Monday, February 1, 2010

Meet Avalon Author Beate Boeker

Q: Tell us the first thing that pops into your head when I say: Tell us about yourself. Give us a brief biography in your own words.
My name is Beate. It's a hard name to pronounce for anybody who's not German . . . my parents didn't think of me going international! You will get closest if you pronounce it in three steps - Be - A - Te. It has Latin origins and means "Happy". My last name, Boeker, is pronounced like Baker with an O and means books in a German dialect. So my name literally translates as Happy Books - and with a name like that, I simply had to become a romance writer!

Q: Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote.
As with many writers, reading was my first love. The second was horses. So I wrote a soppy story about seven friends and their seven horses when I was thirteen or fourteen. When I was done, I thought it was too embarrassing for words and managed to lose it somewhere . . . until, more than twenty years later, my sister typed it and made it into a book that now has a special place on my shelf!

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What was the biggest influence on this decision?
I didn't take a conscious decision to become a writer. Writing is a need for me . . . it's something I have to do to replenish my soul. It's not an option, and without the possibility to express myself on paper or via the keyboard, I become impatient with myself and with everybody around. When I start to snap at my husband, he takes me by the shoulders, steers me to the computer and says, "Write your book. It'll make you feel better."

After that first book about horses, I was kept busy with school and university . . . I studied business with languages because I love foreign languages. After four years with many stints abroad and constant challenges, I started my first job in Hamburg, a large town in the north of Germany. The first two years, it was fun. Then I realized that things kept repeating themselves, and I began to be bored. Oh, I had plenty to do, but the content never changed much. It wasn't easy to find another day job, though, and I realized that if I didn't want to be a constant job-hopper, I needed some other stimulus to keep me excited about life. That's when I took up writing again. I wrote a mystery placed in Indonesia, where I lived for six months.
Q: Was getting published in North America and in English difficult for you?
Funny enough, it was easier than getting published in German! Let me explain why: When I had finished that mystery in German, I realized I still had to learn a lot, and I was willing to learn, but in Germany, it's hard to find people who teach you how to write a good novel. Oh, there are plenty of literature analyzing courses, but I didn't want to write poetry, I didn't plan to become a second Goethe or Schiller, I didn't want to be a journalist, and I didn't want to study the development of language since the first Neanderthal scribbled a word. I wanted to write a good, strong novel, one that entertained and transported you into another world, and I did not want to give up my day job for learning this new craft . . . but I found nothing that fitted.

Then I discovered that there's a different writing culture in the US with plenty of books about writing. At first, I tried to find the same books translated into German, but they didn't exist. At that point, I threw up my hands and said that in that case, I had to write in English. After all, I had been reading my novels in English for years, and often when I wrote, English expressions popped up in my head before I found the German equivalent.

Writing in English isn't always easy because I tend to sound like a Brit at times, and slang often eludes me, but thanks to the wealth of information at my hands, thanks to the great editing service of Elizabeth Lyon, and thanks to her giving me the address of Avalon Books, I sold the very first novel I had written in English, Wings to Fly. It was an overwhelming experience.

Q: Tell us about the genre in which you write and why?
I've always been a mystery lover, and the first book I wrote after the unspeakable teenage-horse-story was that mystery placed in Indonesia. Later, when I decided to write in English, I realized that too many challenges at once might not be a good idea. As I was rather unfamiliar with the business of corpses and police procedure (thank God!), I decided to stick to romance in the beginning, a topic I am more familiar with. Now, more and more mystery sneaks into my romances, and I'm currently working on a mystery series.

Q: Tell us about your latest book. Is it with Avalon or another publisher? What is your most recent or next Avalon Book?

My last book published is Take My Place by Avalon Books. It came out in April 2009, and it's about a single mother who has just set up her own business. Juggling both responsibilities, she is in no mood for romance, but then she falls in love during a business dinner, with a man who never charmed her in the least before. A few hours later, she finds out why -- he's the identical twin of her business acquaintance and offered to take his brother's place. Furious, she decides to take her revenge, but things don't work out the way she planned . . .

My mother is an identical twin, and it's amazing to see how alike the sisters still are. If they put their minds to it, they could still fool us for hours on end, that's why I knew I could use it for my novel.

Q: What do you like to do besides write?
Reading, sleeping, eating, ice skating, dancing in my living room . . . I'm the original couch potato, happiest at home with my family. I like to travel too, but only enjoy it if I meet "natives" - i.e. if I'm not a tourist who only sees the surface of things.

