The Beaumont Bequest is a contemporary take on the classic haunted house novel;its author Lynne Jones, has kindly let us in on how the book came into being and on inspiration and writing in general :
How did The Beaumont Bequest start life ?
It started as a short story I entered in a competition in Writers’ Forum. I didn’t win a prize but was mentioned in the magazine as a runner-up. It was purely a ghost story and Rex Beaumont didn’t appear in that version.
What most influenced you when developing the novel?
I was pushed into action when I found out that yet another version of A Christmas Carol was being made for TV (the one with Patrick Stewart in that I think is the best yet). I started ranting about it being time somebody wrote a new story and a friend said: ‘If you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you write one?’ It set me thinking about why these old classic tales have had such a long-lasting appeal. I thought then that if I ever start writing novels, I want to create timeless stories like these with memorable characters. Other influences include The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Is Heartsease, the house that lies central to the novel, based on a real building?
Yes, it is. I found it by accident when I was searching estate agents’ websites for houses in Sussex. I was intrigued by the mention of a ‘Flower Room’ – something I’d never come across before. The Flower Room eventually became a main component of the book.
Are any of the paranormal incidents in the book based on personal experience?
No, I’ve never had any experience of the paranormal. I was inspired more by Richard Buss’s unfinished painting of Dickens showing him asleep in his chair surrounded by pictures of his characters.
Do you have a favourite character / book among the ghost classics?
I love Scrooge, obviously, but my current favourite is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.
What are your own favourite scenes in the book?
Although he was put in as an afterthought just to provide the reader with a sympathetic character, I enjoyed Rex’s backstory the most. He ended up becoming a real person to me. In the haunting scenes I like Patrick’s trial, Rex’s stories of The Croxton Canary and The Langerstone Shroud, and the final chase up the slopes of Cotopaxi.
Do you have a favourite method for writing, getting ideas, working out plots?
I started trying to write in a conventional linear manner but it soon became apparent that Beaumont’s multiple timelines were too complex to handle in this way, so I had to stop writing and spend several weeks creating a plot structure. This made it easier for me to work out how to drop in information from Rex’s background so that the last scene with Barbara would make sense. It was such a useful exercise that I plan all my stories like this now.
Can you tell us something about your next novel?
I have two new ones pretty well under way and have plot sketches for two others. I think the next one to be finished will be Windhaven Loop, a story of a bungled attempt at an antiques scam, involving time travel and parallel destinies. This will be followed by The Bon Ton Club, the first in a comic sci-fi series set in the future about the members of an elite dining club.
Do you have an ideal ‘dream’ writing space?
Probably in some spacious penthouse with a fabulous view. For some reason I find it difficult to write on the ground floor. I think the ‘imagination rays’ can penetrate my brain more easily when I’m high up.
With the arrival of e-publishing, do you think writers are more empowered now than before?
Definitely. There were far too many gatekeepers under the old regime with a vested interest in maintaining rigidly defined genres and chasing after literary prizes. There was so much focus on genre norms, personality writers and literary merit that they seemed to have forgotten all the thrill and enjoyment you can get from reading a good original yarn.
Any thoughts or advice on writing you’d like to pass on?
Get the characters and plot straight in your head first. I used to write business documents and a manager once advised me: ‘Get the Table of Contents right and the document will write itself.’ I’ve found this to be true of fiction as well.
Which website would you recommend for writers/readers?
For writers just starting out and unused to the harsh reality of peer reviews, I think it’s best to start with YouWriteOn or Book Country. For writers with complete or near-complete work, I think Authonomy is the best. Goodreads is very good for readers wanting to connect with people with similar tastes.
Where on the web can people connect with you and your work?
I have a website www.homespuntales.co.uk but this is under construction and doesn’t have much content yet. Other than that, readers interested in forthcoming stories can check out my Authonomy page.
Where can we buy your book?
The Beaumont Bequest is at present available in the Amazon Kindle Store at the moment :