Today I’m delighted to feature author Bev Jones. Her most recent novels include Where She Went, Halfway and Wilderness, published by Little Brown. Wilderness has recently been optioned by Firebird Pictures for development into a six-part TV series.
Beverley is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and book obsessive. She was born in a small village in the valleys of South Wales, north of Cardiff, and started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today.
She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features), producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV. She also worked as a press officer and later, media manager, for South Wales Police, participating in criminal investigations, security operations, counter terrorism and emergency planning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she channels these experiences of true crime, and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers.
Over to Bev,
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I’m going to cheat here, as I couldn’t possibly choose five songs. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to have mood music for living by, and also writing by, so the Counting Crows are right at the top of bands that have underscored my exploits.
They were definitely the soundtrack to my angsty student years when August and Everything After was on a loop in my Uni digs. When I was a fledgling newspaper journalist, dealing with my first experience of violence, murder, missing persons, court cases, death knocks (door-knocking victims’ families for tributes and photos in the pre-social media days) it was their album Hard Candy that eased me through the culture shock into the realisation I didn’t want to write about real crime, I wanted to write fiction.
By the time I started working in TV news it was The Killers, especially Mr Brightside, that kept my eyes open on those 5am drives to BBC Wales in Llandaff to produce the morning bulletins.
Over the last few years I’ve become obsessed with a fantastic indie band called The National, which almost no one has heard of in the UK. On the one hand, they write the most amazing, heart-breaking lyrics, then storm through great jump-up-and-down anthems the next. I listened to them so much while writing my current novel Wilderness, about an unhappy couple embarking on a ‘dream’ road trip across America’s National Parks, that might just turn deadly, I included them in the ‘road trip’ playlist I added to the back of the paperback.
It’s called Music to Murder Your Husband By and is not just a playlist for cruising the USA’s highways (and the real road trip I took that was the inspiration for Wilderness) but an insight into Liv’s mind as she moves closer to a fatal decision. Not saying they are the songs that inspired me to commit murder, but…
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
I like to think I’m fairly low maintenance but I sometimes ponder what I’d miss in an end-of-the-world scenario, and I think it would be mostly food. I can easily leave chocolate, but could imagine myself getting into a supermarket fight over the last block of cheese, jar of marmite or bottle of Rioja – there’d be hair pulling and everything!
Assuming there’s no actual apocalypse (not counting COVID, Brexit and the US election), I’m slightly addicted to lipstick. Even though I’m a bit of a tomboy in other ways, I don’t feel ready for the outside world without some pink on. Though now that everyone is wearing masks in public I’m going into withdrawal!
And books, of course. I read at least one novel a week so I think I’d soon perish without the ability to satisfy my addiction.
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
I could but I’m not sure I’d listen. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that everything is a learning curve specific to you, and you have to come out on the other side before you can see if you made the right choice.
If I could squeeze in a couple of pearls of so-called wisdom, I would tell my younger self:
Give yourself more of a break because people are really not thinking about you, or judging you, half as much as you imagine they are – nobody has the time. Even if they are, you can’t control that so why fret about it?
Leather jackets will never suit you.
Likewise, biker boots.
Do not even think about drinking Long Island Iced Teas, they are evil incarnate, as is any sort of white rum.
On a writing note – stick to your guns if you think a story is worth telling a certain way, and, for God’s sake, try to get better at writing synopses and story pitches from the start.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I’m a sci-fi obsessive, lover of both books and movies. Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite authors and two of my earliest role models were Princess Leia and Ripley from the Aliens films.
One of my feet is a full size bigger than the other. I’m not telling you the size or which one is the monster foot.
I have never seen a single episode of Friends, EastEnders or Strictly Come Dancing. This is by choice and no, I don’t feel I’ve missed out.
I’m a lucid dreamer. That’s when you know you’re dreaming, can influence your dreams and wake yourself up if you want to. I thought everyone could do this until I was in my twenties and realised I was in a minority. Then I wrote my third crime novel about it called Fear the Dark.
I hate jazz. OK, probably everyone knows this as I don’t keep it secret. Enough with the jazz already.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
You mean apart from having a runaway bestseller and massive book tour?
I think this is something that’s changed for us all in the last eight months, as the world has shrunk. So many of the choices ambitions we once had seem temporarily out of our control. Right now, I’m thinking about:
Eating dinner with my parents and family again, inside.
Driving to the coast and walking on the beach with my crazy Wire Fox Terrier, Erin.
