In the Linus’s Blanket version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing
victim author and they choose which questions and how many questions they want to answer. It’s basically a choose your own interview type deal. Deborah Bedford, author of His Other Wife, played along and answered thirteen questions. Here is what Deborah had to say about reading, writing and snickerdoodles!
Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write? Hey, it’s great getting to be here and having the chance to meet your readers. Let’s see, in fifty words or less, who I am…I like living in the mountains and in a small town, where everyone DOES keep up with everyone elses’ business. We have a golden retriever who sleeps on the floor and a dachshund who sleeps between us in the bed. And I love baseball. As I’m writing this, it is April and still snowing, but we have robins hoping in the snow and calling for mates in the evening so, even though winter hangs on a long time here, I know that spring will eventually win! I’m a proud mom who is both amazed and nodding my head, «I told you so,» as I watch my kids literally exploring the world. My husband and I love the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. And I’m getting into nursing, recently returned from a medical mission to Papua New Guinea. Writing has always been my escape. I got in trouble in middle school for writing stories in class instead of listening to my teachers. I started out writing romances, then switched to mainstream novels, then moved along to the inspirational novels I write now.
I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you thorough the writing process?
Ah, hot tea, any flavor of black tea with honey, sometimes with crème, sometimes straight up. Chocolate covered almonds, which I’ll put in a pile beside my notes and only let myself eat one every 50 words or so. There’s celery spread with low-fat peanut butter, dotted with dried cranberries. I light candles in my office. I love real living light. Walking by the Snake River with the dogs is always good. I’m addicted to tea, Constant Comment and Good Earth Decaf. I have two favorite cafes where I go to sit and watch people and listen to conversation. Jackson is a hard place to pick up good conversation, though, because most of them are tourists and they’re discussing travel plans. Instead of jotting down notes about what they’re saying, I end up giving advice. I love giving advice. Just ask my kids. I’ve been on a Snickerdoodle kick these last few months. I made these for our St. Patrick’s Day party and then sent a lovely box of them to my daughter in college. The recipe comes from the Real Simple website. These are so good!
What are some of your favorite books and authors?
I love The Help. It brings back my own childhood. Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love is the book that made me understand the exquisite good that a Christian book could do for a reader. As far as authors go, I like Jodi Piccoult, Elizabeth Berg, Anita Schreve and Maeve Binchey.
Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working on a novel?
I’m constantly reading when I’m working, but I have to be careful. If a voice is so strong or different that takes me away from the voice that’s trying to tell my own story, I’ll have to set the book aside. I’ll spend hours looking for the right thing. But I need to be reading. It’s one of my best inspirations.
Do you ever look back at your early work? How do you feel your writing style or approach to writing has evolved since you first began?
I don’t unless I absolutely have to. By the time each book is out, I honestly never want to see it again. During the past few years, I’ve had several re-releases, chances to revisit a book that’s already been released in the general market and edit it slightly so it fits into the inspirational genre. I won’t do this unless I have an editor who’s willing to collaborate with me and point out places that lend themselves to addition or editing. I know myself too well. I’ll start on page 1 and try to rewrite the whole thing. It’s this bizarre mixture of, ‘Oh, that’s kind of nice. Did I write that?’ to ‘Why did anyone ever let me do this? Why did I think I could write?’ So I’ve learned that it’s less painful just not to look.
What were your experiences with reading when you were growing up? Was there a pivotal moment in discovering literature when you knew that you wanted to be a writer?
I honestly started writing when I was ten years old. I read Little Women, was sorry Jo didn’t end up with Laurie at the end, and started dreaming up ways I would have done it differently. I literally remember where I was sitting in the side yard when I finished the last page and laid it down in the grass and started thinking.
How many works in progress do you have going at any one time?
Three. One that’s being edited, one that’s being created and one that’s percolating on the back burner. Sort of like you need three towels in your linen closet. One that you’ve just pitched in the laundry, one that you’re using and one that’s clean and ready to come off the shelf in an emergency.
How do you know when one has potential and when one just needs to be scrapped?
A good idea is one that keeps generating energy no matter how hard you try to stuff it back in the box. Plenty of possibilities can cross your mind, but the one that keeps presenting itself, the one that shows a new angle you haven’t thought of, the one that wakes you up at night with a question. That’s the next book.
Are there other books you love or writers you admire that are from your local area?
I’ve heard it said that there are more writers per capita in Jackson Hole than in New York City. So, yes, more than writers I admire, there are writers here who I love and hang out with. Tim Sandlin, author and screenwriter, is one of my best friends. Tina Welling, author of Crybaby Ranch, is an amazing writer. Christian Burch, author of The Manny Files, is here. Alexandra Fuller Ross (we call her Bo) wrote Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight. Carolyn Lampman, another of my best friends, author of A Window In Time, Meadowlark and Murphy’s Rainbow, lives across the hill in Riverton. Jeremy Schmidt writes books as well poetic travel articles for National Geographic. Broughton Coburn is a mountain adventure writer. Ted Kerasote writes about his dog. We’re all lucky to have each other. It’s pretty cool.
Who was your favorite character to write, and why did you have an affinity for that character in particular?
I loved writing Jenny Blake who was the heroine of The Penny, one of the books I wrote with Joyce Meyer. She is a young girl who is being abused by her father and finding God at the same time. Jenny was innocent, pure and strong all at the same time. Her voice was Joyce’s girlhood voice, historical St. Louis, mixed with a little of my Southern drawl. Both Joyce and I loved Jenny.
Did you have to do much research when working on your books, and do you tend to write first or research first?
I start writing first then, whenever I run into something I don’t know enough about, I’ll plunge into research. That may not be the best use of time because sometimes I’ll have to backtrack and rewrite. Which is usually the thing that propels me forward. Then I’ll compose again until I’ve written myself into a corner again and I have to research again. So it happens in fits and starts.
I’m delivering my next manuscript to my editor in three weeks. It’s called Bittersweet. And that’s all I’ll say. Writing is like singing. Each scene is like a note you hang onto as long as you can, rounding the vowel, until you finish with a sharp, fast consonant.
About Deborah: Deborah Bedford is a career fiction writer who began her professional life as a journalist in a Colorado mountain town. Deborah and her husband, Jack, have two children and live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.