Dear Readers: Today I am delighted to have Beate Boeker join us. She is a talented writer and a total hoot to be with. Her humor is non traditional and leaves you wiping your eyes. Like the character in one of her books strangled by a bra? It goes on and on. We met at the Brainstorming session in Matera, Italy this last year. I look forward to many many years of talking with Beate. We share a total love affair with Italy, writing, and great food. I think you'll find her as fun as I do.
Beate Boeker is a marketing manager by day and a writer by night - if she manages not to fall asleep before nine PM, that is! She lives in the north of Germany, is married, has a daughter, and a weakness for chocolate. Several years ago, she started to write in English because she found that the resources for beginning writers are much better in the US than in Germany. Her favorite country is Italy, so it's no wonder that some of her stories are set there. Her name is a mix of Latin and a German dialect and translates as 'Happy Books', so of course, she has no choice but to write light-hearted novels with humor and mischief from page one.
Beate, what brought you to writing? You have a varied background but have chosen to put pen to paper--or fingers to keyboard.
I always made up stories when things got too boring, and this is also the main reason why I write - to liven things up. During my studies (I studied international business with languages), I had regular signposts that told me I had made progress - exams, certificates, etc.
But when I started to work, I realized that routine came quickly, say, say every two years or so - and that changing jobs all the time is not an option. By writing, I can go anywhere, make anything happen - without rocking the boat too hard. And if I don't like it, I can delete it again. A perfect escape . . .
Your life is complicated. Family, job, and an active writing career. Spill, girl. Tell us how you put it all together.
Hmm. Difficult question. Over the years, I have developed a few rather odd techniques that work for me, though they may sound strange. For example, I only clean the house when I chat on the phone to my friends or family. That saves a lot of time (even though my friends sometimes complain about the bangs of pots and stuff while they talk to me).
I don't cook complicated meals (though I love eating them!). Lucky enough, my husband likes to cook from time to time, or we would get a very strange diet.
And I don't like TV. It either bores me to death or it scares me to death (particularly the news), so I have decided not to watch it. I'm probably the least informed person on this planet, and I wouldn't recognize a single star even if I walked through Hollywood.
I'm basically a coach potato. I get plenty of interaction with other people during work, and when I'm at home, I'm happy to remain there and don't feel the need to go out all the time. My larger family (who are all heavily into partying) have given me up as a hopeless case.
You write with great humor but the topics aren't silly. What is the process you use to come up with such great stories?
Life. I have an amazing family that keeps on doing strange things, and also in business, you see so many incredible situations, stuff you would never have believed when you were a serious student. Either you laugh or you cry. The only drawback is that I can't put everything into my books - these stories are so unbelievable that nobody would swallow them. Like the fact that a company chooses its employees by checking their birth dates. If they have more than three times 1 in their birth date, they're out. Something to do with the stars, apparently. Or the fact that an offended auditor once told a colleague "I have more titles than you have letters in your name, so you'd better treat me respectfully."
Can you give us an idea of one of your latest releases?
I've recently published a novel called A New Life. It's set in Florence, Italy, one of my favorite towns. My heroine Anne was accused of murder, but due to lack of evidence, she wasn't convicted. However, she lost her job and her friends and decided to leave the US to start a new life. Through family connections, she gets a job as a secretary in an exclusive hotel right in the historical center of Florence. The attractive hotel manager is not pleased to have a secretary foisted onto him who has never worked in a hotel before and doesn't even speak Italian.
This novel is a mix of two genres - the first part is pure romance, and just when you think that the Happily Ever After is around the corner, a murder happens, which throws my heroine Anne back to the very beginning. This makes it difficult to sell in a traditional setting, but in e-publishing, anything is allowed!
What differences have you seen in the European market versus the US? I know you are very familiar with both.
The US are leading when it comes to the development of e-books and the corresponding technology. I only know two other people in Germany who have a Kindle, and when you look at buses and trains, you won't find people reading with e-readers yet. The i-pad has arrived in force, but so far, it's a limited target group (mostly male business types). In Germany, the prices for books are fixed by law - this means there are no discounts. Book shops can return all the books they don't sell. A newer law stated that German e-books have to cost the same as print books - so you can imagine that it'll still take some time to take off over here. I'm always looking across the pond, fascinated by the changes going on. If it wasn't for the Internet and all the advice people share so freely, I wouldn't be published today. I have three romance novels published with Avalon Books, a traditional publishing house in New York that was recently sold to Amazon.
What are your thoughts about going the independent publishing route given all the buzz that's around that topic, not to mention the huge success many have had?
I think it's great. I'm learning every day and find that the Internet is a whole new dimension. It has its dangers, but the chances are amazing. I don't count on being the next millionnaire, though. I believe it still takes patience, building up the craft, and learning all the time. You have to be very flexible, have to test things, and you have to learn to keep your motivation up even if you hear that someone has just sold 40,000 copies - and you have sold what - 10?
How do we find your work? I know it's great, fun, and very entertaining. I want to be sure others can find it too.
The hardcovers from Avalon Books can be found in libraries, but all of my releases are available on the usual platforms - Amazon, B&N, etc.
Here's a link to Amazon:
What comes next???
I'm working on a book series which is also set in Florence. Each book is a complete cozy mystery, with a romance between the heroine and the investigating Commissario as the arch that links them all.
The heroine has a completely crazy and very interfering family. It all starts when the heroine finds her grandfather dead one hour before her cousin's wedding. In order to avoid destroying the wedding, she hides the grandfather in his bed and tells everyone he didn't feel like coming. However, they soon learn that the grandfather was murdered and the heroine finds it hard to explain to the stony-faced Commissario why she moved the body. I had so much fun writing this novel and hope that it'll make my readers laugh, too.
If you wish to be kept updated, just send me a quick note via the form on my website: www.happybooks.de, and I'll add you to my newsletter-list.
Thank you so much for joining us. I loved our time together in Matera. I know our readers will fully enjoy spending time with you between the pages.