Today we have author Bethany Chase on WFW!
I read Results May Vary in a weekend and it as just what I needed—classic women’s fiction that hits all the sweet spots—big changes in relationships, family, and friendships, and the promise of romance (for more than one character). Below, I love Bethany’s thoughts on plotting and pantsing—as I’m in the process of tackling some plotting myself! I also love Bethany’s advice on putting a new spin on an old idea!
Tell us what you think in the comments and please welcome Bethany to WFW!
Bethany Chase’s New Novel Results in a Great Read!
Amy: Congratulations on the publication of your second novel! Can you tell us us about the spark that ignited the idea for Results May Vary?
Bethany: A good friend of mine was studying abroad several years ago, when a mutual friend of hers with some of the people on her grad program came out to visit them. The guy was engaged to a woman back home, yet at the end of the night when they’d all been out drinking together, he waited until everyone had gone home and then made a pass at my friend’s gay roommate. I remember hearing the story and feeling so sad, both for this man who for whatever reasons did not feel able to live openly as his authentic self, and also for the woman he was locking in the closet with him, who was unaware of this aspect of him.
Amy: You used an accessible art world (in my opinion) as the backdrop for the story. Are you “into” art or artsy yourself? Where did Caroline’s career come from?
Bethany: I come from a family of artists, but my own passion for art didn’t really ignite until I was a junior in college, studying abroad in Europe and discovering all of the incredible museums and architecture there. After that, I was hooked. I spent most of my senior year taking art history classes, and considered pursuing the curatorial field before ultimately deciding against it. But my love for art and design stayed with me, and led me a few years after college to the right career for me–interior design. Working with creative people and on creative projects gives me tremendous satisfaction and joy.
Amy: I love the themes of acceptance and forgiveness (hard won) in the story. How did you make sure that Caroline didn’t end up bitter? Were you ever bitter on her behalf?
Bethany: I wasn’t, no. I’m not some Pollyanna type with a sunshiny outlook that never fails me; I’m as susceptible as anyone else to jealousy, impatience, frustration, resentment and so forth. But I think the key is making sure those emotions are transitory. I can’t stop myself from feeling them, but I can stop myself from dwelling on them and retaining them, because I think when grudges and bitterness get lodged inside you permanently, it can damage you as a person. It damages you, and it still doesn’t solve your problem or make you less hurt. So, writing from that place, I really wanted Caroline to reach forgiveness and acceptance, too.
Amy: What’s your writing style? Do you plot or pants or somewhere in between? What’s a habit or an item you can write without?
Bethany: I am a reformed pantser/born-again plotter. My first book, The One That Got Away, was mostly put together on the fly because I had no real idea what I was doing. I hadn’t started it with the goal of writing a novel; it started as a couple of scene sketches I wrote to amuse myself and then it developed from there. But with everything I’ve written since then, I’ve developed an outline, and now I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Inevitably certain things will change, drop out or get added as I write, but I do find that I need some sort of pre-existing path to follow. It helps me ensure that all my scene ideas and moments are relevant to the overall plot I’m trying to deliver.
Amy: What’s your best advice for aspiring women’s fiction authors in today’s publishing climate?
Bethany: Give a lot of thought to what makes your plots, your writing, and your voice as an author unique. There are just so many books out there, and both agents/editors and also readers are looking for something fresh and distinctive. A new plot idea is wonderful; but a new take on a familiar plot conceit is also terrific. You can add freshness and interest with your setting, your characters’ jobs, the array of characters you add, and so on. Make it your own–and make it something where the person reading your query letter, pitch letter, or jacket copy will say, “Oh wow–I haven’t seen something quite like this before.”