Bev contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking me if I was interesting in reading her Young Adult historical fiction debut, Secrets of the Realm. I jumped at the chance to read a novel about a 15 year old girl who has to pose as a boy and ends up as a cabin boy on a merchant’s ship. Bev was awesome to work with and I was very excited to get the chance to interview her and get her take on Secrets of the Realm.
Amanda: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Bev Stout?
Bev: I am a wife, mother and grandmother. While I have worked at IBM and also in a dental office, my favorite jobs always involved working with children. I taught piano for thirty-five years, have been a Girl Scout Leader, a Den Mother, and I now volunteer at a children’s outreach program. I love feeding the ducks on the lake, taking our dog, Milly, for walks and spoiling our crazy cat, Jasmine. I enjoy vacationing in Cambria on the California coast and anything that has to do with nature and family. Almost forgot, I play tennis at least twice a week even if the temperature is in the triple digits.
Amanda: How would you describe Annie, the main character in Secrets of the Realm to someone who has not read the book yet?
Bev: She is a fifteen year-old English girl who is spirited, highly intelligent, and often talks and acts on impulse, which gets her into trouble. Annie knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her—not her small stature and not society’s norms. She is a survivor who sets out to overcome the cruel hand fate has dealt her.
Amanda: Where did you get the inspiration to write this novel?
Bev: My motivation for writing Secrets of the Realm was to hand down something to my family . My inspiration was simply Annie. Her story was always a part of me. I knew her birthplace. I knew her love for family. But when I actually sat down to write her story, I realized there was so much more to her. The people from her past and her present were all a big part of who Annie is.
Amanda: Who is your favorite out of all of Annie’s shipmates?
Bev: Picking just one is difficult, so many are my favorites, even Symington, the nasty old sailor. I also love Doc and Christopher, but I believe it has to be Captain Hawke. With secrets all his own, he is very much like Annie. Both are very complex individuals.
Amanda: What do you think is the best part of writing for kids?
Bev: I want to open up new worlds to them. I hope Secrets of the Realm gets them to think about what it would be like to have to rely on their own instincts to survive. With the setting in the eighteenth century, kids will realize how difficult it would be living without today’s modern conveniences.
Amanda: Will there be another part to Annie’s story?
Bev: Yes, Return of the Realm is in the works.
Amanda: What was it like to release your debut novel?
Bev: Exciting, surreal. To actually see it in print, was absolutely amazing.
Quick Questions (because I am nosy and love to know what authors are reading!):
Amanda: What are your top 3 favorite books or series?
Bev: The Human Comedy by William Saroyan, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Amanda: Are you more of a series or stand-alone reader?
Bev: I’m usually more of a stand-alone reader, but it seems like I’ve been reading more series lately.
Amanda: Who is one YA author you think we should read?
Bev: Janette Rallison, AKA C. J. Hill
Amanda: What was the last book you read?
Bev: To Have and to Kill by Mary Jane Clark
Read my review of Secrets of the Realm here