“Just Out of Reach” by Mississippi attorney Belinda Stevens tells the story of young love and dark secrets in the turbulent Sixties. Inspired by her own experiences as a Yazoo City High School student, Stevens writes about the impact President Kennedy’s assassination, James Meredith’s integration of the University of Mississippi and the Vietnam War had on one Mississippi young woman.
Stevens is a graduate of Belhaven University and earned a masters in social science and a law degree from Mississippi College. From 1987-1997 she served as special assistant to Mississippi attorney general Mike Moore. Stevens lives in Brandon and practices law in Yazoo City where she is an assistant public defender.
Stevens will be available at Lemuria Books in Banner Hall this evening from 5:00-7:00 PM to sign copies of “Just Out of Reach.” She recently shared details about her book with the MBJ.
What were you trying to capture or convey in “Just Out of Reach”?
At the center of the novel is a love story that spans twenty-two years. Interwoven within the story are historical events that alter the main characters and the course they ultimately take. It delves into the relationship of Katherine and her mother, as well as their relationships with others. I would say the main thrust is how people get stuck and ultimately break out and grow.
Where did your ideas for the plot come from?
Originally my plot ideas came from my own experiences, my life story so to speak. After numerous rewrites, I began to let my imagination take over and my characters took on a life of their on.
What were your favorite authors growing up and today?
My favorite authors growing up were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Ben Ames Williams and James Michener. Today, I enjoy reading Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, John Grisham, James Patterson and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
How long have you been a writer?
I started writing in my twenties, mostly poetry. In 1995, I started writing my novel. I wasn’t happy with the results so I stopped working on it. In 2004, I starting writing again. This time in earnest. After numerous drafts, I finally had a finished product in 2013.
How long did it take you write the book?
Seven and a half years. – from 2004 to 2013.
How is it easier or harder to get published these days?
I think it’s probably more difficult for writers who are trying to publish their first novel. You’re an unknown quantity and in today’s economic market, publishers want a sure thing- at least someone they know will be well received because they are known to the reading public.
Favorite books out today?
My favorite books out today are “The Help”, “Team of Rivals”, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – the entire series, Stephen King’s “11/22/63″, “Sarah’s Key”, Ken Follett’s “Winter of the World”, “In the Garden of Beasts” and John Grisham’s “The Racketeer.”
Will you develop the “Just Out of Reach” story line with sequels or a continuing series?
Yes, I plan to write a sequel after I finish my murder mystery – “Justice Served”. I will pick up where the book ended – with the introduction of a new character. I will follow the next generation of the Boyd family as they deal with the problems of modern society.