Beverly Knauer Interview

I grew up with my mom, dad, brother, and two sisters, in Needham, Massachusetts, then Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Other than spending hours playing in the wooded forest behind our house, what I remember the most from my early years is my desire to write; I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old, when my mother bought me the book Sal Fisher at Girl Scout Camp. I promptly began my own novel, with lined paper and fountain pen in hand, and called it Beverly Knauer at Girl Scout Camp. Okay … not very original. My next book, written

What inspired you to write?
I’ve loved to write since I was a little girl. When I was ten, I read a book called, Sal Fisher at Girl Scout Camp. At that moment, I decided I wanted to write my own books. So with lined paper and fountain pen, I wrote Beverly Knauer at Girl Scout Camp. Not very original, but it was a start.

I’ve spent a large portion of my life working with kids with disabilities, and I’ve seen first hand how some of the difficulties in life can cause immobilizing suffering. One thing we all have in common is we all are born and we all die and each of us experiences losses, difficulties, or even tragedies in our lives. Some people have gone through some very devastating situations. Over time, I felt I’ve learned messages of inspiration and hope that I wanted to share with others. My goal is to tell stories of personal transformation where people journey through the dark clouds of tragedy to the bright light that is hope, and to encourage them to keep on moving even when the days are overwhelming. A life without hope is agonizing.

When someone tells me that one of my books has helped them to heal emotionally, and that they found a path to hope, that is like magic to my ears. That’s the purpose of why I write.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
I’ve wanted to write my stories for a long time; however, this little thing called a “busy life” got in the way. But an urgent inspiration came over me to get these stories out, and once my fingers rested on the keyboard of my laptop, the books almost seemed to magically write themselves.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I don’t use an outline, and I’m not like many authors that commit to writing a certain number of words a day. That kind of self-imposed rigidity stifles my creativity. I just let the words flow through my fingers as I type when I feel the inspiration. Then I go back again and again and again, revising, refining, editing, and polishing.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
For the first of my many, many drafts, my writing was a solo activity. At the point I felt I was at my final version, I garnered input from a close friend, several beta readers, members of a spiritual group and from members of my writing group. And then, of course, I received many pearls of wisdom from my editors.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Emotionally, the most difficult part was wondering if I was good enough to publish. Would my words and messages resonate with people in the way I wanted them to? For the actual writing process, I didn’t find anything difficult. The challenging part for me was when I was done with the writing, but I had to self-edit, review my editor’s suggestions, and proofread again and again. It got tedious with the multiple revisions and edits— going through 94,000 words over and over again taxes the brain and one’s eyesight!

There is also more to the whole process than just writing and editing. I didn’t realize this when I first started, but the majority of the marketing and promotion rests with the author. It’s a very competitive world, as there are so many books being published every day, and it is hard to promote yours and make it stand out. It takes a great deal of time and effort to gain the visibility you need.

But I think the most difficult part of the process was determining when the book was done. There are always little things we want to finesse. Knowing when to write “the end” is an art of its own.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
I have to admit that I loved doing the research. I learned so much by interviewing people and reading volumes of books and articles. And I must say, I felt jubilant whenever I would receive a light bulb moment where I could see how parts of my story interconnected to make a whole. Watching my characters grow from two-dimensional beings to three-dimensional people with strong personalities, strengths, quirks, and weaknesses was very fulfilling.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
Most of my personal transformation came during the writing process. As each character experienced their trauma and personal transformation, so did I. Fiction allows us to gently trespass on another person’s journey and quietly experience healing in a non-threatening way without having to personally face the emotions of our own painful experiences. We can identify with the characters and relate, growing and transforming with them. It’s a cathartic experience and the story is the catalyst that evokes the healing. Readers can sit and read as they comfortably connect with the characters and watch, with a bit of distance, as that personal transformation unfolds. It’s a safer way to look into a mirror and see a reflection of our own journey, our own emotions, and our own internal growth. When we find a character we resonate with, we can hop on board with their journey and vicariously grow with them.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
That’s an easy question for me to answer—my own personal self-doubt. Is what I’m putting on paper good enough for others to read? I need to pack those nagging doubts in my back pocket to allow my creativity to seamlessly flow.
Another little glitch in my creative process was the discouragement from agents about writing in a genre that is not well known. They suggested I would have a better chance if I wrote in a popular genre like romance, suspense, or thriller. So self-doubt crept in. If it’s not a popular genre, will anyone choose to read what I wrote? I want my message to be heard, but I have to work with what I feel compelled to write. I had no desire to write a copycat version of Fifty Shade of Grey, or any book with the word “girl” in the title because that’s what sells the most.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
I knew going into this field that there would be both positive and negative criticism. I expected it. The genre of visionary/metaphysical fiction is foreign to many people and sometimes they don’t want to take a chance on the unfamiliar or find themselves uncomfortable with the concepts. I realize that the stories aren’t for everyone and people do have specific genres they tend to prefer. My disappointment comes when someone doesn’t pick up on the messages in the books that I hope they will. But I do believe that not every book is going to speak to every person. The message of a book comes when a person is ready for it.

