A Chat Over Tea with Horror Author Beverley Lee

Do you remember back in January (which feels roughly seven years ago) when I posted the first ever interview of this blog? It was with my editor, playwright, and author Briana Morgan, and I mentioned that it was the first in a new series of monthly author interviews.

Well, that didn’t bloody happen, did it.

If you’ve been reading my monthly progress updates, you’ll know some of how life got in the way, and if you haven’t, I won’t bore you with the details. The important thing is, monthly interviews are BACK!

*throws dark confetti*

This month’s interview is with one of my very best author friends, Beverley Lee. She’s a paranormal horror author who taught me that everything I thought I knew about the genre was wrong 🙂

If you love horror books or the paranormal in fiction, I hope you’ll enjoy reading our interview as much as we enjoyed chatting about it.

One quick note: we did this interview a little while ago (*coughs* January *coughs*) and then life got in the way as it does, so when Bev talks about her current reads and her WIP, please note they were her current reads at the time we did the interview and that her WIP has moved on a little since we chatted.

An interview with horror author Beverley Lee

S: Welcome to my author blog, Bev! To start with, what are you reading at the moment?

B: Right now I’m immersed in horror! I’m reading Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke and an advanced reader copy of Nocturnal Farm from Villimey Mist, but it’s rare that I have two similar books on my reading pile.

S: I may be biased where Villimey’s book is concerned, but it’s excellent, isn’t it? ^-^ And I’ve seen Kealan around Instagram quite a bit and admit I’ve been interested in his books for a while. It’s not your first read by him, is it?

B: I’m only 10% into Villimey’s book but I’m enjoying being back with Leia. If you want a good start with Kealan’s work I’d suggest Sour Candy. It’s got such a fabulous first line! I’ve read a couple of his short story collections but Kin is the first novel length one. Don’t let the fact that it’s about cannibals put you off 😉

S: As if XD What about his books keeps drawing you back?

B: Good horror isn’t all about scares. It’s the subtle way he blends the everyday with things that go bump in the night that appeals. You can imagine yourself in the same situation as the characters, which is true for any good book in any genre, I think. He also has a  knack for peeling away their skins (no pun intended!) and exposing their every thought, no matter how horrific.

S: I agree, and I think this is something I understood about horror quite late. Growing up I didn’t dare touch horror books because I’d been taught that the whole genre was just terrifying scares, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons. I think your first book, The Making of Gabriel Davenport, was one of the first horror books I’d read since… goodness, I can’t remember! Probably since that short story collection by Stephen King scared the hell out of me when I was a teenager! I’m proud to say that yours didn’t stop me from sleeping, but it was creepy and disturbing. I remember a scene near the beginning especially, where everything went downhill for poor Beth.

So, I know that blending the everyday with the things that go bump in the night is one of your specialties too! What else do you love about this genre that you try to incorporate in your own writing?

B: Ha, I’m glad I could disturb you 😉 I read Cujo by King as an impressionable teen and it scared the life out of me. I can still remember reading it.

Let’s see – that there is always a grey area between goodness and evil and that’s where the best things dwell. I like to show that the supposedly bad characters have redeeming qualities, and something I always do is make sure that my readers understand the motives behind my antagonist’s thinking. Just having a cardboard cutout villain doesn’t interest me at all. I like to take what’s been done before and spin my own twist, creating my own vampire hierarchy and laws, for instance, but they have to be believable. 

We all like to be frightened a little bit. It takes us away into that primal place of instinct, so different from our closeted modern lifestyle and writing it gives me that same feeling. 

S: All I know about Cujo is from Friends – there’s something seriously wrong with a dog XD

I think the way you do it – by taking something that’s been done before and putting your own spin on it – is the best way to do it. We like things that feel familiar no matter how many fantasy elements are involved. So many new writers try to be original to breaking point, because finding something that’s really never existed before is near impossible these days.

Now, to me your books are definitely horror. Horror that’s more disturbing than sleepless-nights-terrifying, but horror nontheless. But when you first categorised your debut novel, you didn’t think of horror. That came a little later, didn’t it?

B: Yes, you’re spot on 🙂 When I was writing Gabriel I classified it as dark fantasy. It was only after readers started saying that the first part seriously messed with their heads that I realised that the horror tag did in fact fit. But I’m not a huge fan of putting books into pigeon holes. A good story is a good story, and that might mean it has elements of half a dozen different genres.

S: Absolutely. It’s impossible to squeeze any one book into one genre only. Most books have an adventure element or a romance element, and pretty much every book has a bit of mystery. Your books definitely fit the dark fantasy tag, but you could equally say that they’re urban paranormal and, of course, horror!

Did you have an ideal reader in mind when you wrote the Gabriel Davenport trilogy? Who did you write them for?

