Bettilu Davies lives in southern Wisconsin with her husband, where she spends her time writing, painting, teaching piano to children and adults, and spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She attended Moody Bible Institute, and took correspondence for The Institute of Children’s Literature, Newspaper Institute of America, and Writer’s Institute. Bettilu spent over a year as a secretary to the publisher at Moody Press, Chicago, Ill, where she learned about the publishing industry.
Between 1980-84, Bettilu published five young adult novels: The Secret of the Hidden Cave (Zondervan Corp, 1980), “Really Marty!”, Tall Trouble, Marty’s Double Life, and Marty and the Scholarship (Moody Press, 1981-84). Her Christian Romance novel, Shepherd’s Song, is under contract with Wild Rose Press. She is also working on The Puppeteers and a new, untitled novel.
Community is also important to Bettilu. She volunteered her time to Treble Clef Music Club of Beloit as Junior Festival Chairman for several years, studied piano with three concert artists, and wrote Christian school plays. In 1995, she received the YWCA Woman of the Year of the Arts in her community.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW.)
Up Close and Personal with Bettilu Davies
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? I think I always wanted to be a writer. A youth worker at my church, when I was a very young child, used to write down the stories I told her before I ever learned to write. I have no idea what ever happened to those little stories.
You published books several years ago. Why did you decide to come back to publishing?
I didn’t stop wanting my books to be published. I just got discouraged and stopped for a while. Before “Really, Marty!” was published, my husband and I were at the Greater Rockford Area Sunday School Association convention and were greatly moved by the motivational messages. The company my husband worked for was moving and we could be transferred to another state, but many employees would not be transferred. It was a time of possible change for us. Separately, in different classrooms, Paul and I committed ourselves to go anywhere, do anything that God told us to do.
The following Sunday night the pastor spoke on the early chapters of Revelation, and what I heard was, “The Spirit said unto me, Write.” I lost the rest of the sermon. Paul was at the other end of the pew with all our kids between us. At the end of the message Paul worked his way to my end of the pew at about the same time the pastor got off the platform. Almost together they asked, “What happened to you tonight?” Dazedly, I said, “The Spirit said unto me ‘write.’ “
When no books were accepted for thirty-one years I thought that God didn’t want me to write any more. However, recently I realized that I need to keep trying. My good friend Nancy Swanson has always believed in me and encouraged me. She has prodded me when I felt I couldn’t keep going, so I have to give her credit, too.
What inspires you to write? When a story idea grabs my attention, it won’t let me to go until it is down on paper, good or bad.
What is something your readers might be surprised to learn about you? I met my husband on a substitute blind date. Read about it in my next book.
What is your favorite book? I like Dee Henderson, Irene Hanna, Cheryl Wyatt and Jillian Hart books. It’s hard to pick one.
What is your favorite movie? The Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye.
What is your favorite Bible verse? Philippians 4:8 “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Who has had the most influence on your life? My husband and my parents. Also my first piano teacher, Ann Matthews, who was a former concert pianist and would often play classical music and ask me to tell her the story of what I was hearing. I think that helped me to develop my writing skills. Another good influence was another concert pianist/teacher, Renato Premezzi. His comments on the off stage performing life generated a lot of ideas in Shepherd’s Song.
Name one of the bravest things you’ve ever done. Performed in public in front of a performing artist I really respected. I write about performance fears because I have experienced them.
Any advice for aspiring writers? The writing life is not a glamorous one. Don’t write for fame and glory; write because you love to write and you have a message to tell. Writing is hard, lonely work. It can be emotionally draining because you feel the emotions of your characters. It can be energizing for the same reason. Writing takes tremendous self-discipline. If you love to write and can work through the discouraging times, you have a good chance of attaining the success you dream of.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response? My writing instructor at the Institute of Children’s Literature, Barbara Benzinger, once wrote, “I stayed up all night reading a good book–yours!” How encouraging that was. The Secret of the Hidden Cave was published by Zondervan about a year later.
Do you have a pet peeve about the writing business? Like any writer, I hate rejection slips, especially if there is no explanation for the rejection.
What has surprised you most about being a published novelist? Fame and fortune did not come to me just because my book was published. My days went on as usual, with the mundane chores of family life and normal writing schedule going on as usual.
What is your average writing day like? A struggle to sit down and actually write and not be sidetracked by telephone calls and distractions like “Maybe I should get up and dust that bookcase across the room.” Or the cookies in the cookie jar in the kitchen. Making a daily “To Do” list helps. I don’t jot down huge projects, but the small increment I hope to accomplish that day.
What do you hope readers take away from your book? I want them to know that Jesus is the answer to their problems, whatever they are.
How do you integrate faith into the stories and lives of your characters? I try to make my characters as real as possible. My life has not been without problems, and my faith in God has helped me deal with them. Not every situation in my life has ended happily, but God has been my support through everything.
Any parting words? I pray that you trust God and find peace with Him.