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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Author Spotlight: Beverley Lee

The incomparable Beverley Lee
Author of The Making of Gabriel Davenport and A Shining in the Shadows

Have you met Beverley yet?  The Queen of Bookstagram, I previously posted about her collaborative 6-word story prompt challenge.  She's one of the nicest people on the planet, recently acquiring an agent and an extremely talented writer.  Taking her inspiration from Anne Rice, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, this gorgeous bird 😉 enfolds you into her stories with wide open arms and may not ever let you go.  

Her latest book, A Shining in the Shadows, releases TOMORROW, April 7, 2017. I can't stress enough how good these gothic novels are and how lucky I was to get an early copy.  Atmospherically gorgeous and vampirically delicious, your black hearts will be engorged with happiness.  Now it's all I can do to wait for book 3 - that she is working on as you read this.  Get both books immediately in preparation.  Tell Moth and Clove I sent you.  Give Gabriel a hug for me - but watch out for any fangs - I'm not liable for any damage you may incur. 😈 

Continue after the Q&A for synopses and my reviews of The Making of Gabriel Davenport and A Shining in the Shadows. 

Let's see what's going on in Beverley's head, shall we?

What does your writing process look like?

I would love to say that I have a definite routine and that I’m very organised but alas that is not true, and I don’t have a specific time of day to write. I’m very much character led as I’m working, which means I plan a little bit and then hand it over to my characters to give me their approval. If they stall and the words are hard work, I know I’m thinking along the wrong lines. Once I get the threads starting to weave together I’ll usually go for a certain number of words a day to keep myself accountable. Sometimes those words can be penned very quickly and others I’ll still be sitting in front of my screen five hours later! I’m a huge scribbler of random phrases and thoughts though – I have notebooks full of them, most not very legible.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

Because I write multi POV and my stories span a short space of time it’s sometimes hard to link everything together with the right timeline. One of my drafts is a continuity one. I go through the entire story mapping out who was doing what and when, to make sure there are no gaps or overlaps. In Gabriel I lost an entire night for a couple of characters and had to rewrite!

How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t have a specific number of hours. It can be as little as one or as many as seven, depending on where I am in the story and that dreaded word sure to strike fear into any writer’s heart - deadlines!

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Absolutely none. Apart from that I have to have tea by my side (I’m a Brit, what can I say?). It’s my writing fuel. Coffee just doesn’t work!

What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?

The least favourite. That’s easy. Marketing. I would much rather be writing or even editing then ploughing my way through the minefield of marketing. It’s a necessary evil for indie authors but a virtual black hole of time. I can spend hours without even realising, chasing what might work. Point of fact, this time last year just before The Making of Gabriel Davenport launched and I was just starting to learn the ropes of marketing, A Shining in the Shadows was finished and on its fourth draft. This year the third in the series isn’t even written. That time was spent marketing.

My favourite.  When a character really grabs a hold of you and refuses to let go. When the words won’t stop and the scene playing out in your head is going so quickly your fingers can’t keep up. That’s pure magic.

Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Politics. I write enough horror ;)

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Ego is a strange beast for writers. I think most of us carry a huge amount of self-doubt throughout the writing process, along with periods of ‘this is the best thing ever written!’ so our ego constantly ping-pongs about. It’s easy to compare ourselves to other writers and get hung up on sales rankings etc, and that’s when the ego either takes a sharp nose dive or it soars like a bird. But we have to remember that we’re all in this together and other writers really are some of the most generous and supportive people on the planet.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was an avid reader as a child, devouring the contents of the school library very quickly and eager for more. When I was about seven my class always had a story read to them before the end of the school day. My teacher would often call on me to deliver that story, and I still remember sitting on a little wooden chair reading out loud to my peers. Their silence. Their captivation. It sealed the magic of words for me.

How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?

I have numerous stories clogging up my hard drive, some dating back to the beginning of the internet! I don’t think any of them will ever see the light of day but there are characters in them that just might.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

From conception to actually publishing is about 16 months. That’s based on Gabriel. That one went through seven drafts, including a beta read draft and an editorial one. A lot can depend on how long it takes your beta readers to get it back to you, or how many underlines your editor puts in ;)

If you could cast the characters of The Making of Gabriel Davenport or A Shining in the Shadows for a movie, who would play your characters?

