Sunday, April 22, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, OLIVIA DEBELLE BYRD

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "MRS. HILDRETH WORE BROWN" OLIVIA DEBELLE BYRD

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Hello Olivia! It is so wonderful to have the chance to interview you. I have recently read "Mrs. Hildreth Wore Brown" and I absolutely LOVED it. I passed it on to my mother-in-law so she could read it because I just knew she'd enjoy it as much if not more than I did. I just would like to say I think you are a beautifully stunning Southern Belle by the way. Now you were born and bred in the South and some of the anecdotes you mention in your book, many of us can readily relate to. What was your main inspiration behind writing this book?

Like all good storytellers, I hate to waste a good story so I repeat my stories - often. Finally in exasperation one day, my husband said, "Why don't you write this stuff down?" So I did. I actually started writing down stories for my children as a Christmas gift. Before I knew it, I had a book!

In writing this first book, Miss Hilldreth Wore Brown, I wrote what I knew - humor and the South. Since I was raised by a Southern father and grandmother of uncommon wit, the fabric of my childhood was laced with humor. I grew up surrounded by marvelous tales of Southern grande dames and eccentric Southern gentlemen. Humor was a staple in our household. I have loved the art of storytelling as long as I can remember.

It seems just from reading your book that you have had a life full of love and laughter. I cannot imagine your children ever having been bored. Tell us more about Tommy Jr. and Elizabeth, and are they married yet?

My daughter Elizabeth got married two years ago and lives with her wonderful husband, Justin, in Seattle. She just completed her masters in public administration and works in an educational research nonprofit with the University of Washington. My son Tommy Jr lives in the same town as we do, Panama City, Florida, and works with his father in property management. He is not married yet and I remind him of this every time I look in the mirror and see my face is falling! "Weddings" is one of my favorite anecdotes in the book. My children may tell you many things about their childhood but being bored would not be one of them. My son told me he was in so much of this book I owed him a commission!

What is the one thing that you love most about being a Southern Belle?

My two favorite Southern Belles are the antitheses of each other. I love Melanie Hamilton for her quiet strength and dignity, and I love Scarlett O'Hara for her boldness and charm. That is what I love about Southern Belles - our complexity. We are indeed "Steel Magnolias."

Your quote on your site is by far one of my favorites and so true. "The woman who can laugh at herself will never cease to be amused." Do you find this is something you live by day to day?

Every SINGLE day! I can find humor in almost any situation and am always the first to laugh at myself. It truly does make life more fun.

When can we expect more from you and do you have another book of anecdotes planned for the near future?

Though I do have some ideas bouncing around in my head, my main goal right now is marketing Miss Hildreth. While on blog tour last year, I wrote several guest author posts that were a lot of fun. My next effort would be a novel - a love story set in the South.

What would you say is one of the most precious pieces of advice that you've learned over the years?

We are given one life. Live it with grace and dignity and always put yourself in other people's shoes. (Just make sure they are not white ones after Labor Day :)

I just have to know, what was it like being a Kappa Delta?

I have an anecdote in the book on Kappa Deltas. Every fall, seven of us congregate at the beach house of one of our sisters and act like college coeds again. I can not imagine my life without these friendships that now span four decades. They have given me some of my most fun, cherished moments and are true sisters in every meaning of the word.

What was one of the craziest things you ever did in your life?

I am adventuresome but not a risk-taker. I love to travel and on a trip to Antarctica a few years ago I thought I could climb a very high iceberg. I did with a lot of effort but then could not get down! A nice younger gentleman took my hand and graciously "guided" me down that very high mountain, much of it on my tush!

Do you have any advice you'd care to share with other authors?

There are no shortcuts and no replacement for hard work and discipline. Read everything you can about publishing because the publishing business is extremely tough and competitive. Grow a thick skin and develop tenacity and then get some honest opinions from good writers about your writing and listen to them. If you believe in your writing, do not give up.

Please leave us your links so we can get to know more about you and your works!

My website is www.oliviadebellebyrd.com Pleased feel free to email me. I am on amazon and goodreads.

I want to thank you Kitty for allowing me to do this interview. I think most authors will tell you the best part of being an writer is the interaction with your readers. Life really can be funnier than fiction, especially here in the South, and my readers have delighted me with so many hilarious tales. My funniest comment came from Bill Duncan, a reviewer for The News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon. The title of the review was "If you accidentally cross into Alabama, have clean underwear." Another favorite comment from a reviewer was "If you don't have any Southern friends, you'll want some after reading this."

