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Author Interviews

Interview with Beverley Lee

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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From as far back as she can remember, Beverley Lee has always been in thrall to the written word. Her earliest memories are of books and how they made her feel. She spent most of her formative years with her nose between the pages, or at the local library, devouring books, and losing herself in the worlds of fantasy and adventure. She was that child who would always try to find Narnia at the back of any available wardrobe. Even now the smell of paper in a bookshop makes her feel like she is eight again.

Her writing journey began at the age of seven, when she created terrible, but enthusiastically written, cliché ridden pony stories, complete with illustrations, for her long suffering teacher. But she can’t remember a time when she didn’t make up stories in her head, even when there was no chance to write them down.

The closest thing to magic that she knows is creating characters and new worlds that never existed before. She loves the way the images and voices take form, and the way they take on a life of their own as the words spill out. Beverley is very much drawn to the darker side of fiction and the shadowy place between light and darkness where nothing is quite as it seems. She loves flawed characters – they have a depth and a tantalising wealth of possibility.

Inspiration comes in many forms – a snippet of conversation, a stranger on the street, a song lyric fleetingly heard. Life is inspiration. The very best story is the one you have to tell.

She is a people watcher, a dreamer, a lover of nature and simple things. She collects feathers, picks up seashells and likes to run her fingers over old stone. There’s history there. Stories just waiting to be discovered.

The best way to grow is to support other people and she is passionate about helping other writers as they begin their journey.

Beverley Lee

Welcome to the blog, Beverley, first of all would you like to introduce yourself and explain to our readers what you are all about?

Hello Yvonne, thank you for hosting me on your blog. My name is Beverley Lee and I’m a dark fiction writer from Oxfordshire, UK. I always stipulate dark fiction instead of horror, as my work encompasses numerous dark genres – horror, suspense, gothic, supernatural, dark fantasy. So readers get a little banquet instead of a one course lunch, which has to be a winner.

When I’m not writing, or thinking about writing as authors are never really clocked off, I love to wander around the gorgeous countryside here. I’m a huge fan of old stately homes and ancient woodland, crumbling graveyards and forgotten churches. I get so much inspiration from them all.

I’ve read several pieces of your work to date and your novella, The House of Little Bones is my favourite. It hit home for me, relationships with our parental units can be fractious, what was your inspiration behind the folklore tale?

The House of Little Bones came to me whilst on a walk around a Roman wall (see above!) By the time I’d got back to the car park I had David’s character fleshed out and the first chapter written in my head. The rest came pretty quickly after that, but originally this was supposed to be a novel. As I reached about 57k the story stalled and it took me a while to work out why. I’d wandered away from the core which was David and Luca’s fragmented relationship, so had to par it back and rewrite until I got to the story that was eventually published.

Interestingly, a character I cut from Little Bones, Haven, is one of the protagonists in my new novel, The Sum of Your Flesh. The best form of recycling!

The Bone Crone’s story stems from my love of folklore and tales passed down through the ages. You’re never quite sure how much truth lives within the lines…

Luca’s relationship with his father was always meant to be unstable, an observation readers discover for themselves as the story advances.

How much research went into the story? I thoroughly enjoy stories steeped in mythology and folklore but I don’t doubt that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. The atmosphere almost seemed to crackle.

I researched corpse roads and how they were navigated for Little Bones, and the use of Ouija boards, but the Bone Crone’s story was pure imagination, although heavily influenced by tales from the past where disfigured women were ostracised and branded as devil worshippers. Some of the interior details of the house David stays in are from a house let site, but the window wall is all mine!

How do you think it has differed from your work on the Gabriel Davenport series?

My Gabriel Davenport series is about vampires, but also about relationships between all of the characters, both human and immortal. In that, it’s not too different from Little Bones or any of my other books. I’m always character focussed – they drive all my work and if they stall I know I’m wandering down the wrong track. I never plot my stories, they unfurl for me as they unfurl for my readers, one surprise at a time.

So although the settings/type of supernatural horror may change, how I write is always the same. Basically, I create characters readers love, then make them suffer as I amp up the atmosphere and dread, until… (insert cackling…)

I think women in horror are carving a new path in horror, it’s really exciting to witness. What exactly do you think women bring to the table of horror?

It’s such a refreshing time for women in horror. It always used to be very male orientated, but now we have women from all different backgrounds telling diverse and interesting stories, remoulding themes and settings and tropes and making them their own. Horror is an emotion – fear and dread to mention only two. Many women in horror understand these emotions well as they live/have lived with them, so not only do they deliver fresh takes on genre but they do it with their feet planted in truth. And therein lies the power.

What does Horror mean to you? Has that evolved in anyway since you began your writing career?

The definition of horror is a genre of storytelling meant to scare or shock. There’s always a villain or a monster or something bad the characters are trying to run from/destroy. For me this is often a metaphor for many of the struggles marginalised people suffer today. True life horror. So many of my antagonists are multi-faceted – if the tables were turned they’d be the heroes in their own story. I don’t think that’s changed from when I first started writing, it’s just become more honed.

The Daughters of Darkness collection also featuring the authors, Theresa Derwin, Ruschelle Dillon, Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye, has been one of my favourite collections in recent years mainly due to the calibre of writers, What do you think are the biggest challenges in writing for collections?

Collections can be hard to navigate, but Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Rhodes brought us together because they knew our writing styles were very similar. With that, although all our stories were different in theme, they all melded because of our style. And that’s how you go about creating a collection!

Your new book, The Sum of Your Flesh, released on 23rd March 2023. Can you tell us a little about it?

Sum (to shorten it) is a genre-blending tale with themes of persecution, loneliness and atonement. It brings together three protagonists – all of them driven by their own devils, and an Arctic back story from the Victorian era, placing them in a rural village filled with hidden secrets and prejudice. The reader’s job is to work out exactly who is the monster…

It’s a very ambitious story with multiple connecting threads – apparently I don’t know how to write anything else…

The story has been dubbed “a horrific masterpiece” how does it feel to get compliments of that calibre?

It honestly blows me away. Every writer delivers the best story they can, but to hear it described like this is such an incredible honour, especially when it comes from fellow authors who I hold in the highest regard. I am deeply grateful and also deeply honoured by compliments like this.

What authors have you looked up to during your career and what new talent are you keen to watch?

Gosh, so many authors who shaped my writing and whose books were the stepping stone to my career – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice (whose influence was instrumental in creating my own vampires.

New talent (of which there is a huge abundance) – Tim McGregor, Catherine McCarthy, Nicole Eigener, Coy Hall, Ross Jeffery, Craig Wallwork. I could go on and on. Dark fiction has never been in better hands!

So, what does the rest of 2023 have in store?

Apart from Sum, I’ve been busy writing/editing with Nicole Eigener. A project which began in August 2022 as a love letter to the characters in our vampire worlds, and which ended up, three months later, as an 316k epic. Nicole and I first blended our vampire universes after a Nightworms interview in which we said what would happen if our characters ever met? The result was Crimson is the Night, a little novelette which was the seed for our vampire epic, because our characters had much, much more to tell us.

News of this in October 2023, but that’s all I can say for now 😉

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