Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Beth Harkins, about her writing and her debut book, The Possibility of Everywhere, a stellar story that takes readers on one woman’s journey to find her way in life. (Read the review here.)
Beth Harkins is an inspiring author, storyteller, workshop leader and world traveler who has crossed six continents, 65 countries, including the USA, while gathering women’s stories—the ones headlines miss.
A founding member of the Woman-Centered Coaching, Training and Leadership Institute, Beth also holds a master’s degree in Humanistic Psychology. She applies her training, life experience and passion for the power of story to her writing.
A mother, grandmother, widow and wild wise woman, Beth lives in Dallas, TX surrounded by family, friends, books and treasures from around the world.
Contact her at: email@example.com and visit her website at http://www.bethharkins.com.
The Possibility of Everywhere takes place in various cities and countries around the world. How did you go about writing so many different settings while keeping them unique from one another?
I’m glad you asked this question. I’ve personally traveled to each of the countries where The Possibility of Everywhere takes place. I crafted the scenes by drawing from vivid memories of journeys taken over decades. My travels enabled me to appreciate the differences between countries, cities and cultures while noting the shared universal feelings, emotions and needs of diverse people—especially those of women.
Since childhood, like my protagonist Cindy Hollingsworth, I’ve held an intense desire to experience the vastness of our world. I’ve seen fascinating flora and fauna, beautiful birds, and magnificent wildlife. I’ve relished seeing oceans, rivers, mountains, deserts, and plains. I’ve come to appreciate architecture and construction styles ranging from mud huts to mud mosques, from Gothic cathedrals to brick pagodas. The uniqueness of Mother Nature’s expression of herself has awed and inspired me as has noticing how much each human and nonhuman life holds a unique expression.
Your bio mentions that you have done quite a bit of world traveling yourself. Are there any standout destinations that you always knew you had to write about one day?
Yes, I have traveled to 65 countries across six continents and will soon immerse myself in Scotland. For me to choose a standout destination would be impossible. It would be like asking a mother with more than one child to name her standout child. For me, wherever I travel becomes my favorite place.
The Possibility of Everywhere is a book that goes hand-in-hand with the rising interest in transformational travel. Is transformational travel something you have experience or interest in? Can you tell us a bit more about that influence on the book, or vice versa?
Yes, I am most interested in and have experienced travel as transformational. The themes of my book and the goals of transformational travel mesh in that I see this type of travel having the power to awaken our hearts and minds. To challenge us emotionally, spiritually, and often physically. It can expand our curiosity and inspire creativity and profound personal growth. We don’t have to travel far for this to happen. Traveling in our neighborhood and enjoying a sunrise can be an awakening, transforming experience.
I like the Pan American World Airlines advertising statement from the 1970s—a time when I was traveling the world as a Pan Am stewardess. It says: “Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in one place.”
If the above definition of travel could be a reality for all of humanity, and if people could share stories with each other during their travels, we might create a growth mindset world to pave the way for a healthier, more equitable, joyous, and just world for all. What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite authors. Not only does she have an engaging, beautiful literary style, but she has written both fiction and nonfiction to address women’s deepest spiritual yearnings, including the desire to experience the Divine Feminine. Her storytelling and character creation pull me into my depths as I enjoy magnificent and powerful sensory detail and authentic emotions. I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate Kidd’s cutting-edge work.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling travel adventure, Eat Pray Love, I enjoyed because of the exquisite humor and the author’s willingness to show both her vulnerability as well as her brilliance in an entertaining and inspiring spiritual memoir. In terms of writing advice, I once heard Gilbert say that before she submitted her manuscript, she told herself, “Fuck it! It’s Good Enough!” I am no Elizabeth Gilbert, but her words came to me the day I finally submitted my manuscript to Atmosphere Press.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron introduced me to “morning pages” as a powerful tool for unlocking creative potential. A line from her writing brought out my boldness. “All too often, it is audacity and not talent that moves an artist to center stage.”
Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey provided a structure to follow as I wrote my novel. Among other gems, Murdock describes modern women’s journey as beginning with abandoning the feminine. I knew how to write that story and came to understand the road to reclaim what I had abandoned as I followed the steps she reveals.
