Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with the characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you—V.L. McBeath!
Val started researching her family tree back in 2008. At that time, she had no idea what she would find or where it would lead. By 2010, she had discovered a story so compelling, she was inspired to turn it into a novel. Initially writing for herself, the story grew beyond anything she ever imagined and she is now in the process of publishing The Ambition & Destiny Series.
Prior to writing, Val trained as a scientist and has worked for the pharmaceutical industry for many years. In 2012, she set up her own consultancy business, and currently splits her time between business and writing.
Born and raised in Liverpool (UK), Val now lives in Cheshire with her husband, youngest daughter and a cat. In addition to family history, her interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I am a scientist by training and have worked in the pharmaceutical industry for longer than I care to remember. The idea of writing a book didn’t enter my head until about 2010.
Why did you choose to write your genre?
The idea for my books came from research I was doing into my family history. I uncovered a story that I found so amazing that I felt compelled to turn it into a novel.
Currently, what are you working on?
I am currently editing Part 4 of the series, Only One Winner, and am about to start writing the 5th and final part.
Let’s talk about your latest book for a moment. What motivated the plot?
As above, my inspiration was my family history, but it has been embellished with real life events that may have a key part of my characters lives as well as a large amount of fiction.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written?
My series is a historical fiction family saga and is the first series I have written. A number of interesting issues are covered, although they are not necessarily strange. One such story line involves the way women were treated in the 19th century. If they didn’t conform to the role men expected, almost on a whim, a husband or father could have them locked up in a lunatic asylum. This may have been to keep them out of sight or could have been for ‘corrective’ therapy. Some of the reasons for admission to asylums were outrageous and were usually heavily weighted against women.
What was the hardest story for you to write?
As the series is a family saga that spans 70 years, there are a number of deaths in the books. One death stood out though. It involved a three-month old baby who effectively starved to death. That was hard, most particularly because it was based on a real event.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality?
I put a lot of myself into Harriet, which could explain why I found her so much fun to write. I don’t think I would have survived as a woman during the Victorian Era. [That makes two of us.]
Who has been your favorite character? Why?
Harriet. Her story is based on the life of my great, great, grandmother and I ended up portraying her as a strong woman who was frustrated by the constraints placed on women (whether this was her true character, I have no idea). In the books, she managed to overcome a lot of the obstacles put in her way, although she did upset one particular character, which turned out to be a particularly bad move.
What process do you use to plan your novels?
I gather up all the factual information I can about the characters and then overlay it with real-life events of the time. That gives me the basic outline. Because I know what is going to happen, I then create story lines to get me from the start of a sub-plot to the end.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, I think it’s an occupational hazard, although I’ve never suffered too badly. If I ever get stuck, I do some research (I couldn’t have written the book without Google!), and it usually triggers my thought processes again.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be?
At the moment I can’t imagine moving [to another] genre, but if I did it would probably be murder mystery, something that requires some thought. I get very frustrated with books that are predictable.
Which authors inspire you?
I don’t have specific authors who have inspired me although I have a lot of respect for authors who did all their work on typewriters. If I had to re-type a whole page or chapter every time I wanted to change something, I think I’d have given up long ago!
What novel would you read multiple times?
The series I have re-read the most is Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien. I have also re-read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series several times and the Harry Potter series. It seems I have a thing for saga/series type books!
What is your favorite quote?
I’m not sure if it classifies as a quote, but the last line of Lord of the Rings always gets me:
It was spoken by Sam Gamgee after he’d seen Frodo and Bilbo sail away from the grey havens.
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary?
Koala bears. That’s what I’d like to come back as if I ever get the choice!
What is your favorite color?
Red. Born and bred in Liverpool (UK) there really is only one colour!
When you’re not writing…
I have my own business as a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, which means I can divide my time between work and writing.
You can find V.L. online at…
Thank you for hanging out with me today. It was a pleasure getting to know you.
Join me next week when author Valarie Savage Kinney will be stopping by!