Kristina Marie Darling: Your book, An Imperfect Rapture, was recently launched by Zone 3 Press as winner of their Nonfiction Award. Tell us more about your journey to publication. What advice do you have for emerging nonfiction writers who are sending their work out, whether it’s a book project or a journal submission?
Kelly J. Beard: Thanks for asking that question, Kristina. As you might suspect, it’s the one I hear most from writers who haven’t yet found their venues. No doubt it’s the one I asked most often before winning the Zone 3 Award. I always felt a little let down with the answers I received, and I hope that isn’t the case with your readers, but in truth, the journey to publication felt a bit like searching for the holy grail. But here’s what I did: after hiring (this isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it) a professional editor to give my “final” manuscript a holistic review. It bears noting that I’d been working on the manuscript for at least 5-6 years, and it had been critiqued previously in whole or part by multiple advisors during the MFA process. Not to digress too far, but it also bears noting that finding a good editor can be its own leg of the journey. My advice on that aspect of it is (after researching the editor and her work) to ask for a free or reduced charge consult on 5-6 pages. That seems to me to be the safest way to get an editor you can trust, meaning an editor who understands your vision of the work and offers you advice you find relevant and helpful.
Authors, Kelly J. Beard – An Imperfect Rapture and Adrian Koester – Union Square, got together for a conversation on their new works, and talk about poverty, violence, faith, and coming to literature a bit later in life. An excerpt is below:
KJB: Almost every time I give a reading or talk to folks about my book, I get asked about one of two recent memoirs: J.B. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” or Tara Westbrook’s “Educated.” With respect to both of these writers and the difficult circumstances they surmounted through ivy league educations (Yale and Harvard, respectively) the truth is that this isn’t a realistic formula for more than the teensiest percentage of kids born into poverty. The message strikes me as not only unrealistic, but actually damaging because it allows the middle and wealthy classes (continue to) remain willfully ignorant of the prison generational poverty creates for most people born into it. I didn’t even know what an ivy league was when I was in high school, let alone have the slightest notion of how to get into one (or the slightest chance of getting into one).
AEK: This gives me so much to think about! And is perfectly expressed. You could describe the “emotional trauma and psychic stunting of the poor” to those who have no idea first-hand what it means until the cows come home (presuming you even knew when that was), but I don’t think there any way to let them know. For me, there is no very good way to understand why they don’t know, or can’t, whichever it is.
An excerpt from WE magazine for women’s “Meet Women on a Mission” interview series featuring Kelly J. Beard.
November 20, 2018.
Q: What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
A: The biggest risk was leaving the practice of law after two decades to follow the dream of becoming an author. I think the biggest obstacles are the messages we are all exposed to (especially women) that by the time we’re 50 or 60 we’re redundant and boring, that it’s too late to accomplish anything new or to make a mark on a new path.
“…gorgeous forthcoming memoir.”
~New York Times Interview featuring Andre Dubus III
“Right now, sitting on my nightstand under a lamp whose broken base makes the shade lean forward a bit too much, are the books I’ve read in the last couple of weeks or so and the ones I’m getting ready to read next. They are: the gorgeous forthcoming memoir ‘An Imperfect Rapture,’ by Kelly J. Beard.”
GSMC Book Review
JAN. 15, 2019
Sarah of GSMC Book Review Podcast chats with Kelly J. Beard about her memoir, An Imperfect Rapture. Beard writes of the difficult subjects of her childhood with candor, grace, and beauty, telling the story of a journey that might seem impossible to many.
NOV. 24, 2018
Blogtalkradio host Cyrus Webb interviewed Kelly J. Beard about sharing her story and the reader responses she has received for An Imperfect Rapture.