MotownWriters Author Feature: Beth Anne Niemela #Michlit #MotownLit

Beth Anne Niemela

Where are you from? Originally from Detroit, I now live in Dearborn
Tell us your latest news.
My book is now on a store shelf- Dearborn Novelty Art in Dearborn, and I will have a book reading/reception
there on July 22nd at 7:00 pm. I will also be at Detroit BookFest in Eastern Market on July 16th (Shed 5, table 40), and the Local Author
Book Sale at Sterling Heights Public Library on July 29th.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written poetry since I was a child. I began writing fiction in 2011.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I completed my first novel. At that point, I told my daughter that if her friends ask her
what her mother does, tell them she’s a novelist.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I had expressed a desire to write a novel I had in my head to a friend, he encouraged me
to stop making excuses and do it.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes. My own.
How did you come up with the title?
That was the hardest part. I didn’t want something that sounded like a romance novel, or something trite. Halfway through the story, I had an image of the reader listening in on Lissy Porter’s story-her conversations. The title implies that rather than reading a book, you’re privy to a woman’s private story.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I leave it to the reader to find their own message.
How much of the book is realistic?
All of it.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Lissy Porter and I share similar life experiences, but I am not her and she is not me.
The character of Tom is based loosely on a person I know and love. Lissy’s husband
Jack is an amalgam of two old loves.
The story is completely fictional, except for the chapter when Lissy is in ninth grade. 
That happened to me exactly as written, and it was devastating. I can laugh about it now though.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Beloved by Toni Morrison, One Day by David Nicholls, The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith are some of them. There have been many.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a personal mentor, but I admire Jojo Moyes a great deal and try to follow her example.
What book are you reading now?
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I am usually not a fan of fantasy stories, but his writing is an exception.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not recently, no.
What are your current projects?
I have two actually. The first one has the working title The Happy Shelf. It’s a sequel to Overheard in Suki’s Diner. I won’t go into any detail for now, I don’t want to give spoilers to anyone who hasn’t read the first one. The other is a complete departure, a much darker story which I am calling Our Lady of Woodlawn, It’s about a girl whose life becomes inextricably entwined with a couple of delinquent brothers. In their neighborhood in The Bronx, they grow up together, separate, then reunite with tragic results.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friend Keith.
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s who I am. I am committed to making it a successful career, too.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From reading I suppose. My mother read me bedtime stories when I was a child. We
always had lots of books around the house, and I made frequent trips to the library.
I loved the Little House books as a child. I loved poetry too, and that’s what I first wrote.
I identify as a poet.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
{It wasn’t until Sean O’Connell was standing next to her, saying her name, that she realized—despite her much professed certainty that he would return— she didn’t really believe she would see him again.
But she was seeing him now.
In a coffee shop.
The mythical Sean O’Connell was no more than an arm’s length from her.
“It is you, isn’t it,angel?”
The words Neely were trying to form couldn’t quite make the trip from her head to her mouth.
“Can you talk?” Sean asked with a wink.
She managed a soft, “Yes.”
Without waiting to be asked, he pulled out the chair across the table from her and sat.
Neely set her toast on its plate and stared.
Finally, she said his name. 
“Sean.”
“Neely.” As if they were playing a game and it was his turn. 
Sean smiled at her and his eyes twinkled, challenging her to react to his miraculous-and unheralded- presence.
His eyes said— I’ve possessed you. I’ve touched every part of your body. You lay underneath me and quivered. I’ll sit here and pretend that we’re old friends. But I know and you know that there was much more between us. You can never get back what you gave to me. And no other man can ever have it. 
“I was afraid for a moment that you’d forgotten me.”
Neely coughed 
“Not if I tried.”
“Have you tried?”
“No.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
He was teasing her and she knew it. Just as she knew that no matter how much she would like him to believe she wasn’t affected by his startling appearance,she was every bit as elated as he expected her to be.As difficult as it was, she did herself the favor of masking her excitement.
Except with her eyes. And the little grin that she couldn’t quite supress.}
 From Our Lady of Woodlawn by Beth Anne Niemela
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Remembering to trust that the what I want to read is what I should write. I spend a lot of
time wondering how the sentence I just wrote will be judged by others, when I should be
saying, “I like it, and that’s what matters.”
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have two favorite contemporary authors. Dennis Lehane and Jojo Moyes. They write
very different kinds of books, but they both create characters who are easy to like. I want
to hang out with them. If I don’t like the characters, or care about them, I can’t enjoy the book.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet. For my project, Our Lady of Woodlawn, my daughter did some recon work for me in the Woodlawn neighborhood in The Bronx. She took pictures and talked to locals. I would like to spend some time there before I finish the story. If not, I’ll rely on my daughter’s research.
Who designed the covers?
On my first book, I did, with the help of CreateSpace Cover Creator. The photo was mine.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Making the time for it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned not to dwell on errors in continuity or other mistakes in movies or books.
It’s humbling how easily a mistake can slip through.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. Just write.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My characters are my children, be kind to them. 

More From The Author: bethanneniemela.com

Connect With The Author:  

facebook.com/baniemela

Twitter: @beth_on_paper

Purchase Overheard in Suki’s Diner  amazon.com/author/baniemela

 

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