Kendall Reviews talks to Dave Jeffery the author of ‘Beatrice Beecham’s Ship Of Shadows’

Dave Jeffery is author of 12 novels, two collections and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel which has featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists.

Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Masters Degree in Health Studies. Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I’m 53 years old and grew up in The Black Country in the West Midlands. I have worked as a mental health professional for 33 years but I have been writing for considerably longer. My first novella, Badlands, was typed out on an old Corona typewriter. I was about 12 years old when I finished it. It’s still in the loft and pretty bad. I used to write novellas in school exercise books and tell the teacher I’d lost them so I could get another book to continue with my writing. Sorry, Mr Maltby! 

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I read (no surprise, I guess) and binge watch TV box sets and movies. I used to play guitar but most of my spare time is spent writing. I also listen to music and spend time with the family. I spend so much time in fantastic worlds it’s good to do the normal stuff. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of what is truly important in life.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I grew up in the Halcyon days of 70s horror so my childhood favourites were written by the prominent genre writers of the time, James Herbert, early Stephen King and Guy N Smith to name a few. So Herbert’s The Fog and Smith’s Night of the Crabs were great favourites, and King’s Carrie was up there too. However, books that remain with me from school days are William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and mysteries like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Blyton’ The Secret Seven.

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KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I don’t have favourite albums because they change with time. However I do have favourite bands that I pretty much play all the time. I’m a fan of most guitar based music but leaning towards the heavier side. I have Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Metallica, and several other bands on my playlist daily.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

John Carpenter defined my childhood fixation with the horror genre. Halloween, The Thing, The Fog and Prince of Darkness are so different it shows how versatile he really is. David Cronenberg, Lucio Fulci and George A Romero were also influential on what I do.

KR: What are you reading now?

CLOSER STILL by Richard Farren Barber and released through Black Shuck Books. This guy is a cracking writer, one to watch in my view.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Overall it was Steinbeck. His narrative style and his mastery of characterisation have always captivated me. Cannery Row is my all time favourite novel.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

It depends on what I’m writing at the time. My Beatrice Beecham series (Crystal Lake Publishing/Crossroad Press) is reliant on maintaining mystery and the reader consistently having to second guess the outcomes, so these are always carefully plotted before I set out.   For my pulp fiction work, for example the Necropolis Rising series and Frostbite (both Severed Press) I have a loose outline and this can change depending on where the characters take it.  

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I cannot stress how important it is to research what you intend to write. I found this out the hard way when I put out a prequel to the Necropolis Rising series called SPLATOON. The novella is based during the Vietnam War and my research process was below par. Within an few weeks of publication a Vietnam veteran got in touch, slating the novella for poor research and suggested not approaching the subject matter in a considered way was disrespectful to those who fought and died in the war. Aghast, I sent my apologies and asked if he would help me shape the story using his expertise. He was enthusiastic and contributed massively to Splatoon‘s authenticity.

There will always be criticism that you haven’t got everything spot on, especially when people have been in the armed forces, etc. I’m the same when other writers talk about mental health/illness. But when you are creating fantastic worlds that require the suspension of belief I think it’s good that you can use poetic license as long as you do the groundwork first. 

KR: Describe your usual writing day.

I have a full time day job, so I grab time where I can. Most first drafts are written in notes on my iPhone. I never force myself to write. Creativity for me is an organic, intuitive process and it has its own rules of engagement. 

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

My novel Finding Jericho (Hidden Thoughts Press) is my favourite story because of its mental health focus. Its reception has been staggering. I’m humbled by emails and posts from readers who say the book has changed their life.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

I do if they are on the larger, dedicated review sites. I’m less inclined to read them if they feature on consumer platforms such as Amazon. Books are very much treated like products on those sites and you can receive a poor review based on how long it took the book to arrive or download!  

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

It’s a cliché to say ‘read’ but there really is no other way to improve. Read widely, and outside of the genre you are aiming to write. Then there is writing, of course. Learn your craft, be respectful of it. No matter what people say online, it is not easy to tell good stories. Even those who write well can be poor storytellers. ‘Story is king’ is a good adage. Think about what it is you want to say to your readers.

The horror writing community is small but it is influential and highly supportive. For those just starting out, the enthusiasm to get noticed can override common courtesy. As tempting as it might be, don’t use other people’s posts on social media to tout your own work. Likewise, don’t send Amazon links when people accept your friend requests on Face Book. New writers can be snubbed very easily when they engage in such practices, the last thing you want when you’re trying to get noticed! Better then to engage and share your favourite writers and their stories, and ask for help/advice as to how to improve your writing. Writers are always very generous with their thoughts on the craft.

Another caution is how you behave during interaction in social media. Be kind, be respectful of other creatives. It’s okay to be edgy and controversial but don’t be a dick. There’s a fine line between the two and I know of some publishers who monitor the online behaviour of prospective genre authors, and consider negative media profile as a rationale for turning down an author’s work as it may reflect badly on the press’s reputation.

And a final piece of advice is ALWAYS use an editor!  Ignore this at your peril. I did when I first started out and got burned very quickly. Don’t do a Dave!

KR: What scares you?

The thought of anything happening to my family – they are my world. 

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

No preference as long as the story is good. I think people can get too hung up on this element of publishing. It’s more about the quality of the work as opposed to what format it comes in.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

I have two current releases. The first, BAD VISION (Hersham Horror Books) is a psychological horror story about a man who can see disasters as they happen but cannot do anything to stop them. He finds that on one occasion he foresees an event that he can perhaps avert before something terrible happens. I describe it as The Medusa Touch meets The Dead Zone. The current response from critics is highly positive and the book launches at this year’s Fantasy Con in Chester, UK, where I’ll be signing copies for those who attend.

