Today I’m delighted to welcome Beth Miller taking her turn in the Spotlight. The lovely photo of Beth above was taken by Katie Vandyck. Beth’s most recent book, The Good Neighbour, was published by Ebury Press on 10th September 2015 and you can order a copy here: The Good Neighbour
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I wish I had something exciting to say here. I’m a female body-builder! I’m a sky-diver! I was born with three hands! Damn. OK. I am now a writer, but I used to be a psychologist/health trainer/journalist. I have just written a book about The Archers. My favourite drink is tea, and my favourite fruit is a pomegranate. What else would you like to know? Want to see me play the piano with my three hands?
What inspired you to start writing?
I always loved writing as a child, and came back to it as an adult when I realised it was the thing that had been missing from my life for so long. I need to write. I often don’t know what I think about something till I write it down. I think I am funnier, smarter and yes! much more beautiful in my writing than in real life.
Tell me about your journey to publication?
Why, do you have a spare two weeks? OK, I’ll try and keep it brief. I started writing my first novel in 2001, and wrote it on and off for about ten years. It went through many, many drafts. I sent it to lots of agents who sent it back very quickly, as though they were keen to get it off their desks. I joined a writing group. I rewrote it. I went on courses and rewrote it. I racked up the rejection letters, and rewrote it. Finally, an agent said yes, and made me rewrite it. Then after a few months she found a publisher to say yes. (They made me rewrite it a bit, too.) I am really glossing over a large number of years and a lot of sobbing here. The day the publisher said yes was one of the best of my life. Not least because I could stop sobbing, and because most of the rewriting was finally over.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
The Good Neighbour is about a young woman, Minette, who is a bit strung out since she’s had a baby. Her relationship with her boyfriend has changed, she’s given up work, and her neighbours have been mean about the baby’s crying. So when the meanies move out and a lovely woman, Cath, moves in, Minette is more than ready to be friends. The story is about Minette’s reliance on Cath, and about Cath’s relationship with her own children. It starts off quietly, then gets a bit psychological and dark, then it suddenly all kicks off…
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, I’m writing my third novel which is a bit sketchy so far, but is about a woman who leads a double-life. It’s set in two times: now and fifteen years ago.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I’ll do two, just to be awkward.
Anne Patchett’s ‘This is The Story of a Happy Marriage.’ (it’s a cheat really because I read it every year. It warms my heart.)
Rebecca Mascull’s ‘Song of the Sea Maid.’ So lovely and different, with an amazing main character, and it really stays with you.
What are you reading just now? (January 2016)
I’ve just finished ‘The Most of Nora Ephron’, a big anthology of her work. Terrific. So I’m in that happy position of deciding what to read next. There are about 30 to choose from…
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I like my kindle at night, and a book at meal-times. I don’t like reading in the bath. Soggy pages.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
There are so many ways that I will take it as a personal affront if they don’t. Though actually, how will I know?
I don’t have a Facebook page but I do have a presence on The Prime Writers website (theprimewriters.com) and they have a Facebook page. They also have lots of other lovely writers to read about.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I would be Billy, from ‘Another Marvelous Thing’, by Laurie Colwin. Despite her name, Billy is a she. She is grumpy and sarcastic, dresses badly, yet has all the fellas falling over themselves for her. I would like to be like that (the fellas, I mean – the sarcasm and dressing badly are already in the bag).