Friday, May 8, 2015

Summer on the Water: Beverley Watts, Season 2, Episode 1

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to another summer of guest author interviews. You may remember that last year I featured Indie authors who self-publish their short stories. It was great fun meeting so many wonderful authors.

This summer, to honor the release of Night Watch, book #1 in my new mystery sailing series, I'm featuring Indie published novels set near bodies of water—the sea, a lake, a stream. I'm not picky!

I've got some great authors lined up and I'm sure you'll want to come back every Friday throughout the summer to meet them.

Today it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to British romance author, Beverley Watts.

What is your story/novella/novel about? Give readers a brief elevator pitch.

Claiming Victory is a very funny romantic comedy. It is set in the beautiful town of Dartmouth situated on the banks of the River Dart in the south west of England. While it is a stand-alone story, it’s also the first in a series of books entitled The Dartmouth Diaries.

The main character, Victory Shackleford, is a spinster, or at least well on the way to becoming one. She’s thirty two years old, still lives with her father who’s an eccentric retired Admiral, and the love of her life is a dog.

She has spent most of her adult life since her mother’s death looking after her father, who she thinks is reckless, irresponsible, and totally incapable of looking after himself. Unfortunately her father’s not particularly appreciative of the lengths to which Tory goes to keep him out of trouble. In his opinion, his daughter is a boring nagging harpy with no imagination or sense of adventure and what’s more, he’s determined to get her married off.

However, there’s no one in the small yachting haven of Dartmouth that Tory is remotely interested in, despite her father’s best efforts.

But all that is about to changes when she discovers that her madcap father has rented out their house as a location shoot for the biggest blockbuster of the year. As cast and crew descend, Tory’s humdrum orderly existence is turned completely upside down, especially as the lead actor has just been voted the sexiest man on the planet…

At the moment I’m putting the finishing touches to Book Two of the Dartmouth Diaries. Sweet Victory continues the story started in Claiming Victory, and will be available on Amazon at the end of this month.

My current plan is to write five books in the series, but who knows, I might go to six…

2. Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’, I want to know why did you choose the theme of water for your story? What body of water you set your story near? Is this a real lake/ocean/river, or is it fictitious?

I chose Dartmouth as the place where my series would be set, basically because it holds a very special place in my heart – not least because I met my husband there. It is situated on the banks of the River Dart in South Devon, England. The river flows down from the wilds of Dartmoor (which you might remember from the movie War Horse) and finally spills into the sea at Dartmouth. The town is quite simply the most wonderful place. Full of quaint tea shops and old inns, many of the buildings date back to the middle ages. It’s extremely popular with the yachting fraternity and there is a constant stream of boats sailing up and down the river and out into the sea at the mouth of the Dart - from million pound ‘gin palaces’ to little two man dinghies. There is always something interesting to see.

Dartmouth is also home to the British Royal Navy’s premier officer training establishment, and this is another reason I chose this area as the setting for my series. Britannia Royal Naval College (or BRNC as it’s known in naval circles) is the British Royal Navy’s officer training establishment. It’s a magnificently imposing Edwardian building built high on a hill overlooking the river. and nearly every officer in the Royal Navy started life as a cadet within its hallowed walls. The college’s location was chosen for the safe sheltered harbour provided by the River Dart (and possibly for the difficulty that cadets would have getting to the bright lights of... well anywhere).

It is an accepted fact that the Royal Navy’s officer training standards are among the best in the world and consequently a number of foreign navies who don’t have their own training establishments send their young officers to be trained by the RN.

Many of the International officer cadets who come through Dartmouth are from the Middle East and require English Language Training to enable them to undertake the Royal Navy’s Officer Training Course which is obviously delivered in English.

During my time at the College, I worked for a private training company whose job was to provide English Language Training to the International Cadets thus enabling them to complete their officer training alongside the British Cadets. I can tell you hand on heart that in 8 years there was never a dull moment...

3. Does water, and specifically the body of water you set your story beside, have any special meaning for you personally?

