BEVERLY: The Key to Everything began life as a one-hundred-page screenplay. When I decided to develop it into a novel, I had to add several subplots and spend time writing the images that might have been conveyed by pictures. That’s when the little town of Worthville came alive for me and the protagonist, Genny, found so many interesting friends. The theme of forgiveness in the book is not one I intentionally set out to convey, but it developed as I wrote.
LAURIE: And is this the first book you have coming out with Anaiah Press?
BEVERLY: Yes, and I have loved working with Anaiah and my editor Kara Leigh Miller.
LAURIE: What led you to publish with Anaiah Press?
BEVERLY: We can never underestimate the power of seemingly random incidences, which often are divine appointments. As I walked back to my room after an evening session at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference last year, I turned to the woman walking beside me and introduced myself. We struck up a conversation and as we shared our writing journeys; she shared she had a book accepted by Anaiah. This was Colleen Hall, author of Her Traitor’s Heart. I was at the conference pitching a nonfiction book about my ten years as a fashion buyer, Faith in the Fashion District, which I later received a contract for. However, I also had two novels in print and several fiction manuscripts. After the conference, I remembered my conversation with Colleen and decided to submit my most recent manuscript to Anaiah, The Key to Everything.
LAURIE: What draws you to writing romantic suspense as opposed to straight up romance or romantic comedies?
BEVERLY: Romantic suspense might be something of a misnomer for what I write. I would say my writing leans more towards cozy mystery. What draws me to it is having a bit of a puzzle to solve and I don’t know how it will turn out until I write it.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favourite authors?
BEVERLY: One of my chief influences is Jan Karon. I think I’ve read everything she has in print. During an awful two-year period in my life when I suffered from posttraumatic stress due to a trauma followed by a cancer diagnosis, I found Jan Karon’s books. When the pain would almost swallow me, I would go to Mitford and find consolation. I wrote a long letter to Karon telling her how much her writing meant to me.
A few weeks later, I received a handwritten note from her, thanking me for the letter. In her P.S., she suggested that perhaps I should write a book. That P.S. served to confirm what God was already speaking to my heart. I have that letter hanging in my office today as a continual reminder of her influence.
I hope that in some way, my writing might be for others what Karon’s books were for me. I pray readers could find the same sort of consolation for the wounds of life that I discovered in Karon’s books.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published?
BEVERLY: I began writing fiction in 2007, and in 2011, the manuscript for Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees, became a semi-finalist in Operation First Novel which was sponsored by Jerry Jenkins. The screenplay for that story was a finalist for the Kairos Prize and several other awards. The book also won a contest sponsored by an Atlanta area writers group and for that win I received a book deal. It was technically a self-published deal, but I didn’t pay for it and was very thankful to get the book in print. I also have another novel in print, Home to Currahee, which I self-published because I wanted to dedicate the story to my dad and his health was in decline. He has since passed but did get to see the book in print. I’ve had a good many articles and devotions published but my first royalty contract for a book came last September for my nonfiction book, Faith in the Fashion District followed by a contract with Anaiah in November.
LAURIE: What advice would you give to other writers trying to break in to the Christian market?
BEVERLY: Persevere. It’s probably going to take you longer than you anticipate, but if you feel God has called you to this, don’t give up.
Get the first draft down. You can’t improve what you don’t have.
Rewrite. Be willing to spend the time to refine your work. It really is all in the rewrite(s).
Be teachable. Attend writer’s conferences and learn all you can about the craft. Yes, it’s an investment but well worth it.
Encourage others. I see those that are willing to invest in the work of others have that returned to them. Those that are in their own isolated world often do not fare well. If you can’t find a writer’s group, start one.
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing? Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
I was actually an art major, so I paint large oil canvases when not writing. I’ve recently exhibited in a state University Gallery a couple of times. It’s a real joy to share my paintings with others. I am also a pianist and have been a church musician all my life, but I enjoy many types of music.
LAURIE: That’s impressive! And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
I’m about halfway through writing another novel, actually a sequel to The Key to Everything, called A Plan for Anything. Hopefully, not long.
LAURIE: Thank you for being here today Beverly. Where can your readers find you on social media?
Here is Beverly’s book cover along with the back cover blurb:
Genny refuses to sell, but the land developer isn’t taking no for an answer. As if personal threats aren’t bad enough, a foreclosure proceeding looms, and a fire flashes in the night. Everything Genny holds dear is threatened. If she can’t find a way to save her grandmother’s house, Genny will be forced to give up the fresh start she so desperately wants. And to complicate matters further, she’s falling for David.
While going through her grandmother’s belongings, Genny finds a mysterious key with a red ribbon. What does it fit? Could it possibly be the answer to her problems? What do the messages of love and forgiveness she keeps hearing have to do with everything? As she searches for these answers, she learns more about herself and her grandmother’s legacy than she could have ever imagined.
Beverly Varnado is an award winning author, screenwriter, blogger and artist who lives in North Georgia with her husband, Jerry. In addition to The Key to Everything, she has written two novels, and a nonfiction book, Faith in the Fashion District. She has a screenplay optioned for a film.