Who I'm Reading


 Papers and Planes, when I first saw this username I thought what? I wondered if this was some kind of inside joke that I didn’t get. Then I read her one of her books and thought to myself, just who is this young lady? On her page she has this under hobbies. ‘Getting up to mischief is my all-time favorite hobby, but I don't think many people recognize it as such. They probably just see me as a nuisance, which, to be fair, isn't so far from the truth.”  But still that didn’t give me the insight I was looking for. Her favorite quote from one of my favorite authors added a bit more. "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a word of what I am saying." - Oscar Wilde.”  Still, I wanted to look into the mind of this incredibly talented young author and co moderator of the Coffee Shop, and find out what made Beth Stafford write a story like Anna.

Beth Stafford was born in New Zealand, a beautiful country where her play ground was a large sprawling forest that bordered her home. This wonderland was the canvas that her imagination first began to craft stories and fantasies, but as with every fantasy story, Beth’s childhood had dark times and scary places.  The city of Auckland, where Beth and her family lived, was one of those dark places in New Zealand. It’s a city rampant with drugs. Even if it meant going to war with Beth’s father and his family, Beth mother decided she wasn’t raising her three impressionable teenagers in that city.  Like a lot of women determine to raise their families in a safe and nurturing environment, regardless of the cost to themselves, throughout this world. Beth’s mother took her and her brothers and fled New Zealand green rich soil to Australia. Beth describes her mother as, “a fierce lioness protecting her cubs.”   

At the end of the day, I can't thank my mother enough. It had to take a lot of bravery to uproot a family on your own and move to a foreign country.”

 At twelve, Beth found herself in a new country and a new school. Surprisingly, she tells me that the transition went smoothly. Mostly because the Principle of the school was edger to get her involved in their French Immersion Project, the project involved the student learning over seventy percent of their subject matter in French. Beth also found her class mates amazingly welcoming as well, and she was ahead of the curve, because of her education in New Zealand.  Which I’m sure also added to the smooth transition.  Beth did admit to me one thing about the move that was bothersome.
The biggest cultural difference I had to struggle with was having the other kids ask me to say, "Fish and chips" over and over again.”

Beth fascination with reading started very early on. She was reading her favorite book, ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ at the age of three. Something she said she started because, “it was a secret everyone was in on but me.”  Her curious little mind saw the words in the book as mesmerizing Egyptian hieroglyphs. Those strange shapes on the pages that her mother turned into wonderful stories had to be deciphered. She told me that, “I would sit on the floor with my books for hours, telling the story from memory and trying to match up the words with the images I saw written down.” According to Beth’s mother she was trying to read and write even before she could count. Beth even tried to teach her young cousin, who wasn’t as enthused as she was with those strange shapes on the page.

Beth childhood was trouble, but she found her escape through the recess of her mind, like many of authors, it was her source of comfort. Her childhood spent in the green wonderland of New Zealand fueled her imagination, since there was no Playstation or Nintendo. She entertained her siblings with stories she conquered up of their adventures in their living wonderland.  A bit of a tomboy, her stories were about mythical breast that would emerge from the undergrowth and their valiant efforts to force them back with their swords.  Her writing started early too, around seven, when her Dad gave her a little book to put down her imaginings. Now, with her build in audience, Beth rather forcibly, read her crude stories to her family as entertainment. The first being a Disney-like fairytale of a young girl getting swallowed up by her favorite book and becoming the heroine, she even had illustrations. Now if young Beth could only find a publisher, she would be set.

Beth continued to write down her imaginings, but it wasn’t until she got to high school that she found someone that would help to hone and nurture her passion for writing. “I was blessed with an amazing English teacher in high-school; I owe a lot to him.” He was head of the Drama department as well as her English teacher. A flamboyant and excitable man, he was everyone’s favorite teacher not just because he made everyone laugh. She tells me that this Teacher saw in each child something special, that one thing that was unique to them and nurture it to help it to grow. Wow! Imagine if every child had someone like him in their lives. Imagine what this world could become, if everyone knew their purpose and acted on it. Imagine the possibilities.
 Beth told me, with a little humor. “My pestering for him to give us more creative writing assignments may have given me away just a little.” She credits this one teacher with her knowledge of sentence structure, arranging dialogue and setting up a scene. She tells me he enjoyed her writing, often giving her advice on how to make her personal writing better by injecting more drama, suspense and flow. He even kept her work on his bookshelf long after the assignments ended. Having been her 10th grade English teacher, he also was her 12th.  When she handed in her first draft of the year, he sighed happily and said. “Ah, it’s so nice to read your writing again.”

