I’m pleased to welcome award winning, best-selling author Georgia Beers to my blog. Can’t wait to see her on stage, and I hope, meet her in person at The Lammies. Good luck, Georgia.
Sally – Congrats on your recent awards: Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award, A Goldie for Outsiders, and (fingers crossed) a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Starting From Scratch. Have I missed any? Are you excited?
Georgia – Thank you! I won a Lammy for “Fresh Tracks” at the 2007 awards, and then a Goldie for the same book later that year. And yes, I’m terribly excited! I feel especially honored by this nomination, as “Starting from Scratch” holds a special place in my heart. Being in the company of so many sensational members of our writing community is quite an experience and I’m really looking forward to it.
Sally – If my count is correct, you have eleven published novels and one on the way. Has your experience of writing a novel changed from the first book to the most recent title, 96 Hours, out from Bywater in October. Amazing, really, a dozen books. Please, does it get any easier?
Georgia – I actually have seven published novels and one on the way, but you were close. 😉 No, it doesn’t get any easier, at least not for me. I don’t feel at all prolific and I always worry that when I finish a novel, that’s it. I’m done. I’m out of ideas. I’m incredibly relieved whenever I read an interview with another author and they say the same thing. You’d think I’d learn to relax after this long, but no. I panic every time that I’ve used up all my creativity. Then a new idea shows up and I relax. Until that one’s done and then I panic again…
Sally – Sorry about the miscount, I’m not good with numbers above three. Speaking of your soon to be released novel – 96 Hours has an intriguing plot twist that incorporates the events of 9/11. How did this story ‘come’ to you? In general, do you look for stories or do they find you?
Georgia – Stories tend to find me, though I’m not sure how. “96 Hours” came about when Bonnie and I were watching the Winter Olympics and NBC showed a documentary about the people of Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11. When the towers were hit, all air traffic flying into and out of the US was diverted. Gander is a small airport town that was expecting 8 flights to land that day. They got 39. This small town of 10,000 ended up with an extra 7,000 people who were stranded there for four days with no luggage, no place to stay, and no idea when they’d get to their destinations. They ended up making friends for life, both with other passengers and with the people of Gander, who were unbelievably helpful. Bonnie looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t that be an amazing setting for a romance?” And there it was.
Sally – Great plot, looking forward to reading it. How do keep your butt in the chair? Or, equally appreciated, any avoidance techniques?
Georgia – I suck at keeping my butt in the chair! Unlike many authors I know, I don’t write for hours at a time. I write in spurts. I think the best thing to do is to realize what works for you and embrace it. Much as I’d love to sit and write for 5 or 6 hours at a time, I’ve learned that I just can’t. My scenes are somewhat brief in most cases, so I write that way. I write a scene, then I go throw in a load of laundry. I write a scene and take Finley for a walk. I write a scene and go get the groceries. It used to frustrate me, but I’ve learned that it’s okay. It works for me, so it’s okay.
Sally – What authors or books have inspired you?
Georgia – I’m inspired by any books I love. Ann Patchett wrote my very favorite book in the world, “The Magician’s Assistant.” I loved everything about it and I love the poetic rhythm of her writing. My newest love is Kristin Hannah. She writes what I’m sure is considered “chick lit,” but to me, is simply women’s fiction. She writes about relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, best friends, and tosses a taste of romance in as well. She’s not a flowery writer. Her stuff doesn’t compare to Ann Patchett’s simply because it’s a very different style. Kristin writes characters and Ann writes situations and they’re both incredible writers that inspire me endlessly. And recently, I’m finding myself inspired by music again. Bold, clever, touching lyrics make me want to write. I love that. I’ve got Natasha Bedingfield’s first CD on an endless loop right now because I love her lyrics so much.
Sally – What is your wildest, skies-the-limit, dream for your work?
Georgia – I’d love to have one of my novels be made into a screenplay and then a film. Or to write a screenplay myself. I volunteer on the programming committee for our local LGBT film festival each year and I’m often surprised (not in a good way) by some of the scripts that are made into films. I can name no less than a dozen lesbian novels—by me or by other authors—that would make terrific films and I would love to see that happen one day. I think the LGBT filmmakers don’t even think about looking in our direction for stories that would translate well into movies and that’s too bad. There are some fabulous stories in our pages that deserve to reach as many people as possible.
Sally – What do you like most or least about the writing process?
Georgia – I love when it’s coming together, when it’s all flowing and I can see where it’s going. That’s the most uplifting feeling in the world. I am in such a good mood when that happens. Then, of course, there’s the opposite: when I sit down and it’s just not there, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try. Nothing. That makes me cranky.
Sally – Most or least about your own work?
Georgia – I think I’m very good with dialogue. I have no trouble at all writing conversations between my characters and having them sound realistic, even humorous. But I also find that, because I’m anxious to get to the dialogue, I tend to skimp a bit on description and setting. I always have to go back and beef that up. I see my novels like movies and in my head, they’re always more about the characters than the setting. I wish I was better at everything that’s NOT dialogue.
Sally – Tell us something you haven’t yet revealed in writing.
Georgia – People think I’m this huge femme. LOL. So not true. I’d rather be in my sweats, T-shirt, and no makeup than heels and a dress. I have no fashion sense. I need help putting dressy outfits together. And I hate to shop. Hate it. Loathe it. I may be wearing yoga pants to the Lammies, since I can’t seem to find anything to wear.
Sally – What differentiates good and exceptional writing?
Georgia – I really feel it’s all about the story. If the story is mediocre, it’s easy to nitpick the writing, the description, the sentence structure, the dialogue. If I’m sucked in by a good story, I don’t even notice the writing. I just want to know what happens next. I also think character development is hugely important. If I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about the story, the writing, any of it. If I’m invested in the characters, you’ve got me. I’m all yours.
Sally – What do you do for fun? In your spare time?
Georgia – I love working on our house. I never did before; it was always a tedious chore to me. But this house is it. This is where we’re meant to be, so making it ours has been a lot of fun and has taken a lot of our spare time. Choosing paint colors, picking new doors, revamping rooms. It’s been a riot. We have a finished attic that we’re making into my writing studio. I’ve never had a space that’s solely for my writing, so that’s been exciting (though painting it is taking FOREVER). I also watch way too much TV. I read like crazy. I’ve started taking a yoga class and I ride the stationary bike a lot. We walk our dog around our neighborhood every day. We hang with friends and family and just generally enjoy life. We had a span of 16 months recently where we lost five important members of our lives one right after the other, so we’re very cognizant of how important it is to be around those you love. I’ve learned that life is too short to stress as much as I used to, so I’m trying to take a deep breath, relax, and just take pleasure in the ride. Not an easy task for a born worry-wart like me, but I think I’m making progress. J