B: I just wanted anyone to read them, no matter how old they were 🙂 A lot of people have classified them as YA as my main characters are predominantly teenagers, but I don’t think the way I write is suited to the YA ‘brand’ (there’s that pigeon hole thing again!) And to begin with I wrote them just for me, as they were the books I wanted to read but could never find.

S: No, I agree, I don’t think they really fit the YA brand. You could argue that they’re a coming-of-age story of sorts because of what happens to Gabe, but overall there are none of the things young adults or teens would identify with. Your MC is a teenager, but his problems aren’t normal teenage issues, and you could argue that some of the others may look like teenagers but haven’t really been teenagers for a long time…

This is even more true for your newest book, which has some very dark themes indeed! Can you tell us a bit about Ruin? How does it differ from Gabriel?

B: Gabriel is definitely a coming of age story, but when I started it, I had no idea what I was going to put him through!

Ah yes, my newest book baby, The Ruin of Delicate Things, is about a couple (Dan and Faye Morgan) struggling with the death of their son. A cottage is bequeathed to Dan in the heart of the English countryside. It’s where he spent his childhood summers. But soon after arriving, things start to happen that both of them can’t explain. The old house still stands in the middle of the forest, watching over the lake. And there’s something in that house that knows what Dan did and that wants him to pay *cue spooky music*

S: I loved Gabriel’s story, but I think I loved this one even more. I was lucky enough to read an early version, and it was so deliciously dark and the pace at which you reveal things kept me glued to the kindle screen!

You may hate me for asking this, but where did your inspiration for Ruin come from?

B: Nothing makes me happier than comments like that, Sarina *heart eyes*

The first thing that came to me with Ruin was the setting. And then the characters came next, but I think I told you before that I had a problem getting the story to stick with one of them so I had to age them up. As for what dwells in the house, some of the inspiration came from a nature program I was watching, but that character went through a few changes before I was happy with how she came out.

S: Ah, see, I knew I need to watch more nature programs! What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?

B: I really enjoyed writing the darkness in Barrington Hall. It became almost a character in itself – a playground for the lost and cursed. It had definite Hill House vibes for me! And I think I have a thing for making houses characters *laughs* I loved writing Barrington Hall’s history too with all the horrors involved and the way it shaped the present.

S: I definitely got the playground for the lost vibe, especially from this one character’s perception. It made the house come alive, and I shivered when certain characters set foot inside.

But speaking of spoilers… Can you share an excerpt? Without spoilers, of course 😉

B: Of course!

ONE

As the sign for the village flashed by, Dan Morgan knew he would rather be anywhere else but here.

In this car, with the rain beating down on the windscreen. On this road, which led to his childhood, with all of its muted meandering memories. Back when days had gone on forever. After thirty years he was racing back towards it, searching for its enchantment, fruitlessly hoping it could cast its rose-tinted spell upon the agonising hellscape of his life.

He glanced in his rear-view mirror, watched as the sign disappeared in the distance, the whoosh of the tyres on the wet road a constant background noise. Faye stared out of the rear passenger window, one finger tracing a line of mingled raindrops. A typical British summer.

She’d said she wanted to sleep, but Dan knew the real reason she had moved from beside him was because she couldn’t stand the wall of silence that had descended on the long journey down.  He could see her profile etched against the thin light, almost as if she was trying to disappear into it. Dark curls mussed around her face, her nose a slight aquiline, which gave strength to her otherwise fragile features.

Sometimes he caught her watching him as if he had turned into a creature she didn’t understand.

A sharp pain jabbed Dan—Dan to his friends. Daniel to his colleagues. But never Danny, not since that summer—in the ribs. 

The rot had set in on the night Toby had been sliced from their lives. Dan’s fingers clenched on the steering wheel.

How can a child go out one day and never return?

It had been a brutal year. And the weight that hung in the air between them was like the blade of a pendulum, gradually severing the fraying connection to which they were both clinging.

Faye’s ears were covered by her ever-present headphones, plugged into the world of audio books. It was much easier to immerse herself in other people’s stories; her own hurt too much.

An image of Toby, laying cold and still on the hospital gurney, covered in a white sheet, invaded his thoughts. Dan had watched from the safety of the small room, that clinical sheet of glass separating him from his son, watched as the young doctor with the dark circles under his eyes pulled back the sheet. Dan wanted to scream that it wasn’t Toby—this shell of a boy with the pale blue lips couldn’t possibly be his son. His boy had been loud and kind and lovable. His son had yelled, ‘See you later, Dad!’ as he swept past the study, hopping on one leg as he stuffed his foot into a trainer.

Dan hadn’t turned his head, just raised his hand in reply. He’d been too busy, too focussed on the marketing plan in front of him, the ever-approaching deadline looming like a hand grenade with a loose pin.

