Interview: Peggy Bechko

Every once in a while I come across a writer that is very inspiring to me. Peggy Bechko is one of those writers. I think what I like about Peggy is her attitude toward writing and her advice. She’s penned quite a few articles that will benefit new and veteran writers alike. I also believe in her approach to “the writing life.” In short, I’ve quickly become a fan!

I think you will enjoy this interview.

Peggy studio shot

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I’m a working writer who’s written since about the age of twelve. I managed to skip a lot of the short stuff and went straight to novels. With the support of a very funny ‘Godmother’ who read and commented on my work, my own mother who acted as ‘first editor’, I had my first western novel, Night of the Flaming Guns (written in the first person as a middle aged man) published when I was twenty-two with Doubleday. More followed and today I’ve published 15 novels – westerns, romances and fantasy, have optioned screenplays domestically and abroad and just released some reprints in Ebook format along with original work. Http://www.fictionworks.com offers some of my books in western and fantasy categories, Amazon.com is a place where you can find new and used editions of my older books and I’ve just released my Writer’s Manual for New and Young Writers at http://www.newwriterguide.com.

Originally I was from the Midwest, born in South Haven Michigan – then moved to Florida where I went to school and finally moved to the Southwest. All total, I’ve been published more than 30 years and optioned my first screenplay about 12 years ago. I share my life with my husband, three dogs and a parakeet.

What type of writing do you do?

Pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I love writing novels – that’s a very solitary pursuit. Create your world, let your characters lose. But I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed screenwriting – which becomes a much more collaborative effort. I’ve also pursued article writing online and in hard copy, have ghostwritten and in that vein have taught writing classes online at UCLA Extension and on the ground in Writer’s Workshops.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Everything! No, kidding… there are some bad things, but the best thing? Creating my own worlds and setting my own hours. Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work – sometimes a whole lot more than if I went to an office as a full time job – but the pleasure of doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid offsets any drawbacks.

Share some of your writing goals.

Mostly it’s to keep on keepin’ on. I love writing. I’m currently working on a new romance novel, and I have a couple of script ideas banging around in my head. Meanwhile, I’m open to pretty much any opportunity that comes down the road. But, my biggest goal is to see a screen script make it all the way from ‘optioned’ to ‘produced’ to released.

Is there a specific time of day you like to write?

Love the mornings – do my best work then. Frequently will research and/or edit in afternoons or evenings. But my most creative time is morning.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

Hmmm, that’s a tough question because I read on so many levels. I read for entertainment, for research, for ideas. Currently I’m reading Healing the Rift: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Spirituality — a book on melding science and faith, sort of exploring the ‘history’ of all that is. I love Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race which is a dry read but offers lots of weird ideas for stories, and I am hooked on a whole bunch of fiction writers.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was about 12. I just started writing stories and they grew into novels.

Favorite authors?

Orson Scott Card, Sheri S. Tepper, Dean Koontz, Christine Feehan, Jennifer Roberson, Marjorie M. Liu, Holly Lisle, Octavia C. Butler.

Book you’re currently reading.

Healing the Rift: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Spirituality , The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies, and Possibilities, Burning Wild (Leopard) – I hardly ever read only one book at a time.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

Apply seat of pants to chair and write – well, actually I have a schedule more than a ritual. Check email, maybe tweet once or twice, THEN write.


Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

Yes I do, in certain circumstances. I do believe it’s overrated at times, maybe just an excuse. But, it can be very real. I did experience it when my mother died. The only way I got past it was to sit down and write – pretty much anything – and pretty much poorly. At a certain point the wheels engaged and I was writing again. I don’t think there is a magic wand to wave. For me it boiled down to persistence.

What’s the measure of a successful writer?

That’s pretty much up to the individual writer. Some measure it only in dollars earned, others more in words (well written words) produced. From my viewpoint it’s get the words written, polish to perfection (as close as I can get) then pursue publication. Doesn’t matter if a particular piece gets published or not, more will follow. However, if the writer doesn’t put it out there how will he or she ever know if that’s the life for them?

Advice for other writers?

Persistence. That, and taking it in small bits if the entire task seems too overwhelming. Writing a book? Does the enormity of all those words and pages get you down – scare you into not trying? Then aim for a page a day, or a few paragraphs in a half hour. Do it every day and you’ll have a book in a year. If you love to write, do it. Find the time, find the way. There are no real rules to writing. Follow your dream and don’t let others tell you you can’t.

Where can we learn more about you?

There are a number of places and I’d love to have you join me. I twitter at http://twitter.com/PeggyBechko. My blog is at http://www.Peggybechko.blogspot.com. My home page is at http://www.PeggyBechko.50megs.com.

I welcome friends at my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com and professionally I’m Linked in at www.LinkedIn.com/in/PeggyBechko. Oh, and don’t forget my new book, Out of Thin Air, a Resource manual and a great resource for newbies of all ages at http://www.newwriterguide.com. And, finally, if you would like short articles directed at helping writers you can check out eHow. I’ve written a number of articles there for the struggling writer.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s been a pleasure talking with you. I hope your readers have enjoyed it as well and I’d like them to feel free to comment at my blog, follow me on Twitter, ask questions, whatever they like. I’ll do my best to respond. Oh, and for those of you who are writers, keep writing! You can do it.

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