Friday, May 1, 2009

Interview with Sian Bessey by Michele Ashman Bell

It is such a pleasure to interview my dear friend, and amazing author, Sian Ann Bessey. There is something so elegant and classy about Sian, yet so warm and genuine, that you just can't help but be drawn to her. Her books are interesting, entertaining and beautifully written. My only complaint (Sian . . . this is meant for you) is that she needs to write more!

I asked Sian for a bio, so you could know a little about her background.

Sian Ann Bessey was born in Cambridge, England but grew up on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. She, and the rest of her family, joined the Church when Sian was ten years old. When she finished Secondary School, she left Wales to attend BYU in Provo. She graduated with a bachelor degree (majoring in Communications and minoring in English) six weeks before her first child was born.

She has written several articles for the New Era and Ensign magazines, and is the author of eight books, including the Kids on a Mission children's series, three adult novels and two picture books.

Sian and her husband, Kent, live in Rexburg, Idaho. They have five children and are expecting their first grandchild.

Here's my interview with Sian:

Michele: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Sian: I’ve always enjoyed writing and publishing books seemed to come as an extension of that rather than as the result of a specific goal to be an author.
Michele: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Sian: My first book, Forgotten Notes, was written for my family. When it was completed, I printed it off on our home printer and mailed it to my father for Father’s Day. My sister-in-law found the manuscript at my parents’ home and read it. Then she called and persuaded me to submit it to Deseret Book and Covenant. Three months later, the managing editor of Covenant called and told me they wanted to publish it.
Michele: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Sian: Having my first book accepted on its first submission gave me very little excuse for discouragement. However, with every book there have been the typical struggles with rewrites, deadlines, etc. I’ve been fortunate to work with great editors. Very often, if I talk something through with my editor, we are able to see the other’s perspective and reach a compromise. My greatest discouragement has probably been how long it takes to draft a new book. I have to keep reminding myself that they really are created line upon line—and eventually those lines add up.
Michele: What is your writing schedule like?
Sian: When I am working on a book I try to write a little every day. Sometimes my writing time may be only a few minutes stolen while I’m waiting for the timer to go off on the oven or drier. Other times, I’m able to devote a couple of hours to it. I like to write in the afternoon before my children get home from school but after my household chores and errands are finished.
Michele: Where did your idea come from for your books?
Sian: Most of my ideas are loosely based on personal experiences. I was blessed to grow up in Wales and to have the opportunity to travel quite extensively. Sharing my love for other countries, cultures and the Gospel has been one of the highlights of being an author.
Michele: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Sian: Don’t give up. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing.
Michele: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Sian: I have to know how I want my story to start and end, and what the main conflict will be before I begin writing. The details develop as I write.
Michele: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Sian: Yes. I think all writers experience this. Sometimes it helps to walk away from the story for a short time and return with fresh eyes. Sometimes I simply rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until something clicks.
Michele: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Sian: I usually write with the background sounds of family life, but I concentrate best when it is quiet.
Michele: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Sian: My secondary school English teacher who helped me develop my writing skills and my father who introduced me to good books and encouraged me to write my first book.
Michele: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Sian: I’ve never been part of a critique group. I sometimes have my husband read over my work. He’s a great editor and helps clean up my manuscripts.
Michele: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
Sian: One thing that not many people know is that I love to cook. I bake almost every day and enjoy trying new recipes.
Michele: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Sian: Some of my earlier books are now out of print and may be hard to find in stores. Most are still available on line.

As a HUGE fan of Sian's, I'm here to tell you, whatever you have to do so track down one of her books . . . DO IT! They are so worth it. And maybe if enough of you readers respond, we can convince her to get working on something new.


Rebecca Talley said...

Great interview. I really enjoyed getting to know more about Sian.

Thanks, Michele, for posting this interview. I always love to read about authors and their writing journeys.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Wonderful interview, Michele, and Sian. ;)Sian is a talented, wonderful writer and I know my sons can attest to her culinary skills.

Jennie said...

I've enjoyed all of Sian's books and I wish she would write more of the Kids on a Mission series. Sian is one of those people I admire greatly both as a writer and as a friend.

giddymomof6 said...

What a great interview! I just stumbled upon your blog through MMB's I will be back! It's packed full of awesome interviews and information. Thank you so much! Jenni

Storybooker said...

My kids LOVE your "kids on a mission" series. I would like to see something similar on a bit higher reading level as well, more geared towards teens. What do you think? You are great! Thanks.