This one was hard as I’m so picky over getting the image just right! I cheated a bit and used Pinterest. No idea who these guys are but they are as close as I could get. Just imagine them wilder, dirtier and a bit less perfect – tweak some eye and hair colour along the way…See? Picky. (And with more clothes, in Teal’s case…)
If I *had* to pin an actor down that could pull Gabe off I’d say Kodi Smit-McPhee.

My master vampire, Clove, gets a lot of love. This is just about spot on for him.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read them all! But I only respond to the good ones. I once read that you should never reply to anything negative as it can get ugly very fast. Reading is very subjective and not every person will like what you write. That said, when I got my first one star on Goodreads (no review, just that rating!) I wanted to cry. But even Stephen King gets those. It’s just a rite of passage. Now you can call yourself a real writer!

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

I’m a huge lover of nature and history so I’d like to work somewhere like the National Trust here in the UK which is a conservation organisation that upkeeps historic places, coastlines, forests and gardens for future generations.

What's the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My editor. Yes, it’s a huge expense but a good editor can take a story you think is polished and make it shine like a diamond simply by deleting a few words!

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's) :D

I don’t think I ever got reader’s block as such, but there have been points in my life that due to home/work commitments and lack of time, my literary library consisted of a lot of Jackie Collins ;)

Do you google yourself?

Ha, I do and I’ve just done it now! The second entry is my Goodreads page which makes me pretty happy and my website is also listed. All goes to prove that my SEO is working!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Some form of falcon or hawk. I flew a falcon a few years ago when I spent a day at a bird sanctuary and the thrill of getting such a beautiful bird to fly to your hand is amazing. I love how they are so graceful but yet deadly. My writing contains both beauty and death so I think the fit works very nicely. On a side note, I mention red kites in Gabriel, and this magnificent bird of prey is seen quite often in my local skies. They were saved from national extinction by one of the longest running protection programmes. Every time I see one in flight it gives me shivers.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

My next project is the final instalment in The Gabriel Davenport Series. I’m about 20,000 words in, with ideas on how I want it to progress. But we’ll see if my characters agree (see above) Right now they seem to be having heated arguments…

What literary character is most like you?

I’m not sure which literary character is most like me, but in my writing there’s definitely a lot of me in Noah. He’s the one who always tries to please everyone else, sometimes to his own discomfort. He’s the voice of logic in a crisis and he’s loyal to a fault. I find getting in his head very easy for that reason!

What authors have inspired you?

Anne Rice and her early Vampire Chronicles have been a huge influence. Lestat was the first anti-hero that I fell in love with. Stephen King for his superb character led stories and his dark, limitless imagination. Neil Gaiman for taking the fantastical and making it believable.

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

That you can’t edit a blank page. Before I wrote Gabriel I was one of those writers who try to make everything perfect, paragraph by paragraph. You can’t write a book like that. It has to flow from your imagination and stopping to correct your grammar is a sure-fire way to stunt that little muse into running for the hills. Plenty of times I can’t think of the right word so I’ll just insert a few crosses or the same word will reappear in every paragraph. I write my first draft in Scrivener and the note taking binder there is perfect for adding things like ‘check this blooms then’ or ‘continuity’ without interrupting your mind flow. First draft=vomit draft. Get it out. Clean it up afterwards!

How did you fall into Bookstagram and what do you think has been the greatest thing you've taken from it?

I started a bookstagram account in the summer of 2015, or rather I started an Instagram account then. My first photo was of a cake I’d baked and I knew absolutely nothing about hashtags! Then I discovered that bookstagramming was a thing. I joined a few book challenges and instantly fell in love with the concept and the people I’d met. That year I was writing Gabriel and the support I got from other writers and readers was instrumental in focussing my attention and making me believe that I could actually do this thing called Publishing a Book. Social media gets a very bad rap for being a blood sucking monster only out for its own ends, but bookstagram is that little oasis in the desert where that monster doesn’t play. I’ll be forever indebted to the people who have supported me and a lot of them I’ve met and are firm friends now.

