Beverly Nault writes Fresh Start Stories, because everyone needs one from time to time. Her stories are filled with colorful characters whose lives are changed through storylines that draw the reader in through humor, poignant moments, and fun-filled adventure. Beverly is the Associate Editor of the literary journal, “Eastern Iowa Review.” She is also a freelance developmental editor.
Bev lives with her husband Gary in Southern California and dabbles in photography. She has two grown and married children, and one incredibly talented one-month-old granddaughter who already shows a lot of potential.
“The Kaleidoscope,” (2015, Wild Rose/Crimson Press) a romantic suspense, earned an InDy’Tale Magazine five-star review and their Crowned Heart for excellence.Beverly has written the award-winning The Seasons of Cherryvale, series, set in a small town. The first book in the series, “Fresh Start Summer,” earned the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild Excellence in Writing Award, was included in Real Simple’s 21 Best Summer Reads list, and earned Honorable Mention in the Reader’s Favorite Writing Awards (2011). Her short story, “Camouflaged Christmas,” appears in the “21 Days of Christmas, a fiction devotional (2015, Broadstreet Publishing).
Beverly co-wrote “Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton,” with Mary McDonough about her years working up on the acclaimed television program, The Waltons, and her life growing up in Hollywood. “Lessons” won the Ella Dickey Literacy Award.
According to one interview, your favorite book as a teen was “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Why was this book important to you?
At the time I was intrigued by Scout’s precociousness, and also her relationship with her father, who was an attorney. My own father was an attorney, and Atticus’ insights and wisdom resonated within me. Harper Lee built into the story so many layers that it has a remarkable texture and relevance for any age and time. For a book to reach so many levels is an extraordinary feat.
What other novels have influenced you & why?
“Gone With the Wind” is another novel of complicated relationships, a complex time in history, and a strong heroine who at first glance reveals herself to be of questionable “character,” but then she ends up a much improved, better version of herself for what she’s gone through by the end. I admire authors who can take us along the journey with their characters and at the end we feel as if we’ve become a little better or stronger or more convicted as well. But without all the turmoil and self-sacrifice, we can remain comfortable and relaxed in our easy chair.
Where do you get your inspiration to write?
Every story has a different prompt. When I first conceived of “The Kaleidoscope.” I imagined what it would be like if we could see a glimpse of our own future. Would what we see cause us to change, would we be bolder, or frightened of what was to come? Would we become a better person for the challenge? As I researched advances in artificial intelligence for the technical elements of the story, I realized I wasn’t the only one wondering the same things. That in itself was a glimpse into the future!
Do you have a favorite genre, as a reader?
I read everything from classical literature to short fiction to bestsellers, so I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. I’ve also been Associate Editor for the Eastern Iowa Review, a lyrical essay journal, and a beta reader for agents and publishers, so my reading piles vary widely. I think reading multiple genres informs an author’s work, and enriches their reader’s experiences. I’ve just finished reading “Two Years Before the Mast,” and thoroughly enjoyed swinging from the yardarms and exploring early California. Books are the best, aren’t they?
You co-authored with Mary Beth McDonough, “Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned From Ellen Walton” (from The Waltons, television series). What was that experience like?
That experience was one of the highlights of my career. She’s a wonderful, kind, funny, smart woman, and a very talented actor. We laughed together and cried a bit over her incredible experiences, and I got to interview iconic actors from Patricia Neal, who was the original Olivia Walton in the made-for-television movie, “The Homecoming,” to Earl Hamner and Richard Thomas and the other living cast members. Each was helpful and genuine and as kind as they are on the show. Mary and I formed a bond that will last forever because of the experience, and I’m proud of her for going on to write her own novels.
Do you have a writing routine? (Time of day, place to write?)
