Bethany Clift – Q&A

Bethany Clift’s debut novel, Last One at the Party, was published by Hodder & Stoughton on  4 February 2021.

Bethany kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Last One at the Party.

Last One At The Party is a about the last woman left alive after a global pandemic has raced across the earth.

The novel starts in December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

2. What inspired the book?

In 2018 I was driving home through the English countryside late one night and I became lost. I had no idea where I was, no phone signal and there hadn’t been a road sign for miles.

I pulled over and got out of the car.

It was the beginning of January, about 10.30pm, the air was crisp and clear and the sky a celestial bedspread of stars. I became aware of the utter stillness around me. There were no houses, no cars, no airplanes buzzing overhead. I couldn’t hear road noise or any other human-made sound. It was so quiet I could hear the cows loudly chewing grass in the field next to me.

I was completely alone.

And then I thought, what if I wasn’t just the only one here? What if the reason it was so quiet was that I was the only one anywhere; that I was the only one left alive in the whole world. What would I do next?

I didn’t know it at the time, but this became the idea for LAST ONE AT THE PARTY.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

Unfortunately, I am not a planner! I have try very hard to be though! Every time I start a novel I plaster my entire kitchen wall in coloured cards, breaking the narrative down beat by beat, chapter by chapter; the cards stay on the wall for the whole writing process and I probably look at them twice – once when I put them up and once when I took them down! Some novelists are able to plan a novel for months before writing a word and can then write the novel straight through following the plan. Unfortunately, that is not me. I write around my characters and situations and need to write about them for them to become fully formed. So, for LOATP was originally around 800 pages, only 300 of which made the final cut. I am currently writing my second novel and have already discarded around 200 pages. It makes me feel slightly faint looking at the number but I have come to realise that is my process, my characters develop as I write them and get to know them. Unfortunately, there is no short cut!

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?

How incredibly kind and supportive the online writer and blogger community is. I wasn’t actually involved in the community that much before writing LOATP (which is probably a good thing as I am not sure how much actual writing I would have managed to get done!) But since joining in 2020 I have met the most wonderful and kind community of people. The discovery of this like-minded, creative tribe of writers, reviewers and bloggers has been the most surprising and joy-filled gift of the publishing process and I feel very fortunate to have made some great friends and mentors within this space.

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I have two kids so mostly I just try and sleep! Joke (sort of!). In fact, in complete contrast to the lead character in my novel I am incredibly practical and very much an outdoorsman! I love anything that is outside and in nature. I love camping and can build a good campfire within a couple of minutes. I love gardening and growing things and digging in mud with my hands! I hardly ever wear gardening gloves so am forever scrubbing at my dirty nails.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It’s my favourite book and it changed my life. It is the novel that began my sci-fi journey, changed my view of the world, set me on a completely different path in life and remains my most treasured book to this day. I read it at least once a year and it is one of my most trusted sources of comfort and joy.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

I haven’t yet been asked what I would like to do with my life if I wasn’t a writer. I have two answers…the realistic (sort of) and achievable one is that I would love to be an astronomer. I love the stars and the vast potential of the universe and mapping my place in the world through the night sky. The completely unachievable, unrealistic answer is…Space Pirate! Travelling the universe with a rag-tag group of naughty but good-hearted crooks, robbing from the rich to give to the poor (and ourselves!) A life of adventure amongst the stars please.

Last One at the Party is currently 99p in ebook format on Amazon.

About the Book

THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

About the Author

Bethany Clift is a graduate of the Northern Film School, the producer of low-budget British horror film Heretic, and the Director of her own production company, Saber Productions. Last One At The Party is her debut novel.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Becca says:

    Great interview!! Really interesting to get to learn a bit more about the behind the scenes of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. I thought that was interesting too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I bought this on Kindle this morning and I’m so excited to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you enjoy it 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.