Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor
I recently interviewed Beth Fred, CC2K contributor and author of “The Fate of a Marlow Girl” and “The Other Marlowe Girl,” both out now. I got to talk to her about her books, writing, the romance genre, and her upcoming YA romance novel, A Missing Peace, scheduled to be released in September.
Tell us about “The Fate of a Marlowe Girl” and “The Other Marlowe Girl.”
“The Fate of A Marlowe Girl” is a short story originally written for an anthology, but I missed the deadline by one day, so I published it anyhow. It’s Tiffany’s story and follows her though a situation she’s very uncomfortable with, but really it’s the story of her getting past something painful in her past. Eventually, she tells her sister to pay her back for something which might not seem like a big thing, but is something she would not have thought about doing in the beginning of the story.
All of the problems Tiffany had in the first book were caused by her irresponsible little sister, Kammy. “The Other Marlowe Girl” is the story of Kammy learning to take responsibility for her actions and getting past the bad decisions she’s made. It’s a story of love and redemption, but it’s a story about someone growing up—even though it took longer than it should have.
Kammy, the protagonist of “The Other Marlowe Girl,” appears in a smaller, much less nuanced role in “The Fate of a Marlowe Girl.” What made you decide to focus on her for the sequel?
Two very strong reasons. I loved Luke and Tiffany and really wanted to spend more time with them, but the only way to continue this series with a second Luke and Tiffany book would have meant new problems for them and their relationship. I didn’t see it progressing this way. And I felt like Kammy needed redemption. By the time, I finished the second book I loved Enrique way more than Luke. In fact, I think I’m a little bit in love with him.
The theme of family is important to these stories: Tiffany and Kammy are sisters, and Luke and Enrique are brothers. What is it about family that is important to you?
I have an awesome family—husband and daughter. But my relationship with my family of origin is complicated at best. The Hernandez family is awesome. Luke and Enrique could have been spoiled rich kids, but they’re both responsible adults. (I realize Enrique doesn’t work as hard as Luke would like, but Luke is an overachiever and Enrique isn’t a flake). Their parents are still supportive and willing to help out and the brothers take care of each other. Something I expect you’ll see more of later. The Marlowe family isn’t as great, and you can see it in the way Tiffany and Kammy deal with each other and with problems.
Both Luke and Enrique are strong, dominant heroes in different ways. What appeals to you in a romance hero?
Well, I think you said it. Strong and dominant. But I like the gentlemen. You could say I go for the Prince Charming type. I like guys who want to protect their girl, who are strong enough to stand up for her and to her.
Romance, as a genre, seems to be growing in prominence and popularity. What do you think it is about romance that speaks to people so much?
One big thing is that romance is character driven. Most good romance portrays characters people can at least relate to, if not identify with. More than that, romance is about an escape, and in these turbulent times it’s doing well because we’re all looking for an escape.
What authors/books speak to or inspire you?
I think different authors have inspired different works. Stephenie Meyer and Simone Elkeless have been especially inspirational for me. I’m honestly not as inspired by the classics as most authors are.
What is the writing process like for you? How do you come up with your story ideas? Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?”
I have no idea how I come up with my ideas. I just do. “The Fate Of A Marlowe Girl” was honestly written to a submission call. The second book was inspired out of my love for the characters and my recent discovery that I write suspense well. (There is a suspense plot line in the second book but not the first, which kind of worked with Kammy’s character.) The first book in my next series literally was born out of a brainstorming session where my husband and I tried to come up with 20 ideas for me to choose a project from. It became a series for the same reason. But my current WIP is something I just wanted to write. I have no idea why or where it came from. I just did.
As for plotting versus pantsing, I plants. For full-length fiction, I come up with seven plot points and write the query before the book (even now that I have an agent). For shorter fiction I come up with a beginning, midpoint, and resolution. I find this approach gives the book direction but leaves me enough room for creativity so that I can enjoy writing.
How did you get into writing?
So I’ve played with the idea of being a writer on and off my whole life. The result of most of that was bad short stories or unfinished screenplays and novels. I really got serious about my writing because of Twilight. I loved it so much that after watching the first movie, I went to see the next one the very next day. I bought the last two books after leaving the theater and read them that weekend then started from the beginning. I read about Stephenie Meyer and learned we had the same degree and her only work experience was as a receptionist. If she could do this, so could I. And I set out to do it, without worrying about “issues” or being “important.” I was going to write about love and kissing, and characters I cared about. And I have.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Take the time to learn craft, specifically the three act structure. Learning craft at the beginning will save you many wasted drafts.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I do! My debut for both full length fiction and YA, A Missing Peace, will be available September 1 from Escape, an imprint of Harlequin. Here’s a short blurb.
Angry, seventeen-year-old, Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller.
Caleb has much to be angry about himself, including Mirriam, when she turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to prom or lose even more face.
But there’s more to their relationship than high school hijinks. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives – and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond.
Not everyone is happy about their budding relationship. When Mirriam’s family discovers the affair, they decide it’s time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever – or risk losing her for good.
Thank you so much for your time, Beth!