Hello Hello, and welcome back to another Interview With... post. Today I have the lovely Beverley Lee author of A Shining in the Shadows and The Making of Gabriel Davenport. I was introduced to this author through my pal Sarina and I am so excited for this interview!
Hi Beverley, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
What were you like at school?
Painfully shy! I was the stereotypical child in the corner with her nose in a book, the one who tried to hide at the back of the room. That said, I did read out loud to the class, perched on a little chair at the front of the classroom. I think I was about seven, so my introvert tendencies were obviously cured when it came to sharing my love of words!
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m currently working on the third book in my Gabriel Davenport Series, a dark fantasy/horror which follows the adventures of my teenage protagonist through a very turbulent time. It’s modern gothic, with more than its fair share of vampires and other things that go bump in the night, but it’s also about human courage and the spirit we all have when we’re faced with seemingly hopeless situations.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Gabriel, as mentioned above, is my protagonist. What does he do that’s so special? Let me see…Well, a little background first. He was dealt a cruel hand of fate as a baby which swept his parents from his life and placed him in a home amongst a very dysfunctional family, all of whom he loves. But, despite their protection, I think he always felt that there was something *more* out there. He has a natural curiosity, and that led to a chain of terrifying events and his present situation. (I’m being a little vague here because of spoilers!) But his true strength lies in his loyalty and his ability to take whatever life throws at him and fight it, even when his back is up against the wall.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Right now I could see Asa Butterfield (Jake in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) playing Gabriel. He has a lovely mix of innocence and coming-of-age determination and curiosity, all traits that combine to make a big part of Gabriel’s personality.
How much research do you do?
Quite a lot because I’m super picky about getting facts straight. If I say a certain flower is blooming in a certain season, I’ll check to make sure, and I’ll always research any historical facts. One, because I’m a bit obsessive and two, because it’s lazy writing to just throw something out there at your reader without finding out how true it is. I try not to let it take up too much time though, preferring to jot down anything I need to look at more, in note form, so I can concentrate on the actual writing.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To be a hybrid author – to gain the security and backing of a traditional publisher for a series, and the freedom to experiment as an indie. That would be the best of both worlds. But my first ambition, for people to fall in love with my characters, has already happened.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I don’t sit down and write between any certain hours though, it all depends on where I am in the drafting process. But I’m always thinking about my characters, their motivation, lines of dialogue etc, so that definitely counts!
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I’d love to say that I have a certain time of day where I go through a set of inspiring routines, then sit down to write – but really I write at any time. The only habit I have is that I need to have tea at my side. It’s what fuels my muse, I swear! When I’m drafting I aim for about 1,500 words a day but that doesn’t include the time spent scribbling notes or constantly going over ideas for scenes in my head. I’m always *writing* in the sense that my characters are with me constantly, whatever I’m doing.
Where do your ideas come from?
From everywhere. It can be a fragment of overheard conversation, a line from a song, an inscription on a gravestone, a certain feeling as I’m going about day to day tasks. I always think that if a story is meant to be it will nibble at you until you take notice, whether this takes a few days or a few years. And characters are like that too. They are just *there* in your head, waiting their turn impatiently.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I’m a little of both. I have a few set plot points I’d like my characters to negotiate, and usually an idea of the end. But as all writers know, characters are notoriously fickle and will often veer off onto their own preferred pathways! I make notes on postcards when something strikes me, and these can be the starting block of something much bigger. In A Shining in the Shadows it was Teal that gave me the crucial scene where everything just clicked and the story unfolded. I love it when that happens. Pure magic!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I’ll give you the timeline of Gabriel. From deciding that this was something that could be a book, to publication, it was sixteen months. That was six drafts, including a couple of months for beta feedback and a month for editorial review.
The first 30k of A Shining in the Shadows was written whilst Gabriel was out on beta, and then put away until Gabriel hit the shelves. It was published almost exactly a year after Gabriel.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Of course! I think every writer gets it at some point or in some form. I usually find it’s because I’m trying to push my characters along a road they don’t want to go on. I have to step back and let them flow the way they want to for a while. Sometimes I’ll write a little bit of their back stories, even if I know that will never see the light of day. It helps me connect to them more. And sometimes that can mean a complete change of track with how I thought the story was going to go, but that’s the writing life!
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I’ve loved writing a series as you can really get under the skin of each character and watch them as they grow. One of my favourite things to do is leave little breadcrumbs that I return to later – ones that my readers will say ‘oh, that’s what that was for!’ A series lets you develop your world slowly, you don’t feel the pressure to explain everything in just one book, and there’s something so satisfying in weaving the threads from one story to the next.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I think they are a really good idea. Anything that will grab people’s attention and point them towards your book can only be a positive thing. The film industry has used them for decades to entice us to watch, so why not do the same for books? With a trailer, an author can use mood and music to set the scene, which has to be an added bonus. That said, I have yet to create one for my own books *adds to list of tasks to complete*
Advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t compare yourself to other writers. I think that’s the biggest disservice you can do to yourself. Putting pressure on your shoulders that you’re not writing as many words as someone else, or not making as much progress, is something which will grind against you as much as a disappearing muse. Write as much as you can. But if one day that’s only 200 words, that’s fine. Your story will advance. You need to fit your creative time into what other things life throws at you. Remember that no one else can tell your story, and that’s why it’s important.
And read. As much as you can and as widely. Your muse will thank you, I promise.
Thanks so much Beverley!
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