Monday, February 8, 2021

Author Insights: Beth Camp and The Seventh Tapestry

Please welcome guest author Beth Camp for the first Author Insights Feature of 2021!

1.     Tell us about yourself.  

As an older-than-average writer, I used to worry about what I’d do after I retired from teaching writing and humanities at a two-year college. I’d always wanted to write, but I’d always worked – so there never seemed enough time for writing, not with 60 hour weeks! This is it, I thought. When I retire, I will write. To prepare myself for this new career, I took a creative writing class. My plan was to re-imagine a story about a serial killer that I’d drafted. My teacher had other ideas. On the first day of class, she announced, “Write about anything you want, but no violence.” I had to start from scratch! My new project led to my first publication about (wait for it) mermaids, though I discovered along the way that even mermaids have a dark side. 

Aside from writing and quilting, my other obsession is travel. I would rather live out of a suitcase nearly anywhere than stay at home. Luckily, my husband, Allen, feels the same way. In fact, neither one of us can rattle the suitcases, because the other one will say, “Let’s go!”

2.     How did you come up with the idea for The Seventh Tapestry

We had rented an inexpensive flat for several weeks in Paris and were busy visiting museums when I first saw the six magnificent Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Musée de Cluny. Discovered in an attic in 1841, these six tapestries were woven in Flanders sometime around 1500. Researchers know who had commissioned these tapestries, but questions remain over who they were for, why they had been created, and what they really mean. A few years later, Allen and I traveled to Scotland for a month to do research for Standing Stones (historical fiction, 1840’s). There we visited Stirling Castle where King James V once lived. Interestingly, James V (his reign 1513-1542) loved tapestries, had commissioned many of these delicate and beautiful works, and, we learned, the unicorn is a symbol of Scotland, appearing on the Scottish Royal Arms until 1603. Then we read of James V’s ‘summer queen,’ and the story of The Seventh Tapestry began.

3.     What is your writing process? 

 Mornings are best. Most of the time (even during pandemic), I begin writing even before breakfast. Just go to my computer and dive in for a few hours. Later in the day, I may pick up some more time. Typically a ‘pantser,’ I do now use some strategies to keep me organized. 1) Before actually writing the story, draft a blurb, short bios of characters and places, and a working outline. Update this through the writing process. 2) End each writing session with a ‘what’s next?’ list of questions/ideas. 3) Keep a separate ‘story notes’ file for research, unanswered questions, and deleted scenes. 4) If I’m stuck, ask what my main character would say or do in response to conflict/action/plot twist. 

4.     From start to finish, how long does it take for you to complete a novel? 

Sadly, writing my stories seems to take forever – typically three years from start to finish. While preliminary research may fuel the story, I’m distracted continually by bits of history/setting. I’m never satisfied with one round of editing. Maybe by three or five different passes on getting the story ‘right’.

 5.     Do you have any advice for inspiring writers? 

Try to write before distractions (job, partner, kids, normal emergencies?) intervene between you and your writing. You know when your most productive writing time occurs. Your time as a writer is precious.

Consider keeping a journal. I use those very inexpensive black/white composition books that easily slip into my bag. That journal allows you to explore ideas, capture inspiration, list questions, and even draw (characters, maps, timelines). Yes, we can do all this on the computer, but the tactile sense of putting words to paper slows the brain down. You may be surprised at what you discover!

My other advice? 

--Keep learning from other writers, whether you read their self-help writing books/articles/blogs, take workshops, share drafts with other writers f2f or online, or build friendships through being active in national, regional, or local writing associations. Online writing groups might include: The Internet Writing Workshop, Insecure Writers Support Group, or National Novel Writing Month, among many others.
--Make a commitment to write every day, which means 5 out of 7 days (or what you decide). Don't fret if you can't write on any one day (or meet your goals). Work sideways. If the words don't come, do research, write character sketches, look for funny slang. The internet can be inspirational as much as it can be a distraction. If word count goals don't work, change them for what is achievable for you. Celebrate every success!
--Most important of all, trust those stories that bubble up inside of you. No one else can tell your stories. Nurture them and your creativity – and enjoy every bit of being a writer, whether you start with poetry or flash fiction, or jump right into a novel.


Beth Camp attended eight high schools and worked her way through as many colleges on the west coast of the U.S. before earning her master's at the University of Oregon. Her careers as an international banker, a corporate consultant, and a writing teacher and English Department Chair at the community college level have fueled her passion for writing historical fiction.

A love of international travel led Beth to Scotland to research and then write her trilogy about the McDonnell family as they struggle with eviction and relocation during the Industrial Revolution. Standing Stones (2010), introduces the McDonnell family in Scotland. Years of Stone (2014), set in Australia, tells the story of Deidre who follows her fiancé, Mac McDonnell, a transportee sent to Van Diemen's Land in Australia. In Rivers of Stone (2017), Catriona McDonnell disguises herself as a boy to cross Canada during the fur trade era. 
The Seventh Tapestry is Beth’s first art crime mystery, set in Edinburgh and Paris. During this time of pandemic, Beth compensates by diving into writing and research – and working on her next art crime mystery, this time set in Egypt. 

