Last week, I interviewed my precious friend Beth Vogt on The Writer's Alley about her new book, Wish You Were Here. I had so much fun, I thought I'd repost the interview here in case any of you missed it. And be sure to scroll down to the second section where I interview the main character of Wish You Were Here, Allison!
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Her inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International. Visit with Beth at her website bethvogt.com.
1) Wish You Were Here is your first novel. Can you tell us about your road to fiction publication and your non-fiction work? I was a never-going-to-write-fiction journalist. I wrote my first book, Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35 (Revell 2007), because I couldn’t find a faith-based book on late-in-life motherhood when I was pregnant with my “caboose kiddo.” I wanted to give other older moms the encouragement I’d wanted during my pregnancy. Several years later, God used a season of burnout to move me from nonfiction to fiction. Burnout became a bend in the writing road. My motto is now: God’s best is often behind the door marked “Never.”
2) What advice would you give to our readers who are in the beginning stages of their writing journey? Relax. Breathe in, breathe out. These beginning stages are a necessary part of a writer’s life. Don’t rush past it because what you learn now becomes the foundation of your writing life. Take the time to build a solid foundation of faith, craft and relationships.
3) Wish You Were Here opens with a scene where the heroine, Allison, makes the mistake of kissing her fiancé’s brother just five days before her wedding. As soon as I read that first chapter in the bookstore, I knew I had to buy this book! What made you decide to open the novel with that particular scene? When I was burned out on writing and editing, I told my husband I was never going to write again—ever, ever, ever. Three days later, he came home and found me sitting at my computer, writing. But I told him that it didn’t count because I was just having fun with a scene I’d written for a Christian Writers Guild assignment. I’d gotten good feedback on that scene written from 3 POVS: the bride’s, the best man’s and the photographer’s. I was playing around with it, asking myself, “Who is this woman and how did she get here? And is she going to walk all the way down the aisle and marry that guy?”
4) Who are some of your own favorite authors? Have they influenced your writing? I love novels that are character-driven. I grew up reading books by Louisa May Alcott and Georgette Heyer and L.M. Montgomery. And then as I transitioned to fiction I was blessed to meet Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck—two talented authors who have helped me become a better writer. Susie wouldn’t let me quit when I wanted to bolt back to the non-fiction side of the writing road. And Rachel keeps pushing me out of my comfort zone as a writer, challenging me to not just be a writer, but to be a storyteller. And both of them help me stay grounded in my faith.
5) Allison deals with a very deep struggle from her past. Ultimately, she feels more comfortable sharing this part of her heart with her fiancé’s brother, Daniel, rather than her fiancé, Seth. Why was it important to you to include this element of the story? That was a telling moment, wasn’t it? That question—who do you feel safe with?—is often at the core of love and romance. If you can’t feel safe with someone, can you ever truly allow yourself to fall in love with them?
And now, some questions for the main character in Wish You Were Here, Allison:
1) What sorts of things do you like to do in our spare time? I could answer that question so differently. For too many years I would have said “Whatever Seth likes to do.” Now, I actually allow myself to think “What would I like to do?” I’m painting again and I’ve just invested in a wonderful new camera for my photography. I’ve even thought about becoming a part-time wedding photographer. I love happily ever afters, don’t you?
2) With all that time spent around llamas, did you ever learn to knit? No. Me, yarn, and knitting needles? A disaster waiting to happen.
3) Be honest. What happened to that atrocious wedding dress after your moment of liberation from it at the end of the book? Is it still up for grabs? I like how you describe that, Ashley – the moment of liberation. I don’t think any bride would want to wear the gown after my “freedom” moment – but it is available for photo shoots.
4) What sorts of things do you look for in a guy? Well, I’ve found my guy … he just happened to be standing next to the guy I thought was right for me. For me, the best kind of guy is the one who you can be yourself with … and who invites you to join him on new adventures too.
5) What do you hope readers will learn from your story? We often say that God can bring good out of our mistakes … but do we live like we really believe that? For too many years, I lived like I was a mistake. And I was afraid to make any more mistakes. Where’s the grace in that kind of life?