Seeing one of my books make it onto TV. I was wildly excited in 2019 when the rights to Wilderness were optioned for a six-part television series by Firebird Pictures. It was a dream come true for a girl who grew up in the 1980s, in a post-industrial mining town, and spent rainy afternoon escaping into the magic of films and TV. I even got to read a draft pilot script before COVID hit and all productions shut down. With things slowly gearing up again I’d really like to be able to be part of getting that book onto the small screen.
Travelling. If I could pick anywhere, I’ve always wanted to visit the Alhambra in Spain.
Learning to love Zoom meetings… maybe that’s an ambition too far!
Thanks so much for sharing with us today Bev. A couple of new bands for me to investigate which is always good. There’s lots of music that I know has passed me by over the years. The Long Island Iced Tea sounded quite innocent until I looked at what was in one – lethal! I’m with you on the jazz, it does nothing for me whatsoever. I think given the strange times we are living in, our wants are probably becoming much more normal. But please, please, please visit the Alhambra Palace, it is somewhere I always to visit and when I did I wasn’t disappointed. It is an amazing complex and simply beautiful. I really hope that we see Wilderness on the TV when life gets back to normal.
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
Two weeks, 1,500 miles and three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.
It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.
Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try and save their marriage. Maybe the road trip they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks – just the two of them – would help heal the wounds.
But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges on their trip – three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.
If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness; accidents happen all the time.
And if it’s easy to die, then it’s also easy to kill.
Three women. One killer. No turning back.
The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.
But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?
At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.
The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .
Where She Went
She used to report on murder cases. Now she’s the victim of one . . .
TV journalist Melanie Black wakes up one morning next to a man she doesn’t remember. When his wife walks in he greets her with a smile and to her horror, Melanie comes to realise that no one can see or hear her – because she is dead.
But has she woken up next to her murderer? And why is she an invisible and uninvited guest in a house she can’t seem to leave?
As she begins to piece together the last days of her life it becomes clear she has to make a choice: bring her killer to justice, or wreak her own punishment on the man who murdered her.
Make Him Pay
Jen’s life is exactly how it should be. She has a steady job as a press officer for the police and a stable relationship with police inspector Dan, now her fiancé. But her stable life is thrown into turmoil when Jen receives a phone call from a mysterious woman that leaves her doubting everything. Convinced that Dan is having an affair, Jen retaliates and the next day finds her waking up in an empty bed, far from home, with a pounding headache and two used condoms beside her.
Feeling guilty, Jen reconciles with a contrite Dan and the wedding plans continue. But then a video of her having sex with the stranger surfaces.
Desperate to stop it being exposed to the public, Jen starts searching for the blackmailer. But as she does so, darker secrets begin to emerge and she starts to realise that there may be more to husband-to-be than she’d ever known . . .
~ Previously published as Holiday Money ~
Fear the Dark
‘There’s been an accident . . .’
When Ellis Andrews wakes to a knock on the door in the middle of the night, he’s devasted to learn that his wife Rae has been killed in a car accident in the New England town of Chareham.
Was Rae’s death simply a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ as the local police would have him believe? Or is there something more sinister at work?
When Ellis uncovers Rae’s diary and reads the disturbing accounts of the ‘night terrors’ she’s been suffering since childhood, he’s unwilling to accept that there could be a link between them and her fatal car accident, until he begins to dream of Rae each night – and starts to doubt his own sanity . . .
Fear The Dark is a multi-stranded mystery about a man searching for answers; the power of grief and guilt; and the ability of love to shape lives or break them apart.
~ Previously published as Dreamcatcher ~
The Lies You Tell
Friendship, freedom, booze, and student loans: the glory days of university. For Liz, Cora, Mike, and Stevie, students at Cardiff together, their circle was a surrogate family, bound together for three years in total trust. Or so it seemed.
Post-graduation the group “stays in touch”, with growing distance, but eventually reunite when Mike and Cora, now married, return to live in Cardiff. The foursome paint the town, marking Stevie’s birthday in an orgy of nostalgia, when from nowhere, a beautiful – and younger – flame-haired girl appears. “Jenny” seems to recognise them, knows their names, but her identity’s a total mystery to them all. Or so Liz and Cora think.
But then Jenny reappears the next day, as a corpse found in the river . . .
Foul play is presumed and Liz, a journalist, is assigned to cover the story. Before long she finds herself caught up in an expanding web of lies as Jenny’s death is traced back to that fateful night between friends. And the ancient secrets of their college days begin to catch up with them all . . .
~ Previously published as Telling Stories ~