|About The Author||
I was born and bred in Panama City, Florida, on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle. My grandfather, Wyatt Oates Byrd, moved to Panama City in 1930 to open a Nehi Bottling Company. I graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, am a former elementary school teacher and was a stay-at-home mom for my children, Tommy Jr and Elizabeth. My husband, Tommy, and I still reside in Panama City.
|Have you always wanted to be a writer? Why?|
|As a child I was a voracious reader and loved to write. One of my earliest memories is my grandmother, who was very instrumental in my life, teaching me to write thank you notes! I love the art of letter writing and still write personal notes as often as possible.
But I call myself “an accidental author” because I never envisioned I would actually write a book. I am a Southern storyteller and like all good storytellers I hate to waste a good story, so I repeat my stories-often! Finally in exasperation one day, my husband said, “Why don’t you write this stuff down?” So I did! I actually started writing down short stories for my children as a Christmas gift. Before I knew it, I had a book!
|When your writing where do you draw inspiration from?|
|In writing my first book, MISS HILDRETH WORE BROWN, I wrote what I knew best-humor and the South. Since I was raised by a father and grandmother of uncommon wit, the fabric of my childhood was laced with humor, I grew up surrounded with marvelous tales of Southern grande dames and eccentric Southern gentlemen. Humor was a staple in our household. I have loved the art of storytelling as long as I can remember.
My second book, SAVE MY PLACE, is a sweet, old-fashioned love story set in the South during the 1960s and 70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. It is set in the 1960s and 70s because that was my “coming-of-age” era, and I have wonderful memories of those days. It is chock full of pop culture that will bring back memories of a South gone by. The Vietnam War was a very pivotal and divisive time for my generation, so it is the backdrop of this book.
|What interested you to write the genre you write?||
MISS HILDRETH WORE BROWN is humor and short stories. As I said, humor flowed freely in our household, so when I finally put pen to paper, the stories poured forth as though an age-old tap had been discovered and turned on. I loved the gush of warm and euphoric remembrances and seeing these memories transposed into the written word.
SAVE MY PLACE is Southern fiction and romance. I am and have always been an incurable romantic. So my three loves, the South, romance, and humor all ended up in SAVE MY PLACE.
|What else have you written?|
|My first endeavor in the world of writing was Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle, which contains 41 humorous, satirical anecdotes of a romp through Southern life. I like to call it real-life fiction as all the people, places, and events are real, but, like all good Southern stories, healthy doses of exaggeration and embellishment have been added. The stories are punctuated with everyday mishaps that Southerners seem to have a knack for turning into entertainment. Because they are actual occurrences, the reader is drawn into the warmth and familiarity of the characters and their stories. The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt Lottie Mae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long” to Mrs. Brewton, with her turban and dark sunglasses, who calls everyone “dahling,” whether they are darling or not. My readers tell me it is “a laugh-out-loud afternoon read of Southern comfort.” One of my more clever reviewers joined two of the anecdotes and entitled his review, “If you accidentally cross into Alabama, have clean underwear!”|
|What is your method for getting around writers block?||
Complete peace, quiet and solitude! I might hibernate to a beach house for a few weeks. Often, my best ideas come when I am walking in our city’s walking park. Many of my tales surfaced in the quiet of church, where it seems much of my books were written on the back of offering envelopes. It would probably be best if the preacher never discovers this little fact!
|Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring writers?||
There are no shortcuts and no replacement for hard work and discipline. Read everything you can about publishing because the publishing business is extremely tough and competitive. Grow a thick skin and develop tenacity, then get some honest opinions from good writers and listen to them. If you believe in your work, do not give up.
|Where do you see yourself in five years?||
|How can your readers follow you and find out about your books?||
My web site is: www.oliviadebellebyrd.com
Facebook: Olivia deBelle Byrd
|What is your newest release? Is there anything you would like to say about it to your readers?|
|My newest release is SAVE MY PLACE, set in the South during the 1960s and 70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. It is the tender love story of Elisabeth Belle Sterling and Kincaid Patterson, who confront a painful past, heart-searing separation, and the greatest of tragedies. But the biggest obstacle is the loss of faith that threatens to undermine all that they have. Through their faith and devotion, it is the story of two people who search deep within their souls to save each other. A favorite reader said, “I laughed, I cried, but in the end I felt a redemptive joy.” I like to say SAVE MY PLACE is for the love story in all of us.|
Author Interview: Olivia deBelle Byrd