During my time at BRNC, the River Dart played such a large part in my life. While I worked on one side of the river, my home was in Paignton, a seaside town about seven miles away - on the opposite side of the river. There is no bridge over the Dart so I spent many an hour waiting to get onto the car ferry - especially during the summer months when the holiday season was in full swing.

I first met my husband when he was a Lieutenant Commander based at the College. During his time there, he had a yacht named Compass Rose which was moored on the River Dart. The yacht provided my first experiences of anything larger than a rowing boat and the river was my school.

My husband and I used to spend weekends on Compass Rose and our time on board was so very special. We’d wake up in the morning and sit with that first cup of coffee, simply watching the way the incredible light reflected on the water. It was wonderfully peaceful, with only the noise of the sea gulls and the humphing noises made by seals lying basking in the sunshine on the pontoon a few yards away. It’s the nearest I’ve ever been to paradise...

When my husband was transferred up to a naval base in Scotland, we sailed Compass Rose to her new mooring on the banks of the River Clyde in a town called Helensburgh. It was probably the most memorable experience of my life (note I say ‘memorable’, not necessarily pleasurable…) When we finally sailed up the River Clyde I felt a little bit like Scott of the Antarctic must have felt when he reached the South Pole…

4. You are a couple after my own heart! My husband and I always enjoy time aboard our sailboat Mystery. Now to change the subject a bit, why did you choose to self-publish? How is the process going for you? Do you plan to continue as an Indie author? 

I wrote my first book – An Officer and a Gentleman Wanted - as I always said I would write a book about my experiences at Britannia Royal Naval College. There were so many funny incidents and I found I really enjoyed writing comedy. Writing Claiming Victory was the first big challenge for me as this was complete fiction. But I wanted to write about somewhere I knew and loved. To be honest it never occurred to me to try and get a publishing contract. I have found the whole indie experience to be actually rather enjoyable. Of course it can be disheartening if you receive a negative review but that’s a fact of life – no matter how good your book is, you will never please everybody. I’ve pretty much learned about self publishing as I’ve gone along.

My advice to authors who are thinking of self publishing for the first time is, Write what you enjoy and don’t worry too much about negative reviews. However, always make sure that your book is edited properly. Poor editing is probably one of the biggest complaints made by reviewers of books written by Indie authors. That said, don’t spend forever trying to perfect your story. Get the book out. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time attempting to ‘make it better’ and while you’re writing the next War and Peace, time is moving on...

5. Here is a question I am asking all of my writers this summer - You are asked to give a Ted Talk. What will it be about?

As I mentioned earlier, my role at BRNC was to facilitate the teaching of English Language to young, international cadets from mostly Middle Eastern navies who did not have their own training establishments. While I was at the College, I learned a lot about the importance of Defence Diplomacy and the role that international training within BRNC and other military establishments, plays in an uncertain and volatile world.

So if I were to give a Ted Talk, it would be about the difficulties faced by Middle Eastern International cadets being trained by the British Royal Navy, not to mention some of the challenges faced by those doing the actual training…

Where can readers find you?

Twitter:  @beverleywatts

To purchase Claiming Victory: 


  1. Your description of Dartmouth made me vow to start saving dollars and dimes for a return to England.
    Summer on the Water is a terrific idea.

  2. It really is a beautiful area Carolyn, I'm sure you'll love it. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read the interview :-)

  3. You've made us all want to go there, Beverley!

  4. While I was reading this, I could see Linda nodding, oh yes, I understand! I love quirky characters and comedy. Thank you Beverly, for dropping by.

    1. You're very welcome Barb, I love quirky characters and comedy too, laughing really is the greatest tonic

  5. I've got this book on my wish list. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I hope you enjoy it Stella, would love your feedback :-)

  6. Sounds like the perfect coming up to summer reading. Thanks, Linda, for this introduction to Beverley's work and her body of water!

  7. You are most welcome. Ir looks like a really fun read.