Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers are sisters who write together. They were born into a writing family, and began at an early age critiquing manuscripts for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014.
Your real name and pen name?
Our real names are Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers. We write under our names and also under the name Writing Sisters
Please share some of the best memories of your childhood: Our mother was a writer. Being the daughters of a writer shaped us. From our early days we listened to her tell us stories. Even when she read a book, the story often came out of her mouth differently. She could not resist adding, embellishing, pumping it up. Later, millions of other children would hear her stories as she went on to win many awards for her 60+ children’s books. But back on the sofa it was two kids a woman and a manuscript.
We always loved books. Our first library was the bookmobile, a truck packed with books that came through our neighborhood once a week. The most memorable library growing up in West Virginia was in the basement of the fire station. Our mother-writer and reader that she is-always made a great effort to put books into our hands.
Growing up we made our own clothes. There was nothing like choosing the fabric, pinning the pattern and cutting out the pieces. Best of all were the scraps. We had a big cardboard box, the scrap box, filled with the leftovers, the cut-away parts. From the scraps we made doll clothes, dog costumes or quilts. Gingham prints or velvet, cottons or silk. Nothing was wasted.
As a writers we take the pieces of our lives and use those scraps to create stories. In God's economy nothing is wasted. The hard times and good times, funny events and heartbreak, victories and defeats all can be used to make something beautiful. This is true in the stories that we create as writers and in our own personal stories of life. It's all about how we use the scraps.
About your education: Our father was a college professor and valued education. We both went to Clemson University and later went on to receive masters degrees - Laurie in nursing and Betsy in counseling.
What career did you plan during your education days: We both studied science in school. Laurie became a nurse and Betsy a medical technologist. When we had children we stayed home to raise them. For both of us that was the time that we started writing.
What languages you can speak and write? We are only fluent in English, although our books have been translated into many different languages, Korean, Japanese, Danish, Chinese among others. Our first German translation is coming for The Shepherd’s Song.
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life: Our biggest source of inspiration is our faith. We like to explore how God works in the world and how people experience God.
What is your favorite genre and why? Contemporary, inspirational fiction. Real characters and real life situations are all around us. It is interesting to look at the world today and write from our own experiences. The best books provide hope and encouragement. That is what we like to read and to write. We love humor and always try to balance the serious side of life with humor.
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
We started writing as children. We read our mothers manuscripts as children but didn't write our own books until we were adults. We both started as mothers of young children writing children’s books. We wrote individually and together for twenty years. In the past years we have started writing for adults and our first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song.
Which of your work has been published so far? We have published over 35 children’s book’s. You can see more about them at www.betsyduffey.com and www.lauriemyers.com. Our most recent book, The Shepherd’s Song, is our first book for adults. You can read more about it at www.WritingSisters.com
What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
1. Unity: In writing together it is so important that we both be in agreement on each decision. We write on a document together online and trust each other to edit the work. Weekly we meet to make sure we agree on the direction of the book.
2. Truth: We want the books to be accurate and that means that we have to do our homework. The details of the book have to be right.
3. Hope: Each book should present hope and inspiration to the reader. That doesn’t mean that we don’t deal with some difficult topics in the books. It means that our readers find hope even in the difficult circumstances of our characters.
4. Fun: Books should entertain and be an experience that makes people think and causes them to grow. If we have fun writing the fun it usually is an indication that people will enjoy the book.
Your dream destination on Earth?
Anywhere where our families are present - especially somewhere in nature like the mountains or the beach.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
We were both born in the US in South Carolina. We love to travel and our travels have added interesting settings to our work as writers. Our book includes stories from many different places and cultures. Laurie spent time in Italy and captures the olive groves in one story. Betsy lived several years in Turkey and brought that experience to one of the stories of a refugee escaping to Turkey.
Your favorite time of the day? Morning – We both are early risers and work best in the morning.
Your favorite book and why? Our mother wrote a book that we both love called The Midnight Fox. It was the first book that she wrote that was realistic fiction. It captured the feelings and the plight of a young boy caring for a black fox. It was a turning point in her writing and we were witnesses to that shift from fantasy to reality.
Your favorite food? Our mother’s pecan tassies – She is an incredible cook. This is a recipe that was passed down from our grandmother to our mother. Then to us.
Sun or Moon: Sun! Especially on a warm beach.
Laughter or Smile: Laughter. When were work together there is always lots of laughter. We write in a coffee shop so sometimes we have to tone it down.
Morning or Evening: Morning. We are early birds.
Coffee or Tea: Both Two different sisters, two different drinks. Betsy loves coffee; Laurie, tea
Long drive or Short drive: Long - with lots of snacks and an audio book
State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote:
This scripture verse is our mission statement:
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
The last line of your autobiography would be… We try to follow God and live well. We would love for the last line to be this verse from scripture: “Well done good and faithful servant.”