Dan bit his bottom lip, closing his eyes for a moment to stop the images. Stop the guilt.

A loud, dull thud, the weight of an impact hitting the front of the car. Dan’s eyes flew open. He braked hard, water splashing onto the bonnet, the wipers sweeping back and forth in a pattern that set his teeth on edge. Please God, don’t let it be a person…

The Ruin of Delicate Things, © Beverley Lee 2020

S: Now that The Ruin of Delicate Things is out in the world and doing great, what’s next for you? I know you’re working on something in its very early stages…

B: Yes, I have something very much in its infancy which is already refusing to play along with any outline I might have had. Who I thought was my main character might not be now, as two others muscled their way in last week. There’s a possibility it will link back to Gabriel’s series in some way too, either by the appearance of a few characters or settings, but it’s very early days and we both know how a first draft can morph into something completely different!

S: Now that’s exciting! And I know it’s super frustrating when the characters and plot shuffle themselves around, but it’s also my favourite thing. The book comes alive and shows you how it’s done – and we both know there are more surprises for the reader when they’re surprising for us!

Horror author Beverley Lee
Horror author Beverley Lee

Before we go and I let you get back to your cat, can you share a few links? Where else can we find you online?

B: All my books and where to find them are listed on my website where you can download a free short story, a dark and twisted fairy tale, by signing up to my mailing list.

My favourite place to hang out is on Instagram, but you can also find me on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, and BookBub.

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Bev! Always lovely to talk to you ^-^


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A Chat Over Tea with Author, Playwright, and Editor Briana Morgan

Welcome, friends and bookworms, to the first ever interview of this blog!

*throws dark confetti*

*makes tea for everyone* 

As an indie author, there’s nothing I love more than helping other indie authors be seen and spread the word about their books.

Starting today, every month I will have a chat with another self-published author about all things books! You could call it an interview (I mean, I just did), but really this’ll be an informal talk over tea.

My first ever guest is extra special, because it’s Briana Morgan! Not only is Briana a super talented author, but she’s also been my editor ever since Rise of the Sparrows, and she has been a friend just as long. I’m thrilled to be chatting to her about all things books, operas, and witches today!

S: Please, Bri, help yourself to tea and tell me what you’re reading at the moment. I always find the first read of the year to be super important, but the first read of the decade? I want to make sure I kick it off well! What have you chosen and why?

B: I’ve chosen to reread The Great Gatsby since a) it’s my favorite book, and b) I thought it would be perfect for kicking off the 2020s! Although at this point, I can say I feel like I’ve memorized parts of it!

S: That sounds like a lot of re-reads! How often have you read The Great Gatsby? (I’ll just hang my head in shame here, because I haven’t read it once o.o)

B: God only knows at this point. I still can’t believe you haven’t read it since we’ve become friends!

S: You’ll have to hassle me this year 😉 What do you enjoy about it–or about any book–that you keep coming back to it?

B: I love how real (read: flawed) the characters are in it, as well as the lyrical prose. Fitzgerald was the first writer to move me with just his description, which is something I aspire to do as an author myself.

S: I love a flawed character <3 And you’ve already answered my next question! I was going to ask what a book needs to have for you to enjoy it and how that influences your own writing, but you’ve clearly read my mind 😉 Got anything to add?

B: Other things I look for in a good book: compelling stakes/conflict, diversity, and well-written dialogue that leaps off the page!

S: Do you try to fit those into your own books? If it doesn’t spoil anything, can you tell us how you’ve incorporated those things into your own writing?

B: I do, as much as I can! My writing process has definitely changed (and gotten better) over time, so I can’t speak as much to the past, but now it is something I strive for. In my upcoming novel Livingston Girls, for example, I’ve tightened my dialogue, presented diverse and realistic characters, and tried to evoke setting in an interesting way. I hope all that comes across well for the reader.

S: Yes, let’s talk about Livingston Girls! I’m SO intrigued from what I’ve seen on Instagram. It’s about a girl who starts her education in an all-girls school full of witches, right? And she’s not thrilled at first?

B: That’s mostly correct! Rose gets involved in a student-teacher scandal at her old schools and her parents ship her off to an all-girls boarding school, stuffy Livingston Academy. There, she meets a secret coven of witches that need her help to protect the school and put a stop to the asshole witch-hunter in town. All the while, she battles her own sexuality and growing feelings for her roommate, who is… complicated, to say the least.

S: Well, that just sounds all kinds of awesome <3 What I love about your books is that they’re all different, from plays to urban fantasy to… well, still urban fantasy, but also different. *pours more tea* This one sounds like it’ll be a new favourite! Who was your ideal reader for this book? Who did you write it for?

