Q & A with Author Pam Webber

Pam Webber is the bestselling author of three historical novels, "The Wiregrass," "Moon Water" and "Life Dust."

Webber is on a virtual tour to promote her recently published book "Life Dust", and has provided an excerpt and Q & A for St. Louis Public Library. SLPL staff member Julie also wrote a review of Webber’s book which you can read

Q & A with Pam Webber, author of "Life Dust"

Q. What was your inspiration to write Life Dust?
My inspiration was two-fold. The first was to take a closer look at nurses and the physiology of caring. Over the years I’ve worked with some nurses who were wonderfully caring professionals and others who were anything but. I wanted to explore the motivation for the two extremes. My husband, Jeff, was my second motivation. As a Vietnam combat veteran, he shared stories with me that ranged from heartbreaking to hysterically funny. The more he shared, the more I saw a novel coming together. Merging these two inspirations gave me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at writing a novel with two points of view.

Q. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. Luckily, I stumbled on the title while doing research for the book.

Q. Who designed the front cover of Life Dust and what was that process like?
I chose the cover and the process wasn’t easy. Initially, I wanted a black and gold cover similar
to what I have now, but the publisher’s designer pushed hard against it. I finally requested a new
designer who shared my vision and helped develop the current cover. I still think a black and
gold cover would have been perfect.

Q. Who is your favorite character in Life Dust?
Bien (pronounced Be in). What she managed to accomplish under unimaginable circumstances
and hardships are the stuff legends are made of.

Q. Which was the most difficult scene to narrate?
The last scene is between Nettie and Vivi. Scenes that spin your moral compass are always hard.

Q. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more--writing or revising?
Revising. It’s pure joy to be able to take a rough scene and polish it until it shines.

Q. Name the most important thing you've learned as a writer.
Actual human experiences are more terrifying and awe-inspiring than anything the imagination
can come up with.

Q. What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of the author's life?
Writing the first and last sentences.

Q. What’s next for Pam Webber?
There will be a fourth book, but after I take a little break.

Q. How can readers connect with Pam Webber?
I love hearing from readers! Readers can message me through my website at www.pamwebber.com.

Excerpt from Life Dust (523 words)

Wisps of steam radiated from the asphalt as Nettie brought the car to a stop in the shade of the rain-heavy loblolly pines outside the entrance to Fort Benning. Instead of delivering a cool start to an unusually hot, spring day, the fast-moving storm had created a stifling morning sauna. Already disheveled from the all-night drive, the humidity made her hair droop, skin sticky, and clothes wilt. Plus, her breath had to smell like coffee. She didn’t want to say goodbye to Andy like this. Without warning, his orders had been changed and moved up. Instead of participating in the next level of tactical training in Georgia for three months, he would be leaving for South Vietnam in a matter of hours.
“Everyone’s restricted to base until flight time,” he’d said last night. “I can’t even meet you halfway.”
“If I leave now, I can get there before you go.” “No, honey. It’s too late to be on the road. I—” “I’m on my way.” Nettie hung up before he could object again. She called TK, then left a message with the ER charge nurse explaining that she wouldn’t be in tomorrow and why. Andy, the love of her life, would be gone for a year, maybe longer. She quickly changed clothes, filled a thermos with instant black coffee, and left a note for Win. Grabbing her wallet and the keys to her old Oldsmobile Cutlass, Nettie headed for I-95, the new interstate highway that made it possible for her to travel from Northern Virginia to Columbus, Georgia, before Andy had to leave. She’d tried to pull herself together during the long drive, but the closer she got to the military base, the more rogue tears escaped. Get a grip, girl. The last thing Andy needs is to see you puffy, red-eyed, and bawling. She blew her nose, blotted her eyes, brushed her hair, and stepped out of the car to tuck in her blouse. Straightening her shorts, she took several deep breaths. The sharp citrusy smell of the pines helped clear her head. Climbing back behind the wheel, she pinched her cheeks, bit her lips until they blushed, popped a Certs mint in her mouth, and headed for the guard gate. Checking Nettie’s driver’s license against the expected guest list, the military policeman waved her in. From memory, she turned right, drove through a tunnel of overhanging hickory trees, and entered a village of austere, white clapboard buildings. The sign on the first one said Visitor’s Center. Andy jumped from the steps and trotted toward the car as Nettie pulled up, relief flooding his handsome face. Tall and tanned, his uniform accented his broad shoulders, slim waist, and muscular build. Thank God he’s strong. He’ll need to be. Andy leaned in the window, cupped Nettie’s face, and gave her a quick kiss. She slid to the middle of the seat as he climbed in and put his arms around her. He smelled good and felt better. “I’m sorry you had such a long drive, but I’m so glad you came,” he said, kissing her hair.