Saturday, December 22, 2012

Interview with Olivia deBelle Byrd!

Welcome, Olivia! I’m so excited to interview you today about your extremely delightful book, Miss Hildreth Wore Brown. Could you please give us a short auto-biography?

I was born and bred in Panama City, Florida, on the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle. My grandfather, Wyatt Oates Byrd, moved to Panama City in 1930 from Alabama so I am called Old South. I graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, am a former elementary school teacher, and was a stay-at-home mom for my two children, Tommy Jr. and Elizabeth. My husband, Tommy, and I still reside in Panama City.

Next, tell us a little about Miss Hildreth.

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown contains 41 humorous, satirical anecdotes of a romp through Southern Life.I like to call it real-life fiction as all the people, places, and events are real, but like all good  Southern stories exaggeration and embellishment have been added. The stories are punctuated with everyday mishaps that Southerners seem to have a knack for turning into entertainment. Because they are actual occurrences, the reader is drawn into the warmth and familiarity of the characters and their stories.

What was your favorite story in Miss Hildreth to write?

My favorites are “Weddings,” “Robert Redford,” “We-Know-Mom’s-Crazy-Rule,” and “Names.” I still giggle when I think about my husband’s pants in a pile around his ankles while trying to discipline our son on a road trip, or Mrs. Brewton and her neighbor speaking to her deceased husband on the elevator, or my 94-year-old neighbor going into the Marines!

Oooo yes, "We-Know-Mom's-Crazy-Rule" was a great chapter! What inspired you to write the book?

In writing this first book, Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, I wrote what I knew—humor and the South. Since I was raised by a Southern father and grandmother of uncommon wit, the fabric of my childhood was laced with humor. I grew up surrounded by marvelous tales of Southern grande dames and eccentric Southern gentlemen. Humor was a staple in our household. I have loved the art of storytelling as long as I can remember. When I finally put pen to paper, the stories poured forth as though an age-old tap had been discovered and turned on. I loved the gush of warm and euphoric remembrances and seeing those memories transposed into the written word.

What do you enjoy most about being a published author?

I think most authors will tell you the best part of being a writer is the interaction with your readers. Life really can be funnier than fiction, especially here in the South, and my readers have delighted me with so many hilarious stories. My funniest comment came from Bill Duncan, a reviewer for The News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon. The title of the review was “If you accidentally cross into Alabama, have clean underwear.” Also I have had the privilege of meeting and conversing with two of my favorite Southern authors—Pat Conroy and Fanny Flagg. That was thrilling!

Do you have another book in the works yet?

My next book would be a sweet love story set in the 1960s and ‘70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.

That sounds interesting! I'll look forward to reading it someday. If you could live in any time period, which time period would it be?

When I saw Mr. Darcy stride across the English countryside in Pride and Prejudice, my heart stopped and I thought, “I was definitely born in the wrong century.” But like Elizabeth Bennett, I most likely would have rebelled against the strict mores imposed on women in that time.

I think most of us girls come to that conclusion...wrong century, but it wouldn't have worked. :) Is there a random fact about you that most people don’t know?

My mind races in all directions and I sometimes have trouble focusing. Much of Miss Hildreth surfaced in the quiet of church, where it seems many of my anecdotes were written on the back of offering envelopes. It would probably be best if my preacher never discovered this little fact!

What is one thing you dread doing?

Cleaning toilets. :)

If you could visit any country, continent, or place, where would you go and why?

Interesting you should ask that question, Charity, as traveling is my fetish. I have been fortunate to
visit all seven continents. It is hard to pick a favorite as I tend to love where I am at the time. Europe
stands out for its history, Australia and New Zealand for their people, and Antarctica for its sheer

Oh wow! That's so neat that you've gotten to go to all seven continents! That's on my goal list. :) Anyway, I’m so glad you could come today, Olivia! Do you have a website where our readers can learn more about you?

My website is
My Facebook page is
You can read an excerpt, see my coming events, email me, or order a book. I love to interact with my
readers, so feel free to email me.

I want to thank Charity for letting me share this time with her fellow bloggers. One of my favorite
comments came from a reviewer who said “Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is a humorous, uplifting ‘just
let your cares fall away for a little while and enjoy these stories about life’s little moments’ kind of
Enjoy your reading and the moment,

Thanks so much, Olivia -- it was a joy to have you!

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