Introducing Beth Overmyer, ...
Hi there, Beth.
Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write “In a Pickle”.
The title suggests a humorous adventure story… is that correct?
Hi, Rosalie. “In a Pickle” came to me almost out of the blue. I was babysitting this wonderfully grouchy cat and I thought “I’d like to write a story about a cat that time-travels” (that’s how random my mind is.)
Well, I sat down at my computer and a boy named Charlie appeared to me, so I ended up scratching the cat from the story. “What’s the boy’s last name?” Pickle was the answer, and his quirky moniker-hating self brought the story to life.
“In a Pickle” is an adventure surrounding a ten-year-old orphan who gets into a scrape during one of his accidental trips to the past. While the story itself has some serious elements, there are nuggets of humor.
My favorite line had me roaring as I typed it: “Don’t shoot! I’ve got a cookie.” Ahem. Context is important, but I don’t want to give anything away.
Do your characters follow your plot path or do they take on a life of their own? Do you keep them in check?
My characters have minds of their own. Someday, sick of my attempts at manipulation, they’re going to jump through the computer screen and do me in.
To be serious for a moment, I let my subconscious take over when it wants, and my characters tend to surprise me. Sometimes the results are good, other times I’ve written myself into a corner.
Writing the story is only half the exercise though, isn’t it. Becoming published is not always easy. Even with self publishing as an option. What do you think is the most important thing a writer needs to face, along the road to publication?
I could say rejection, it keeps you humble, but that’s a given (almost everyone gets rejected.) You’ve got to face your fears.
I’m in a limbo right now, typing out my responses: I’m half high on adrenaline, and half-petrified that I’m going to say something that’ll expose the stupid side of me to hundreds (maybe thousands—egads!) of readers.
But as fearful as I am of doing interviews and promoting myself, I sent out two press releases (one two hours ago) and did a verbal pitch to a librarian.
You’ve got to face your fears. It makes you a better writer. And if you have no writing-related fears, then good for you. Now, go sky-diving and write us a book on it, there’s a good girl.
Sent out press releases... you go girl!!!
What was the hardest hurdle for you in getting your novel published?
Besides finishing the book? The hardest hurdle was taking criticism. Yes, that sound vain and stupid, but it was hard listening to my editors.
I believed enough in my work, so it was hard to be told that I had misused the ellipses or abused some adverbs. But I took their advice and the book is much stronger for it.
Have you always been a writer?
I’ve been writing for over sixteen years now, and that’s more than half my life. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. Like, when I would lie in bed for hours on end, daydreaming stories up.
In high school, I thought I was a poet—I soon found out that I was not. My science teacher, Dr. Cynthia Seng (AKA my cheerleader) really encouraged me to write fiction.
She is now bragging that one of her “girls” is a published author. Imagine that!
Wonderful, to have her bragging about your work. It must be very satisfying. :)
What drew you to the MG genre?
What drew me to MG? Mr. Riordan, but of course. I loved Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The voice, the humor, the—not exactly innocence. Lack of complete world-weariness are better words.
I’ve always had a younger sense of humor, and I feel I can relate to younger audiences.
Oh, also: I’m a new aunt, and I’m hoping my niece will grow up to be an avid reader. Her tenth birthday present is going to be a copy of—you guessed it—“In a Pickle.” And maybe a pony…
Congratulations!! A new aunt. Wonderful news.
Charlie Pickle can't stay put in the year 1920, due to an annoying habit of time-traveling. On a trip back to 1910, he meets a man with a secret. Murder makes the headlines that day, and Charlie's new friend knows who the guilty party is. Now, not only does Charlie have bullies and murderers to contend with, he's got some history to fix.
The screeching of gulls woke Charlie up several hours later. He sat up with a yawn, and the first thing he saw was Henry lying still, his eyes wide open.
“Oh no,” Charlie whispered. Had Henry died too?
“Shut up, kid. I’m trying to listen.” It wasn’t the politest way to be greeted in the morning, but at least Charlie’s homeless buddy hadn’t gone to his eternal resting place.
“Pretty sloppy job, if you ask me,” said an official-sounding voice outside the shack. “The water here’s not five feet deep. Pretty easy to dredge up a body.”
Another voice spoke, even more official-sounding than the first. “And this Smith character you told me about had a hunch there’d be a corpse to dredge up?”
A corpse? What had happened this morning while he’d slept? Charlie had a strong urge to peek out and see if he could catch a glimpse of the body. A reproving look from Henry, however, stopped him.
“Smith sounds like an alias to me,” the second voice continued. “I recognize the deceased’s ugly mug. He had many enemies, Duke. I say we round up the usual suspects, see if we can’t find someone who’ll sing.”
“Sounds good, Inspector.”
“All right, let’s pack it up.”
Charlie’s stomach roared like a jet engine. He hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day.
“Henry,” he said, after he could no longer hear the policemen. “I’m starving.”
Henry seemed to think it was safe, too, because he got to his feet, not bothering to muffle his footsteps as he crossed to the glassless window. “How can you think about food after someone was stabbed with a…? No, you aren’t starving.”
Charlie narrowed his eyes at Henry. How could he know the person had been stabbed to death? Had he seen something while Charlie was sleeping? Maybe Henry had seen the killer. Charlie was about to blurt out an accusation, but his stomach rumbled again.
“Yes, I am starving. I haven’t eaten since yesterday.”
“Yeah, well, I haven’t eaten since two days ago. Try beating that, kid.”
Charlie shook his head. “You’re cranky. And why did we have to be so quiet? Shouldn’t the police know we are here?”
“No,” Henry said, as he pulled himself through the window.
“But why not? We didn’t do nothin’ wrong.” Balancing on the window sill, Charlie lifted both legs through the opening and joined Henry outside. “It’s not a crime being homeless.” The words were somewhat of an afterthought, and he didn’t anticipate Henry’s response.
“Of course it is,” he spat. “The police…bah! They wouldn’t take my word for anything. I tried reporting a mugging before. A homeless man’s testimony means nothing. They’d think we’d done the man in ourselves.”
“I see. So, you’re afraid.”
Henry shot Charlie a look. “Charlie—”
“No, it’s okay. Even I get afraid sometimes. Like when President Wilson had a stroke. I thought I might have a stroke one day too, and it got me to thinking that I could actually die. So I was scared at first, but then I remembered my parents had died, and…What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
Henry had stopped walking, and put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “President who?”
“You mean Taft, don’t you? William Howard Taft?”
“Um…” This wasn’t the first time Charlie had almost blown his cover. One time, in 1902, he told a girl she should have a zipper put on her clutch. Charlie had gotten the strangest look and couldn’t figure out why until four days later, when he’d time-traveled back to 1913, and he realized zippers were a new invention.
“President Taft? Oh, right. I get him and that other guy mixed up sometimes.”
“But Taft hasn’t had a stroke. What president are you talking about?”
“I’m just a kid, all right? I can’t remember who’s secretary of state most days.”
That earned him an even stranger look. “What?”
“You are one bizarre kid, aren’t you?”
Charlie looked at Henry with a grimace. “You have no idea.”
Thanks again for sharing a little about your novel, Beth. It's a great excerpt. You have me intrigued and I love time travel adventures. I can't wait to read...
IN A PICKLE... from Museitup Publishing
Beth Overmyer's Blog