Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Betty Rose about her career, her writing process and her latest book, Alone It’s Okay.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a retired nurse, living in a city in the west midlands. I’m a wife, a grandmother and a great grandmother. Getting on a bit, I’m 70yrs. I love my city, my family; and I am proud of my working class heritage, it’s a big part of who I am. I’m a spiritual person, not so much religious—my belief in the continuation after physical death sustains me.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I began writing my first book, a WW2 Homefront novella shortly after my retirement, and self published the same year, 2017. It took me about six months and publishing was a journey into the unknown.
Following this I wrote ‘Keep them Close’, a contemporary novella ,a family saga and a love story with a gritty, realistic edge, addressing mental heath issues, homelessness and racism. This was published by Pegasus. It was published in January 2020 and took about ten months to write.
Finally, ’Alone It’s Okay’, which is out for publication on the 29th July this year. It was ready for editing and publication after approx ten months.
It’s ‘my baby’ and I am proud of it.
The story is of a young Romanian girl on the verge of womanhood, who following the death of her father, joins her uncle and aunt in Britain, hoping to take up an education in art and design. Her uncle has other plans for her! Local pensioners, Beryl and Malcolm, become embroiled in her situation, and fate finally introduces a knight in shining armour, a young policeman, who is determined to save her. Passions and loyalties are stretched to the limit with unforeseen consequences.
What made you want to write Alone It’s Okay?
My inspiration for this story began when I was taking an early morning walk around my quiet neighborhood during the first lockdown of Covid. Hearing arguing and shouts from an open window, I hesitated and stopped, not sure what to do. It set me to thinking. What did I really know of my neighbours? Who really knew what was going on behind the polite smiles and closed doors? If I suspected something untoward, would I challenge? report? Swallow my innate British reserve and make that call? I didn’t on that day!
What were your biggest challenges with writing Alone It’s Okay?
It was a difficult story to write in some parts; I needed to show the horrors of Elena’s situation whilst including her inner conflicts and allegiances; to the uncle and aunt who had brought her to England and were offering her many comforts that she had never had before, and to her family back home who needed the money.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Elena is the main protagonist in ‘Alone It’s Okay, she is mourning her father and her simple life back home, torn between her allegiance to family, and her inner disgust at the requests made of her. I remembered my own innocence and awkwardness as a young women struggling with my maturity; there were times that I should have spoken out, and didn’t. My past inspired me to consider, what would I have done, faced with Elena’s situation.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Uncle Andrei is the antagonist, justifying and following his own code of honour and decency, whilst hiding behind a veneer of charm and blissfully unaware or blatantly ignoring the distress of his niece and other women ensnared in his empire. Which was it?
What is the inciting incident of Alone It’s Okay?
Whilst Andrei incites and persuades, merely hinting at the consequences of non compliance, Elena and other women ensnared in his empire participate. Elena is confused by the disinterest of her aunt, her strong family loyalty, and her increasing revulsion of her uncle, whom she’d once adored.
Did you plot Alone It’s Okay in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I did spend quite some time on research research and made a basic plot for each chapter, but my characters soon took on a life of their own very quickly; they talked and shouted to me, when I was doing the dishes, out walking, gardening, or spending too much time away from my writing.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Alone It’s Okay need?
My publisher did a super job with the editing and this time there were considerable changes, I just couldn’t leave it alone.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
What advice could I possibly offer to others wanting to write a story?
My first novel? Well, I dived in. I have always loved telling stories and writing and since I had time to pursue this, I went for it. Pretty note book and pen, I set the scene with music and perfumed joss sticks, even scented hand cream. Once hand written, I typed it up, on my new lap top, researched for an editor and how to self publish, raided my piggy bank and off I went. I Self published on amazon.
In 2020 after the completion of my second,’ Keep Them Close’, I bought the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook and scoured it from page to page, sent off my query letters and the first three chapters of my manuscripts and waited.( Quite a few months).
I’m not sure if this was the right thing to do, but in hindsight, for me, it was. Maybe if I’d known of the competion I wouldn’t have started.
So; Believe in your talent; be yourself, don’t try and emulate other styles, we all like different genres don’t we? Wishing you very good luck.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’m currently completing a sequel to my first novella, ‘A Week In Time’, beginning on VE day, ( Victory in Europe) and following through t to VJ day, (Victory in Japan).
Meanwhile I have an idea in my head for my next novel, inspired a day on the moors in Cornwall. . What would it be like if we humans stopped eating food and were able to photosynthesise like plants?
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Am I proud of my achievement’s as an author? Oh yes. Do I think I’m the best? Nope! It’s been a scary ride the last five years but I love writing. I hope one day to write a best seller.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Face book Betty Rose Author.
My first novella, A Week in Time, can be found on amazon in eBook and paperback.
My last two books are on Pegasus site, amazon in eBook and paper back.
‘Alone It’s Okay’ available also on amazon in eBook and paperback from Pegasus site and amazon.co.uk after the 29th July 2021.
Both books are also available and can be ordered from;
Book Depository. https://www.bookdepository.com
WH Smiths. https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products