Today I’m pleased to welcome Beth Miller to the blog. Beth is the author of When We Were Sisters and her latest novel The Good Neighbour was published by Ebury on 10 September 2015.
Beth kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Good Neighbour.
We may see our neighbours around a lot; nod at them and exchange a few words, take in post for them. We may even keep each others’ keys. But how well do we really know them? The story is told by three different people in the same street, who are all keeping secrets of one sort or another… Warning: contains mental health issues, hot sex scenes, and a triathlon.
2. What inspired the book?
I was thinking one day about how gullible I am (I really am! You can tell me anything and I’ll believe you), and I thought, what if everyone I know is lying about something? And it went from there.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’ve been both. My first book, When We Were Sisters, was written in the dark. I just wrote to see what would happen; it never even occurred to me that planning might be a good idea. It did take a long time to write that way. The Good Neighbour was planned in great detail, as a reaction. My third novel (currently out on submission), was a mixture, which I think is a good system for me: plan a rough outline but then allow things to change during the writing.
4. Having been through the publishing process a few times is there anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
Everything about it is surprising! But the thing that is really on my mind right now is that I have given my agent three novels. Each time it is a novel I have written and re-written a hundred times, and I think it’s perfect. And three times, she points out a fatal flaw. Then I go away and rewrite it yet again, and she likes it, and then it’s finished. I’m surprised by that every time. Why can’t I see the fatal flaw on my own?
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I have been thinking about this for quite a while, wondering just what it is that I do to relax other than writing! I find writing pretty relaxing. I like walking, reading, good telly, tea with friends, the usual things. I must take up something like fire-eating so I have a decent answer to this. Oh I know, I like to watch music videos with my kids on Youtube (I’m currently showing them unsuitable songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
There are several books I re-read every year: Heartburn (Nora Ephron), Another Marvelous Thing (Laurie Colwin), This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Ann Patchett). But probably I would choose this massive anthology of PG Wodehouse stories, letters and diaries that I have, because it would last for ages, and would cheer me up whenever I got sad that I only had one book to read.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
What are my beauty secrets? I have LONGED to answer this ever since I used to read stars’ tips in Patches and Jackie comics. (Boots Curl Creme – just £1.99 – is my top tip.)
Oh, you want something more writerly, I expect. How about: what is your fourth novel about, Beth? (No-one’s asked that, because I’ve only been writing it for a couple of months, and in fact this is the first place I’ve mentioned it). Thanks for asking, Janet! It’s about tribute bands. (And then I will go on to talk about tribute bands for about an hour because I love them and their punning names so much, and everyone will wish they had stuck to beauty tips. Carmex moisture-plus lip-balms are very good, by the way.)
About the book
Everyone has secrets. How far will you go to protect yours?
After living next to the neighbours from hell, Minette is overjoyed when Cath and her two children move in next door. Cath soon becomes her confidante, a kindred spirit, even her daughter’s babysitter.
But Cath keeps herself unusually guarded and is reluctant to speak of her past. And when Minette witnesses something unspeakable, she begins to question whether she really knows her new friend at all…
Read more on the Pengiun website.
About the author
Beth Miller has been a sex educator, alcohol counsellor, university lecturer and inept audio-typist. She has a PhD in Psychology, which is yet to come in handy.