Interview with Betty Byers

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up all around the world. My dad was in the army so I've lived in Hong Kong, Germany, London and went to school in Edinburgh, Scotland. So far, it hasn't influenced my writing, although I am tempted to send Lola abroad on a case one day!
When did you first start writing?
I've always written. When I was ten I went to boarding school in Scotland. My aunt gave me an old typewriter and I would type up stories for my school friends. They would be waiting for me to get to the end of the page and pull it out the typewriter! We were restricted in watching TV but had unrestricted access to books. I would also tell stories at bedtime when the lights were turned off.

When I got older I wrote a lot of poetry. Then, having a family and career delayed my creative juices for a long time. I've always wanted to write a novel, and one day I realised that the only thing that was stopping me writing it was, well, me. So I sat down and wrote it.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I love detective fiction. One of the courses I studied at university looked at the detective genre in books and in films. I also wanted to write about London, my home for so many years, and where I will return to eventually. Finally, I wanted some romance, who doesn't like a bit of romantic thrills?

Otherwise, my novel is pure fantasy. I really don't know anyone at all like the characters in the novel. There are some familiar traits or habits in some of the characters, I'll confess that my husband is a terrible flirt, not quite as bad as Joe, but not that far from it either. He would call it charm, but I know different. However, on the whole, they are definitely unlike anyone I actually know.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
As I said before, writing has always been something I have done and now it is so much easier to become a published author. I'm really excited by the changing landscape of publishing. I actually once worked for a large publishers in London for three years in my early 20s.

What I particularly like is the ability to have control over my creativity from distribution, jacket artwork and even pricing. I love the fact that I can track, on a daily basis if I want to, the downloads. All in all, if it weren't possible to be an indie author, I don't think I would have even bothered to try the traditional publishing route.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I think Smashwords is great because it allows a one-stop-shop distribution channel. I work full time so I don't really have the time to manage multiple channels. I also find Smashwords categorisations easier to browse through than many of the larger book portals.

The books and guides for budding authors by Mark Coker are also tremendously helpful.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Quite simply the escapism. It's quite surprising for me to realise there is as much escapism in writing as there is in reading.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything to me. I love it when I get email from readers. It really thrills me. I go to work and tell my colleagues I've had mail! I read every review on every site I can too. I think for a writer who intends to write a series of novels, which I do, I need the feedback. Not just to keep me encouraged to write, but to give me ideas and insights into what my readers like or dislike. That is very precious.
What are you working on next?
My second novel, "Don't Shed a Tear", which will continue the adventures of Lola Hussey and her two handsome cohorts, Julian and Joe. This novel though, brings back her long lost brother who is directly involved in the case...

In some ways its different than the first novel, a bit more gritty, with more danger for Lola than the first novel. It is more detective fiction than romantic fiction too.
Who are your favorite authors?
That's a tough question with a limited amount of time and space to write about. Classics it has to be George Eliot, Hardy, Tolstoy, Flaubert and Zola. Dectective fiction it is Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs, Nelson Demille, PD James and Iain Rankin.

I love nearly every book by Toni Morrison. I also like the Czech writers Josef Skvoreky and Milan Kundera. For magic realism I adore One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez and anything usually by Isabel Allende. I admire Salman Rushdie, have read everything by Amitav Ghosh, and generally really like Commonwealth writers. Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, is an excellent perspective on post-colonial Africa and I feel a must for anyone wanting to understand how one of the richest continents in the world can have so many poor.

I know I will want to come back to this question and add more, but for now, those are the authors that immediately come to mind, either because of their pure entertainment ability or because their books changed the way I looked at the world.
What is your writing process?
I have to confess I am a rather haphazard writer. I don't have a plot when I sit down to write. I have a scene that I know will be in my novel, but other than that I just type whatever happens to pop into my head. This means I sometimes have to go back and correct things in the plot to make it fit.

I did start another novel. Totally different than the one I finished, for which I actually had a plot from beginning to end. However, I found it difficult to find the words, tricky to fill in the gaps of the framework of the plot. I've put it on the back burner for now.

I am lucky in that I am very quick at typing, so generally, I can type as fast as my thoughts come to me. My record was 20,000 words in a weekend. I do have dry times though and I tend to think about what's going to happen when I'm not in front of my PC too.

One of the surprising things about writing a novel was that the actual writing was quick, but the editing was laborious! It's hard because I wrote the words to spot the mistakes, as my mind sees what it wants to see, rather than the words on the screen. So I did hire a proofreader to help me with this.
Published 2013-08-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Don't Shed A Tear
Series: Lola Hussey Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,170. Language: British English. Published: September 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
(4.82 from 11 reviews)
When Lola Hussey, newly fledged Private Investigator, was on a night out at a ragga party in London she spotted someone who looked like her long lost brother, Marley, on the dance floor. As she pushed through the crowd to reach him, two shots rang out and there was alarm as screams replaced the boom of the music. Lola's second case had begun - and this one was much closer to home.
Don't Call Me Baby
Series: Lola Hussey Mysteries, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 79,450. Language: British English. Published: July 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
(4.91 from 22 reviews)
Lola Hussey, 24 years old, no boyfriend, still living with her mum on a London housing estate and stuck in a going nowhere job in a third rate Private Investigation Agency. Life had to get better surely? When Derek Lewis, rich Australian playboy, is found dead after falling from the roof of his office in salacious circumstances, Lola's opportunity to flex her investigative muscles had begun.