I met Velda Brotherton at an Ozarks Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas a few years ago. I think we’ve only had one or two conversations, but I knew this author by reputation long before I met her. Velda is quite successful and looked upon as a mentor by many authors in the Ozarks. She writes strong female protagonists who thrive despite the worlds in which they live and forces that conspire against them.
It’s my pleasure to introduce Velda Brotherton. Here’s what she has to say in her own words.
Velda Brotherton Biography
It occurred to me in my twenties that I wanted to write. I always loved to read, and it seemed natural. So for years I worked on a book that concerned a subject that I could not leave alone. However, I became so wrapped up in writing that I would go to work at my job all day and sit up half the night writing. I had no control, so I packed it all away and one day when we decided it was time to move into the country and more or less retire, I pulled it all out. I’ve been writing ever since. That first book, Beyond the Moon, was finally published.
I married at 17, had two children by 21 and went on with my life. We spent nine years living in New York with an exciting life. Once meeting James Baldwin when we attended one of his plays and he was standing outside talking to everyone.
My first books were published by Penguin after I met one of their editors at a writer’s conference. They were published under the name of Elizabeth Gregg. After four, New York crashed as far as publication went and after two more with another publisher who shall remain unknown, I decided to take some time off from fiction and write some non fiction since I had written a lot for a newspaper after we moved back to Arkansas, where I was born. Those books are all still available.
I’m now published with Oghma Creative Media, and I’ve lost count of how many of my books they’ve published, but it’s a lot. They’re all on Amazon. LOL
Being a writer is only second to the best of my life, my family coming first. I’ve met some of the nicest people during those years. After thirty years of writing, I have no desire to stop until it stops me. I have thirty books still in publication. My family includes two daughters, a grandson and granddaughter, and two great grandsons. They have always supported me and my work. I still live in my home state of Arkansas.
Ozarks Maven Author Spotlight Interview
For those readers who are unfamiliar with you, please tell us a little about yourself.
In 1983 I finished writing a draft for my first novel, Beyond the Moon. By joining with other authors in the area to critique each other’s work, I found out how much I didn’t know about writing. Most of all, I began a long adventure that is with me still. I began with short stories and magazine articles, moved on to work for a newspaper and interview and write many personal stories and write western historical romances published by Penguin. It’s been a wonderful life. Living in the Ozarks near where I was born, I’m now working with Oghma Creative Media, an Arkansas publisher I contacted through that original critique group. I’ve seen the publication of 30 books, six of which are nonfiction.
I’ve become a grandmother and great grandmother during those years. I live alone, my husband passed away six years ago, and I continue to write and hold a weekly writer’s group. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve met online and like it so much we have decided to continue to do so. Over the years I’ve mentored young writers and held workshops to teach others. At 85 I still find writing an exciting adventure and hope to do so for years to come.
2. What kinds of writing do you enjoy?
Western writing is in my blood, though occasionally I write something not of that genre. I just finished a creative nonfiction book about the US Marshals serving under Judge Isaac Parker and patrolling the Indian Territory during the late 1800s. I’m now working on a western series about a young lady who has become a bounty hunter during that same time. My article about female rodeo riders during that time will be published in Saddlebags Magazine due out this winter.
3. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
Once I would’ve said the research, but interviewing other writers and those who have lived exciting lives is a process that still thrills me. I never have a problem sitting down and writing, and have a schedule that I follow each day. After lunch sit down and write. So it’s hard to say one is more fun that the other. Meeting with other writers at conferences and workshops is also an enjoyable pastime. Let’s just say writing is what I enjoy the most about the process. 4. When did you start writing?
Actually, when we were living in New York and I had a job, I began to enjoy taking notes and writing family stories. I was in my late twenties, but seriously I didn’t have the time until we semi retired and moved back to my home state. So I was halfway through my life, about 50 before everything worked out so I could give the time to writing.
5. To what or whom do your attribute your love of reading and writing stories?
Of course there was high school English, but I really began reading everything I could lay hands on that looked interesting when my young daughter began her long love of reading. She still reads ten to twelve books a week and tunes me in on the best ones to read. So it is to her that I attribute my own love of reading and thus writing.
6. How have your past experiences impacted your writing?
For ten years I worked for a newspaper, and my job was to go out and interview people who had unusual jobs or lives. Those folks impacted my writing a great deal. Learning how someone lived through tough times was a great influence on my writing.
7. What are some jobs that you have held?
Office work came first when I was in a business class and worked for an insurance company. That kind of work continued through our moves, etc. until we moved to Arkansas. Then I stayed home, grew a garden, took care of animals, etc. It was the early 70s, and we were living off the land and enjoying it a lot. Meeting others who were doing the same was a fun “job.” I worked for a craft outlet for a time then, but finally settled for writing as a permanent career.
