Today I’m pleased to welcome Eve Seymour to the blog. Eve’s novel, Beautiful Losers was published by Midnight Ink on 8 March 2016.
Eve kindly answered a few of my questions.
Tell us a little about Beautiful Losers
Beautiful Losers is a story about stalking and what it feels like to be the object of someone’s twisted desire. I consciously took the line that it doesn’t matter how intelligent a victim might be, or how emotionally literate, when under pressure even the most rational will behave in an irrational fashion.
To best illustrate the idea, I chose a clinical psychologist as my main protagonist. Kim Slade is a little different in that she specialises in young women with eating disorders. This was a deliberate choice as I had anorexia nervosa as a young woman so know a little about it.
Bearing in mind that Kim’s stalker is anonymous, I was able to insert a strong ‘quest’ element into the storyline. For most of the novel Kim hunts for the person responsible for taking her apart mentally, bit by bit. The more terrified she is, the more unstable she becomes until she’s suspicious of friends she’s known for years. However her main focus is Kyle Stannard, a former male model with a facial disfigurement. Partially scarred after a childhood accident, Kim believes this the reason for Stannard’s obsession. To find out whether or not she’s right, you’ll need to read the book!
What inspired the book?
A painting by Jack Vettriano called ‘Beautiful Losers’. I was walking through an arcade in Birmingham over ten years ago and spotted it hanging in a gallery. It simply grabbed me. The picture depicts two men and a woman. One man is seated, smoking a cigarette, and one standing with his arm draped around the woman’s neck. There is something rather voyeuristic about the seated figure. Vettriano has that knack of suggesting a bigger story behind what the eye sees. It certainly got me thinking. Since then I’ve become a huge fan of his work and have a print of ‘Beautiful Losers’ hanging at home.
Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I used to be a meticulous planner. I’d write full character profiles, plot to within an inch of a story’s life and research like crazy. (This was when I wrote spy fiction and research was an essential part of the process). I’m still a planner but, having written seven previous novels, I’m looser in the way I write. For example, I’m happy to go off piste if a character leads me in a certain direction. I always know the ending because, if the ending doesn’t work, the preceding storyline is destined to fail.
How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
It varies enormously. ‘Beautiful Losers’ is unique in that I wrote the first draft ten years ago. Picked up by an agent, it wasn’t picked up by a publisher and I put it aside until three years ago when my new agent suggested I took another look at it. I did and completely revised by changing a third person narrative to first, ‘warming up’ my main character and, generally, overhauling the plot.
As a rule, I now spend a lot more time thinking about a story before writing. If I have a story buttoned down in my head and I’m not interrupted by life and my day job as a freelance editor, I can write a first draft over a period of sixteen weeks. My husband usually then reads. We discuss and then I’ll spend another couple of weeks refining before it goes to Broo Doherty, my agent, who then reads and offers suggestions. Back to the drawing board for further revisions, which maybe take another month, before going to my publisher. This doesn’t take into account further revision after an independent editor/copy editor reads and makes suggestions. Writing this down makes it seem horribly long-winded, but there is a kind of rhythm to it.
What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
Two discoveries. Firstly, how much I’m drawn to, and fascinated by, the dark side of human nature. Most writers are amateur psychologists because it’s important to recognise how people tick, but I acknowledge that I am slightly obsessed by ‘strange’.
Secondly, I never considered how much I ‘zone out’ when writing. Both my husband and children point out that I can be in a room, having a conversation but as they describe it, ‘not really there at all’. I think they’re used to it now although it remains taxing for them!
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I splurge on all the books stacking up on my bedside table. I also play the piano, something I’ve done for years, walk and swim as much as possible. I have a large family and love spending time with them all.
What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don’t relax! Aside from engaging in any of the above, I also have a thing for luxury hotels (with pools). A night or two away usually recharges my batteries although, shamefully, I’ve been known to sleep the clock round, which rather defeats the purpose of ‘getting away’.
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
What a fiendishly difficult question! Goodness, I’m going to feel bad about making a choice but, at this point in time, I’d probably pick ‘The Given Day’ by Dennis Lehane. Set in Boston after World War One, it’s a big, epic novel that combines history, social commentary and vivid characters. I rarely read a book twice but I could read this again and again.
During all the Q&A’s and interviews you’ve done, what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked?
Interviewer: So, Ms Seymour, would you like your novel to be made into a TV series?
About the Book:
“Kim Slade has many admirers, but only one wants her dead.
Kim Slade is a clinical psychologist specializing in young women with eating disorders. She also has someone who specializes in her: an anonymous stalker.
When Kyle Stannard, a former model with a facial disfigurement, steps suddenly into her life, Kim assumes he’s her stalker. Partially scarred after a childhood accident, Kim believes this is the reason for Stannard’s obsession and reports him to the police. But smart-mouthed Stannard denies the accusation and has a plausible explanation for every twisted move he makes.
Can Kim nail him?
Or is the person who wants to destroy her closer to home . . .”