About Wanda Penalver Bevan:
Wanda Penalver Bevan was born and raised in upstate New York. A graduate of Northwestern University, she’s worked as an actress, paralegal, and events professional. She is the songwriter of Little Girl (2012), a tribute to the youngest victim of the 2011 Tucson shootings, and her poem, America’s Child (1996), is on display at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Their Souls Met in Wishton is her first novel. She has three children and lives in Los Angeles.
What inspires you to write?
I feel most complete, at ease, balanced, alive and fulfilled when I’m writing. To quote one of my favorite wall posts I saw on a writer’s website “Books are proof humans can do magic.” (There was no one credited with the quote). Playing with words makes me feel magical. This can be poetry, which I enjoy spilling onto a blank page in one sitting, or working on a novel. Also, I love having my characters tell me their story. When they tug at me, I’m inspired to write down what’s going on in their lives. Finally, I’m just plain old in love with words.
Tell us about your writing process.
It varies. I don’t use outlines. Like many writers, I don’t write in order. (I wrote the end of “Wishton” first. Then it took 18 months figuring out how to get there.) I’m best at it late at night. Sometimes I’ll spend an entire day thinking about what happens next in my novel, but if my emotions are so strong at a given moment that they have to come out in the form of a poem, I’ll stop everything I’m doing to write it down. I am loyal to realistic chronology, however. If one of my characters had a baby in September, I’m careful to make sure what season it has to be if I’m talking about that same baby when they’re 4 and a half years old. … I enjoy the research for my fiction – settings, places, actual historical events.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh, yes! It’s my favorite thing to do! When it comes to dialogue, I have to say that more often than not, I actually write down what I hear my characters say, rather than create what they say. When I’m stumped, I stop, take a deep breath, close my eyes, wait for them to continue the conversation. When I go back and read what I’ve written, if any of the conversation sounds unnatural, I know I wasn’t thoroughly listening. I’ve never talked to my characters, but there’s a place in “Wishton” where the main character (who’s writing a book) talks to one of hers! I also listen to my characters in the sense that I feel I can trust where they lead me in the story.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t wait to be inspired. Don’t go more than two days without writing at least one sentence about something–anything. Even if the sentence is simply “Why do I really think I can do this?” You’d be surprised at how much creativity it opens up. It will soon get easier and easier to express your thoughts that way, and before you know it, NOT writing will feel weird.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
There were many authors who inspired me and showed me how they did it, which made me believe I could do it, too. Another reason I wanted to be published, was the same reason author Toni Morrison was quoted, which I believe was “I wrote my book because I wanted to read it.” I would love to read a story like “Wishton” and I thought maybe there were other people out there who’d like to read this kind of story, too.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I know that self-publishing is becoming increasingly common but I honestly cannot imagine doing all the work myself that goes into publishing a book. I am very fortunate that a traditional publisher took an interest in me and made all of this possible. I will say that I hope the love of books in print, where you can actually feel and turn the pages, never dies. The idea that the day could come when e-books and digital publishing forces out books in print makes me nervous and sad.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Women’s fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.