James Bonnet’s Stealing Fire from the Gods introduced me to the essential elements of good storytelling. In revising my drafts, I attempted to follow Bonnet’s techniques for adding power to my stories while I trusted they would resonate with and inspire readers.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
At age six, while living with my family in Casablanca, Morocco, I often played with an Arabic-speaking Muslim girl. I used body language combined with my desire to connect to communicate naturally and with ease. The discovery of this powerful nonverbal language has served me well in writing and in living my life.
In high school and college, I studied Spanish. I share a story in the book about a romantic relationship that took place in Spain between Cindy and Angel. One difference between the book and my life is that the sexy guy named Angel that I met in Spain did not speak English. My attraction for him combined with my ability to speak Spanish allowed for an exciting, intriguing relationship. And I will add that I found the language of young love quite powerful.
The power of written language I came to appreciate as I struggled to find words to share what I most longed to express in my writing. I acquired a personal library of books from authors whose words and voices inspired me to search for ways to express believable and appealing voices for my protagonist and other characters.
The “divine feminine” plays an important role in this book. How did you come to learn about the concept of the divine feminine, and when did you know you wanted to write about it?
A few years after trekking in Nepal, I visited the Crow Museum of Asian Art in Dallas, TX. I suddenly understood why the divine feminine Goddess Kali, whom I briefly encountered in Nepal, left such a strong impression on me.
The day I entered the Crow Museum, a painted silk scroll depiction of the Goddess Kali captivated me. She was depicted holding a sword in one hand while she stuck out her bright red tongue for all to see. Skulls formed earrings dangling from her ears. Kali looked fierce and determined to destroy that which must be destroyed in the world and that which must be destroyed inside us all.
Along with the fierceness, I felt Kali exuding the love and compassion of an archetypal mother figure. I stood transfixed by a divine feminine image both fierce, and tender. Something shifted inside of me.
I could picture Jesus as a masculine divine figure overturning the tables of dishonest moneychangers outside the temple in Jerusalem. He did so as he embodied love and compassion. I had never seen or imagined a divine feminine image holding the same kind of fierceness combined with love, and compassion.
Adding impact to my Kali moment was the fact I had come to believe a spark of the divine lives within me. When I imagined the divine as feminine, fierce, and compassionate, I could claim a new story about myself. If the feminine divine dwelled within me, how could I ever judge myself as unworthy. In that moment, I gave myself permission to “put on my Kali” when I needed to act with fierceness. To trust that I could act with tenderness and compassion when these qualities were called for.
Today my path is one of balancing both the immanent divine feminine with the transcendent divine masculine.
How do you write about spirituality in a way that feels authentic to you? Do you have any particular writing rituals or habits that feed into that?
I’ve discovered that spirituality can be expressed in various ways depending on beliefs, practices, and personal experiences. For me, meditation and deep contemplation are vital.
While studying in Spain, I discovered the Christian mystic reformer, Saint Teresa of Avila. Her medieval writings and those of other mystic writers began to speak to me of an inner spiritual path that I wanted to follow.
Goddess myths from many cultures including those about the Egyptian Goddess Isis and Sekhmet have encouraged me to trust my feminine power and potential.
My deepening connection to the divine feminine proved essential for my writing as I sensed, felt, and saw the feminine rising everywhere. Journaling to connect what was stirring inside me helped me draw my experience forward.
As I have continued to embrace the feminine in her many aspects, I have been guided on a journey of self-discovery that has shifted me away from old patterns of behavior and old stories of limitation. I have gained a sense of self-acceptance that allows me to embrace both my strengths and my imperfections.
On long walks I observe plants and trees that signal seasons changing and am reminded that change is constant. City sounds and moments of quiet and stillness combine with echoes of soul whispers. All form part of the whole of life.
My yoga practice deepens my connection with my body. As I breathe and move, calmness and clarity replace the overactive, scattered mind that I allowed to govern my life for far too long.
What’s next for you?
Next for me is an international book tour with stops in Edinburgh, Scotland, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Benalmadena, Spain. After that, I will see what other invitations appear.
Connected to the book launch will be my launch of FeminineQuest Transformational Travel. The first trip will be a two-week journey for small group with an interest in an immersive, magical experience in India. Departure date will be Feb 3, 2024.
Details and sign-up to join a discovery call to learn more about this transformational travel opportunity to India will soon be posted to my website: www.bethharkins.com.
Readers may also order The Possibility of Everywhere from this website.
This link: https://linktr.ee/bethharkins takes you to my website, my Facebook page, to Instagram and to my LinkedIn profile.
Categories: BookView Review Interview
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