I don't like to go long distances by car, I don't like to watch TV, I don't like traditional German food (sausages and sauerkraut etc.), I don't like coffee and hate beer. I would love to live in a sunny village by the Mediterranean or any other sea, but my husband is a fan of cold weather, so the north of Germany is a compromise of sorts.

Q: What would you like us to know about you or your writing above anything else?
I love books that make me chuckle, books that make me happy about the good things in life. Life is hard enough . . . pollution, war, pain, catastrophes, stress, difficult relationships - the list is long. When I read, I want a break from all that. I want a happy ending, and I want the good things to conquer the world. So if you're looking for dark, edgy fiction that shows you the depth of human despair, choose another book. But if you want to feel a happy tingle inside, want to laugh at your human weaknesses without feeling wretched, want to relax and be enticed into another world, then you will enjoy my novels.

Q: Where else can readers find you, besides clicking on your Avalon Author link on this page?

On my website
You can also find a free sample story, pictures, and a lot more information.


Sandy Cody said...

Love the interview! Kudoes to both of you, Laurie Alice and Beate.

Glad to learn you're working on mysteries, Beate. Would love to have you join me on the Avalon mystery shelf.

marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

A lover of horses--you sound like my kind of person. I, too, love horses. Great interview, Beate. It's so nice getting to know you.

Elisabeth Rose said...

I can attest to the fact that Beate is every bit as interesting, friendly and fun as she sounds in the interview, having become friends at the last RWA conference in Washington. :)
I should find and post my photo of Beate ready for the awards night in the most beautiful red evening dress.

Beate Boeker said...

Hi you four, thank you so much for your kind comments! Lucy, welcome to the blog! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Laurie Alice does a great job interviewing all of us . . .
Sandy, if I ever manage to write a mystery without any trace romance in it (that's the mystery rule at Avalon, isn't it?), I'll certainly send it to Avalon!
Loretta, I loved to read about your westerns and cowboys in Florida on this blog. I keep dreaming of riding across the Grand Canyon one day . . . (yeah, I know it's not in Florida :-) ) I would probably last two hours and then drop from my horse, exhausted, but the dream is nice!
Lis, meeting you and the other Avalon authors at RWA was worth going to the conference! It's great that we can now put a "real person" to the texts we're writing . . .

Carol Hutchens said...

Great interview, Beate. Enjoyed learning about you.

LaVerne St. George said...

It's so good to learn more about you, Beate. My sister-of-the-heart, Birgit, was born in the US of German parents and grew up in the German community in Huntsville, AL with the von Braun rocket group. She still hops over American slang. I've visited Hamburg and toured Germany several times, my husband went to university in Oldenburg, and I'm so happy to get to know another native. Wonderful to be reminded how different and how alike we are. And don't we all have that one "unspeakable book" in our files? Made me grin.

Alexis Walker said...

Hi Beate,

Great interview! I found it fascinating. I can so relate to turning into the Wicked Witch of the West when I don't get to write. It's definitely an addiction. The joy of writing is hard to describe. Keep up the great work!

mulligangirl said...

What a great tidbit about your name, Beate. You just can't lose with a name like that! :-)

Great interview and I hope I get to meet you again at another conference soon!

Carolyn Hughey said...

Hi Beate,
What a great interview. I especially enjoyed the non-traditional eating of German food. I'll bet you get a lot of ribbing about it.

Although, if I think about it, there are a lot of Italian dishes I would touch with a fork. LOL

I've been MIA lately, so I'm glad you let me know. I hope to see you at conference, but if not this year, maybe next in New York. XO


Jane Myers Perrine said...

Beate--thanks for explaining how to pronounce your name! I admire you so much for being abole to write in a second language--and such great books.

Beate Boeker said...

I loved to read all your comments! I hope we can all meet in person soon . . . Laverne, when I was at the RWA conference in Washington last summer, I was amazed how many people had traveled to Germany and had good memories liked to it. Due to the German history, I had expected quite different feelings, but you all made me feel so welcome.
Alexis, I love the expression "The Wicked Witch of the West" - I've never heard it before!
Carolyn, the food I love best is Chinese, or Thai, if not too spicy. As traditional German food is nothing for people who want to stay slim, many Germans are turning away from it and eating more in mediterranean style now, so I'm not having a hard time with my "unusual" preferences.

Anonymous said...

Beate: The /wicked Witch of the West comes from The Wizzard of Oz. I highly recommend the movie. Think you'll enjoy it.

One fault the majority of Americans do not have, as a general rule, is holding past conflicts against other countries, so don't worry that anyone here would ever mind you being German.

Sorry I ended up not meetingyou last summer. Hope another year.

Sarita Leone said...

What a lovely interview! Fun to hear you're working on mysteries, Beate. I love a good mystery!