Plantation tradition is a genre of literature based in the southern states of the United States. The genre generally sets the era as occurring or existing before the American Civil War.
Before the American Civil War several works idealized the plantation, such as John Pendleton Kennedy’s 1832 The Swallow Barn. However, plantation tradition became more popular in the late-nineteenth century, due to the reaction against slave narratives like those of Frederick Douglass, and abolitionist novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Prominent writers in the plantation tradition include Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922) and Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855-1938). Other writers, especially African-American writers, soon satirized the genre: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (1899), for example, “consciously evoked the conventions of the plantation novel only to subvert them”.
The earlier novels do not have a place in modern society but there are still novels and movies set during the era. The most famous one, of course is Gone with the Wind (1939). Although, I did not read the book, I watched Twelve Years A Slave, which horrified me. It is a 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, who was a New York State-born free African-American kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery.
There are romanticized novels of plantations but also narratives of the inhumanity and brutality of slavery.
While I am writing I feel energized but it often leaves me exhausted afterwards. I get excited about an idea and can’t wait to see where it goes but almost feel deflated when I get it on paper.
2. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, I want to be known for what I write and not have people guessing.
3. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have many writer friends in the Writers Foundation who work to help writers improve their work. They encourage, make suggestions on changes one might make and help promote work.
4. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I work in many different genres, so each of my books stands alone at this point. I want to keep it that way for the foreseeable future.
5. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Membership in the Writers Foundation
6. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I think the dragonfly would be my mascot. It represents so many things. It is like a fairy spirit.
7. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Right now only one.
8. What does literary success look like to you?
I feel if even a few people enjoy what I have written I am a success. If I make a small influence on someone’s thinking I have achieved something.
9. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the book. If I want the book to be so fictional it could happen anywhere and there aren’t facts that are in question then I spend very little time. One of the next books I will work on requires a lot of research in order to make it real. I want to make sure the reader will feel sure the events could really happen. I also don’t want to be using a cliched format.
10. How many hours a day/week do you write?
I try to write something every day but it doesn’t always work out. Having a deadline helps push me. It is difficult when I am ghostwriting if I am waiting for information. Then things can get behind.
11. How do you select the names of your characters?
I have a hard time with the names. I start with what pops into my head but sometimes I have to change them if they don’t fit the time period or if I find I have chosen names that seem too similar such as same first letters. I became conscious of that in one book I read where the two male characters had names starting with the same first two letters and it became confusing.
12. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write in more than one how do you balance them?
With my first book, the genre was chosen by my professor as it began with a class assignment. My second book followed that genre. I decided I wanted to try mystery as I enjoy reading murder mysteries but at the same time I felt a need for a young children’s book so I ended up working on the two simultaneously.
13. How long have you been writing?
Although my first book started about twenty years ago, I feel I have actually seriously been writing for about six years.
14. What inspires you?
I can’t say any one thing inspires me. Sometimes it is a story I have read. Other times it is some event I have been at. It could be a conversation with someone or something I saw while on a trip.
15. How do you find or make time to write?
To begin with it was difficult for me. Now I have an office where all the things I need are well-arranged so I can go in and shut the door if I have to. Then the worst thing is telephone interruptions.
16. What projects are you working on at the present time?
A science fiction novel and a ghost writing project.
I have two books I am ghostwriting. The next project is going to be an outer space science fiction story which I have begun the research on and have an outline in mind.
17. What do your plans for future projects include?
Once I do the sci-fi book I want to work on some more children’s stories. I may consider a sequel to the sci-fi depending on how it goes.
Beth was born in Denmark and moved to Canada when she was two. Raised in Red Deer, she completed her schooling at Lindsay Thurber Composite High. She received her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Alberta in 1971. Her teaching career took her north to the Peace River country where she met her husband-to-be. Moving to High Prairie, they raised two daughters. Finally settling in Sherwood Park, she was a substitute teacher for many years. During this time she began to write. Beth is a director on the board for the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC) and currently produces the group’s monthly newsletter. Beth has five grandchildren and enjoys spending time with them.
Self-help books are written with the intention of instructing its readers on solving personal problems. The books take their name from Self-Help, an 1859 best-seller by Samuel Smiles. However, they are also know and classified under self-improvement, the term being a modernized version of self-help. Self-help books moved from a niche position to being a postmodern cultural phenomenon in the late twentieth century.
The first self-help writings are most probably from the Ancient Egyptian “Codes” of conduct, the classical Roman, Cicero’s On Friendship and On Duties as well as the Florentine Giovanni della Casa’s book of manners published in 1558.
However, in the last half-century or so the humble self-help book has jumped to cultural prominence, in fact it could be said self-help books have become an addiction in and of themselves. These books cover such subjects as relationships, personal improvement, whether physical or emotional, spiritual enlightenment, and many more.
Have you used self-help book?
Have you written one?
A friend of mine, Kathie Sutherland has a blog that covers personal and spiritual growth and self-expression. Why not take a look?
