PUBLISHED: 12:43 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:51 23 March 2020
Ben Mears, a graphic designer and father of three from Clevedon, published his first book, The Haunting of Tyler May, in 2012. It was the first of six in the teen fantasy Tyler May series, concluding with, Dawn of the Sister, in 2016.
Ben has now secured a publishing deal with Instant Apostle for his next book, which will be launched at Books on the Hill in Clevedon on July 18. He talked to Resident editor Tracey Fowler about his desire to write, the decision to self-publish his first books when his search for a deal went cold and about his excitement about a future as a full-time writer.
When did you first start writing?
“I was around 25, writing more songs than were needed for a band I was in, which became a frustration. I decided to do something else with my spare time. I’d just read a couple of really inspiring books and so it seemed like the perfect solution. I had a go, writing freehand in a big, old, red and black accounts book that I had kicking about. I gradually became more serious about it over the years.”
What are your books about?
“I love mysteries and so most things I write have this element in some form. I also enjoy creating stories around situations of injustice and feel there’s a great deal of tension where a hero or heroine is fighting against great odds.”
How do you get your ideas?
“I get ideas in all kinds of ways: documentaries, history books, true crime stories and sometimes just the name of a character will have a certain ring to it that denotes his or her character which can lead to an inspiration for the character’s journey. Top tip: Make a note of any ideas as soon as you can or risk forgetting them and losing them forever!”
What made you decide to go down the self-publishing route?
“After years honing my ability, I was frustrated by rejections from publishers and agents. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that I wasn’t yet good enough to win a deal, but there came a point when I was reading books and frequently thinking: “I write better than this! How did this stuff get published?” That sounds conceited and I was certainly venting, but I don’t think I was far wrong. The problem is publishers need to easily pigeonhole a manuscript and so, however good your writing, if they can’t place it, they reject it. Writing any kind of crossover (mixing of genres) will therefore dramatically reduce your chance of a deal. The Haunting of Tyler May received some great reactions from my eldest daughter and first readers, though, so I went ahead and self-published.”
How did you get a publishing deal?
“My latest project soon gained interest and at one point I was waiting to hear back from an agent and two publishers, who had all requested the full manuscript. I think, then, I knew I had something. A deal was offered and I grabbed it.”
What’s your new book about?
“A Sock Full of Bones is a detective story with a speculative edge. Banyard and Mingle are private detectives in a wealth-polarised society roughly comparable to our Victorian age. A few things are different, though: Beware the gawpers! They’re rather spooky.”
What does the future hold?
“Instant Apostle is planning to publish an entire Banyard & Mingle Mysteries series, so watch www.bjmears.com for updates. I hope to devote more time to writing in the future and perhaps go full time.” n
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