Sow And You Shall Reap
by B.P. Smythe
How cruelty, sexual abuse and greed created this monster of a former care home Matron and the haunted hotel that hid her evil secret.
Just released from prison after their care home atrocities, former Matron, Elizabeth Waverly, and her accomplice, Norman Christie, team up and see an opportunity to inherit two million pounds. But first they have to kill the main beneficiary, Elizabeth Carragher, with Elizabeth Waverly taking on her identity.
At the reading of the will they see their plans back fire when a second will is found and a long lost brother, Victor Carragher, turns up and claims it all. Having been separated when they were young children, the brother, Victor Carragher doesn’t recognize his sister and that she’s being impersonated.
What follows is a series of terrifying events including flashbacks of the main characters, the breakdown of their early family lives and how cruelty, abuse and greed, installed with a liberally wielded trouser belt can manifest itself later like a cancer on their morals.
What is your book all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
When the inheritance plan backfires, Elizabeth and Norman raise another plan to kidnap the brother’s young precocious daughter, Helen, for half the inheritance he’s been left.
Before the kidnap can be arranged the brother moves to Majorca with his daughter Helen and buys a hotel. The killing couple follow him with Elizabeth Waverly still in disguise helping Victor run the hotel. But unbeknown to them the hotel is haunted.
My plot for Sow And You Shall Reap was inspired by the true chilling revelations of the Parkfields nursing home exposé in Somerset during the year 2007; and from my tennis holidays at the hotel Font de Sa Cala in Majorca. The hotel kept guard dogs were kept way out of sight in kennels somewhere, but while we were playing you could hear them at feeding times. Honestly, everybody stopped playing and froze. It sounded like they’d caught something and were ripping it apart. So with that coupled with an old rumour; locals used to say the former hotel owner was killed by his guard dogs, gave me the idea of a short story. You know how it is, from a short story I carried on writing until I had a word count of 96,000.
Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
To sum up the book in one sentence is a tough one, but I suppose it shows how cruelty, abuse and greed, installed into the early vulnerable life of the main protagonist, Elizabeth Waverly, with the help of a liberally wielded trouser belt, can manifest itself later like a cancer on her morals.
Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The evil character Matron Elizabeth Waverly is based upon my mother-in-law…No! I’m only joking. I’m not saying my mother-in-law is hard to get along with…yes, come to think of it, I am saying my mother-in-law is hard to get along with. No seriously, some scenes in my novel were inspired by real life experiences, the dogs for instance. Another one in particular is the scene when a character gets planted by a mechanical palm tree planter. This actually happened to an MD of an engineering subcontractor my company used a few years ago. He hired a mechanical tree planter for his large back garden and somehow got caught up. They found him buried up to his armpits, very dead. The accident was in all the local newspapers.
What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
My favourite scene would be the nasty old lady going up the stairs in a stair lift with her yappy cocker spaniel on her lap and seeing Rupert, the rubber snake, threaded through the balustrades. Here’s a snippet:
Her dog was looking up the stairs and began to growl. ‘Stop it, Winnie.’ She got a soft slap on her rear. ‘Behave yourself.’
The cocker spaniel meant business. It began to bear its teeth in a viscous growling snarl at something Mrs Crackston couldn’t see.
As the stair lift slowly climbed, she stiffly turned her head upwards.
Winnie had started barking aggressively; jumping in her lap with the full force of each bark.
She had never seen the dog in such a state.
Winnie had her lips pulled back into a nasty curdling sneer.
‘Shut up, Winnie!’ She slapped the dog hard this time.
It yelped at the blow and jumped off, rolling down two stairs then steadying herself. Winnie looked up and continued barking in a frenzied state.
‘Winnie, you naughty dog, I’m going to give you such a…’
Rupert had slid down the balustrades and was peering over the top of the Landing.
Mrs Crackston let out a scream when she saw the Black Mamba. She cowered half out of her seat. ‘Keep it away…Oh God! Help me, Winnie…Kill it…’
The dog quickly moved up the remaining stairs snapping and barking.
Mrs Crackston was standing on the moving chair leaning away from it, screaming as the long olive grey body and the black gaping mouth came nearer.
‘Kill it Winnie…kill it for mummy…ARGHH!’
Mrs Crackston lost her balance; she lunged at the thick newel post to save herself but missed her grip. She rolled over and over screaming down the stairs. Her face smashed into the wall at the turn, leaving a bloody smear, then she somersaulted down the remaining flight. The brittle snap of her neck as she hit the bottom echoed through the quiet hall. Her walking stick followed, clunking and bonking down the treads until it came to rest across one arm.
Winnie had grabbed Rupert. She had the snake in her mouth as she ran back down the stairs and dropped it by Mrs Crackston’s body, yapping at her face. Then Winnie quietened. She began to whine, wagging her tale. Not understanding the staring eyes, the twisted head at right angles. She licked the blood from the ear and nose affectionately, hoping to waken her owner.
Winnie snarled and grabbed Rupert, the rubber snake bouncing up and down in her mouth as she took it to her basket. She nuzzled the old blanket and left it under there with her favourite ball and chewed slipper.
Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I don’t have an agent although I have a publisher – http://www.bloodhoundbooks.com. I’ve tried to source an agent many times. I think the majority of agents these days, unless they can immediately place your work and earn a quick buck, will play safe and keep with their client list.
What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
As well as paying AuthorHouse for a social media setup package i.e. for my finished book to be placed in the AuthorHouse book store and on Google/Amazon Book Search Programmes including a WordPress Blog, a Facebook profile and page for my book, a MySpace profile, a Twitter account. The book will also appear on UK websites like Waterstones, Amazon, and Priceminister. Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million (United States) Chapters (Canada) Tower.com, Powells Books, and Amazon (International).