Does writing energize or exhaust you? That depends on the day I suppose. Some days I need to get the words out at a feverish speed and others I feel I can’t squeeze a drop. I tend to daydream a lot about my stories before I put them to paper. So, when I do sit down to write its more an exercise of getting the information dump out of my head.
What is your writing Kryptonite? One word: Netflix. Between my other jobs, my kids, and life in general, I have to be very organized to be able to fit in time to write. Sometimes, after a long day I get sucked into the black hole of late-night binge watching. BUT, it can also be my motivation… No more shows until I get that next chapter done!
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? In the beginning, yes. I believe people feel freer to express themselves under a pen name. Becoming an author can be a very humbling experience. People are free to read your creations and express their opinions about them in a very public way. This has definitely toughened my skin. Writing under a fake name might have lessened this and put a greater divide between personal me and professional life. But, in the end, I’m glad I write under my real name. I own every moment of it.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a long list of writer buddies, but the ones I converse the most with are: Adam Dreece, Kelly Charron, and Chris Rothe. These three have really helped me become a better writer by sharing their industry knowledge and being honest about my work. Two things I’ve learned from these guys: No writer ever improves without criticism, and there is no ‘one-way’ to publish a book.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? My current book, Harmless, is part of a proposed three book series. I enjoy reading series, so that’s what I write. Sometimes one book just isn’t enough to really tell the character’s stories.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? My book trailer. It literally sells books for me. I hope someday it inspires someone to make a movie from my book. You can check it out here. http://bit.ly/2oIDWwL
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? This question could fuel an entire thesis paper. Of course language has power. Entire civilizations are built on it. I don’t think I could pick just one experience to tell you about the power of it, but I think we all live it every day.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? I have many books that have held my favour. A lot of which are fairly well know: Saga (graphic novel), I Am The Messenger, The Fifth Wave, I’ll Meet You there.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Perhaps my spirit animal would be a deer. I wrote so much about it in my book I feel I’ve adopted it as my own. A deer represents intuition, gentleness and is viewed as a guardian or messenger.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Currently, two. I have forty-thousand written on the sequel to Harmless, titled Mavens. And a start to a dystopian novel. I’m a slow, methodical writer. I’m hoping to have the first drafts done soon, but we’ll see what the universe brings.
What does literary success look like to you? That’s a very different thing for everyone who writes. I consider myself very successful at what I’ve published so far for a number of reasons. Number one: Friends, family, and total strangers have gone out of their way to tell me how my story has moved them. Having strangers do that was the coolest part of all! Second: Sales have been pretty good. Well, sales have been good for a first time, unknown author. Third: Not to toot my own horn, but my first book I’ve ever written, won an international award! Harmless received fourth in the category of Young Adult Thrillers in the International Readers’ Favorite Awards. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/2CfTAsO
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? After I wrote the first draft of Harmless I got on a plane and flew to the town of Hazelton, BC, which is where the story is set. I had researched it thoroughly before I started writing, but felt I really needed to experience the place before I completed my final edits. When I was there I even hired a local guide to give me an authentic tour of all the places I wanted to see. I wanted to make my fiction book seem as non-fiction as possible. I think I succeeded at that.
How many hours a day/week do you write? Between life, kids, and work I’m not left with much. On a really good week I might get in eight hours. This doesn’t discourage me though. It might take me longer than some to produce a book, but I’m very proud of the writing I do get out.
How do you select the names of your characters? A few of my characters are named after my friend’s kids. Other than that, they are their own people, purely made-up from the daydreams in my head.
What was your hardest scene to write? Hands down, the field of totem poles after the dance scene in Harmless. My editor suggested that the character, Mason, needed more reason to act the way he did. And that the reader needed to side with him, even though what he did was deplorable. By far that was the most emotional and real scene I’ve ever written.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? Right now, I only write Young Adult Thrillers. This first book, and the planned books are all thrillers. I have a YA dystopian idea in the works, but we’ll see where it goes. I like the big feeling and big problems of young adult stories.
How long have you been writing? I started after I moved back to Calgary, so I guess that would be around eight years.
What inspires you?Everything! I often say if anyone were to read the notes on my phone they’d think I was crazy. I have so many random ideas in there, mostly short notes that no one but me would understand, but bring me back to the moments I captured them in.
How do you find or make time to write? Having a to-do-list helps. Put it on there and make it a priority.
What projects are you working on at the present? Currently, I’m working to get my new website up and running. I’m a very creative person who needs many outlets. My new site incorporates my graphic design work, writing, and a line of natural stone jewelry that I sell. It should be live in the next few days. You can check it out here: katherinedell.com.
Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction author fascinated by the supernatural and the stories that surround them. She began her writing endeavours in 2011 when she wanted to reinvent herself from her previous career as an event planner. When she’s not writing, she can be found in cold hockey arenas sipping coffee, working on her tan at little league games, or trying to keep her dog out of her many gardens. She lives with her husband, two boys, and fur babies, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.