I’m always amazed when authors I deeply admire agree to take the time to answer my numerous questions. Especially as I’m a small fish in the deep blogger pond. I’m so curious I want to know nearly everything and I can guess it takes some time to answer my questions.
So when Beth Flynn agreed to play the interview game I was really in heaven!
I’ve been awed by her trilogy the “Nine Minutes” series. From the very first page I’ve been hooked. This is no classical MC. Beth has a distinctive “signature”, her own very impressive and brilliant penmanship.
After sending mails with her and reading her answers, I can honestly say she is a real Lady and a very generous person. I’m now even more impressed by her books when I learned they were her firsts. She has a huge gift.
So thank you Beth for your generosity and the timme you took out of your “writing cave”.
Dear readers, here comes Beth Flynn!!!
- Some words about you to begin with maybe? Who are you Beth Flynn? What’s your story?
I was born in New Jersey, but raised in South Florida. I met my husband while working for a data communications company (I started in Sales and ended up in Finance). He was a builder and did a project for my boss. It was insta-love. We’ve been married for thirty-three years and have two beautiful daughters. I resigned (after nineteen years with the same firm) when my second daughter was born and we migrated to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We own a construction company and I manage the office. We’ve lived in North Carolina since 1998.
I live a simple, but full life. I reside in a tiny remote town that sits on the top of a mountain and am proud to boast that we just got a second stop light!
I love to write (obviously), work in my yard (weeding is my favorite—I’m weird), go for rides with my husband on his Harley and hang with my youngest daughter who lives at home while attending college. I love, love, love all animals (and have a tender heart for Pitbulls especially), homemade macaroni and cheese and my Tuesday night Bible Study group.
I can’t stand litterbugs and actually chased down a guy once who threw an empty six-pack out his car window. I detest bullying and abuse of any kind, emotional or physical, directed at any person or animal. I guess it’s kind of ironic that I wrote about a bully (Grizz) with a soft spot for animals. I told you I was weird!
- When did you know you wanted to write books?
I wrote my first story on an ancient typewriter when I was about thirteen. It was a suspense tale and took up exactly one page. LOL! I didn’t write again until I was fifty-three so it’s safe to say that, yes, writing lived in my heart for a very long time! What can I say? Life took over. Marriage, work, children, paying bills, doctor appointments, school (I took night classes at the local University), extended family commitments. Life was busy and my deep desire to write stayed buried.
- Could you tell us something about your first writing adventure? How did you feel the first time someone read your first draft ever? Who is holding your hand when you have doubts? Do you have a net of writer friends encouraging you?
I don’t know if this is what you’re expecting, but this is how it started. I was in a very dark place in my life. I was dealing with breast cancer, the death of my seventeen-year old niece, betrayal by a long time trusted employee and friend, depression and loneliness. It was winter in the mountains—construction, practically nonexistent. I sat in my office by myself every day. My daughter told me I should use the time to write the book I always wanted to write. I didn’t see how that was possible. The story was always there, but I had no idea how to even begin. Especially the complicated story that had been swirling in my head for years. I was a college dropout with no writing experience and my background was in Finance. I remember distinctly crying out to God to give me something. Anything to help with the depression and loneliness. And the first line of Nine Minutes came to me.
“I’d never attended an execution before. Well, at least not a legal one.”
I didn’t have a network of writer friends that encouraged me because I didn’t know any of them then. No one held my hand and I had no doubts. Not because I was full of myself or super confident, but because I didn’t know any better. I wrote for the pure pleasure of putting words on paper, not once worrying or thinking about if anyone but me would ever read my story. Writing was an answer to prayer for me and I still find it to be very therapeutic. It was a balm to my soul and brought about some much needed healing. It still does.
- You are a master in suspense and you writing style is truly amazing. How can you build such complicated plot dealing with secrets, truths, half- truths and lies but still make it all work together? How don’t you lose your path when writing these stories? Did you have it all figured out in details right from the start?
I get asked this a lot and the answer may surprise you. I don’t plot out or outline my stories on paper. No whiteboards with papers and arrows. I do keep track of important dates to remember in a spiral notebook, but that’s about it. I wrote all three books without notes, outlines or brainstorming with others. I did ask advice on a few small things, but never where my plot was concerned. But, I think that’s because I always knew the story. So much of what you see in Nine Minutes was deliberately placed there because I knew it would become important later. And I don’t mind your bluntness. There were times when I felt my brain was fried, especially when I was on what I would call a “writing frenzy.” When I finished Out of Time, I went back and made a handwritten list of each chapter and its relevance/importance. I had to swap two flashback chapters that weren’t chronologically making sense. With A Gift of Time, I would hand record the chapter after I wrote it and didn’t have to make any changes. But, no, there was no upfront outlining.
