Interview with Beverley Harvey
I love to showcase writers over 50 who write for women like us. Today Beverley Harvey ( a regular contributor to Fab after Fifty) shares the inspiration behind her book, Seeking Eden
When did you start to write?
My first foray was when I joined a creative writing class in Autumn 2014. It was fun, but daunting too, and I had absolutely no confidence. In January the following year I started jotting notes and scenarios on what was to become Seeking Eden. By the end of 2015, I had the first draft of a novel. Nobody was more surprised than me.
What have been the challenges for you?
A lack of confidence and self-belief. I’ve suffered from low self-esteem all my life and at first, I just kept thinking of all those Ex-Factor hopefuls; the ones who bounce into an audition and howl their way through Robbie Williams’s Angels, and to their own ears they sound great. You can see some of them are truly shocked when Simon Cowell says: ‘that was terrible, you can’t sing at all.’ I thought, what if that’s me – and I actually can’t write?
What did you do prior to this?
All sorts! I didn’t go through further education (which I deeply regret) but in my twenties I stumbled into advertising. My secretarial skills were rubbish, but I was savvy, understood the creative process and was very organised so somehow it worked. In my mid-thirties, I decided to have a go at PR. I was brilliant at some aspects and lousy at others – but it’s probably where I learned to write. After four years in a good PR agency, I went freelance but over the years, without living or working in London anymore, the work just dried up. I felt liberated and decided to really focus on writing fiction.
When was your first book published?
6th July 2017; a date that will be etched on my memory for life.
What is the title of your latest book?
What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
Real life, totally. I left London in 2007 with my partner Mark, and we moved to a so-called concept village in the Kent countryside (like an estate, but HUGE – a whole new self-sufficient town). Like one of my main characters, I completely went into shock and felt very isolated. Ten years later, life is good here, now that I have friends and a well-established routine.
What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!
It’s very realistic…about a handful of friends and neighbours, who live in the prosperous new town of Eden Hill, who are all forced to re-evaluate their lives in their forties and fifties.
Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?
The story is narrated through four distinct voices: forty-something Kate – who jeopardises her marriage after re-connecting with an ex-boyfriend. Beautiful Lisa, newly divorced and excited about her future – but her happiness is soon sabotaged by her past. Ben, a former pop star who at 50 is determined to recapture his youth, and his music career, and lastly Martin who is hardworking and trapped in a dutiful marriage to a chronic depressive. FAF readers will relate to the characters brilliantly because they are all on the brink of great change – something that seems to happen as we enter our fifties.
What do like the most about the character/s you have created?
They all have wonderful qualities; Kate is flawed and knows she must atone for her mistakes; Lisa is incredibly kind and generous – and sees the best in people; Ben is confidence personified (occasionally to the point of being deluded!) and Martin is thoroughly decent – although he loses his way for a while. There’s a great deal of humour in the book – as in life. Nothing is funnier than people’s mishaps and embarrassments.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
That we never stop learning; life and love don’t always run smoothly just because you’ve hit a certain birthday!
What do want readers to take away having the read the book?
Hope. The book weaves a tangled web, but I felt that each of my wonderful characters deserved to have a happy ending.
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?
I am currently working on the sequel – many of the same characters reappear, but there are new ones, too!
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
- Write about what you know – it will give you the confidence to write with real authenticity.
- Start out as if the book is just for you – and enjoy the process along the way.
- Consider all routes to publishing; there are so many options these days. I wrote to lots of agents because I wanted to find a big publisher. When I didn’t get anywhere with that, I considered self-publishing, but in the end, I went with a smaller independent publisher, Urbane, one that was willing to take a risk on an unknown author and doesn’t try to funnel its writers into the latest literary fashions.