Keri Beevis, the Norfolk-based author of the award-winning thriller, Dead Letter Day, kindly agreed to an interview with NorfolkPlaces. Keri’s second book, Dead Write, is due out very soon so we asked some questions relating to the book, writing and of course Norfolk too!
We’re really pleased that our interview includes an exclusive preview of the front cover of Dead Write and the back-page blurb too (see questions below.)
Once you’ve read our interview you may want to visit Keri’s website to find out more about Keri and her writing.
What’s your favourite place to visit in Norfolk, and why?
There are many great places in Norfolk, but a favourite would have to be Holkham. When I was a child we would have big family days out at the beach, parking up at Wells-next-the-Sea and walking through the woods to Holkham and I remember sand covered picnics in the dunes, games on the beach and the long walk out to the sea when the tide was out. We would then head back to Wells and have fish and chips by the harbour. I don’t get up there as often as I’d like these days, but whenever I do I really appreciate what a hauntingly beautiful place it is.
Do you use places in Norfolk for your writing, even just as inspiration for scenery in your books?
Funny you should ask that. Both of my published books are set in the USA and when my first book was published I was asked the question, why America for an English writer? The answer, to keep it brief, is primarily down to the influence of movies. I was an eighties kid and grew up on a diet of fiction. I loved books and I loved movies and, probably because my dad owned a couple of video rental stores, I spent an awful lot of time with the latter. The eighties were all about the US, as the British Film Industry was in decline, and with my head stuck into so much American fiction, it felt the right way for me to go. I chose to set both novels in the coastal state of Oregon. To me, Oregon shares characteristics with the North Norfolk Coast and is rugged, unspoilt and picturesque.
How has living in Norfolk shaped your writing career? (For example, has it hindered it when it comes to getting an agent/publisher?)
I wouldn’t say living in Norfolk has hindered or helped. I believe regardless of where you are, if you want to write and if you are persistent enough, you will achieve your dreams. It took me twenty years to become published, bombarding agents in London with chapters of various novels. I scored a deal with one of them in my mid-twenties, but sadly it never amounted to anything. The key to becoming published is definitely persistence.
Who is the most famous Norfolk celebrity you have met?
I would love to say Stephen Fry, but the truth is I haven’t really met any notable Norfolk celebrities, unless you count a few of the local radio and television presenters, so it would probably have to be the Puppet Man.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Everyone will expect me to say Stephen King, and, it’s true his writing has been a major influence on me. The Shining is one of my all-time favourite books and it was while reading Misery I decided I wanted to try and write my first novel. But actual favourite author, I would probably have to say Tami Hoag. I have read several of her books and her writing is seamless, while her plots really draw you in. She is a great author.
What book are you reading now?
The Witness by Nora Roberts. She is another author I greatly admire.
How do you prepare yourself to start writing a new story?
Well, the first few weeks involve an awful lot of daydreaming. It always starts with a seed; something I have seen, read in the news or sometimes something random that has come to me while in the shower or cooking dinner. The next few weeks are mostly spent daydreaming. I used to feel very guilty about the daydreaming bit, as I felt I was slacking and should be getting on with the task at hand, but I’ve since realised it is an important part of the writing process. You are building a plot around the seed, introducing and fleshing out characters, having conversations with them in your head, plus of course doing any research needed for authenticity. I am lucky in that respect as my thrillers involve some police procedure and my sister is a detective constable. Finally I sit down to write. This phase involves much procrastinating as I stare at the blank page, surf the Internet, make some coffee, stare at the blank page some more, go make a snack, call a few friends, go back to the page, do a little bit more surfing, make fresh coffee, before giving myself a hard slap and forcing myself to sit down and write. Once the words start to come it’s easy to get lost in the story.
How long did it take to write your latest book?
Approximately eight months, which might sound like a long time, but I only have evenings and weekends to write, as I hold down a fulltime demanding day job. I am quite meticulous on my first draft, preferring to go back and correct as I write. Once the story is finished I go over it page by page and make any changes before sending the manuscript to my publisher, who then edits and picks up any mistakes I may have missed.
Look! – We have an exclusive view of the cover for Keri’s new book, Dead Write
Do you have a special place where you like to do your writing?
I wouldn’t say it is a special place, but I tend to do most of my writing sat on my bed working on my laptop. It’s a quiet, comfortable room without any distractions. Well, that is until one of my cats decides to plant themselves down on the keyboard.
Can you give us a sneaky preview of a couple of lines from your new book?
Unfortunately not at this stage, as the final draft is with my publisher ahead of release, however I can give you the back cover blurb.
When a teenager is found stabbed to death, detectives Rebecca Angell and Jake Sullivan are called to the scene, and clues soon lead them to a crime novel which the killer has used for gruesome inspiration. The author, Amy Gallaty, has a new book out, at first prompting Angell and Sullivan to question how far she is prepared to go in the name of promotion. But when Amy attracts the attentions of a stalker and then a second murder mirrors another of her plots; they realize they are up against a cruel and clever psychopath; one who may have a more personal agenda. Working with the FBI, Angell and Sullivan find themselves in a race against the clock to unlock the secrets in Amy’s past before the killer can strike again.
Have you already started on the next story? Can you tell us a bit about it?
I haven’t started writing the next book yet, but am in the planning stages. It is too early to reveal any plot details, but I can say it will feature characters from Dead Letter Day and Dead Write.
Do you think you would ever write other genres?
Probably not. I have been told I should try writing comedy, but I don’t think my heart would really be in it, and if I’m not enjoying what I write then my readers definitely won’t. My books already contain moments of humour, so I think I will stick with the suspense thriller genre that I feel comfortable with.
If you could give one piece of advice to others who harboured an ambition of being an author for a long time what would you tell them?
Do not give up. The chances of having your first manuscript picked up by a publisher is about as likely as winning the Lottery jackpot, but if you are good enough and passionate about what you do, then persevere, because those doors will open eventually.
NorfolkPlaces would like to thank Keri Beevis for sparing the time to answer our questions and also for supplying the photos we cheekily requested too! Good luck with the new book!