Deb: Who are you?
Bettye: Just your average fiftysomething, black, left-handed, nearsighted Moonchild who writes.
Deb: Tell us, what led you to write Trouble Down The Road?
Bettye: I’d gotten emails from readers over the years asking for a sequel to The People Next Door. At first I declined, because I felt the story was over, but I always left open the possibility, saying that if a good storyline came to me I’d write it. Then an idea began to form, and suddenly I had a storyline.
Deb: What genre is it?
Bettye: Women’s fiction. I do write romance as well, but this isn’t a romance.
Deb: What is Trouble Down The Road about?
Bettye: Let’s see…secrets being found out, lies being exposed, marriages in trouble, misguided loyalties…does that whet your appetite for a good book to devour? Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “tart and torrid tempest” and says that “Those who crave their drama fast and furious will surely enjoy.” And the editor of the Black Expressions Book Club (Trouble Down The Road will be offered as a Main Selection in their catalog) told me her staff loved the scenarios the book addresses. I’m happy to say that reader response has been positive…I invite you to read the reviews on Amazon.com, BN.com, and BlackExpressions.com.
Deb: Are any of the characters you or someone you know?
Bettye: Good heavens, no. Made-up people are much more interesting than real ones.
Deb: You have another book coming out also, The Heat of Heat; let’s chat about that.
Bettye: The Heat of Heat is a sexy contemporary romance, the main characters of whom were introduced to readers as teenagers in two of my earlier novels, Chantal and Sinclair Hatchet in From This Day Forward (2002) and Yolanda Jones in Closer Than Close (2003). They’re now in their mid-20s, living in New York, and looking for love.
Here’s the copy from the back cover:
Twentysomethings Chantal Hatchet, her sister Sinclair, and their good friend Yolanda Jones are working on building their careers. Their love lives, though, are another matter…until the night of rising singer Carlos Brown’s concert on his native Long Island, New York.
Chantal has a close encounter with handsome CPA Trystian Rogers…very close.
Yolanda catches Carlos’s eye mid-song, making for a very public love connection…but can it last?
Sinclair has no luck that night, but soon she meets magazine publisher Ivan Price, and from that first moment they, like the others, are caught up in…The Heat of Heat.
The Heat of Heat will be published as a trade paperback through my own Bunderful Books imprint and will be available this fall. I will be offering a fabulous deal on pricing through the Bunderful Books site, so stay tuned!
Deb: How many books have you written?
Bettye: Trouble Down The Road was my 17th title. All have been full-length novels; I don’t do novellas.
Deb: Not calling any of your babies ugly, but which was your favorite?
Bettye: The one I’m currently working on!
Deb: As a writer, what has been your epiphany?
Bettye: Probably when I realized I’d be writing whether I was contracted or not.
Deb: How do you handle negative reviews?
Bettye: When a reader says they just couldn’t get into one of my books, that’s okay; I understand every topic isn’t for every reader. When a reader complains, I read their gripes carefully and determine if they have a valid point, then do something about it. Don’t get me wrong…I have utmost confidence in my abilities as a writer, and I believe I’m quite good at it. But I certainly don’t believe that it’s not possible to improve. I’m very open to criticism—I belonged to a very tough critique group before I was ever published, so I was well prepared. One thing I don’t do is convince myself that the person who posted an unflattering review is out to get me for some reason, or try to soothe myself with that lame line about it being just one person’s opinion, because in my opinion, LOL, that’s just plain silly. It’s all about mastering the craft!
Deb: Have you ever written anything that left a bad taste in your mouth?
Bettye: No. I’m not a hack, and I don’t follow trends. I write what I want to write. Life’s too short…and at this point, that ain’t just talk!
Deb: What else do you have brewing?
Bettye: An absolutely fabulous women’s fiction story about a mother, two daughters, and a long-held family secret; and a political-themed contemporary mainstream-ish romance that I must say is pretty doggone good, too!
Deb: Why do you write?
Bettye: Because it’s in me! Writers write, artists paint, poets, uh...well, you get the picture.
Deb: What makes your book stand out and entice a reader pick it up?
Bettye: That’s really a question for readers to answer; I just create the story.
Deb: Where do you get ideas? Where you receive motivation?
Bettye: Anywhere and everywhere. Sights, snippets of overheard conversations, the “what if?” game, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.
Deb: Which of your books has bought the most responses from readers?
Bettye: Probably Once Upon A Project, which I’m pretty sure has been my top seller to date.
Deb: Do you read you?
Bettye: Only when I’m editing, at which time I’m ruthless, tearing into what I’ve written like a hungry shark, leaving red ink instead of blood all over the place, but on the other hand, I’ve been known to read what I wrote and say, “Damn, I’m good!” as well.
Deb: Thus far what has been your greatest reward?
Bettye: If we’re talking about something I can put my hands on, it would be the money. If we’re talking about emotional, it would be the emails from readers. Some of them are quite poignant, particularly those I received after the publication of If These Walls Could Talk. Many people who’d been in the same situation as those characters (who bought homes in the suburbs and found home ownership more challenging than they expected).
Deb: What are a few things you’ve done to promote your work?
Bettye: Very little. I announce the publication, post an occasional excerpt, post reviews (the good ones), and create book trailers if I can find photographs of people who resemble my characters.
Deb: And you make the best soundtracks to go with the theme of the story..LOVE THAT!!
Deb: Who are your mentors?
Bettye: Never had one. But my fellow author Marcia King-Gamble reached out to me when my first book was published. I’ll never forget her kindness. Authors are busy people.
Deb: Marcia is the one who encouraged me to do something with my bookmarks! She is very supportive!
Deb: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Bettye: It’s a jungle out there. Try to come up with a fresh idea, and execute it well. Writing a novel might take three weeks, but polishing it should take months.
Deb: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Bettye: Probably the same place I am now. I don’t write because I think I’m going to get someplace; I write because it’s in me.
Deb: What do you want people to know about you?
Bettye: That I write a damn good story.
Deb: What are your future plans? Any new books? Upcoming book signings? Other literary events.
Bettye: As mentioned, my next book will be a contemporary romance, The Heat of Heat. No upcoming signings (don’t really do those anymore) and no definitive plans for public literary events, either (don’t do many of those, either).
Deb: What do you do for fun?
Bettye: Spend time with my husband and friends, cook, watch old movies, jigsaw puzzles, travel.
Deb: Can you share contact information?
Bettye: You can email me through my website, www.bettyegriffin.com
You can write me at P.O. Box 580156, Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158. You can befriend me on Facebook.
You can visit my blog, www.chew-the-fat-with-Bettye.blogspot.com And please do visit the Bunderful Books site at www.bunderfulbooks.com.
(Other than the Bible)
1. One book that changed your life: Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. I said, “Wow! A book about black folks who aren’t slaves or being persecuted or discriminated against!” It might sound silly now, but back then it was a big deal.
2. One book that made you laugh: Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan. Hilarious. This writer went on to create scripts for Frasier and Desperate Housewives.
3. One book that made you cry: Plenty Good Room by Teresa Watson-McClain.
4. One book that you've been meaning to read: What Mother Never Told Me by Donna Hill. It’s often hard for me to find more than a few minutes a day to read, and good writing usually spurs my desire to create my own stories!
Deb: Donna's book was awesome, it was worth the 10 year wait. It is the sequel to Rhythms.
You're welcome Bettye, great interview!
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