Bethany Claire walked away from a teaching degree in order to live out her dream. When she isn't writing about time travel, faraway castles and Scottish hunks, she enjoys playing the piano or planning her next trip. As our author of the day, Claire reveals why she made such a bold career choice, what it takes to be an author and how Love Beyond Time reached bestseller status.
Please give us a short introduction to Love Beyond Time.
Love Beyond Time is a time travel romance that takes Bri Montgomery, a Texas kindergarten teacher, to Scotland to help her archaeologist mother on a dig to try to discover the truth behind the mysterious murder of the Conall clan in the 1600s. While examining the castle ruins, they discover a hidden spell room in the basement of the ruins. When Bri reads aloud the words on a mysterious plaque that she finds, she is magically transported back in time to the months just preceding the total destruction of the Conall clan. The story unfolds with lots of laughter, adventure, and of course, romance while Bri tries to change history and save the man and family she comes to love.
Why do you like to use Scotland as a backdrop for your time travel romance novels?
I’ve always loved the mystery, rustic beauty, and legends and lore that surround Scotland and its fantastic history. It has such a raw, rugged beauty, and I find few things more attractive than a Scottish accent. I’m just fascinated by everything that Scotland represents. This last May, I traveled to Scotland with my mom, rented a car, and drove all around the country visiting many of the historic sites and castles that have fascinated me for so long. It only served to inspire me more and filled my imagination with more stories and adventures based there. The people were all so friendly. I truly fell in love with it and plan to go back many more times.
You took a very bold step, walking away from your degree in order to pursue writing. Any regrets?
Looking back at that decision, all I know is that at the time, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. My gut was telling me that writing was what I was supposed to do and that I needed to do it right then. Sitting in college classes working toward a teaching degree just seemed wrong. I knew I didn’t want to teach, but everyone seemed to think that I just had to have a “traditional” job to make it in this world. I’ve never really been a traditional person, so I knew that I had to do what felt right to me. As for regrets—not a single one. That was the best decision I’ve ever made. I love writing and have been blessed to be able to make it my career since I published my first book, Love Beyond Time. When I was young, before I even dreamed of writing being my job, I made a list of things that I wanted in a career. Some of the things on that list were being my own boss, having a flexible schedule, being able to stay home with children when I had them, and something that allowed me to travel whenever I wished. I knew I wanted to be passionate about whatever it was that I ended up doing, so after I wrote my first book and got some great encouragement from some very successful authors, the seed was planted, and it became obvious that writing was what I was supposed to do all along.
Why time travel? And how hard is it for you to come up with new ways to send your main character back in time?
I’ve always loved reading romances from every historic time period, but I also love reading about strong contemporary women, so combining different time periods and strong modern women just seemed like the perfect combination. Mystery, magic, and things that most people think are impossible tend to fascinate me, so I love writing and being able to infuse stories with these things. This genre really allows you to stretch your imagination, and I love it.
As for finding ways to send my characters back in time, that part hasn’t been all that difficult. All of the books in the series have one common element (or character), Morna, a meddlesome matchmaking witch. Having her as a character allows magic to be implemented in different and fun ways.
Tell us a bit about your journey with Love Beyond Time. How did it go from your debut novel to a #1 Amazon Bestseller and the start of a series?
When I wrote Love Beyond Time, I really had no plans to make it into a series, but then I attended the Romance Writers of America convention in Atlanta in 2013. In session after session, many successful authors said repeatedly that one of the best ways to make a living with your writing is to write a series. I tried to listen to every thing those authors said, so I came home and wrote another full-length novel and a Christmas novella in the series and released those 3 books in November of 2013. That proved to be a great bit of advice. Since then I have written 7 full-length novels and two novellas in the series, and I’m not finished yet. Book 8 of the series will be released in the near future.
Regarding the bestseller ranking, Love Beyond Time has made it to the #1 spot in the Time Travel Romance category several times. It hasn’t made it to #1 in the whole store, but thanks to some great promotional line-ups, it has climbed into the top 10 in the Kindle store a few times.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Playing the piano is a passion of mine. I didn’t really start playing until I was in high school, but I love it and play whenever I need a break from everything else. I’m also a pretty awesome trip planner (especially if the destination is a Disney park). Planning out activities, meals, and making reservations is something that I just love to do. Really any kind of organizing and planning really fits the anal side of my personality.
What appealed to you about making an American girl fall in love with a Scotsman?
Well, Scotsmen are just about the most masculine, hunky, dreamy characters in my opinion, so living out my own dreams via my characters was very appealing.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
What surprised me the most and what I had to learn right away was the business side of being an author. Most people think that authors just sit around and write all day and that’s it. That is so NOT true. I spend so much time on branding, communicating with readers, marketing, researching, answering emails, and all other business tasks that it sometimes seems like writing is where I spend the least amount of time. When I published Love Beyond Time, I was 22 years old with no business experience. I had to learn really quickly about cover artists, formatting, taxes, LLCs, tracking business expenses, budgeting, prioritizing, hiring employees, and everything else that running a business entails. Being an indie writer is not for the lazy or faint of heart.
How does the next book in the series tie in with Love Beyond Time?
The way I write my series, each book is a complete story about two main characters, and subsequent books have main characters where at least one of them was a minor character in a previous book. Love Beyond Reason, book 2 of the series, is the love story of Arran and Blaire who were both more minor characters in Love Beyond Time. I really want readers to feel satisfied with a completion to the love story for the main characters in each book, even though characters do tend to pop up again in future books.
What are you working on now?
The next book in the series, Love Beyond Reach (Book 8), is one that my readers have been asking for since I first started the series. It is the story of Morna, the witch who plays a role in every book. She is definitely a fan favorite that my readers have come to love, and they seem very excited to read her story.
A whole new series is also in the planning stages. I hope to release the first few books in a contemporary romance series sometime in the next year or so. It’s very exciting to think about branching out into another genre a bit. Lots of ideas are swirling around in my head that I am anxious to share with my readers.
Are any of your books also available as audiobooks?
Books 1 - 4 plus the Christmas novella are also available in audiobook format, and the other books are in the process of being recorded for audio. Most of them are also Whispersynced, so readers can get the audio version at a HUGE savings if they download Love Beyond Time or buy the other books. Readers can listen to samples on my website at http://bethanyclaire.com/audio.php
Where can our readers find more of your work or interact with you?
If your readers would like a free copy of the Christmas novella, they can sign up for my mailing list at http://bit.ly/BClaireML. They will be notified about new releases, contests, and other book news.
Also, here are links to all of my social media channels and author pages:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Bethany-Claire/e/B00GQFITM4/
Morna’s Legacy Series Page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mornas-Legacy-7-Book/dp/B015THD6WC