Welcome to our latest Nine Lives Interview featuring best-selling crime author Bea Davenport answering nine questions about her and her writing life.

Do you remember the first book you read?

Not really – unless you count reading scheme books at school and Ladybird fairytale books. But I was a keen reader from quite an early age. I remember going to the old Walkerville and Wallsend libraries two or three times a week and I would also spend my pocket money on Enid Blyton paperbacks (Famous Five and the like) every Saturday, in Allan’s in North Shields. Then my dad would complain because I’d have half of it read by the time I got home.

Where is your ideal place to read, and do you have a favourite time of day for reading?

I’m an afternoon/evening reader when I get the time – I think I feel too guilty to relax into reading in the mornings. But like many people my favourite place would be on a sun lounger, somewhere warm and peaceful.

Which authors have inspired or influenced you?

There are so many – this is really hard!

When I was a child I really wanted to be Enid Blyton – but when I was younger I thought that people like me didn’t become ‘writers’, for a living. It felt a bit like joining the Royal Family – you had to be someone special. This is now one of the things I try to dispel when I do writing workshops with young people. I try to get across that anyone can be a writer.

When I first started writing as an adult, I was heavily influenced by the early Fay Weldons of the 1970s and 1980s. I loved her sparky, irreverent style.

Now I am inspired by too many other writers to list. But I love Hilary Mantel, Maggie O’Farrell and Louise Doughty.

If you could choose any book from any place or time which one would you most liked to have written?

Most definitely: Wolf Hall and the sequel Bring Up the Bodies. They’re absolute masterpieces and I am in awe of the writing.

What led you to write your first book?

I had lots of ideas, but one of the strongest was the one that became In Too Deep. I was working for the BBC in Alnwick and at the time the town had a regular summer fair with a medieval-style ducking stool. I wanted to explore the idea that this ducking stool (which felt like a very strange thing to have in the twenty-first century) would be put to a dark use. I knew it was a good premise, so I stuck with it even though it took me ages to finish, because I was working full-time for the BBC, studying part-time and bringing up two young children.

Keyboard. I don’t have the time to clart about with the old technology! I do have a notebook, of course, where I jot ideas down in pen, but the actual writing goes directly into a computer, for ease of editing. My handwriting is getting steadily worse, anyway.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

No rituals or anything like that. But I like a bit of quiet and I do best if I am in a room on my own. I don’t start writing unless I have at least an hour – but I may need to revise this and start grabbing fifteen minutes here and there, to be more productive. A clear hour is a luxury these days!

Was there a break-through moment for you, or a key person who helped you?

Yes – I did a Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University and it was the first time I convinced myself that my writing was worth sharing. Before that I lacked the confidence to show it to anyone. I put my debut novel into a competition called the Luke Bitmead Bursary and it was a runner-up, which led directly to a contract with Legend Press.

What piece of advice could you give a new writer trying to get published?

Don’t rush to get published. Work on your writing until it’s something you can be proud of and have real confidence in before you start putting it out to agents or publishers or before you bung it onto Amazon. Anyone can self-publish and the market is crowded – so make sure your work is something worth reading before you put it out there. Try entering competitions, as you will get independent feedback and an indication of whether your writing is on the right track – and success will get your work noticed.

You can find out more about this fantastic author here:

Web: www.beadavenport.com
Twitter: @beadavenport1
Facebook: beadavenportwriter

Bea’s latest book ‘The Misper‘ is published by The Conrad Press and is available now.