When Beverly Stowe McClure was in eighth grade, her teacher sent her poem “Stars” to the National High School Poetry Association, and she was soon a published writer in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry. Today, Beverly is a cum laude graduate of Midwestern State University with a BSEd degree. For twenty-two years, she taught children to read and write. They taught her patience. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices in her head tell her. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps photos of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. Her articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories are in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL ANTHOLOGIES, and she has nine novels published, two of them award winning novels at Children’s Literary Classics and other competitions.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
When I was a child, I hated to read. I enjoyed listening to the radio, however. Yes, this was before television. Every Saturday morning a program came on the radio called “Let’s Pretend.” Children’s actors read fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to name a few. I loved listening to the stories and could picture the beautiful princesses and the handsome princes living in the gorgeous castles. Although I did not read the books, the stories stayed with me. I guess these could be compared to today’s Audio Books. The radio shows were my introduction to reading, as I don’t remember having books in my home.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
My latest book, A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, is a MG contemporary story about thirteen-year-old Erik Burks whose life is turned upside down when his parents separate and his mom and Erik move from Texas to South Carolina to live with her sister. All he wants is his old life back.
One summer when we visited our son and his wife in Charleston, SC, we went to the beach to watch the sun rise over the water and the lighthouse. As I watched the sky grow brighter, the lighthouse seemed to call to me. “I have a story,” it seemed to say. Of course, don’t all lighthouses have a ghost? I listened and my story came to life. Besides the lighthouse ghost I added a couple of pirate ghosts and a cat ghost. We were off and running. We didn’t stop until the end.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
I had no outline to follow, just a bunch of ideas bouncing around in my head. I let the characters take control and followed along, writing events as they happened. Sometimes Erik and his friends did the unexpected, and we had to back up and change an earlier scene or two. I did make character profiles before I started writing, so I could remember the personalities and specifics of each character. I also cut pictures from magazines, pasted them on poster board, and hung them on the wall of my writing room so I could “see” the kids.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Some research was necessary. I wanted to learn more about ghosts, what they could and could not do. It was important to get the history of the pirates just right too. Kids are sharp and they would catch any mistakes. And although I’ve visited Folly Island and the area, I read more about it to get the history of the lighthouse and ghostly sightings town people had reported.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
My best story ideas often come to me when I’m asleep or right before I wake up in the morning. A little voice might speak to me with a word or two. In one such instance a boy told me “I live in a doghouse.” Wow! I had to find out what he meant and his words turned into a book, due out in December 2014.
Also, I find walking often frees my mind so that it’s open to little voices trying to get my attention with their stories. One time, a tumbleweed rolled across the path in front of me. An idea clicked, and “Tumbleweed Christmas” was born, now published.
I think the times when I’m relaxed and not thinking about writing are when the ideas are able to present themselves to me because nothing else is in my head, crowding them out. Sometimes it pays to be empty headed.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I edit as I move along. I guess it’s the English teacher in me, but I find it hard to ignore wrong punctuation and sentence structure. Or if a scene doesn’t make sense I have to change it then, not later. I wish I could write straight through. It wouldn’t take me so long to finish a first draft. Recently I’ve been trying “Fast Drafting.” I’m not sure if it will work for me, but I did finish one manuscript in just a few days. Now I have to go back and fill in the details, but I did get the ideas for scenes down. And some scenes I hadn’t even dreamed of popped up.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Readers can find me at:
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I have several projects in various stages. My MG/Tween historical novel A Family for Leona is scheduled for release Nov/Dec, 2014. Two more MG/Tween stories, Star of the Team and I Live in a Doghouse, are due out this fall/winter. I’m working on a sequel to A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, a MG/Tween paranormal. My YA contemporary novel, Under a Purple Moon, is being revised as per suggestions from an editor.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
When a child/teen/adult tells me how much they enjoyed my book and it’s in a special place on their bookshelf, I’m happy. A good review also makes me smile.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!
Thank you for having me and letting me talk about my favorite subject. Writing and books.