author spotlight & giveaway: the beguiling bethany macmanus

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Bethany for the past year through a local writing group. Bethany is fun and intense and a great friend, but you can learn a lot more about a person when you read their books because it really lets you get inside their head. What did I learn about Bethany from reading Six Solitude Road (click for review or book trailer)? That she’s a talented writer who like to bring darkness into the light. Please welcome Bethany as she talks about the research behind her book(s) and what’s coming next. Read to the end to find out how you can win a copy of Six Solitude Road!

Hi, Bethany! Thanks for taking time to chat with us about your writing. The first question I ask everyone is…do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?

I consider myself a Christian author. I am a Christian writing real, gritty characters who find themselves in circumstances beyond their control; circumstances which test their faith. I write from a Christian worldview, but I also don’t shy away from issues many in the CBA consider taboo. In that way, I don’t write typical Christian fiction.

I’ve labeled your book as Christian noir. Do you agree with the classification? And can you shed some light on the challenges inherent in writing edgy Christian fiction?

I’m not certain I agree. When I hear the word “noir,” I think 1920s-40s mafia crime fiction. Maybe that’s too narrow of a classification, though!

The main character, Kate Marset, narrates in the first person “private eye” POV. I suppose this could qualify her as hardboiled, like Sam Spade and other noir detectives. But none of this was purposeful. I just started writing her story, and her character burst forth from the page as such.

I definitely agree that I write edgy books. I’ve been a lurker in the online group Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (started by Michelle Sutton) for about two years, now. The fact this thriving forum exists proves a vast market for edgy Christian books is out there: folks who don’t mind reading about the real issues people face in a fallen world.

As far as challenges go, I suppose there might be some naysayers who think some of the plot twists presented in my book should stay where they belong–in the ABA.

I hope my readers see my desire to show that while evil exists, God’s power is infinitely greater. He’s the one who receives all the glory at the end of my book. I think readers of Ted Dekker and Jordyn Redwood will enjoy and not be offended by my books.

Well, I guess I hadn’t thought much about the definition behind Christian Noir. I was thinking of it as darker Christian fiction, but a shade lighter than out-and-out horror. Guess that’s what I get for inventing my own definition! 😉

Six Solitude Road is based on a real place. How did you select this setting? Could you share something with us about your research visit to the real 6 Solitude Road?

Haha! That’s a fun story. The hubs and I were out on a double date with my sister and bro-in-law, at a barbeque restaurant near their house. I already had the premise in mind for SSR (a first grade teacher must prove her husband innocent in a kidnapping), and I wanted to set it somewhere nearby so I wouldn’t have to travel too far to research it. Our waiter that night mentioned he was from Louisiana, and I thought, “ooo, how fun would that be, to set it on some spooky bayou?” So I asked the fellow, “where is a famously eerie locale in Louisiana, and don’t think I’m weird for asking; it’s because I’m a writer.” He laughed and said, “there are some eerie plantations in St. Francisville.” And boy, was he right!

So I dragged my poor husband off to Louisiana on an “anniversary getaway” (I know, I’m sneaky!). The first plantation we visited was The Myrtles Plantation, where you’re pretty much guaranteed a “ghostly visit” if you dare to spend the night. We opted out on that offer, mostly because the guarantee didn’t include free lodging, if the “ghost” didn’t visit. The second plantation was Rosedown, and I snapped a lot of great pictures there. The weather cooperated perfectly in that a smattering of afternoon showers split the sky, forcing us to shelter on the grand front porch, on a perfectly matched set of white rocking chairs (think Gone with the Wind goes to creepsville).

Rosewood plantation (Gone With the Wind goes to creepsville
Rosewood plantation (Gone With the Wind goes to creepsville)

While exploring the charming town of St. Francisville, I found both the infamous Solitude Road, and the cemetery I made the setting of a puzzling twist in the story, both located off of Ferdinand Street. We boarded the ferry to Pointe Coupee parish (mentioned in the story), and saw the sugarcane fields as we drove off the boat. We also drove around the Catholic school I loosely based Pointe Coupee Baptist Academy on.

Cemetery in St. Francisville off Ferdinand St.
Cemetery in St. Francisville off Ferdinand St.

Back in town, I gasped aloud when I saw the trees and thick underbrush lining Solitude Road, a.k.a. County Road 334, because their wild, chaotic nature fit perfectly into the climactic scenes I knew I needed them for.

