the recovery experience more as an observer than a participant. And that's when the story really began to flow.

How did you come up with the title?

I honestly do not remember.

Favorite character in the book?

Gotta be Ashley. I love her. Wait-- I also love Bev, her stepmother, because she is so brave. Then there's Zaquoiah…you know, I love most all of the characters like they are my own children… I don't think I can actually settle on one!

Which character is most like you or most unlike you?

Mmmm… I'm not going to answer that one… good question, though!

Which character gave you the toughest time to write in the book?

Definitely Charlie.

Hardest scene to write?

Most of Chapter 2 was excruciating to write.

Favorite scene in the book?

I have several that are my favorites for different reasons-- but one that comes to mind is when Dr. Matt tells Ashley that what happened to her and the way she was treated in her mother's house was "Fucked Up", and when she hears him say that, she felt something inside herself wake up-- like a flower turning toward the sun-- because Dr. Matt said so strongly what she had known was true within herself-- but here was someone validating that feeling for her. Then, when she takes off running from the encounter with her mother, she is sobbing uncontrollably, but she feels alive and says that for the first time she feels unafraid and like a flower turning toward the sun.

Do you have any sequels planned?

Yes, I'm working on the sequel-- it's called Hope in Patience. People have already been writing to me telling me that they didn't want Courage in Patience to end, because they weren't ready to let go of Ashley at the end. I feel the same way. Ashley has unfinished business.

Who would your ideal cast be if a movie was made?

I think John Cusack would be a great "David" -- but other than that, it would take me hours to think about that!

What's next for you?

As I said, I'm working on the sequel to Courage in Patience. And I'm also rolling around in my mind a story with adult characters who are dealing with scars and working through them.

Interview by Kim

September 2008

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