Readers will be able to order copies of my book at their local bookstore. Bookstores will have the option of carrying a running stock of my book.
This is what AuthorHouse have promised and what I’ve paid for. So we’ll have to wait and see.
I’m on http://www.facebook.com, who isn’t? under Barry Smythe. My sons persuaded me and I’ve created an info/profile for my novel and shared it out.
I’ve done some footslogging of my own. Been to fifteen bookstores including Waterstones and handed out a synopsis and flyer for my book and received some good positive feedback from the store managers. A few stores wanted me to deal directly with their warehouse, but most, if they were happy with the synopsis, said they would put it in their window set aside for local authors. I’ve also uploaded my finished manuscript on the HarperCollins Authonomy website at http://www.authonomy.com.
How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books?
Sow And You Shall Reap took about three years. I had to do a lot of research in-between the Internet, creative writing classes, reading and post assessment alterations. The rough outline with the start, middle and end took about three months.
At creative writing classes they told us to use index cards at the planning stages, and I found this invaluable. I would recommend this to anybody starting out, especially with a lengthy novel.
The Literary Consultancy based in London also assessed my manuscript at a cost of £530. I can recommend these assessments as they firmly bring you back down to earth. And using their assessment report I spent another four months tweaking the manuscript again.
Sow And You Shall Reap – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/145677171X is my first self- published novel. I’ve also submitted numerous short stories for internet competitions, winning £100 as first prize for my A Rose without a Thorn for the http://www.spinetinglerspublishing online magazine and winning £50 first prize for my We’ll Meet Again in the http://dark-places.co.uk online magazine.
Two of my other short stories, Love Me Do and My Secret Place have been published in the printed Litro Magazine – Issue 140 – ISBN 978-0-9554245-5-7.
My poem Never Such a Time as a Child has been published in the 2016 Kingston-Upon-Thames University Anthology.
Last year I secured a three book deal of short stories from Bloodhound Books http://www.bloodhoundbooks.com/. My author bio is on their website.
From a Poison Pen is my first book of short stories http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poison-Pen-collection-macabre-stories-ebook/dp/B01BKWT4EE for which I received over fifty positive reviews on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. My second book of short stories From a Poison Pen VOL II has just been released and is available on: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poison-Pen-ii-B-P-Smythe-ebook/dp/B01LFM1032
Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
When I start, I spend time on the plot. From start to finish, continually roughing out then enlarging, bit by bit until I’ve got the basis of a synopsis, from beginning, middle and end. Then on to the characters. The characters grow with the plot, increasing many plot avenues as the story unfolds.
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I always wanted to be a fiction writer and read many crime novels. I just sort of slipped into creative writing. Wanting to expand my writing knowledge I obtained a Level 3 / NCFE Certificate / PI410 Creative Writing Diploma.
As well as playing tennis I write tennis articles for my local Surrey county magazine. I suppose this, coupled with a technical writing career, partly influenced my transition into creative writing.
Are you working on another book?
I’m shortly to release two full length novels: The Medal of Purity – Depicting disintegrating family life under the Nazi system and The Expired – Corruption, embezzlement, blackmail and murder within the Secret Service puts pressure on the top brass to find, eliminate and foil a murdering Transvestite, a cocaine drug scam and a London terrorist attack. My two new books of short stories: Short Tales with Long Memories VOL 1 and VOL 2 contain tales of cunning, greed, murder and revenge showing human nature at its worst. The Holocaust Experience is my first novella. It’s about the latest in theme parks set in the year 2021 and involves a working Nazi concentration camp with actors taking the part of SS guards and Jews. As the story unfolds, terrorists plan to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister on the opening day of the Holocaust Experience.
What mistakes do you see new writers make?
I think most new writers like to style themselves on a favourite writer until they develop a style of their own. Also new writers tend to over concentrate on plot rather than characterization. The plot is their be-all and end-all. I personally think the hardest part for a new writer to grasp is choosing the right point of view and narrative. For me, understanding narrative and how to work it correctly in conjunction with the current point of view is very important. Readers can go off the boil with a book if they feel cheated. For instance, the narrative has spoilt a surprise or some things are kept from them or they feel left out or alienated or they can’t empathise with the main protagonist; all of which an incorrect POW or a poor narrative can cause.
A common fault for new writers is they tend to lose ‘what’s at stake’ as they drift through the book. All those enticing subplot avenues lead them away from the real reason for writing the story.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write for enjoyment; not so much to get an agent or be published, and most certainly not for money. Anyone can write and be self-published with your book networked to all the main book search sites. However, to write and secure an agent? Then the agent has to find you a publisher? Then you hope to make lots of money out of it? Plus all that hanging around; waiting for that phone call, being given all those promises. One could end up being very disappointed. Know your limitations.
Always remember, few people have a natural talent for something. I love playing tennis but I’m never going to get to Wimbledon.
Years ago when I was fourteen years old, unbeknown to me, my same age school mate sketched my portrait while we were all watching the Simon Dee show with his mum, dad and the dog. He showed me afterwards. It could have been done by a young Jan Vermeer. He’d caught it all; the facial anatomy with the fine lines, the curly hair, the correct balance between shadow and the light, even my Jewish nose. He’d never had an art lesson in his life apart from school with me. There wasn’t a picture of his work on the wall or in his bedroom where we used to smoke and drink his dad’s fags and scotch. And he wasn’t even interested in art. He wanted to be a boring engineer like me. What a waste. But he was naturally talented.
I think the same goes for writers; some are gifted, others have to learn the nuts and bolts of it and may still, after a number of years, never quite get there. But as long as you get a kick out of it; get that buzz when you fall through the hole, as Stephen King says; there’s nothing better.