Today we’re talking to the lovely Keri Beevis on Meet the Author. Read on to hear about her books, what influence Stephen King had on Keri and ghostly piano playing…..
Mystery, thriller & suspense
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Thank you, Chelle, for inviting me to take part. It’s lovely to meet you.
I live in Norfolk and I was born in the village of Old Catton, where Anna Sewell lived when she wrote Black Beauty. I have been writing novels for over twenty years, but didn’t get published until 2013 when I won a book contract in the Rethink Press New Novels 2012 competition. I stayed with Rethink Press for five years, but am thrilled to have recently signed a two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.
What inspired you to start writing?
I didn’t really have an inspiration. Writing was always something I wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I was a voracious reader from a young age and when I wasn’t reading I was making up my own stories. I would have to credit Stephen King for making me want to write novels though. I always assumed I would stick to short stories and try to get them published in magazines, but then I was on holiday reading Misery. I remember at the time thinking how writing a book that size must be the most difficult job in the world. The idea stuck with me though and a couple of months later I attempted writing my first novel.
How many books have you written and published?
I have written eight books in total, though the first four have never been published and won’t ever be, as I don’t feel they’re good enough. I wrote them twenty years ago and I was still learning my craft. Dead Letter Day, Dead Write and The Darkness Beneath are my three published books and my fourth novel, which is my first Norfolk based story, will be published with Bloodhound Books in October.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
The Darkness Beneath is special to me in many ways. It was a risk for me as it was breaking away from a series of books my then publisher was keen for me to continue writing, and it was slightly different in style: less police procedural crime thriller, more murder mystery suspense with a touch of romance. I had no idea how my readers were going to react to it, but it was a story I had really invested in and written from the heart. Luckily it has been my most successful book to date. My new, soon to be released, novel is tying for first place though. With both my standalones the characters have come alive off the page and at times I actually forget they are not real people.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
For the protagonists it tends to be names I like, though they have to feel right for the character. I can agonise for weeks over the right name. Other than that I tend to use baby name books and websites. Names are extremely important to me and I can’t press ahead until I know they fit.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
For completely shallow reasons, Alex Cutler, from The Darkness Beneath. I think many of my female readers will agree.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
It is so difficult to pick a favourite author. I love prolific American writers like Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag and Lisa Gardner, but I have also read some outstanding novels in the last couple of years by up and coming British authors such as Josie Silver and Amanda Brittany, as well as several by my fellow Bloodhound colleagues, which have all been brilliant. If I had to pick a favourite novel though it would have to be Stephen King’s The Shining. That book scared the crap out of me and I say that as someone who doesn’t scare easily.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
I used to pen scripts for our class to perform in assembly at primary school, though I can’t now recall what they were about. The first serious piece of writing I remember is a short story with a killer twist I did for a writing class I was taking. I remember one of my friend’s reading it and she says it still haunts her to this day. It was that friend’s encouragement over the years when I received knockbacks that eventually saw me published.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I still work fulltime in the travel industry. I love the people I work with, but do hope at some point in the future I will be able to reduce my hours, so I can concentrate more on writing, as there is currently frustratingly little time. Other jobs I’ve had include waitressing, hairdressing (I think I possibly hold the record for the world’s worst hairdresser), I worked for a while in my late dad’s video store, and I also ran his entertainment agency for five years after he passed away. Another side job I had was caricaturing. I used to get booked for military balls. Always good fun as I would often be invited to stay and party once my work was over.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Being the nosy person I am, it would have to be to the scene and time just before an unsolved disappearance or death took place. Although there are many, I would choose to go back to January 2013, to the Cecil Hotel in LA, to find out what really happened to Elisa Lam, whose body was found in the inaccessible water tank on the top of the building. The story is creepy as hell with so many unanswered questions.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
It would be my late dad. He was always so proud of my writing and I had a big ‘almost’ break three years before he died. I would like him to know that I didn’t give up.
What are your favourite things to do?
Away from writing I am a proud cat mum, a red wine and pizza lover, I adore Hitchcock movies, reading (of course), late night ghost adventures (just to spook myself, I’m 50/50 on whether they exist) and pub quizzes – though never do one with me as I get horribly competitive. Oh, and I am the world’s biggest klutz. Stuff doesn’t even have to be in the way. I trip up a lot, spill my food, knock over my wine glass… I should come with a warning label.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
I was in my early twenties, still living in the family home, and I was home alone for the week with our dog and three cats. It was late at night. I was in bed reading. Cody, our Labrador, was downstairs, and the cats were on the bed with me. I had not long put my book down and turned out the light when the piano started playing downstairs. I use the word ‘playing’ loosely. It actually sounded like one of the cats was walking across the keys.
I swear I almost stopped breathing and I was so scared I could barely bring myself to reach out and turn on the bedside light. It had to be one of the cats, I told myself, figuring that one of them had snuck off downstairs, but the light revealed them all still sitting on the bed, but staring towards the bedroom door. Downstairs, Cody started whining.
It actually took me about five minutes to dare get out of bed, flood the house with light (because that scares anything bad away, right?) and man up enough to go downstairs. Cody was agitated and pacing the hallway and there was no one in the lounge by the piano. I quickly closed the lid and went back to bed, telling myself if it started playing with the lid down I was going to climb out of my brother’s bedroom window and drive to a friend’s house. I’m relieved to say it didn’t.
I never found out what really happened that night. I honestly don’t believe our old family home was haunted and I never felt anything weird there or had any strange encounters apart from that one time. My rational brain needed a sort of solution though, so I concluded Cody had got up on his hind legs and played the piano. That works (maybe if my life was a Walt Disney movie), right?
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Don’t give up. After a zillion rejections and a couple of close big breaks in the 90s, I gave up on the idea I would ever be published. I was foolish enough to believe it just wasn’t meant for me. I gave up writing and focused on the day job. It was the worst mistake I have ever made and I am so grateful to the friend who bullied me into dusting off the manuscript for Dead Letter Day and entering it into the competition, which won me my first publishing contract.
Name one book you think everyone should read?
There are so many, but I will go for a classic childhood favourite, Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series. Every child should get to experience the magic of books and I believe this is a great place to start.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
The Darkness Beneath is my most recently published novel and you can find it on Amazon, both in paperback and on Kindle.
Lizzie Kent wasn’t supposed to babysit the night she was murdered. She was covering for her best friend, Nell O’Connor, so Nell could sneak out and meet her boyfriend. Nell has had to live with the guilt ever since.
Eighteen years later and Nell returns to Purity Island, desperate to escape a bad relationship. She has inherited her aunt’s rundown guesthouse and hopes the island will offer her sanctuary and a fresh start. Not everyone welcomes her return though; in particular Sam Kent, who blames Nell for his sister’s death. A few unsettling incidents soon make it apparent that someone is trying to spook her.
Is Sam responsible or has Nell’s abusive ex-boyfriend managed to track her down? Or is it someone with a more sinister agenda?
Someone with a dark secret they will go to any length to keep hidden?
Thanks Keri for such a fab interview!
One of my worst fears (being an avid horror fan, and fellow ghost hunter!) is to hear a piano playing while I’m on my own……I can’t believe you stayed in the house!! Looking forward to hearing more about your new book when it’s ready!
Any questions for Keri, then you know what to do!
Thanks for reading all and have a wonderful Saturday 🙂