When did you first start writing novels? And what made you start?
I’ve always scribbled since being very young, but I never had the courage to show anyone my work until I did my creative writing PhD. It was only then I realised I might be writing something worth reading. I’d always had this idea inspired by something in my journalism background and eventually I got it all down on paper and it became In Too Deep. I was really lucky to have my first novel published, after it was shortlisted in the Luke Bitmead Award.
Do you have any regrets over choosing writing as a career? If so, what are they?
I sometimes regret that I didn’t put my work out to publishers earlier.
Also, I sometimes wish I could write full-time – I have day jobs teaching journalism and creative writing and they take up a lot of time and head space. But when I am being sensible, I remember that I probably wouldn’t use all that time writing anyway. I’d probably fritter it away.
Your background is in journalism and I know other ex-journalists who have become novelists have said that the journalism has given them a good writing discipline. Do you find that too?
Undoubtedly. It teaches you to ask questions all the time, so you find story ideas everywhere. It teaches you to disregard authority and that everyone has secrets. It teaches you to write to a deadline and to write every day, not just when the muse takes you. And crucially, it teaches you not to be precious about your writing, but to expect it to be edited and changed to make it better.
I love both. Writing for adults is easier and quicker, I think – there are so many extra considerations about writing for children, in terms of things like content and language. But that’s part of the fun, too. And I love the way younger readers are so honest. If a child says they liked your book, they tend to really mean it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I always have two projects on the go – one for adults, one for children. The adult one is about two former friends who have to face up to something they did in their teens, when a body is found. And the children’s one is a historical fantasy set around the first performance of Dido and Aeneas in the seventeenth century – so they’re very different!
What will be the next book to be released?
The next book to be released is called The Misper and it’s for a Young Adult audience. It’s based, as you’d expect if you know the term, around a girl who goes missing. It will be published in 2017.
My office – boring, I know. But it’s quiet and warm and I have everything I need there. Plus it’s in a basement so I can’t spend time staring out of the window.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
When I did my Creative Writing PhD, I was lucky enough to have Jackie Kay as my supervisor. I remember angsting over the fact that I didn’t know how my novel was going to end. She advised me just to keep writing and let it evolve. I’ve worked that way ever since. I’m an anti-planner.
And now for some more random questions...
What’s your radio tuned to most often?
BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. I love the quirkiness of Radio 4 and that I can learn so much by listening to it (when I am not shouting at the news). Then when it drives me too mad (e.g., Thought for the Day or anything remotely connected with sport) I switch to Radio 3 and calm down again.
You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.
Um… does this mean I can use the computer to write or not? If not, then the pens and paper, obviously. It would be maddening not to be able to write.
You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose?
Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.
Grey. (Sorry). I don’t really suit the first four and although I like a bit of pink, I couldn’t commit to it in a Barbara Cartland sort of a way.
[AF: grey isn't an option!! 😃 Maybe you'll have to do what Frank Muir said and choose none! He chose nudity over any of the (deliberately difficult) colours!]
Jason Bourne or James Bond?
Neither. I can’t be doing with them. Give me Lord Peter Wimsey any day.
Cats or dogs?
Cats, no question. I love cats!
City or country?
Seaside town (sorry again). If you really press me I’d rather be in a city than out in the middle of nowhere.
Real book or e-book?
Hmm. Depends where I am! I use an e-reader when I’m travelling, so I can take lots of reading material, but real books the rest of the time.
Fountain pen or biro?
Biro. Fountain pens bring back horrible memories of leaking ink on my fingers and my white school shirts. I could never get the hang of ink pens – I’m too messy.
Thank you so much to Bea for answering my questions.
You can follow Bea on Twitter at @BeaDavenport1
Her website is at http://www.beadavenport.com/