8. Does your past employment experience ever make its way into your books?
Oh, sure. Writers would be foolish not to use any experience they could. I wrote a six book mystery series about a woman newspaper reporter, and it was set in a small county much like the one I live in. One of the times I departed the western field to write something different.
9. What inspires you?
Life inspires me. Every beautiful day I see or feel or experience something that makes me write, even if it’s just a few pages. Of course, knowing interesting people is an inspiration as well.
10. What made you decide to write about the subjects or themes of your books?
I’ve probably pretty much answered that with my previous answers. A small Catholic Church on top of the mountain became the theme of one of my novels. Of course the Poe Mysteries I’ve talked about. Every book is set around a different theme, no matter the genre or story arc. I think I’m most set on letting people know that women can and do hold important jobs of all kinds in this world. They are strong, and set in their ways and capable of completing any task they set their minds to. I think this is probably the most important theme of my books. From the heroine of my first novel, Beyond the Moon, who supports a man with unusual needs, to the ladies riding for the rodeo when all men told them it couldn’t be done, I’m convinced women are capable of anything they set their minds to.
11. Have you met any interesting people while researching your books?
Oh, yes. I met a barn stormer, Joe Kittinger, who took me for a ride in his stunt plane. He happened to also be the first man in space before anyone knew about such things. I met the man who was the first baby born to the Geronimo Apaches when they were released from their Florida imprisonment; Too many to list here. I’ve also interviewed and known many authors like Lisa Wingate and Parris Afton Bonds. I interviewed Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire Novels. That’s just a few. It’s been a wonderful and exciting life.
12. What is the most difficult part of writing?
Stopping at night. No, I’m not kidding. My butt begins to ache, my legs tremble and my brain will not stop until everything I’m thinking is written. It grows dark around me, and I forget to turn on the lights.
13. Who are some of your favorite authors and why do you enjoy their work?
This is always a difficult question to answer because there are so many. Often they come and go, one replaces another as their work improves. Even though I praise women for their efforts, some of my favorite authors are men simply because they write about something I feel is important. For several years I’ve felt James Lee Burke is America’s most important and best writer. Before he came along and wrote so many good books I was a strong fan of Stephen King, not so much the horror novels but his ability to write in a precise way that said, come with me into my world. So many writers aren’t capable of engaging their readers in such a way.
Oh, goodness, there are so many good, strong writers today. My list would be very long and many of their books are waiting inside my Kindle. Being a writer makes it difficult to get to reading everything out there that is so good.
14. What writing advice did you find most useful when you were honing your craft?
Don’t ever give up. As long as your imagination fires your stories, keep writing. What I learned being in charge with a huge critique group for so long was never put out the writer’s flame, for if they really want to write, they should never be told their work is weak or bad. Never give up.
15. Do you have any new work just released or coming out soon? If so, would you please tell us a little about it?
There are several of my books in the que. Quote the Endling is the sixth book in my Poe mysteries, just out a couple months ago. Just before that, Texas Lightning came out and another in that series will be out soon called Texas Wildling. I’m pleased to have co authored a beautiful little book called The Blue Roan Colt with Dusty Richards who was killed in an automobile accident before it could be re-issued. I think this covers everything for a month or two. Quite a few books piled up during the Pandemic when we couldn’t get deliveries to book stores and libraries, so they were held up.
16. Can you tell us a little about your current project?
That would be the series about the female bounty. I introduced her in one of the Texas books last year when she captured the meanest “owlhoot” in Indian Territory, ended in having to kill him and carried his head back to Judge Parker in Fort Smith. She rode off with his head bobbling along from her saddle. There, yes, it’s that kind of book. A woman strong and independent in a time when women were nearly slaves to men, and she’s having none of that. The only man she loved was a cowboy outlaw, and he was killed in the battle in which she took the head of the leader of the gang who killed him.
They won’t get much tougher, but she has a soft heart for the weak and helpless. It’s set in a time most women don’t know existed. Having a period meant a woman was labeled hysterical, and nothing they said or did was paid attention to. Men owned all property, their wives had no say in anything. It was a time of enslavement of the female unless she was exceedingly strong.
These books will be a series, and I’ll pull no punches about what women put up with or were made to do. Hey, I love men, don’t misunderstand me. They just didn’t know much and weren’t sure they wanted to learn back then. It was a tough time for everyone to live and so both men and women fought battles constantly to exist. I will try to show both sides of this tough way of life.
I see I’m at the end of your questions. Thank you so much for this interview and for having me as a guest. I look forward to seeing your article.
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