Years ago, the book The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav came to me at just the right time. There were messages in that book I needed to hear, and I eagerly shared the book, with great enthusiasm, with a friend of mine. She didn’t see what I saw in it. Years later, she read it again, and the message resonated with her. Each genre, each book, will speak to a certain audience. I keep that in mind when I receive feedback.

The best feedback I receive is when I present at book clubs and I’m a part of the stimulating discussions. Hearing the personal reactions, including those from the skeptics, has enriched my writing skills.

Have you received any awards for your book(s)?
As an author, it’s lovely to receive different kinds of validation for your books. I just recently found out that my book, The Line Between, is a winner in the 11th National Indie Excellence Awards, and my novel, The Soul’s Hope, won a finalist award.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? What are you up to nowadays?
Currently, I’m carrying out developmental research for my next novel prior to planning my plot. I’ve also given a couple of presentations about my novels at book clubs, finding these speaking opportunities to be enlightening experiences that have provided me with fodder for future stories. I’ve heard some fascinating points of view regarding the topics in my books!

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and Needham, Massachusetts. My most memorable experiences were in Needham. Back then, there was a forest behind my house and another wooded area not far from where I lived. Playing out in the woods with my brother and our collie dog was such a happy time. There were ponds to skate on, tadpoles to catch and keep in mason jars, and wild Lady’s Slipper orchids to admire. We have such freedom to play outside years ago.

My worst memory was the death of my father when I was very young. I don’t have a lot of memories from when I was very little, but the loss of one’s father is a tragic memory that resides deep in the memory centers of your brain.

Do you have a favorite quote?
I’m such a fluid person that it’s hard for me to stand behind one favorite of anything. My “favorites” change all the time. But I do love quotes, especially Albert Einstein quotes. Today, my favorites are: “In the end, we'll all become stories.” — Margaret Atwood, and “Creativity takes courage.”— Matisse

What is your favorite show on TV?
I enjoy a variety of TV shows. TV series are my favorite, like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Grace and Frankie, Homeland.

Favorite movie?
Too many to choose from!

Favorite book?
Oh, don’t ask that! I can’t pick a favorite book. That would be like picking your favorite child. But one book that I’ve kept out and revisit for inspiration is The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
There are so many people I’d like to meet simply to pick their brains. I’d love to have the opportunity to meet and talk to Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Nikola Tesla, Princess Diana, William Shakespeare, and my dad.
But someone I’d like to hang out with and sit for hours and chat with over coffee would be Oprah Winfrey. I really resonate with her teachings and outlook on life, and we could talk about our great friendships with our best friend, how to achieve our best lives, and eat bread together.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
I just can’t limit myself to one talent I’d like—there are so many! I’d love to be a talented oil painter, singer, dancer, skier. But if you forced me to choose one, I’d like to be a talented alchemist.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I don’t know if it’s all that surprising, but something people may not know is that I like to put my chemistry cap on and create herbal healing salves, potions, balms, salves and lotions.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
"Veni, vidi, amavi"