Amazon Author Page:
Amazon page for The Seventh Tapestry:


Genre: Mystery/Art Crime/Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Beth Camp
Length:  295 pages
Format: E-book (ASIN : B08GJ8VRGL)
Paperback (ISBN-13 : 979-8639835421)
Publication: 21 August 2020

The Seventh Tapestry by Beth Camp – Art Crime Mystery

When precious artifacts go missing at the Museum of Medieval Art in Edinburgh, American Sandra Robertson, a newly hired curator, is immediately under suspicion. 

But, when she’s asked to help find out who’s involved, Sandra ignores her attraction to Neil McDonnell, art crimes investigator assigned to the case, and gets to work. After a priceless 16th Century tapestry goes missing, Sandra begins to receive threatening phone calls. 

What will they risk to recover the missing artifacts, stop the thefts, and find out who’s behind a series of mysterious deaths? Do Sandra and Neil have a future together?

The Seventh Tapestry takes readers on a journey from a small medieval museum troubled by theft into the dangerous world of international art crime.

“Filled with art history, suspense, criminal activity and just enough romance, this novel will pull you in and you won’t want to put it down until you read the last page.”
--Chris, GoodReads.

“Sandra and Neil make a great team, thwarting the protagonist and growing closer in the process of doing so. Intrigue, danger, determination make for a "can't put it down" book.”
--Sally, Amazon


SANDRA’S OFFICE PHONE rang; the sound broke her concentration as she studied the printout of museum holdings.

“Director Hadley would like to see you upstairs,” said Margaret. “Now.”

“I’m on my way.” Sandra rolled the kinks out of her neck and stared at the low-hanging ceiling in her office. She loved working for the Museum of Medieval Art, but she wondered what he wanted. She hotfooted it through the basement employee lounge, closed the door to the tiny, iron-scrolled elevator with a click, and hit the button for the third floor. She tucked her honey-blonde hair behind her ears and wished for the gift of clairvoyance.

Margaret ushered Sandra into the inner office overlooking an expansive view of Princes Street Gardens below, but Sandra’s attention was on Mr. Hadley, impeccably dressed in a gray suit with matching vest, and his guest. Both rose as she entered.

“Sandra, please join us. This is Neil McDonnell of Scotland Yard’s Art Crimes Unit. I’ve told him you are relatively new to our Curatorial Affairs department.”

The tall man next to Mr. Hadley nodded, his face still; his hand reached out to shake hers, firm and warm. Sandra automatically catalogued him: Hair a little long, tall, lanky, sure of himself, well dressed in a casual way, sweater vest and tie with a gray tweed jacket. Perhaps too good looking?

She sat on the edge of one of the chairs near a settee and waited.

“Tell us what you think of our main storage area.” Mr. Hadley’s eyes looked bloodshot; his expression not as welcoming as it was on her first day at the museum.

“The storage area seems adequate, so far.”  Sandra paused, not certain what to say.

“Were you alone in the storage area,” Mr. Hadley glanced at his notes, “on the nights of Tuesday and Thursday last week, after museum hours?”

“Yes, sir. I was working on my preliminary collections report for Roger, I mean Mr. Ferguson. I was assured I could do so.”

“And your findings?” Mr. Hadley glanced at the man seated beside him.

“I’m still working on my report, but . . .”

“Can we see your findings?” Neil interrupted, his sharp green eyes missing nothing.

“Yes, of course,” said Sandra. “The report is little more than a list of artifacts and locations just now. I can go downstairs to print them out.”

Mr. Hadley shook his head. “Tell Margaret the file name. She will print it out for you.”

Within minutes, Margaret handed out copies of Sandra’s database report.

“I haven’t finished my review of the first floor storage unit,” Sandra explained.

Mr. Hadley waved his hand to cut Sandra off. “We can see your progress. Notice this, McDonnell.” He tapped on something in her report. “Do you have any other comment on the Saxon axe hammer than what is here?”

Sandra shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Was the hammer in Case 24 when you last visited?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ah,” said Neil. “Can you explain why that item is no longer in its case?”

“What? It’s missing?” Sandra’s stomach lurched. While not a major item in the collection, the hammer was still valuable. But nothing should be missing. “What do the surveillance tapes show?”

Mr. Hadley and Neil exchanged a glance.

“The cameras were deactivated,” said Neil.

“How is that possible?” asked Sandra.

“That is just what we were going to ask you,” said Mr. Hadley.

The two men gazed at Sandra as if they expected an answer.

Sandra lifted her hands. “I know nothing of this.” 

To discover more about Beth and more of her writing, check out her author links above or go right here:
Historical fiction and more on Beth's Amazon Author Page 
Beth's Newsletter!

If you are a reader, Author Insights will be featured once a month in 2021.
If you are a writer, please contact me at tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to be featured for an Author Insights feature in 2021. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, Beth! Really unique idea for a story. And don't feel bad - I take forever to write a story as well.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm an older writer too. Loved learning more about Beth. I totally agree about the importance of writing regularly. I just started it in November and am making much more progress.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - I think we each take the time that our stories need, no more, no less. Taking more time can work. Taking less time can work. It depends on the writer and the story.

Natalie - I started as a younger writer, but now...I'm getting to be an older writer. I think writing regularly keeps our writing fresh.
Happy writing, Natalie!

CWMartin said...

I was going to say, if the book is as interesting as the interview, it should be pretty good- the excerpt proves me right.

Beth Camp said...

Thank you, Tyrean, for supporting writing and for your generous hosting of me for your first Author Insights in 2021! Who would believe we've made it this far . . . with months before us . . . and we will persevere. Best, Beth