I feel very lucky to have found my tribe in my bookstagramfam. Not many people can say they have a place where they truly belong.

Big thank you to Beverley Lee for taking the time to answer these questions! 💖


In a house built on truth something lays hidden.

Beth and Stu Davenport moved to the English hillside town of Meadowford Bridge to give their young son, Gabriel, an idyllic, rural childhood. But in a single evening, the Davenports' dream is shattered by a hidden, ancient darkness-- and their lives are forever changed.

Years later, Gabriel Davenport, now a capable, curious young man, makes the ill-fated decision to go looking for answers about his mysterious past. As soon as he begins his quest, his life becomes a place of shadows. The people he loves and trusts are acting abnormally. The strange woman who lives upstairs is even more haunted than usual. Even his most trusted friend seems to be hiding something.

As one fateful night deepens, and the line blurs between darkness and light, Gabriel must confront the terrible events that destroyed his family all those years ago. He is faced with a choice: continue living the life that was never his to begin with, or give himself over to a terrifying new reality more sinister than anything he's ever known.

The darkness is watching.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My Review:

It's been a long time since I've read a book where there is such a foreboding and underlying sinister feel. We start with Gabriel as a baby and a mother trying to keep her wits about her while protecting him. Flash forward to Gabriel as a teen, living in a home for special kids with an extended family who also protects him from a harm he still is struggling to figure out. Find a priest coping with his faith, evil entities seamlessly threaded in with shivering dialogue, vivid descriptions and a short-chapter-fast-pace that keeps you turning the pages. (I got to the end, read the about the author and the acknowledgements page and tried to find more pages to turn... ) I absolutely am thrilled in the direction this is going with all the characters: Clove, Moth (oh Bev... I LOVE this!), Teal, Gabe, Noah, etc. etc. If you like demons, vampires, ghosts or anything paranormal and brooding, then you must read this book! Very much looking forward to the next installment as that ending was WOW.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Synopsis:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gabriel Davenport has been remade from darkness. Now, he must adapt to survive .

In a small seaside town, Gabriel's maker unwittingly takes his wards into the throes of a deadly new game. There are rumblings on The Bloodvyne, the mental web of linked vampire consciousness. Whispers about a cleansing, about the ruling council hunting vampires with impure blood.

Gabriel finds himself thrust into a new nightmare, where the hunter becomes the hunted. When his maker is taken, he must battle to untangle the mystifying clues laid out in an uncovered labyrinth to find the only creature strong enough to fight against those that hunt his new-found family.
Gaze long into the darkness, and you'll find old vampire foes out for revenge, new ones with their own agenda, and a witch who holds the key. But just who is the monster in the middle?                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My Review:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gabriel has woken up into a brand new life, unable to see anyone from his past and learning his new ways. In the vampiric world, things are getting bloody. New problems arise with the talk of impure blood vampires being hunted - a cleansing. Gabriel finds himself, along with his brothers, having to fight to save his new family while still trying to fit in and control his new abilities. The past comes back to haunt him while he fights for his future. How can he find a way to survive without completely losing himself in the process?

I LOVE it when a series book just picks up where the last book left off. Zoom - right back into the story in full force. Vampires, demons and witches, oh my! Gabriel reminds me at times of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire - young, new and having to mature at a very quick pace to insert himself to his surroundings. Bev's way with words is beautiful and puts you right into the atmospheric, gothic world she created. I love word play and instances throughout the book made me smile: "They were like those crows, these killers. A murder of crows." Oh Bev, you devil ;). And while she had these fun lines, there were other lines that made my spine tingle: "The sound from her throat was the skittering of a thousand insect feet." (This is the voice I would imagine to be used for the audiobook.)
My recommendation is, get The Making of Gabriel Davenport and pre-order this now and binge yourself on some vampire goodness. Tell Moth I sent you. Huge thank you to Beverley Lee for this advanced copy, and for just being a wonderful person and fantastic writer all around. <3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


  1. Fabulous Q/A Chandra and Bev. I can't wait to see what happens next.