Name: Beth Rodgers
Where are you from: Oak Park, Michigan
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing as a little girl. I’ve always loved jotting down stories. I was definitely in kindergarten or first grade when I first got bit by the writing bug.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I’ve always considered myself a writer, at least for as long as I can remember. I have journal entries from the first grade that say that I want to be an author and a teacher when I grow up, and I achieved both of those goals. It’s really cool to think back on that.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always really loved novels, TV shows, and movies about teenagers. So I figured that writing about what I like and what I know, since I liked high school myself, was the best bet. The beginning of my first novel, Freshman Fourteen, had some semi-autobiographical ideas interspersed throughout, but then I decided to add much more conflict and dilemmas for main character Margot to face that I never had to deal with myself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I like to just get ideas down and sometimes write without thinking too much about it. I don’t outline too much, but sometimes I find it useful, depending on the circumstances. If I have an idea, I jot it down, and then I see where I can go with it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My first novel, Freshman Fourteen, I came up with because I knew my main character was fourteen years old, and she was a freshman in high school. For the sequel, Sweet Fifteen, I wanted to keep the age in the title, and I liked the play on words of the title seeming to be familiar to “sweet sixteen.”
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Both novels show how friendship can sometimes override any troubles people think they have. Mean girls, bullies, and conflicts that undermine reputations can always seem to get in the way, but if you know who you can rely on and who will always be there for you, you can get through almost anything that gets thrown at you.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A bit of the beginning of Freshman Fourteen has some semi-autobiographical points, such as the fact that I was in plays like main character Margot wants to be, and the fact that I never had a boyfriend, but always had crushes on boys I liked. After that, though, everything that happens to Margot comes purely from my imagination. I wanted to give her a unique high school experience, even though there are themes that any teenager will surely be able to identify with at some point during their high school years.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I love contemporary young adult novels in general, but some of my favorite authors include Sonya Sones, who writes spectacular novels-in-verse, J.K. Rowling for her amazing Harry Potter series, as well as Meredith Zeitlin, Lauren Barnholdt, and so many others who constantly remind me how great writing can really be. I also look up to Amy Sherman-Palladino for the fabulous writing she did on Gilmore Girls, and to Sylvester Stallone for his writing in the Rocky series of movies.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I read a lot of new novels, both traditionally and independently published. The authors of the Young Adult Author Rendezvous (YAAR) have a lot of great titles that people should be sure to check out. I’ve read a good many of them myself, and I’m always impressed! My favorite author would have to be either Sonya Sones or J.K. Rowling. They each have unique writing styles that engage me in different ways and inspire me to keep writing.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Young Adult Author Rendezvous (YAAR) is a group I’m a part of that has been very supportive of my writing. They make it easy to talk about questions I have about writing in general and my own books.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It is a career of sorts, but not my full-time one. I wish I could spend more time writing, but I also love teaching, and that takes up some of my time, as well as spending time with my kids as a part-time stay-at-home mom.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I think after the revisions I made as I was working on it to get it published, it came together just as I wanted it to, and I’m very proud of that.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve just always enjoyed it. I think my elementary school teachers must have had us keeping journals, and it also didn’t hurt that my aunt was (and still is) an author of historical and contemporary romances and thrillers, so I was always hearing about the types of books she was writing, even though I wasn’t old enough to read them yet when I was younger.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Check out the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon under the Kindle edition for Sweet Fifteen to read the first couple of chapters of the book.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I tend to have a hard time with conclusions. I’m never quite sure how to wrap it all up. This changed, though, in my most recent novel, Sweet Fifteen, as I figured out how I wanted it all to end, and then I had to fill in the middle of the book and make my way to the ending.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I don’t travel much for the purposes of my writing. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to, and I suppose that when I do travel, I try to infuse some of my experiences into my writing to make it all that much more realistic.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My husband designed the covers, with my input. It was nice to collaborate with someone who knew exactly what I was looking for and how to put it together.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finishing them and getting them published were the hardest parts of writing my books. The lengthy process is frustrating at times, especially when all I wanted to do was get my books out there for people to see and know about, but when all is said and done, it really is all worth the wait.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that you have to persist, because if you don’t, you’ll never know what you might miss out on, including fulfilling dreams and goals such as being a full-fledged author.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
I’ve thought about this a lot and I still don’t have my mind totally made up, but the person I think looks the closest to what I think Margot should look like in terms of actresses is Vanessa Marano. She played a character on Gilmore Girls, and that’s where I know her from, but she has been in other things, including Switched at Birth, among other TV shows.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stick with it. Don’t get discouraged. It’s easy to feel lost in writer’s block and say you’ll wait for inspiration to strike, but you must constantly write something down, even if just in journal form, and even if just about your day, to get thoughts to continuously flow. This will only serve to strengthen your writing technique.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Always follow your dreams and be true to who you are and what you believe.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember this, but the first book I remember really enjoying the most (at least off the top of my head) is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love good comedy and funny scenes in TV shows, movies, and books. I cry at sad stuff, of course, but I also love to cry when scenes on TV, in movies, and in books are really emotional. It makes me feel more connected with the writing.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
In terms of a non-famous person, I’d choose my grandmother (my dad’s mom) who passed away before I was born, and even before my parents even met. I’d love to get to know her and find out more about her from her own perspective. In terms of a famous person, I think it would be really fun to meet Jimmy Fallon or Ellen Degeneres, but if I had to choose a person from history, I’d probably pick Abraham Lincoln. There are too many good ones to choose just one!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Beth Rodgers, Beloved Wife, Mother, Sister, and Friend – I’m pretty traditional in this sense, I suppose. However, if it had to say something about my writing, I’d say, “Beth Rodgers, A Beloved and Respected Author.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love watching TV shows, movies, and reading (especially young adult novels). I also love spending time with family and friends, and being with my husband and kids.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch so much TV. I love One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, Lost, 24, This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, Designated Survivor, and I also watch older shows like Taxi, Cheers, and a ton of others. In terms of movies, I love romantic comedies, regular comedies, and drama, with an occasional action movie thrown in the mix now and then.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors / Music:
My favorite foods include pizza, bagels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and, of course, chocolate! My favorite color is probably blue, but I’m not overly partial to any. I love all different kinds of music. Some of my favorite artists/bands include Michael Buble, Maroon 5, Ben Folds, Taylor Swift, and so many more.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I lived in California or anywhere near TV or movie sets, I think it would be awesome to give tours of studios or filming sites. I always envy the people who get to give those tours when I go on them myself.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My Amazon Author page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Rodgers/e/B00PB78PBS
My Facebook Author page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/bethrodgersauthor
My Twitter feed is @bethrodgersauth
Freshman Fourteen, , can be found at amzn.com/B00PIWYU92
Sweet Fifteen, can be found at amzn.com/B01MTSHL0H