You mentioned that you are already working on a sequel(s). What can you tell us about it/them?

SSR’s minor character Allie Reese gets to meet and marry her husband, Croft Thames, over the course of the next two books, Twelve Tragedy Lane and Eighteen Illusion Court. Kate also gets a couple of cameo appearances.

The tagline for Twelve Tragedy Lane is A swimming pool exposed part of the past Croft thought he’d buried. Now he must find out why…before his first love is murdered.

You can see how this swimming pool/first love obstacle could impede any relationship he might start to develop with Allie, right? Oh, yeah…

And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?

I am more of a Facebook girl; that’s the social network where I am conversational. Find me on Twitter and you’ll just feel advertised to! Those 140-character-limits get me every time…

Want to know more about Bethany or find more things that go bump in the night? Check out her website for social media links, blog posts, and more http://www.bethanymacmanus.com

And now for the GIVEAWAY…

There are 2 ways to enter (you can do one or both):

1. Comment below on what you think Christian Noir is, or ask Bethany a question.

2. Enter through Rafflecopter by clicking HERE (includes more ways to win by tweeting or sharing this post).

 

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30 thoughts on “author spotlight & giveaway: the beguiling bethany macmanus

  1. Christian noir: A dark and spooky but not supernatural tale where the characters happen to be Christians. A story that I will totally love! Six Solitude Road is in my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it!
    I’m a Facebook girl too. Trying to figure out that tweeting thing.

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    1. Hi, Gretchen! That tweeting thing is TOUGH, isn’t it? What with all the hashtags and FFs and RTs and such? ! Whew!
      Thanks for buying my book, and for stopping by! I really hope I can meet you in person soon. You’re fun. 🙂

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  2. I can’t wait to read your book! It sounds like the kind of book I like to read! I have also already downloaded it, just haven’t had time to start it yet.

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  3. Bethany, I love reading Christian fiction, but it’s hard to find good suspense ones. I’m super excited about yours!!! How do you find a balance in bringing in fears and crime without glorifying them, as so many non-christian books do?

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    1. Great question, Kimberly. Sometimes an author has to discern when to “tell” instead of “show.” The evil has to happen off-stage. But the reader has to know it happened, so that the good can come. It is hinted at, and not dwelt upon. Does that make sense?

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  4. Well I finished reading SSR a couple weeks ago and was finally able to come out from under the covers! This is a GOOD book. Lisa I like what you said about reading the book and getting into the author’s mind. I imagined the MC was Bethany the whole time I was reading. That’s why I seemed mad and stuck my tongue out at her at our last writer’s group meeting. Just kidding! Great post guys!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading the book. I don’t want to win the book because I already have it, so I’ll be excited to see someone else win. It is well worth going to Amazon to get it, and I encourage people to do that. Thanks for the interview…as one born in Louisiana, I’m interested in it as a setting (even though we left when I was a small boy). Thanks again for telling some of the behind-the-scenes stuff on how the book came to be. Very interesting.

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  6. Bethany, I’ve gotten so behind this summer (kids are out of school and all). I haven’t gotten around to downloading your book, but it sounds great and I’ll get it soon! Loved to hear about the settings which inspired you.

    Blessings, Janice Boekhoff

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  7. When I hear Noir, I think detective mysteries that are creepy/mysterious. Or else I instantly think of Guy Noir on Prairie Home Companion & Bob Hope in My Favorite Brunette. 😉 (don’t enter me – I plan to read the next one but not this particular book.)

    That’s pretty neat about exploring Louisiana. It’s always fun to be able to visit a place & associate it with a story. Makes them come alive!

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    1. Aw, great to see you again, Sparksofember! I like your vintage taste. I remember listening to the prairie home companion with my dad, growing up. Thanks for taking time to stop by and comment. We will see you at the release of Twelve Tragedy Lane. 🙂

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  8. Bethany, haven’t read any of your books, but like the description of them! Anything southern and cemetery speaks to me! Learning curve here-‘noir’ to me means Pinoir Grigio-a nice light wine! LOL.

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  9. Tons of great comments. Leave it to a bunch of suspense enthusiasts to school me about what noir really is! So, if I don’t want to call it Christian horror, and it’s not noir, what AM I supposed to call it?

    Anyway- 1 more hour until the contest closes. Last chance to enter.

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