B: I think I mostly wrote it for my teenage self. It’s the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager, especially because of how witchy it is. I also wrote it for queer kids struggling with their identity or feeling like they don’t have a place in the world, as well as for anyone, regardless of age, who worries that they can’t find love because they’re far from perfect.

S: This is why I love you <3 I think my teenage self would have loved this. What did you enjoy the most about writing Livingston Girls?

B: Oh, gods, that’s a tough one! I had so much fun writing this book! I think my favorite part was the dialogue, as well as how it shapes the characters’ relationships with each other. That, and creating the magic system, of course!

S: Now, I was going to ask you to share a brief teaser, but I believe you’ve shared the first three chapters on your blog! How about the opening paragraph (or paragraphs, if it’s really short) and a link to the rest on your blog?

B: You got it! Here’s the opening:

“The reek of mothballs and disinfectant almost knocks me over. Wood paneling lines the walls. It’s not a big dorm. Just enough space between the twin beds to prevent awkward touching in the night, twin dressers and desks that have seen better days, and a gray-brown carpet. Beside the door, sitting on a patch of linoleum, is a sink with a tiny mirror. Still, the room looks clean, and the big window lets in more light than I expected.

I slide the strap of my guitar case off my shoulder, set the guitar on the bed, and walk to the window. Livingston Academy is sprawling. I doubt I’ll ever find my way around–even my residence hall is massive. Though there’s still a day before classes start, the lawn outside my dorm, Meyer Hall, ripples with activity. A few girls sit on the stone steps leading to the front doors. Others lean against the wrought-iron fencing or the building’s brick exterior, make small talk by the rose bushes, and stretch out on the browning grass.

A pang of yearning knifes my chest. I turn away.

I don’t have friends. All I have are my parents—barely. And once they go home, I won’t have anyone. “

If that intrigues you, you can read the rest of chapter one (and chapters two and three) on my blog!

S: I love it SO MUCH. 

Now that you’ve put the finishing touches on it and Livingston Girls is live for pre-order, what’s next for you?

B: I’m doing a combination of editing my full-length play Unboxed and outlining the Livingston Girls sequel(!) Livingston Coven!

S: And, of course, there’s the opera… We need to talk about your opera, Bri. When does Touch hit the stage? How excited are you??

B: I am so beyond excited and humbled! I can’t believe I’ve written something that resonates so deeply with another creator that it’s being adapted into an opera. Plans for now are that it will be out sometime in 2021, but of course that’s out of my control. Still, I am so pleased with this team, and I cannot wait to see how everything turns out.

S: I’m just so excited for and proud of you! It’ll be in London, right? That’s HUGE.

B: It will be! I’m flying out for the opening.

S: I’ll have to see if I can meet you for it 😉 But let’s get serious for a moment. You’re doing so well and you inspire me with your work ethic, but everyone struggles with something, and I think it’s important that we don’t forget that no one’s life is perfect, no matter what shiny online profiles make us believe. So, what’s your biggest struggle as an indie author, playwright, and editor?

B: My biggest struggle is not feeling overwhelmed and getting distracted. I’ve had anxiety for years, and I suspect I also have undiagnosed ADD/ADHD. Those two make it tough for me to concentrate sometimes. When I feel overwhelmed, I can’t get as much done as I’d like to, and I tend to beat myself up for that. It’s tough.

S: I get that. I had a day like that just yesterday where I was exhausted from not getting enough sleep the weekend before and the bad weather was doing a number on me. I just couldn’t focus and didn’t get the work done that I’d wanted to. I felt so guilty, especially because I don’t work just for myself but for other authors.

I think we both need to remember that it’s okay to have bad days. Everyone has them. That’s what makes self-care so important!

B: That’s right! I’m trying to be kinder to myself in 2020.

S: Same. Last year was busy for both of us, but we don’t have to push ourselves this hard, Bri. No one does. Burning out isn’t fun, and we don’t need that shit.

I don’t know about you, but when I really need a break, I love to curl up with a good book, a tea or hot chocolate, and wrap up in my blanket. My familiar tends to fall asleep on me too. What’s your perfect reading situation?

B: I love curling up on the couch or in bed with my cat and a hot drink too! Even better if the weather is nice enough to open the windows.

S: Ooh, or better yet, when it’s nice enough to read outside! <3

To wrap up, where can we find you and what do you share there?

Briana Morgan – Author, Playwright, and Editor

B: I have a website where I blog and where you can find my books, an editing website, Twitter where I post about writing and books, and Instagram where I share information about writing, books, and a behind-the-scenes look at my everyday life. 🙂

S: And I can say from personal experience that your Instagram is very honest and incredibly encouraging and inspiring! Plus the pictures of your cat are adorable and make my day ^-^

Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting with me! It’s been lovely having you here.


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Take me to the Welcome page.