The second release is SHIP OF SHADOWS, the follow up book in my Beatrice Beecham YA supernatural adventure series for Crystal Lake Publishing. The first book, CRYPTIC CRYPT, has proven pretty popular with adults as well as the YA market, mainly because of its homage to shows like Stranger Things and movies like The Goonies & Monster Squad. The second book is stand-alone but has strong links to the first and features the spirit of a teenage witch terrorising the local population of the coastal town of Dorsal Finn. The books blend action, suspense and supernatural elements and tongue-in-cheek horror elements.

KR: What are you working on now?

I have just started writing a science-fiction pulp fiction novel called THE PHASE WAR for Severed Press. Think space marines and alien foes, intense action and violence sequences, and you won’t be far off of the mark in terms of delivery!

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? 

You can choose…

  • One fictional character from your writing.

The first person would be Maud Postlethwaite from the Beatrice Beecham novels because she is wise and can always see the good in the bad. I think Maud would be able to keep objectivity on the table, no matter what the odds, and maintain the level of optimism required to survive.

  • One fictional character from any other book.

The second person would be Jack Reacher from the Lee Child novels. The reason? Well, he’s a survivor and total badass, but has a strong moral compass. Just the kind of guy you need in a crisis. 

  • One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

Finally I would love to have Steinbeck on the team. Because I’m just a great, big fan boy and would be able to listen to him and his insights on the world for hours.

KR: Thank you very much Dave.

You can find out more about Dave by visiting his official website

Follow Dave on Twitter @davebjeffery

Dave’s author page can be found here

Beatrice is back to face her greatest threat since. . .well, the last time!  

In Cooper’s Cove a hapless team of archaeologists unleash the vengeful spirit of a 16th Century witch on the sleepy seaside town of Dorsal Finn. Hexes and curses fly as Beatrice and her friends must find out what links the appearance of this incredible foe and The Spirit of the Ocean, a super-yacht hosting the biggest celebrity charity event the town has ever seen.

As the population of Dorsal Finn succumbs to witchcraft, so Beatrice must gate-crash the party with her motley-crew of friends and allies in the hope of stopping the witch’s sinister plan, and save everyone from endless oblivion. . . Again. 

This novel is great for those who like their supernatural adventures laced with humour, sinister action and mystery. Fans of Stranger Things, The Goonies, The Librarians, The Monster Squad, Ghostbusters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Nancy Drew will delight in the antics and adventures of Beatrice and her off-the-wall friends. 

Murder. Mystery. Monsters. Welcome to the world of Beatrice Beecham!

You can buy Beatrice Beecham’s Ship Of Shadows from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Ray Tonks has the power to see disasters as they happen. But he cannot do anything to stop them. Then comes the worst vision yet. Ray sees terrible future images, that defy logic, ghastly twisted shapes of depravity and torture. Now Ray must fathom if this latest vision is his first real chance to avert a dark and hideous catastrophe or a sign that his fragile mind has finally given in to madness.
Murder can change your mind.

You can buy Bad Vision from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Grant Hastings was once the leader of an elite special ops team known as The Sebs. Now he’s retired, living alone in a bedsit over a pub, and haunted by the ghosts of the mistakes he’s made in the past.

Then a mysterious woman turns up to entice Hastings and The Sebs back for one last mission, to rescue an anthropologist, son of an esteemed professor, who is feared to be trapped on a sacred mountain in the Himalayas, a place where the locals fear the mythical yeti roams exacting cruel retribution on anyone who strays into its domain. 

Unfazed by local superstition and folklore, Hastings and his team see a chance to make some easy money at the expense of their employer’s gullibility.

But once they make it onto the frozen mountain, The Sebs will find that sometimes there is truth behind every legend. 

FROSBITE: It won’t be the cold that kills you…

You can buy Frostbite from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Fifteen-year-old Jonathan Dupree knows what it’s like to live with madness. He has seen his uncle, “Raving Ron” Dupree, at his best, and his worst. 

Even a new school isn’t an escape. The stigma of mental illness follows in the form of taunts and threats from a gang known as “The Misfits.” In a desperate attempt to fit in, Jonathan lashes out, tipping Ron over the edge into complete relapse. 

Now Jonathan must find a way to reach his uncle and, when a failed initiation ceremony leaves him trapped in a derelict house, the way to redemption will come from a very unlikely source.

You can buy Finding Jericho from Amazon UK & Amazon US

The fate of the world rests in the hands of four dysfunctional teenagers and a bunch of oddball adults.

What could possibly go wrong?

“An intricately layered mystery. Supernatural YA at its finest.” – Tom Deady, Bram Stoker Award® winning author

This supernatural / adventure / mystery novel is perfect for fans of The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Goonies, Monster Club, Lost Boys, and Miss Peregrine. It might be a YA book perfect for ages 13 and older, but it’s a fun read no matter what age you are.

Dorsal Finn is a sleepy coastal town facing the gleaming Atlantic Ocean. It is a town with quaint customs and inhabited by people who are as welcoming as they are weird.  It is also a place where long lost tombs hide long held secrets.

Because beneath Dorsal Finn lies The Dark Heart, an ancient and malevolent entity determined to be free of its eternal prison. It has lured allies to the town, people with corrupt agendas determined to resurrect the greatest evil history has ever known, and in doing so release The Dark Heart upon an unsuspecting world.

You can buy Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt from Amazon UK & Amazon US


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