Tuesday, 29 December 2015


Reviews are important to writers and good reviews are I think a validation of sorts. You have made a reader happy, someone you don’t know and never will has appreciated the hours days and weeks you spent creating a work of fiction. It would be nice of course if good reviews led to strong sales but I suspect its only celebs who write for money. For the rest of us, it’s the enthusiasm of the ecstatic reader that we work towards.

I contacted nine bookbloggers . . . some of whom I have received reviews from previously . . . and so far five have agreed to review PARALLEL LINES for me. I have copied and pasted the three I have received so far, below:

Books Laid Bare gave it four stars and said this:

Again the author packs this book with more content than you could shake a stick at, there is love, hate, retribution, add all this is on top of the fact that Kiri is juggling career and family issues that are quite simply bizarre and you have a book that you cannot take your eyes off.
I worried for Kiri, for the sorrow that seemed to permeate her words, the fact that after everything she had been through she still didn’t seem to be 100% happy, I’m not sure if she actually knows the meaning of the word.
She revelled in her work, no matter its complexity, intensity or location but personal issues and relationships had always been her Achilles heel and now in her forties, she gave little sign that her reticence was going to change.
Again the author served up a book that left nothing behind, it was cleverly embellished and intensely detailed – in some cases had maybe a little too much detail but I do like the fact that the author left nothing to chance, he left little open for interpretation and while this is not a bad thing, in my case I would have liked to us my imagination a little more, I liked the picture that the author drew, I just wanted to be able to colour it in on my own. But then again with the obvious vision he had for his characters I can imagine that it would have been difficult for him to let Kiri out of his grasp for too long.
At the risk of repeating myself I would say that this is an author that has and eye for detail and a vocabulary that knows no boundaries, no subject matter is safe and all aspects of life either imaginary or creative are woven with ease through a story that will certainly hold your attention right up until the last page

Books Laid Bare is an adult book site and Carol, the lady who runs it, very kindly offered to read both of my other novels and she gave them all four stars.

Then Megan who blogs as Published Moments sent me an e mail which said:


Just to let you know, I have read Parallel Lines and thought it was absolutely brilliant! I couldn't put it down!

The link for my review is here - it goes live at 1pm on the 3rd January: http://publishedmoments.co.uk/parallel-lines-scott-beaven/ 

Thank you again for the opportunity provided in reading this. Well done for making such a brilliant book! I'm looking forward to your future releases and will definitely be reading Kiri's story prior to Parallel Lines!

. . . and this is her 4* review:

Not having read the two previous books in Kiri's tale written by Scott Beaven, I didn't really know what to expect. I often find that reading a series from the last book never really works, but in this case I am wrong! Beaven has written a story that I can imagine would follow on from prior novels, but if you didn't know it was part of a series then you wouldn't know from reading it either!

Beaven has truly surprised me with this book, at first I didn't think I was going to get on with it but I am so glad I persevered. The story gripped me and I couldn't put it down! Kiri really does have an interesting story to tell, and Beaven writes it in an incredibly way that keeps you wanting more!

My only downside with 'Parallel Lines' was the writing style of Beaven. It may appeal to some but for me, at times, it felt like a 'bullet-pointed' story. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though! I love how the ending is open...this doesn't appeal to a lot of people, I know. But Beaven built Kiri's character up so well that you just write your own ending to Kiri's life...and it works!

For a self-published author, Beaven really has written a fantastic novel that gets you hooked and doesn't let you go - something that some of the more successful authors out there still haven't got the hang of!

Dear Clare Diston who blogs as 50AYear and has a near-identical taste in books as me put this up on Goodreads:

In this book Kikarin (aka Kiri) is now in her forties. She has had many relationships and several marriages, including one to an older man who died, and another to a man who treated her terribly and, in this novel, seems to be out for revenge because she crippled him during their last encounter. As the book opens Kiri is struggling to balance a new relationship and the joint purchase of a holiday home in Italy, a new job at the Courtauld Gallery in London, and a branch of her family in Canada who are plotting a terrorist act.

Kiri’s voice dominates throughout the novel, and you can certainly see that the years and woes have left her jaded. She comes across as always a little emotionally disconnected from everything, including the people she is close to and the more extreme things she goes through. This makes her genuine enthusiasm – particularly about her work at the gallery, or the Italian ‘priest’s house’ – even more pronounced. Kiri seems to be someone who is struggling to recover from old wounds, and she is certainly holding herself back from the risk of making new ones.

Beaven does a good line in contrasting the more mundane aspects of everyday life (angry neighbours, the practicalities of taking holiday from work) with sequences of really rip-roaring action. The story flows quite realistically – insofar as it seems a little random, a little chaotic, not always completely in Kiri’s control – and then suddenly huge, life-changing events will appear and really throw Kiri a curveball. As well as the terrorism subplot, there is also the general threat of Kiri’s past coming back to haunt her, and a very surprising and page-turning chapter set in Italy.

This is a well-written, often surprising book that weaves together realism and action really well, and will certainly keep you gripped right to the final page.

“Most people see the world through themselves; we go in and out of each other’s minds.”

So far so good.

Saturday, 31 October 2015


My third novel Parallel Lines is published in paperback today. It will be available on Kindle in a couple of weeks’ time. So far there are no reviews of course but Clare Diston read the draft and said she really enjoyed it and John Seymour thinks it is the best of the three. I found it hard work, to be honest; good writing doesn’t just flow. You have to stop and think sometimes for hours frequently for days about introducing new characters and the plot structure; it is very often about what you take out, not what you leave in.

