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.
2. How did you come up with the idea for The Seventh Tapestry?
3. What is your writing process?
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.
My other advice?
ABOUT BETH CAMP
THE SEVENTH TAPESTRY
EXCERPT FROM THE SEVENTH TAPESTRY
“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?”
“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.”