Interview with Beth Yarnall, Author of Atone

24 Feb 2016
Tell us a little bit about your new release, Atone.

Atone is about twenty-four year old Beau Hollis, who was wrongfully convicted at the age of eighteen to a life sentence for the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend. He spent a little over six years in prison before being released. He missed the formative years of being an adult so he’s struggling to figure out who he is and who he wants to be at a time when most people his age are already firmly walking their path. He meets Vera Swain, a young woman who is not who she appears to be. Beau recognizes himself in Vera and their ensuing relationship changes them both. And if I tell you anymore you won’t need or want to read the book.

Where did you write Atone (your couch, a coffee shop, a bar…hey, we won’t judge)?

Do bars have wifi? I’ll have to check that out…I wrote Atone at both my sit down desk and my stand up desk. I find public places distracting when I’m writing, but I love to go to coffee shops to research and plot new books. The change of location helps flip a switch in my brain and I like to think I look pensive and smart when I stare off at nothing. Whereas if I do that at home I just look like I lost my train of thought. Which happens a lot.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

I’d want a bawdy group of honest, down-to-earth authors who would drink too much with me and divulge their secrets. So I’d choose Oscar Wilde, Nora Roberts, and J.K. Rowling. If I could add a fourth I’d add Neil Gaiman.

What books are currently on your night stand?

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Warrior of Fate by Debra Mullins
In Plain Sight by Sylvie Fox

If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

I like warm places so I’d have to say Hawaii, but really any tropical beach would do.

What is your favorite thing about living in California?

Did I mention my love of warm places? Besides the weather (which we pay for), I love the diverse landscape of the state from the rocky beaches to the desert to the rolling hills. California has it all. I might be a little biased having been born and raised in California, but it’s true. You can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon (not that I do either of those things). I like that the north part of the state is so different from the south. I’ve lived up and down the state so I’ve seen a lot of it. Plus we have some of the best wine in the world. Really, I don’t know why anyone would live anywhere else (that’s a very Californian thing to say by the way).

What’s your favorite quote or scene from Atone?

The scene where Beau reveals how he really feels about his murdered ex-girlfriend. It’s honest and raw. You’re not supposed to have those kinds of feelings about someone who died, especially someone who died so tragically. You’re not supposed to remember how they let you down and hurt you. You’re not supposed to be angry with them. You’re not supposed to hate them. But sometimes you can’t help the way you feel. He didn’t get to mourn her and work through all of those feelings so more than six years after her death he’s dealing with the grief as though she only just died. It was a powerful, emotional scene to write and I hope I pulled it off the way I wanted to.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

Write hard, die free. Or the coarser, Chuck Wendig motto—Art harder mother-effer.


Beth Yarnall is the author of the new book Atone.

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