Interview with dark fantasy author Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Novelist Mandy Jackson-Beverly is here today
and we’re chatting about her new dark fantasy, supernatural suspense thriller
with a touch of the paranormal and occult, The
Devil And The Muse.
Bio:
Mandy
Jackson-Beverly was born in the bustling town of Pyramid Hill, Victoria,
Australia … Population: 419. This remote childhood kick-started Mandy’s
imagination, as did the rugged coastline and rolling hills of Tasmania, where
her family relocated when she was four years old.
In
1982, Mandy moved to London, where she discovered the importance of the
creative collective: The 1980’s fashion scene. A year later, in Los Angeles,
she found her own creative freedom among the thriving, no-holds-barred
visionaries of the music video world. As a costume designer and stylist Mandy
worked for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David
Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina
Turner, to name a few.
Mandy
has taught Advanced Placement Art, written and directed high school theater
productions, is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book
reviewer for The New York Journal of
Books
. She resides in Ojai, California, with her husband, Brian Beverly, a
crossed-eyed cat, Luna, a dog named Cash and, sometimes, her sons, Angus and
Jack.
Welcome, Mandy. Please tell us about
your current release.
Hi Lisa, thank you for inviting me here to chat
with you!
The Devil And The Muse is the second
installment of The Creatives Series. This is a fast-paced, cross-genre series, about
an ancient organization called The Allegiance. This group protects art and
Creatives (mystic artists), and gives sanctuary to those threatened by
religious zealots. Book two ventures into dark themes, and as one reviewer
pointed out: “Be advised that there is some disturbing dark material.”
The story opens with my lead protagonist –
newest member of The Allegiance and Creative – Coco Rhodes, viewing a horrific
vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile
young girl. This leads to the discovery of a link between an education-finance
fraud, girls disappearing from Washington D.C. schools, and a corrupt
congressman.
Concurrently,
the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed.
With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel
his sadistic plan.
From
New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the
supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of
history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and
otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue,
love, and conflict.
What
inspired you to write this book?
There are definite themes covered in The Devil And The Muse that I felt
compelled to write about, specifically women’s rights. My research of the
Inquisition and witch-hunts during the Middle Ages, and the horrific treatment
of thousands of innocent victims who were tortured and often burned at the
stake, seemed at such odds with the way women were treated in similar
geographical areas centuries earlier. A good example is perhaps, Trotula of
Salerno, a recognized female physician at the Scuola Medica Salernitana around the eleventh century. Trotula taught
at the school and cared for female patients. She also wrote works on the
diseases of women, conception and childbirth. And yet here we are centuries
later, fighting against men for our rights as women to make decisions about our
own health care.
This concept of the decline of respect that so
many women faced in Europe during the Middle Ages, is the subject I consider to
be the backbone of The Creatives Series. I can’t help but wonder if the
suppressing of women during that time was the catalyst for the decline of
growth in so many areas. While many men wanted to dominate and repress women, often
through the strict confines of the Catholic Church, there were also men who
honored the feminine – strong men who understood the need for equality among
the sexes, and put their love for others before the words of fear spewed out by
religious extremists. Sadly, these men with balanced egos seemed to be less of
the populace.         
What exciting story are you working on
next?
Currently, my
main body of work comprises of researching material and writing book three of
The Creatives Series. I also continue to write essays and short blog posts for
various platforms including the Huffington
Post
, and book reviews for the New York
Journal of Books
. There’s a play I’m putting the finishing touches to and
another waiting to be written. I’m also dusting off my costume designer hat to
work on my youngest son, Jack Beverly’s film, Far West And Fried.   
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
When my
third-grade teacher told me I was an awful writer.
Do you write full-time? If
so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how
do you find time to write?
At the end of
the 2014 school year I stopped teaching full-time high school art and theater
to focus on writing The Creatives Series. When I’m in the early phase of
research and jotting down notes on legal pads, I take the time to write
everyday, if not on my current book then an essay, blog post, or a piece of
poetry. Writing is no different from exercise; if I go a day without using my
creative muscles then it hurts like hell when I get back to it! I think my
creative essence goes into mourning when I don’t reach out to her and put her
to good use. Sometimes I paint instead of writing, but in reality, for me, this
is an essential part of my creative process. I paint my nightly dreams, and
have found this action pushes ideas past the clutter in my brain and storylines
become clearer.
When I’m in
full-blown hurricane-force writing mode, I find it difficult to stop writing. I
think eighteen hours straight, stopping only to feed my much-loved dog, Cash,
and cat, Luna, is my record for a full day of writing. That same evening I fell
into bed, slept for four hours, and then repeated the same pattern for five
consecutive days. From other creative people I’ve spoken with, this kind of
schedule is fairly normal. When I’m on a roll and the characters are talking to
me, time flies by without me knowing and I’m like a mad woman possessed! Those
days are magical. 
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
My desk and
office are kind of out-of-bounds to anyone; this isn’t much of a problem due to
the utter chaos of the entire area! Luna sits in a basket on my desk, like a
kind of writing guardian – she is my Thalia (read A Secret Muse and you’ll understand what I mean). I need absolute
quiet to write, and with a husband who writes and records music at the other
end of the house, I’ve found that earplugs are essential. Because writing means
I sit on my backside for hours on end, I tend to walk Cash early in the morning
and either swim, or attend dance classes five times a week. Obviously when I’m
in the middle of a full-on writing binge my exercise schedule suffers – and so
do I. When I hit a brick wall it’s normally an indicator that I need to step
away from my desk and exercise. Some of the most important plots of my stories
have come to me while either swimming or hiking.  
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Robin Hood.
(See photo on my website)
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Read whatever
you can get your hands on – fiction and non-fiction, and read out of your literary
comfort zone. Reading makes you smarter, and a more interesting person. Being
unable to attend a community college or a four-year university doesn’t mean you
need be any less educated than someone who has had that opportunity. The secret
is that you have to want and love to learn. Go to your local
library, find a subject that interests you, and read all you can about it. Read
a varied assortment of newspapers and magazines – also available at your local
library. Go online (hopefully available at your library) and listen to free
classes and lectures given by professors and specialists in areas that interest
you. And for those of us lucky enough to have a home library, please share and
give books to others less fortunate, especially to under-funded public schools;
trust me, they need and want them. Buy books whenever you’re able to support
authors, and spread the word when you find a book and author you love.  
Links:
Thanks for being here, Mandy!

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