05-10-2012 10:20 AM - edited 05-10-2012 10:23 AM
Q&A with Beatriz Williams
Debbie - First thank you for taking the time for answering some questions Beatriz
Beatriz - Thanks for having me!
Overseas is your debut novel, can you tell us a little about it
Overseas is a sweeping love story set in 1916 and 2007, as a dashing First World War infantry officer follows the woman he loves across time to contemporary Manhattan.
Tell us about your path to becoming an author- I love in your bio by the way the description of being a stay at home mom (an at-home producer of small persons)
Well, I'm really fortunate that my chosen career -- the one job I've ever really loved, in fact -- happens to be so perfectly compatible with being a hands-on mother! Like most novelists, I'd always wanted to write books, but I knew that dedicating myself to becoming an author meant facing a landslide of rejection and criticism. It wasn't until I had a bunch of small kids who needed me unreservedly that I found the courage to plunge in. I figured that even if I was a total failure at writing, at least my family still loved me! So I started writing at night, and when the kids were at school or napping. I attended a few writing conferences and wrote a couple of fatally flawed first efforts, and then the idea for Overseas popped into my head one day, and I couldn't stop until I'd gotten it all down. I just knew this was the one.
I know from the description that the novel includes some time-traveling and yet in an interview I read that you don’t want that to be the focus.
Could you explain that to the readers here.
I certainly never set out to write a time-travel novel; I always considered myself firmly in the historical fiction camp, and obsessed particularly with the first twenty years of the 20th century and the effect of the First World War on the Edwardian generation. So when this idea appeared in my brain -- a British infantry officer walking the streets of modern Manhattan -- I really didn't know what to do with it. But I loved the idea of this literal clash between two cultures, the world before the calamity of World War I (represented by Julian, the hero) and the world that emerged from its ashes (Kate, the heroine), so I created the time-travel device to realize it, in the same way that the actual existence of impossible creatures (vampires and shape-shifters, for example) is an accepted device of other paranormal worlds. I was always much more interested in the psychological impact of Julian's journey than the mechanics of how it happened.
What genre does Overseas fall in and on that same note, how do you feel about being placed in a certain genre
You know, I don't think Overseas fits comfortably into any one genre; it seems to straddle the shelves! Certainly Kate and Julian share a classically romantic love story, and as a huge fan of the romance genre, I'm happy to slap on that label. But it also breaks a lot of the so-called rules of romance, in terms of length and scope and structure, so I hope readers of general fiction and other genres will find the novel appealing as well.
What’s next for you, are you working on a new novel
I've just finished my next book, which will be out next year from Putnam. It's set in an exclusive Rhode Island summer community seething with secrets and romance, during the summer before the great New England hurricane of 1938. Imagine High Society meets A Perfect Storm.
Do you write fulltime
I do write full time, but I fit it in bits and pieces around my kids' schedules, and in fact do much of my thinking and scene-building while I'm folding mountains of laundry and schlepping the kids to soccer. My youngest started preschool this year, so that helps!
Do you belong to a writer’s group
I belong to the RWA and a couple of its chapters, and have made so many wonderful friends there. The members are fantastic, always willing to help each other out, a real community of writers.
If there was one thing you wanted readers to get out of Overseas what would it be
Beyond the emotional lift of a good love story, I hope readers gain a better understanding of the distance Western society has traveled in the 20th century. For good or ill, Julian's world, the Downton Abbey world, so firmly rooted in the romantic tradition, is unrecognizable to ours, which is laden with the irony and cynicism forged from the wanton slaughter of the First World War. Before 1914, you could use the word "erection" with a straight face. Afterward, to borrow Philip Larkin: Never such innocence again.
Finally thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions and good luck with the novel.
Thanks so much for having me!
My review of "Overseas"
Is it true that love spans ages, that it’s timeless. It’s a question Kate Wilson Wall Street analyst never asked herself until the fateful day she fell down the rabbit hole, the day Julian Laurence, Hedge Fund creator/billionaire walked into her life. After a rocky beginning at a first attempted personal relationship Julian literally crashes back into her life one night while running in Central Park and after only a very short while Kate is uncomfortable with not only the slightly cosmic feelings she has for Julian but especially his almost preternatural trust in the love he professes to her. It’s not until Julian reveals a secret that Kate feels the rabbit hole shrinking and it forces her to look at a truth that should not be possible that will alter her life even more, a secret that’s unbelievable and yet she has no choice but believe him. It seems Julian Laurence Ashford WWI British war hero and poet did not die on a lonely field in France but found himself falling down his own rabbit hole that brought him straight to the 21st century. Even as Julian peals away the layers of himself to Kate she knows there are things he’s not telling her, things that could lead to disaster, things that could alter the very deep love they’ve only recently found with each other, things that she feels she needs to know.
Beatriz Williams is a brilliant literary genius and as her words brought me from the bloody trenches of France in 1916 to the towers and glass of Manhattan today she transported me body and soul, flung me through the ether to worlds I rarely reach with mere words. Her narrative is a flowing prose filled mix of cultures and eras that kept me hypnotically entranced as she spun her improbable yet believable tale. Her dialogue is a mixed bag of English lords with the graphic and often sordid contemporary speak we’re so used to today. And as much as her words transcended me it was her characters that made me see the scenes through their eyes and their hearts, these miraculous fictional people became so real to me and became friends, rivals, villains and lovers and culminated in an experience that I will not forget. I could feel her extensive historical research shine through and not only in her main body of work but also during her interludes in the past where she shows me a foreign and different time.
This is the best book I’ve read this year and if it doesn’t make the top spot on my best of list in 2012 then the world is really up for some amazing fiction as the year progresses.
Ms Williams it was my immense pleasure to experience this work of amazing literary fiction and I can not wait to see where you take me to on our next journey together.
05-10-2012 01:54 PM
I look forward to reading Overseas and the author's next book too!
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
05-10-2012 02:03 PM