Enjoy your reading,
Olivia


"MRS. HILDRETH WORE BROWN" SYNOPSIS

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While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories

for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said, “Why don’t you write this stuff down?” Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that’s as good as any.

On top of that, Olivia’s mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun. To see “deBelle” printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing.

With storytelling written in the finest Southern tradition from the soap operas of Chandler Street in the quaint town of Gainesville, Georgia, to a country store on the Alabama state line, Olivia deBelle Byrd delves with wit and amusement into the world of the Deep South with all its unique idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms.

The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt Lottie Mae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long,” to Mrs. Brewton, who calls everyone “dahling” whether they are darling or not, to Isabella with her penchant for mint juleps and drama.

Humorous anecdotes from a Christmas coffee, where one can converse with a lady who has Christmas trees with blinking lights dangling from her ears, to Sunday church, where a mink coat is mistaken for possum, will delight Southerners and baffle many a non-Southerner. There is the proverbial Southern beauty pageant, where even a six-month-old can win a tiara, to a funeral faux pas of the iron clad Southern rule—one never wears white after Labor Day and, dear gussy, most certainly not to a funeral.

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdtoes of a Southern Belle is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of laugh-out-loud reading and hilarious enjoyment.


Praise for
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown
Anecdotes of a Southern Belle


“Olivia deBelle Byrd follows in the footsteps of Southern humorists Fanny Flagg and Bailey White to create a delightful book of personal essays dedicated to delving into the mysteries of the modern Southern Belle—a woman no longer lost in coy mincing, but straight talking, cheap, and spunky enough to reject overpriced coffee and Victoria’s Secret. With a dry wit worthy of Dorothy Parker, Byrd muses on everything from the state of our Christmas sweaters to the great assumption of Southern life—our mamas were crazy, so it isn’t a great surprise we get a little sideways. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is a great gift book, a great take-to-the-hospital book; possibly even a great take-to-the-viewing book to give the bereaved a laugh while they loll around the funeral home. A must-have for anyone with a taste for the absurd and a sweet tooth for all things Southern.”

—JANIS OWENS,
author of My Brother Michael
“With Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, Olivia deBelle Byrd proves that she is the real thing—an authentic Southern Belle with stories galore. I can’t wait to give this hilarious and heartwarming book to all my sweet friends.”

—CASSANDRA KING,
author of The Same Sweet Girls


“As a fifth generation Southerner, I thought I knew all there was to know about Southern culture. However, Olivia deBelle Byrd has taught me a thing or two. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown covers everything from Sunday church, beauty pageants and Northern exposure with humorous insight. This is one that you’ll want to savor with a mint julep!”

—MICHAEL MORRIS,
author of A Place Called Wiregrass


“Olivia deBelle Byrd is a wonderful writer if you happen to enjoy wit, talent, charm, and good looks. Anyone who has ever cracked a grin at the works of Nora Ephron or Fannie Flagg owes it to herself to read Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, which is the warmest, wisest, funniest book I’ve read in a month of Sundays. It’s like lunch with your wittiest friends—full of heart, love, and juicy gossip. It contains so many hilarious lines I can’t wait to dine out and pretend I was clever enough to come up with them myself!”

—ROBERT LELEUX,
author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy


“I’m warning you, this book will knock you to the floor quicker than Holy Ghost wine—you won’t know what hit ‘cha, but you won’t be able to stop laughing. (One more thing—but promise not to say nothing—I think it’s pitiful the way Olivia carries on about her husband Tommy in the pages of this book. That poor man—I heard Tommy’s so upset he’s threatening to run off with Benny Hinn’s ex-wife.)”

—KAREN SPEARS ZACHARIAS,
author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?
(‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV)


“Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is the perfect guide to becoming a good Southerner for those not inclined to be nice. We have long known that a Southern woman can say anything about anyone and be excused if they finish it with: Bless her heart !”

—RON HART,
syndicated Southern humorist and author of No Such Thing as a Pretty Good Alligator Wrestler


“Although my own deep Southern roots go back to more sharecroppers than characters like Olivia deBelle Byrd’s Miss Hildreth (whom Huck Finn would have identified as one of “the Aristocracy”), I nodded often in recognition of my own experience and laughed out loud many times as I savored Byrd’s down-home stories. Pour yourself a glass of iced tea, turn off your cell phone, and settle in for a delightful read.”

—GLORIA PIPKIN,
great-granddaughter of a Civil War widow, longtime former teacher, author, and editor.

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