Welcome Beth, I am delighted to have her as one of our Spotlight Stories. I haven't had the pleasure of reading her books but intend to do so in the near future. Reading this post is all the motivation I need to want to read her work. Join me now as we read what Beth has to share with us.
On Writing and Other Creative Endeavors . . .One question authors get a lot is, "What motivates you to write?"
I believe all writers suffered formative trauma at some tender point. Mine occurred shortly after being transplanted from Weaver, Alabama to Turbotville (I did not make that up) Pennsylvania at the age of eleven; accent dripping sorghum syrup and traces of red clay on my shoes. The locals did not know quite what to make of me―wary moms limited their children’s playtime in my yard, unsure if my Southern-ness was contagious and unwilling to chance it.
I attended an “experimental” school where we were aptitude tested and placed with others on a similar level. I made the “A” group, but no one seemed to believe I belonged there because I talked funny. I was routinely stopped in the hall and asked to pronounce words like “bayou” for my fellow students' amusement. Think circus monkey with a drawl, y’all.
No, not everyone was mean to me. There were and are some perfectly nice people in Turbotville, bless their hearts. I’ll spare you a catalog of my insult and injury and just say: I became determined to show the world that preconceived notions about Southerners―Alabamians in particular―are all wrong.
For instance, I've never, ever found it necessary to voice the words, "Look at you, you have a baby . . . in a bar." There is no crazy aunt in my basement, though I admit a great-uncle once got mad and shot his mule. (That story sparked a book idea for me. More about that later.) I do not know a single Forrest Gump-ish person.
In short: pretty much everything I write is a love letter to The South; her people, her beauty, her quirks.
In 2008 I began penning stories rooted like a huge magnolia in my homesickness (I was living in Florida at the time). The first, Jewels, was bravely entered in a national contest and won second prize. I was as astonished as if I’d found a unicorn rooting through my kitchen cabinets.
More stories followed, and I started feeling all author-y. I blazed through writing an entire book, sharing installments with friends and family. We were all amused by them, but they were placed in the computer vault and forgotten until I moved back to Alabama a few years ago. I joined the Atlanta Writers Club in 2010 (MY PEOPLE! I’VE FOUND MY PEOPLE!) and was encouraged by some extremely kind and talented folks to pursue a publishing deal. My first novel, Delaney's People, was birthed in November of 2011. I still get all choked up when someone tells me it's meant something to them.
These are the first words on the acknowledgments page of my new book, Don’t Shoot Your Mule: “Everything I write is for my mother, Patricia Poucher. I believe we all go through life trying to produce things for mommy to hang on the refrigerator and this book is no exception.”
Curiosity leads me down too many twisty creative paths to count. I read that Victorian women collected buttons from loved ones and sewed them onto cloth band bracelets. I researched jewelry making, then developed and copyrighted a charm bracelet with Victorian buttons and crystal. I admired elaborately decorated cakes and taught myself to craft fondant flowers. The cupcake phase began seven years ago and endures. My children have learned to play Cake Boss assistant with flair.
We won't talk about my epic failures much here, of course. The fine Southern Lady art of flower arrangement eludes me to this day. My singing voice causes dogs to pull their heads back inside passing car windows. I can't sew anything without a product resembling a kindergarten project, and I'm kinda insulting kindergarteners when I say that. My mom's God-given piano-by-ear talent completely bypassed me, as did her skill with canvas and brush.
But writing? Well, it makes me happy. I hope you'll check out my books sometime and they'll make you happy, too.
More of Beth's Alabama. Isn't it absolutely beautiful?
Beth Dial Duke was born in Anniston, Alabama and lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida for many years. She is married to Jay and the proud mother of Jason and Savannah.
The author of several prize-winning short stories, her work has been featured in Pearl: A Literary Magazine, Longleaf Style magazine, and included in the British anthology The Possibility of Bears.
After a successful career in marketing, she is pursuing her first love: writing. Happily located in the scenic mountains of her home state, she lives with her family and eleven loyal chickens, two lovable dogs and a randomly affectionate cat.
She loves baking elaborate cupcakes, long walks to the nearby lake, sparkly things, great shoes, and will travel at the drop of a hat. Her work in progress is temporarily called Untitled Book Number Three.
Delaney's People on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Delaneys-People-Novel-Small-Stories/dp/0615568440/
Don't Shoot Your Mule on Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Your-Mule-Beth/dp/1475102259/