Midlife Cafe Interviews Writer Peggy Bechko

 Born To Write

Peggy Bechko is a recognized writer of Western, Romance and, most recently, Science Fiction novels. A women seemingly born to write, she started very young and is still at it. Life has presented her with challenge and disruption in the form of her mother’s death and late marriage. Yet, she is a person who was able to get the support she needed, enabling her to rebound successfully into midlife. She  bloomed and created a new balance expressing her evolving passions in writing her first Science Fiction novel, Stormrider, and opening Silver Streak, a jewelry store.

1. You have written and been acclaimed for your westerns and romance novels. What led you to choose these genres?

It’s funny the twists and turns life takes.  I’ve always been fascinated with the west and read westerns (and of course I live in the western mountains now), but I was writing general fiction until a friend of mine dared me to write a western.

Okay, so who could resist that?

I did write one, and I wrote it as if I were a middle-aged man (first-person). In reality, I was a 20-year-old woman. The extra kick to this little tale was I found an agency which took me on when I finished that western –– and then promptly went belly-up. Of course back then, in the dark ages, we didn’t have computers and ‘back-ups’.  I’d sent them my only copy so panic ensued –– where was that manuscript?  Did I have to retype the whole darn thing? Ahhhhhh!

As it turned out, one of the defunct agents broke off to start his own agency. He took my manuscript with him and called me, asking if I would accept a contract from Doubleday for that first Western, Night Of The Flaming Guns. Would I?  Surely you jest!  Of course I did and I was only 22.

Then, that same agent, George, encouraged me to add Romances to my repertoire. He placed my first romance, Dark Side of Love (just re-released as an Ebook through Amazon Kindle at  http://amzn.to/KYtgDi ) with Harlequin Superromance.

2. How did you decide to branch off into Science Fiction writing with “Stormrider”?

For me it wasn’t a decision, really, it was kind of an inevitability.  I’ve also always loved Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I’d go to any Sci Fi movie that came out, read a lot of Orson Scott Card, Octavia Butler, Sheri Tepper, Jennifer Roberson, Laurel K. Hamilton and others. Sooner or later I had to give it a try. Stormrider was a blast to write. In addition to that novel, I’ve also written and optioned a screenplay titled Replica. It originally finished in the Quarter Finals of the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship competition. I would love to see that produced one day. Meanwhile, I wrote a Vampire Western which slips more into the horror genre –– I plan to put that into novel form as well in the next several months. I can’t help it, I just like variety.

3. You are a very prolific writer, how has your process of writing changed over the years?

Strangely my process hasn’t changed much.  The real evolution has come in the details of how I organize what I write.

I’ve always begun with thoughts of an interesting character with the potential for lots of problems.  Then came an interesting setting.

I’ve always had at least a couple of projects in the air at the same time, like a novel slowly becoming while I sketch out an idea for a screenplay.  I’ll also have notes and ideas floating and accumulating for another novel.

I usually try to finish up on a high note for the day, then jot a few notes to myself for the next day and leave that in the middle of my desk so I know exactly what I need to accomplish. It’s very important for me to remain focused as I do succumb at times to that writer’s malady – procrastination. The notes to self thing keeps me on track (well, most of the time).

4. You’ve been an active and successful writer since your twenties, how has midlife impacted you and your work?

I think midlife brings challenges that youth did not, even though while in youth we all think we’re pretty challenged.

One major change was marriage, the first for both myself and my husband.  It came late to us and that was good. We had some serious talks about my writing and what it meant to me before we got married. He’d always given me my space. He also had his own pursuits.  (He loves to study, read, and  has published a couple of young adult books of his own: one, Tales of Caer Alban in paperback and Ebook on Amazon.)

Mostly, it’s those outside issues at ‘midlife’ that have had a big impact on me. My grandfather always told me, “in this life we either get older…or we don’t”.  The second choice doesn’t have much appeal.  He made it easier for me to face the challenges, the tragedies of life.  My Mother’s illness and death tore a five year chunk out of my writing career. With the help of that same wonderful, unexpected husband mentioned above I’m recovering and coming back strong.

5. What  is your new Science Fiction novel, “Stormrider”, about?

Oh, I loved writing that one. It’s filled with adventure, action, mysticism and a bit of romance.  Stormrider is the name given to the heroine by a native people when her aircraft crashes and she survives. She’s a Janissary, a loyal supporter, amazingly trained, fierce and determined. Her mission is to retrieve an amulet that’s been stolen, which must be bestowed on her people’s leader to legitimize his reign. But the amulet is more than stone and metal as the wolves of Nashira are more than wolves. Heroism, strength, weakness and leadership come from a very unexpected source. I hope your readers will read a sample, get hooked on the story and want to finish it.

Tony Award winning actor John Cullum, who read it and said, “Its a wonderful book, not just for science fiction readers – once I started reading Stormrider I couldn’t put it down. It’s a great read – exciting.”

*Samples and downloads are available at:
Kindle http://amzn.to/pjY0HP
Smashwords http://bit.ly/9R0Gcn
Barnes & Noble  http://bit.ly/q0axXr
IBooks http://bit.ly/NyzLwZ
On the Indian subcontinent, in hardcover at http://bit.ly/qKgzlF*

Also a guide for new and young writers: http://amzn.to/OUuwT3

6. How did “Silver Streak Jewelry” come into existence?

My SilverStreak Jewelry shop ( http://www.silverstreak.etsy.com) is an outcropping of what I’ve believed all my life. Creativity simply IS and it finds different outlets.

I’ve always made things with my hands, knitted, crocheted, worked with paper mache, and doodled in addition to creating unique pieces of jewelry. For me, and for many writers I know, doing something else creative feeds back into your primary focus of writing. I have notebooks filled with doodles and  sketches (and I do mean stick figures). Over the years, doodling jewelry took center stage. Then, I decided the jewelry needed a place to be seen and the shop was born.

The truly wonderfully amazing thing about creating in a different venue is it frees my mind in other ways. It goes wandering off into story-telling even while I’m designing and working on a piece of jewelry I love.  The new metal clays are fantastic. The wire is something I can pound on. The beads a riot of color and texture.

Creating jewelry of many medias is a passion that’s really come into it’s own. As I’ve gotten older and sought a balance in my creative life, one activity is nourishing the other. More than a change, it’s an evolution. I give the jewelry creation a little more time these days and my writing grows because of it.

Thank you Peggy for sharing about the woman behind the novels. Your latest work is a fascinating turn in your life path. Jewelry making and selling is clearly helpful in your creative process. It sounds a little like going for a run when you have something on your mind. While running, the mind is distracted. Free to work on that thing festering beneath the surface of awareness. Suddenly, the right course of action, or the best idea to further the creative process comes up ready for expansion. I love the way you express it here.

Thanks for your time and energy. I am sure our readers will enjoy this interview and the introduction to your work


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