- What made you choose to write the story of a young girl being kidnapped by an older biker and beginning a relationship with him? And why set the story at that time? You know it could be seen as a really controversial story with the forced relationship, underage and age difference. So why go for that bold choice?
I chose to set the story in 1975 because I was fifteen in 1975. I identified with my protagonist. I loved and still love everything about the seventies—the music, the clothes, the cars. It was a simpler time with little to no technology. And of course, I knew from personal experience that the age difference wasn’t quite as controversial then as it is now.
- You have a very “down to earth” or “matter of fact” writing without unnecessary flourishes and yet we do walk in your characters shoes. What’s the trick to make us live their lives?
If I had a trick or a secret I promise I would share it with you. I guess I’ve developed a “style” that feels right to me. I didn’t purposely create it, but somehow fell in to it and it seems to work for some readers.
- How do you build your characters (main and side)? Are you inspired by family and friends? And do they hijack your story, become flesh and blood with their own wishes about the story you’re writing?
I don’t build my characters. They build themselves. I’ve written characters that I thought had more substance to them (or at least it was my intention to give them some) and I just can’t make them work. Other’s might show up as an afterthought and turn into something bigger than I intended. Yes, certain characters absolutely have the ability to hijack my story. Little Grunt did that and I did a complete u-turn in his character development. I wasn’t expecting to, but I’m glad I listened to him!
- What part(s) or your stories were the most difficult to write or the easiest?
A lot of scenes are difficult for me to write, especially ones that involve violence. I’m a fraidy cat, not a fighter so those are tough to get through. And surprisingly, I don’t use profanity. My characters apparently do, but I don’t. Also, I don’t write erotica so sex scenes make me squirm.
I had the most fun writing little Grunt’s scenes. I don’t know why I enjoyed them so much. Maybe it’s because that was where I made a real connection with him.
- Do you have anecdotes you remember while writing your books?
I envy writers who can spit out thousands of words from a hotel room, coffee shop or the beach, but it just doesn’t work for me. I write in my construction office on my desktop computer—I don’t own a laptop. My office is my comfort zone. It’s bright and I have a direct view of the mountains. It’s my happy writing place. I’m most creative in the morning (because I brainstorm in the shower) so anything I attempt to write after 2 p.m. will probably be deleted the next day. As much as I LOVE music and mention it in my books, I cannot write with any background noise. Music and conversation distract me. If someone comes in to the office I send them to the conference room to talk or I take a break from my manuscript.
- A fun and light one now: do you have book boyfriend(s)?
I’m really dating myself now, but I have to be truthful. My first ever book boyfriend was Captain James Malory from Johanna Lindsey’s, Gentle Rogue. I think Fabio was on the cover. I still swoon over him—James Malory, not Fabio.
Second one would be Iain McKinnon from Pamela Clare’s novel, Surrender.
Both are historical romances—my favorite genre.
- Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
When I wrote Nine Minutes, I wrote it for myself. And I already mentioned I was fifty-three when I typed the first line. I didn’t think about how or if I would even publish it. I didn’t wonder who would ever read it. I didn’t worry about offending people with the age difference between my main characters or the underage sex. I didn’t know what a blog was. I didn’t and still don’t own a Kindle or any electronic reading device. I never went on Amazon and read a book review. I bought all my paperbacks at a little mom and pop book store in town. I was so far removed from social media and book world that I had no external distractions.
My advice is simple. Don’t let anything or anyone distract you from your story. Don’t allow yourself to get hung up on publishing, distributing, marketing, etc. And I know this is cliché, but so very true. Ask yourself this. “If not one person is going to read my book, would I still write it?” My answer was and still is “yes”. If that ever changes, I’ll need to find a new hobby.
- What will your next book be about?
My current WIP is about Anthony and Christy Bear, a couple I briefly introduced toward the end of Nine Minutes. They made small appearances in Out of Time and A Gift of Time, but they’ve always had a richer, deeper story. I almost put Anthony and Christy’s story on the back burner to finish Mimi and Christian’s book, but Anthony Bear haunted my dreams. He demanded that I tell his and Christy’s story first. This standalone spinoff novel is set in 1978 so some favorite characters from The Nine Minutes Trilogy make appearances. Like Grizz, Anthony is the leader of his own MC and he abducts Christy. But, but that is where the similarities end. Their story has a different spin with its own plot twists and secrets. Less MC, I think, and more suspense and mystery. I love burying secrets!
This has been a fun book to write and I hope people will enjoy reading it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.
- Would you be ready/do you dream of collaborating with other writers?
I would never, could never do that to an author I respect and admire. Writing with me would probably cause the most seasoned writer to pull their hair out.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2