I edited it myself. I got a new computer earlier this year which came with some excellent editing software so I thought I was competent enough third time around, to do my own editing.

What is it about? Well, this is the last time ever that I want to write about Kikarin, so I needed to bring her story to an end. This is the Amazon blurb:

Putting the past to rest.
This is the final instalment of Kiri’s tale. Now aged forty-one we find her working at the Courtauld Gallery in London guiding visitors around the exhibits, on her feet all day . . . sometimes seven days a week . . . but loving every minute of it.

She has moved to a house with a small garden in Fulham, dyed her hair brown and at last she looks like the picture on the cover of the books. There is a new man around, Graham a millionaire businessman looking for the love of his life. This is partly Graham’s story too; he sells cheap imports from China and we watch as he accumulates more and more wealth and money, at the expense of British and European jobs.

But these are only the rails along which the parallel lines of Kiri’s new life runs; re-building shattered relationships; abandoning others that refuse to be resurrected and  attempting to construct meaningful new bonds from the flimsiest materials, mud, straw and a lack of commitment. 
Meanwhile, Madison and Keith are bidding to rule the world and fill their bank accounts by bringing the North American economy to a standstill.

Honest and unsentimental, Kiri embraces the life she has rather than the one she might have hoped for, with her customary restraint and dignity. Engaging from the start, and like the previous novels sensually immersive, the novel begins slowly but builds to an intense and fast-paced contemporary thriller.

There are a couple of themes in there that I wanted to develop. I had this idea for a story ever since I read somewhere that the entire North American wheat crop is harvested by a handful of custom harvesters who travel across the wheat-growing states with their combines. What an extraordinary bottleneck; if you, someone could choke that off they would jeopardise the whole American grain industry. So I thought about how it might work and gave that arc to Keith and Madison.

The other narrative is my old long-time hobby-horse Value Engineering and the closure of the Midlands factories in the nineties as a result of Chinese imports. Still going on, actually and we seem to be totally unable to do anything about it. So I gave that story to Kiri who has linked up with Graham an entrepreneur who imports locks and hardware from China.

And then there are the people from her past who won’t let go.

This is the stress test the Man Booker judges are supposed to apply:

Ø  Stylistic grace?  I think so, it doesn’t have the grace of my hero, Hilary Mantel but it isn’t bad. It definitely isn’t clunky.
Ø  Emotional punch: Yes, very, very big punch.
Ø  Truth to experience: I think so; Graham’s tale is well-researched.
Ø  Extravagance of imagination? Extravagance would be too high a bar and in any case, I don’t write extravagant but it is imaginative, I would say.
Ø  Storytelling brio: No, I don’t do brio. The structure is like all the others; this happens then that happens. Linear, no tricks. No telling you the ending in Chapter one.
Ø  Moral rigour: I think so but some might not agree.
Ø  Intellectual or formal audacity: A little bit; I’m not good at intellectual audacity but there is more of that quality in Parallel Lines than in any of the previous novels.
Ø  Depth of characterisation: Well, I think so. I think that is one of my strengths and it is pretty good here. Kiri is a mature woman now, dry and witty. Humour isn’t one of the tests on the Booker list but my God, it can transform a novel.

So buy it, read it. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Image result for yuwen spring in a small town

Went to see Spring in a Small Town last night. What a fabulous film: BFI Sight & Sound 15th Greatest Film Ever Made. It hasn’t actually been around for long, although it was made in 1948. The BFI have spent a fair bit of time and money negotiating with the Chinese authorities to release a near perfect print. Possibly, probably the problem is that 1948 is pre-Revolutionary. I was puzzled watching it by the actors wearing Western clothes and how elegant and middle-class they looked. When we went to China in 1979 everyone wore Mao suits, but of course the Cultural Revolution was the following year 1949 so this is a view of pre-Communist China. This is the likely reason the original more or less disappeared; it isn’t hard-wired Communist: people have real feelings for one another.

So what’s it about? Forbidden love. The only subject that interests me these days: I’ve just written three books about unrequited love/forbidden love/doomed love. There isn’t in fact a very demanding narrative arc. Liyan is ailing, he has heart problems and his marriage to the utterly gorgeous, and younger Yuwen has disintegrated; in fact they have slept in separate rooms for some years. My desolate life, Yuwen says in voice-over, early in the film. In early spring, old friend Zhang, now a doctor but ten years earlier a good friend of Liyan comes to their crumbling house. Unknown to Liyan, he was an old flame of Yuwen’s. And no, he hasn’t married. So there is a love triangle, with his visit reawakening a dormant love between Zhang and Yuwen.

It is exquisitely done . . . masterly and compelling according to one critic . . . subtle and controlled and almost unbearably moving. There is a shot near the end when Liyan is lying on a bed and Yuwen is leaning in but it is lit from below the bed so that the shadows play across her face. Terrific. Also, the use of sound is interesting and effective: sometimes there is no sound at all. At one point, Yuwen says she hears a siren but we the audience don’t hear it.

The acting is a little stylised as all forties films seem to be but it is a tiny, tiny problem in comparison to the emotional charge of the cinematic experience. Head and shoulders above anything else I have seen in recent years.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


We are still harvesting produce from our garden. Pounds and pounds of potatoes; beans; raspberries [in October!] more apples than any family could eat in a year; onions; garlic it goes on and on. Why? The weather, I guess which has allowed us to stay outside longer tending.
These are images of us making crab-apple jelly at the weekend.