Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Interview With The Betty

I have this daydream that I'll be clicking open my email one day and a message will land in my box titled something like, "The Great Betty As I Knew Her: A Granddaughter's Story" or "I Found this Box of Notes in Gram-gram's Attic and You Guys at TUJD Seem Super Interested in Her Legacy". Maybe Betty Neels wants to haunt me in a friendly and collaborative way and can't quite get enough signal boosted. I don't know her #AfterlifeGoals.
Betty Keira felt a warm wind waft through the room.
It smelled of sausage rolls and stroopwafels... "Betty?" 

So I thought it would be nice to throw together some interview questions in case I do have her ghost popping out of the van Voorhees woodwork. I would not like to be unprepared:

  • What did you enjoy more? Your nursing career or your writing career?
  • Which sort of heroine did you identify most with? Rich Olivias, somewhat down-at-heel? Plain Aramintas even more down-at-heel?
  • Did your hands hurt from typing?
  • The Canon describes a LOT of work, some of it really hard work. What was the hardest work you ever did?
  • What did your friends and family think of your Second Career?
  • Why did you make Laura wear a wedding turban in The Hasty Marriage? And then made her meet her sister while wearing a denim dress?
  • What book was your favorite? I know you're going to say they're like babies and you can't possibly choose but let's pretend you can.
  • How long did it take to pound out Sister Peters in Amsterdam?
  • Are you okay with TUJD? I would not like to be encroaching.
  • Tell me how you really feel about private nursing...

Does anyone else have a question they wish they could put to The Great Betty?


  1. • Did the editors, at first, try to make you change the Dutch/Frisian names?
    • Did the editors have any influence on which countries the characters visited in your novels?
    • Did you ever have a chance to skate on the grachten in Amsterdam?
    • Which was your favourite restaurant in London? In England?

    1. Skating on the grachten. Yes! I want to know that too! So many of her experiences feel first hand.

  2. This would earn me an icy British stare for a crass American, but Betty, what is up with your fascination with undies?!? Seriously was it clothing rationing during the war?

  3. Great questions, Keira! :-)

    Here are few questions I thought of:

    - Would you describe yourself as an introvert, an extrovert or a little of both?
    As an author, you seem to have a good grasp on both personality types.

    - Among all your books, do you have a favorite hero? A favorite heroine?

    - Did you read Jane Austen's books and if so, which is your favorite?

    - Is there an author who most influenced your own writing style?

    --Anonymous Betty Lea in KY

  4. - Is John Donne your favorite poet?
    - Do you have an abiding love for Shakespeare?
    - How many books do you think you read during your lifetime?
    - What is your own favorite book?

    1. Betty Pam,

      I had wondered about Betty's taste in poetry, too. Also, I think you correctly surmise that Betty must have been a great reader, herself. Happy Friday!

      -- Anonymous Betty Lea in KY

  5. Did you ever live in one of the old ancestral houses in Holland that you describe?
    Did you ever ever live in the nurses quarters in a hospital?
    What did Americans do to make you dislike them so much?

  6. I thought of a few more questions:
    Which heroine in your books is most like you?
    Did you get any input on book covers? If not, do you wish you had?
    Which book cover is your favorite? Your least favorite?
    Do you actually like cats and dogs? Did you have any pets yourself?

    --Anonymous Betty Lea in KY

    1. Betty has answered one of your questions in advance, so to speak. We do know Betty had cats and dogs, which doesn't surprise me, at all! 🐈 🐈 🐕 🐕

    2. Thanks, Betty Anonymous! I hadn't read that short greeting from Betty Neels before! I figured she must have loved dogs and cats to feature them so much in her books. Happy Monday! --Anonymous Betty Lea in KY

  7. I love your list ("tell us how you really feel about private nursing" made me laugh). And I've also wondered which books were her favorites-- are they the ones that feel better written, as opposed to the ones that seem sort of forgettable/phoned in? Or would she surprise us and say that her favorite is, say, the one about Majorca because it reminds her of her vacation there? Also have wondered How fluent was her Dutch? and why do so few of her heroines work after they marry (do ANY of them?) when she herself worked for years?