I need quiet and a comfy chair, and to know I have a couple of uninterrupted hours. When I first began writing fiction I was told there’s such a thing as “fiction brain,” a special place where your most creative thoughts come from. I can say that it’s absolutely true. It’s as if you’re accessing a different part of the mind that needs to be exercised, but also approached with respect and reverence for it to work properly. Don’t want anything to shut it off when it’s really cooking! By the way, I wrote the first draft of “The Kaleidoscope” long hand. I learned in a workshop that it’s a great way to slow down the process to give the creative brain a way to keep up, and I really do think there’s wisdom in that. Typing your scribble into the computer then becomes the first round of editing. Try it!
How did your Seasons of Cherryvale series come about?
Seasons sprang from my thoughts as I pondered about our communities where we we tend to drive home and straight into our garages, essentially ignoring our neighbors and never getting to really know them. So I came up with a concept of a town that had been built many years ago around a bridle path that has become a jogging and walking trail in the modern times. This artery’s history became a sort of anchor for the townies, and now this CherryPath “ties neighbors together like a patchwork quilt, in good times and bad.” Funny thing about that series, I live in Southern California where we don’t really have seasons. So I needed to find a small town that experiences the full range, from autumn colors to firefly summers and the challenges of snowstorms, so I studied a map and found a small town in Kansas called Cherryvale. I liked it so much I decided to “borrow” their name. After the series came out, someone from the town contacted me and asked if I knew they existed. I told them I did and hoped they didn’t mind. They said they were actually flattered, and invited me to appear at the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival with the first two books that were available at the time. I enjoyed meeting everyone in town, from the mayor to the Fire Chief to the pastors of the churches, and all my new fans. They made me feel as if I was a townie myself, and I’m excited to say I’m returning “home” for this year’s Blossom Festival with the completed series.
Did you know, going into the first Cherryvale book, that it would become a series?
Yes, I wanted each book to be based on a season or holiday. There are six books or novellas, and one short story. Here’s the sequence: “Fresh Start Summer,” “Grace & Maggie Across the Pond” (a novella set in England), “Autumn Changes,” “Hearts Unlocked” (a Thanksgiving Romance), “Christmas Bells,” “Aloha Grace” (a short story set in Hawaii) and “Spring Blossoms.”
You have won the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Excellence in Writing award. Could you describe the importance of your faith?
My faith in Jesus Christ is woven into the tapestry of my soul, and everything I write stems from what he taught and what he’s done for the world in his sacrifice on the cross. That said I try to temper everything I write so that it’s appropriate to the piece and audience. No one wants to read sermonettes or anything heavy handed. I believe it’s possible to use characters who believe in God without sermonizing, or question and rebel and even reject God, because it’s how we as humans process and live out our relationship with the Creator.
What is your definition of success, as a writer? If you had to pick one accomplishment to be most proud of, what would it be?
Probably the publication of “Lessons from the Mountain.” An agent shopped our proposal at the same time as the country was reeling from 9/11, and no one wanted to take on a new project around that time. We stepped back from seeking a publisher but went ahead and wrote the book. A couple of years later, we had a terrific memoir of what Mary’s life had been like growing up in Hollywood, but we had no agent. We knew we had an excellent manuscript, so we persisted, and we eventually sold it on our own to Kensington. (It’s now gone into its fifth printing.) The icing on my own personal cake was that in the very same month that Lessons came out, “Fresh Start Summer,” also released from a small press. I call them my twins, and still can’t believe my “luck” in having them released at the same time.
Would you be willing to share a few tips for writers?
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I’m excited about my next novel. I’m currently fine-tuning, “Misdirect, A Novel of Spies, the Sahara, and Searching for God,” which is about a former CIA operative who finds herself back in the field. Following my own advice, I’m now polishing it so it shines. I’ve had it with beta readers, I’ve taken important sections to a critique group, I’ve hired an editor and proofer, and then when it’s been through these very important steps, I’ll finally have it ready for market. Here’s the summary: A CIA analyst assigned to desk duty must return to field operations to redeem a failed mission she blew years ago. When she’s about to retire and put the entire fiasco behind her, she learns her estranged daughter’s fiancée’s life is in danger, and she must not only rescue him from the enemy, she must stop the largest terror attack ever planned on America.
Find Beverly at: www.beverlynault.com