Beth is taking courses from a New Zealand University. She hopes to someday live on campus, but until then, she will continue her double degree in Marketing and psychology online. I asked her why she wasn’t an English major and she told me with a voice of a sage. “Believe me; I wanted to do an English major. But, as a child, I saw my family struggle with money, struggle to stay afloat. I wanted to do a degree that would (hopefully) ensure a career that would keep me comfortable financially.”  Who could blame her?  Every parent I know, no matter their financial standing, wants to see their child do better than themselves.  Beth goal is to someday get into advertising; she sees it as a corporate side to her creative nature.  I thought I knew why she was taking psychology, but again Beth surprised me by saying she just find it fascinating, even more so than her marking which is her major. Beth works selling sunglass, which she likes because it allows her quiet time to write during her shift.

I bet no one knew that Beth is a published author? Will she is, having been published several times in her school paper. Her stories ranged from the mundane, to the fantastical; the ominous mystery and the historical drama, a varying range for such a young woman. Her diverse writing probably stems from being a passionate reader. Beth told me that she has a favorite book from every year of her life, starting with ‘Green Eggs and Ham.’ and this year it's probably ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver. Other favorites include ‘White Oleander’ by Janet Fitch, ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. This is one of my favorites as well, got to love Dorian. Oscar Wilde is definite one of her favorite, if not the favorite author. She told me that, “if I could possess even an eighth of his talent for poetic prose I'd be one happy girl.”
And Stephen King deserves to be up there too, since she said that, ‘he was the first author whose novels I devoured almost compulsively.’ But this young woman has a list that could go on for miles. Beth wasn’t initially inspired by the authors she read, but these days she certainly inspire to grow and develop as a writer. “I try to take away some new lesson on writing from every book I read.”
Writing for Beth first began as a form of escapism, a background hobby which changed into an intense fascination with literature that soon transformed into thick fabrics that has woven itself into her personality. Beth is also from a family of writers, her mother writes and she tells me her brother dwarfs her in terms of his writing ability.

Beth won her first contest for her writing right here on BookRix just this year. She won the Bad Romance contest and credits her friend and mentor Val (Gooduklady) for encouraging her to enter.  She informs me that Val is an amazingly supportive friend that always encouraging her to enter more contest.

Beth lives in Australia with her Mother, and three siblings. The majority of her family still lives in New Zealand, including her Dad, step mother and half sister that’s only four. Technically the middle child; Beth learned to stay on her toes around her brothers, eventually becoming a tomboy. Her sister, four years her junior is her polar opposite, and despite the daily petty spats, they are a close family.

                     ***************** Bonus*******************
 Beth mother is a published author of short stories. “My Mum's a spectacular writer, and I can remember poring over her short stories for hours as a child. I aspire to someday have some short stories published, just like her.”  Unfortunately, Beth tells me her mother doesn’t write as much as she used to. These days it's mainly journals and poetry, which she still badger her mother into letting her read even now. Beth still has copies of the short stories that were printed in magazines and the like, and even though she’ll probably read them hundreds of times over the course of her life she told me, ‘they will never get old.’  Beth brother, on the other hand, writes prolifically, but he won't let anyone read anything -- ever. Beth said, her brother is unreasonably shy. She has lost count of how many times she has tried to get him to join BookRix. ‘The things I have read of his, however, completely blew my mind. My brother and I have drastically different writing styles; he specializes in outlandish sci-fi, steeped in satire. One of these days I'll get him on BookRix, you mark my words.’

From Author
Anna was an idea that had been fermenting in my mind for a long, long while; I had just never summoned the courage to write it. I didn't believe I could pull it off, or that anyone would even want to read it. Anna signifies a turning point in my writing career, of taking the bull by the horns and writing it anyway.

Author's Choice:
Ezra's a shy freshman, Anna is anything but. 
When Ezra's diagnosed with a debilitating illness, Anna takes him traveling around the world to enjoy the time they have left.


Sooooo good, but now I'm fighting tears!

First off, this book is absolutely beautiful. I was near tears at the end. You made this story play out in such a perfect way that I wouldn't change a single thing about. Amazing job.

What is it about your stories, that exactly makes reading them so effortless and pleasurable, Beth? It's what's in all our writers' hearts and aspirations, only you have it naturally, and we must strive and only hope to achieve.

Anna was truly poetic in its way. I was drawn to her immediately, and so glad to have met her again afterward.

You are truly an artist with words. On a scale of one to ten...One Hundred.

This is SUCH a beautiful story, Beth. Vivid, poignant, real... I'm at a loss for words.

Like a poetic breeze through my heart

My Favorite:

Her entry in the YoungWriters 'Paint Your Picture With Words' contest. 
A descriptive flash fiction.

You really have a way with words
I could hardly breathe, it was almost as if I was drowning too.

You possess the creative writing talent to make color come to life. The pictures you paint with words are so captivating. This is a very interesting and touching story.

Exceptional writing.
This is great
I like how you portrayed it as if it was you. That’s really good. Keep up the good work

Beth Stafford is a wonderful young author and I'm glad I got to interview her before she becomes a great writer and start charging me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy, you know what I want!