If you haven’t read CONVERTING KATE, you’re really missing something! Whether you’ve read it yet or not, here’s a chance to get to know the bubbly, fun, loving (and fun-loving) author who wrote it!
Kathy: Tell us why we should buy this book.
Beckie: Don’t! Most libraries carry it. Check it out. It’s cheaper!
Kathy: I love the way you think, Beckie! You’re an inspiration. Now, who or what has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
Beckie: So many people and events have helped me become a writer, but I remember when I began to think, maybe I’ll take a chance at writing–I saw the film of Little Women with Susan Sarandon as Marmee and Winona Ryder as Jo March. Near the end of the film, when Jo finally writes from her heart and writes about her family, and ties up the manuscript with a bow and tucks a single red geranium under the bow, I began weeping and knew I wanted to do that. And the impact of that scene stayed with me for days, well years–it’s still strong in me today as I write. So I started to become a writer like Jo March and I have never looked back.
Kathy: Wow, it’s great when scenes speak to us like that. You have the chance to speak to teen readers and give one piece of advice. What is that?
Beckie: I’ll quote Dr. Seuss–Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Be true to that inner voice.
Believe in yourself.
Kathy: Beautifully said. What’s an important “nugget” that you’d like readers to take away from your book?
Beckie: So many things. But I guess if I had to pick one nugget I’d say, please know that if your own parents–the people you live with don’t get you, or believe in you, or understand you, or support you, find someone who does. Find someone to be your mentor. Kate found Jamie–an older student, Pastor Browning–a minister, and her Great Aunt Katherine. They became the people she wanted to learn from, trust and grow with.
Sadly not all of us can always find what we need in the way of nurturing and understanding at home. Search, find, and hold onto anyone who actually listens to you and gets you!
Kathy: Why did you write this book?
Beckie: Ha! Well the main reason is because like Kate I grew up in a fear based religion that told me what to wear, what to read, what to eat, what movies to watch and what to think. And when I broke away I had a lot of anger and a need to express what I had gone through.
Kathy: I’m glad you found such a great way to express it! Is that why you write? And why you write for teens?
Beckie: I write because I want to be heard. I know some people are happy writing diaries or poems that they never plan to publish. That is not me. I want to be heard. I want to leave my mark upon this earth and when I am dead and gone know that there will be a trail of me left behind.
I write for teens because I feel like a teenager inside. I like to shop in the teen section of the clothing store, I like to read other young adult novels. I like to talk to teenagers. I find this age-group fascinating.
Kathy: When do you write? Are you disciplined or just write when the muse strikes?
Beckie: Ha. These questions are making me laugh!
I write at two in the morning, if that’s when I wake up and the voice is in my head telling me new ideas for whatever I’m working on.
I write when I get out of the shower, wrapped in a towel, because I’m afraid if I take time to dress all the cool things that came into my brain while I was under the water pouring on my neck will be gone. (I think water on the body must have a secret link to the writer’s voice because I so often am swimming or bathing or showering when the muse speaks.)
I write first thing in the morning if I’m on a roll.
And if it’s three in the afternoon and I still haven’t had the gumption to get myself to the computer, I make myself work on rewrites so I at least accomplished something that day. Those are the days when the muse seems to have taken a vacation from my head and soul!
Kathy: I agree with you about water on the body being linked to creativity! Where do you usually write?
Beckie: Much simpler to answer! I write in my office on my laptop. If I am at a hotel I bring my laptop and write at the desk in the hotel room. I write only when I am alone. If anyone is in the house with me and that person or persons are not asleep, I cannot write. I have to be absolutely alone or the muse will not visit. Period.
Kathy: What helps you write?
Beckie: Showers, baths, swimming, walking, sleeping, reading, talking to trusted friends and family about my writing, and getting feedback in critique form–I cannot stand to know something is wrong with my novel and not work on it.
Kathy: How do your ideas come to you?
Beckie: Ideas come in dreams, or when I am in a half awake state, or when I am shopping, or walking or sweeping or doing something active that doesn’t require my brain to be occupied. All the time! When do the ideas stop, that’s what I’d like to know? If I follow all the serious ideas I have for books, the ones I have started, and know the whole plot line, I will be busy for the next 10 to fifteen years and the ideas keep on coming! I wish my writing could keep up with my mind. I’d be prolific!
Kathy: You just need to clone yourself, Beckie! How long have you been writing?
Beckie: Seriously for about ten years. I began writing articles for my local newspaper in Pacific Palisades, CA. Then I started writing little stories for magazines and sold several of those. Then I decided to write a novel and I got an MFA at Vermont College to learn how to write the novel, and Converting Kate was my creative thesis for graduation.
Kathy: How much of your book is autobiographical?
Beckie: Almost zero of the actual plot line and characters are autobiographical. But in contrast, about 90% of the emotional story line is mine, I own it, I went through it, but in a different setting with different people at a different age and in a different place.
Kathy: I like that, the emotional story is yours. Do you have a favorite quote or bumper sticker?
Beckie: Good question. I have so many I am always changing the quote in the signature of my email. Here’s one of my favorites and it’s in Converting Kate.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there. –Rumi
Kathy: What’s an embarrassing story about yourself that you don’t mind telling?
Beckie: I friended a person on facebook who I thought was my first cousin. I hadn’t seen him for years and I was so excited that I wrote him a lot and he answered a lot. But the more I looked at his profile pictures the more I wondered, he doesn’t look older than twenty five at the oldest. What is his secret? He must have had a face lift and work out like ten hours a day. So one day I really examined his face book account and discovered that he graduated from high school around 2003. And then I began to wonder if I was talking to my cousin and if so he had a really young face and had totally lied about his high school graduation date. So it occurred to me slowly, that perhaps I was talking to someone else who shared his name and his hometown? So finally I asked him if he was named for his dad and was his dad the son of my aunt and uncle. He answered yes. He was my cousin’s son! I felt so stupid.
He told me he has a band and he confessed he knew we weren’t cousins but thought I was just some drugged out music follower and didn’t really worry about why I was so into him, or that everything I said didn’t make sense for example: “Remember how we used to tease Uncle, so and so?”
Anyway his dad is not on facebook so I’m still not sure what he looks like, but the vanity in me was relieved that my cousin who should be about my age, did not look twenty years younger than me!
Kathy: Ha! Thanks for sharing that! What are you working on now?
Beckie: I’m working hard on an adult novel with five different voices. It’s my first time writing for adults and my first time using more than one point of view. It’s really fun, challenging, and exciting.
After my draft is finished I plan to go back to a young adult novel that has time travel involved, with a modern day 14 year old named Annie who ends up in Victorian Wales. I went to Wales to do research for a month and I am very excited about this novel. It’s going to be light and fun and a change from the three serious novels I’ve worked on so far! It has a sequel and I love the titles.
What Annie told her Granny
Annie and the Pakistani
Kathy: You are such fun, Beckie!! And sometimes a title alone can give us great inspiration. Thanks for your inspiration, and I hope everyone gets a chance to read CONVERTING KATE—available at bookstores AND your local library!! In the meantime, visit Beckie’s blog:
and her website: