October 27, 2020 News & Features » Cover Story


Rachel Beanland, 39 


click to enlarge feat44_rachel_beanland.jpg

Scott Elmquist

During her four-year tenure as deputy director of the Visual Arts Center, Beanland grew the community arts center’s educational programs and events while increasing revenue. At the same time, she was getting up every morning at 4:30 a.m., before her three kids were awake, to work on her first book, based on a true story from her Jewish family that happened 90 years ago. At night, she earned her master’s degree in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. The hard work paid off.

Her novel, “Florence Adler Swims Forever,” was published by Simon & Schuster in July and selected as a New York Times editors’ choice, a Barnes and Noble book club July 2020 selection, an Amazon featured debut and one of USA Today’s best books of 2020, making her a rising literary figure to watch.

“I don’t think I could’ve written the novel I wrote had I not been working around people pursuing their own creative destiny at VisArts,” she says. The Jewish Book Council has been wonderful in promoting her work, she adds, while giving kudos to Richmond’s supportive writing scene. “I don’t want for much in this community on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “I think the capital of creativity is who we are and should be our new slogan.”

Beanland is now a full-time novelist working on her second book, which she can’t talk about yet. She’s also teaching creative writing at VisArts on the side – oh, and also how to land a book deal.

Back to the 2020 Top 40 Under 40


Latest in Cover Story


Comments are closed.

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Power to the People

    Power to the People

    A new documentary about the rise and fall of the Confederate monuments offers a sweeping history of resistance.
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • Waive That Flag

    Waive That Flag

    A VCU teacher has students redesign Virginia flags to “reckon with dead symbols.”
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • AUDIO: Excerpts from Michael Paul Williams interview

    AUDIO: Excerpts from Michael Paul Williams interview

    The longtime Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist earned a Pulitzer this week.
    • Jun 12, 2021
  • How to Get Back into Summer

    How to Get Back into Summer

    The sun is out, masks are down, normal is overrated. Here are five ideas to help reignite that summer feeling.
    • Jun 1, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation