Bethany Maines is a native of Tacoma WA, who is actually very much like her fictional heroines: she travels to exotic lands and has the ability to kick some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in karate. And while her travels may not necessarily include fighting super agents of evil so much as eating spicy foods and hiking to the tops of mountains (okay, really big hills), her black belt skills are mainly employed in teaching karate to a classroom full of kids (although there was that one time in Paris…), and her day job is something she actually enjoys (graphic design is fun!), she’s pretty much a secret agent in her own right.
Girlfriends Book Club Interview - 05.03.15
View Original Post at Girlfriend Book Club
Meet Author Bethany Maines
May 3, 2015 by Jess Riley
I’m so pleased to feature another of the fabulous Girlfriends today–Bethany Maines! (I knew I’d love her when she mentioned Trixie Belden and admitted to adoring the movie Clue.) On with the interview:
1. Who you are & what do you write?
That is an aggressive question, isn’t it? Perhaps we could have phrased that more elegantly to avoid giving ourselves an existential identity crisis. I am Bethany Maines writer, graphic designer, bread enthusiast, generally awesome person. I write feminist action-adventure mysteries with heroines who follow the lead of Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Eowyn of Rohan (they never met a mystery that didn’t need solving or ass that didn’t need kicking). For what it’s worth, my official mini-bio says: Bethany Maines, a native of Tacoma WA, is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series (from Atria), and An Unseen Current. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in karate, she can be found at her job as the co-owner of the graphic design firm LILT.
What is your:
2. Weirdest research?
Probably the single weirdest research mission I’ve had to do was actually for work. I was employed as a graphic designer for an architectural firm and they had been hired to design a park for a piece of land that had been donated to a local municipality. The city wanted to have some interpretive panels in the park explaining the donation and the history of the land. Sound easy, right? Wrong. After months of getting nowhere someone finally nominated me to do the research, I think based on the notion that I’m annoyingly persistent and I “write stuff”. My research took me down the rabbit hole of the local historical society, the historical documents library, and an uncomfortable interview with a woman who really, really didn’t want to be named as a source for details about the Puyallup Tribe. Bottom line – the land had been a farm, and historically people are horrible to each other with occasional flashes of decency. Also, there was a war in the 1850’s with the Puyallup Tribes that everyone would really prefer that you not mention. Like… ever. I ended up feeling like the kid who points out that the emperor had no clothes on. “Ok, so we can’t write about how the government broke treaties with the tribes and went to war. I guess we could write about the 1900’s except, you know, that’s when we shipped all of our Japanese immigrants off to concentration camps. So that gets a bit awkward…”
3. Most uncomfortable piece of writing?
Sex scenes! In my second book, my editor and my agent demanded (suggested?) a make-out scene at minimum. But my grandmother reads my books! What will she think?? I got over it. For writers, I think sex scenes are where the rubber hits the…uh… road. Writers always have to block out the doubting voices, but I think sex scenes are where a writer finds out if they can really put the walls up and trust themselves to create something worthwhile. You can’t create art if you’re constantly worrying about what other people think.
4. Most memorable book promotion event?
I guess the one that springs to mind is the one where I only had one person come to my signing and then he didn’t buy the book. In my defense it was a college town on spring break and a sunny day, and I think several other people eventually stopped in and picked up the book. But what I remember is that during my talk portion I only had one person. He was elderly and had been dropped off at the bookstore by his son. And since he had no where else to be he decided to stay and chat. So, what the heck, I chatted too. I explained to him about my books (James Bond meets Mary Kay) and after awhile he asked, “Well, if you like all those action and spy books, why didn’t you just make your character a man?” The worst part was that he wasn’t even trying to be a jackass, he was just genuinely confused as to why I wouldn’t just write a book about a man. So I explained as best I could that maybe girls would like to read about characters that were more like them. I console myself with the idea that I may have broadened his feminist understanding. It’s probably not true, but I’m going to cling to the fantasy.
5. Book/movie that everyone thinks you’re weird to love:
Weirdest movie: Probably Howard the Duck. Even I acknowledge that I probably shouldn’t love that one, but I do anyway. But the movie I stand behind (and think that everyone else should swing to my point of view) is Clue. Casting, dialogue, construction – the entire movie is perfect.
Weirdest book… That’s a toughie mostly because the books I love are probably all a little bit weird. I’m going to go with Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Religion, computers, alternate time line, and a main character named Hiro Protagonist. I highly recommend it.
Thanks, Bethany! (Ass-kicking, mystery-solving, strong female protagonists? Sold!!)