Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Q&A with Beth Harbison




Beth Harbison is the author of the new novel Confessions of the Other Sister. Her many other books include the novel The Cookbook Club


Q: What inspired you to write Confessions of the Other Sister?


A: I was originally inspired by an experience I had coming to California from the East Coast to ghostwrite the memoir of a former child star. It was a fascinating, if expensive, experience - she never paid me. But as a personal experience it was still worth it.  


My first draft had a lot more about the interaction with the flakey star, but as I went along I found I was more compelled by the relationship between the sisters and, in particular, their shared past.  


As I’ve gotten older and my sisters and I had to move our mother to memory care, I’ve found those early memories are some of the sweetest and no one fully understands like a sibling who was there for it.


Q: How did you create your characters Frances and Crosby, and how would you describe the dynamic between them?


A: Frances and Crosby’s positive rapport is a lot more like that of my daughter and myself than of my sisters and me, actually. I had her when I was young and we’re very close.  


But all close relationships have their moments of tension and even some deeply held resentments and perhaps even over-protected secrets. So I culled stories from all around my life to build their relationship.


Q: You tell the story from both characters' perspectives--did you write the novel in the order in which it appears, or did you focus more on one character before turning to the other?


A: Actually I did write it in the order in which it appears - for me, switching points of view really keeps the writing fresh and allows me to slip into different mindsets and even react to the previous chapter with new feelings.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I really hope that what people take away from the story is that NO secret, no long-held resentment, no bruised ego or battered heart is so big or long lasting that a relationship with someone you love and respect, who loves and respects you, cannot be healed. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve learned not to describe ideas in progress, because it really dilutes the energy, but I will say that suddenly I’ve gotten a whole bunch of fun ideas that I want to pursue, and I’m working through them!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Beth Harbison.

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