Storytelling is Beth Kanell’s native language. She learned it from her mother, who taught her to fill in the blanks as a story emerged. As a single parent in Vermont, for years she told stories “on the side” and developed a specialty in tales for teens (always starting with something scary!). Endlessly in love with Vermont, she began bringing the most fascinating parts of its history into her narratives, and discovered that what she really likes after all is writing fiction that explores the lives of young people caught up in the force of change. She is also a non-stop mystery reader, so she grapples for new and unusual plot twists, as well as the magic of the Green Mountain state.
Beth Kanell’s first historical novel set in Vermont, The Darkness Under the Water, began as a ghost story and got scarier. Along with years of historical prowling for the book, Beth relied on family narratives from the residents of small Vermont towns like Waterford, St. Johnsbury, West Barnet, Barnet, Peacham, and Danville. She loved rediscovering the days of log drives on the Connecticut River. She’s also been digging into how people washed dishes in 1850, why there are so many fires in small towns, and Vermont’s unsolved murders. She writes as if she were braiding: one strand for the flow of history, one for the controversies involved, and the biggest strand, of course, for the characters who take over her inner life. She outlines on brown paper pinned to the walls of her small writing room, and depends on chocolate, candles, and music to get her through.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I climb up mountains much better than I climb down them! I don’t understand why, unless it has something to do with needing to discover the parts I haven’t seen yet.
2. I was the kid who sneaked a flashlight into bed to read under the covers—and my best writing comes the same way, sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to scribble things that I’ve just figured out.
3. Feathers, rocks, leaves: Whenever I find a good one, I stop to investigate. I figure they are really messages to me from Something Bigger. Oddly, I found out recently that I seem to be part of a growing group of people who do this. Are we genetically new? Let me know what you think It All Means.