Sunday, July 28, 2013

Virtual Coffee Interview with Joseph Bell

Joseph Bell is a UK author who's debut novel Beachdog will be available this August. Beachdog is about life on a beach in Goa: Some people travel to the other side of the world to go nowhere. 

Hi Joseph. Tell us about Beachdog? What brought you to write this book?

I've just always wanted to write a novel, I tried and failed when I was younger so was determined to complete it this time. They say you should write about what you know and as I travel a lot the theme kind of chose itself. I regularly go to India where I have seen so many interesting things and met so many characters that I decided to base a fictional story there. I think I just wanted to show people some of the nonsense that goes on in these places.

Tell us about the submissions process and getting a publishing deal.

After I'd finished the first draught I spoke to some people about it and joined a writers' group, once I had details of agents/publishers I started to send sample chapters off to them. I took it very slowly at first, a couple a week. I was fortunate that I was quite happy with what I'd written and decided to just send it off as it was and see what response I got. Initially I got some refusals but also positive feedback so just carried on sending off a couple a week. I think about my 15th submission was to an ebook publisher and a few weeks later they got back to me and asked for the whole manuscript, soon after they offered me a contract to publish it. I was on holiday when I found out so it turned into a very good day.

Do you have marketing plans you would like to share?

The book's not been released yet but I'm setting up a website and have setup Facebook and Twitter pages etc. I have also contacted travel magazines who I hope will review it once it’s available. My main goal is to get it noticed in the 'travel writing' market but being new to all this I'm kind of making it up as I go along. My publisher will obviously market it themselves but I think it’s important for the author to get involved with this as well.

Absolutely, particularly in this climate. Having a specific market to target is a good start. What about the future? Do you have new writing projects in the pipeline?

I've started writing another novel but I'm still researching it so it's a slow process so far. I wanted to write something quite different this time and I'm quite enjoying trying to get into the mind of some divisive characters, although I've still got one eye on the upcoming release and marketing of Beachdog so hopefully I'll be more productive once that's out the way and can focus on my new project.

I find that balance really difficult. There's an 80/20 rule but I certainly spend more than 20% of my time on marketing. Do you find writing groups like feedback groups and group writing sessions helpful or do you prefer to go it alone?

I find them very helpful - if only that you're surrounded by like-minded people and talking about writing, which can be hard to do outside of them, and some of the advice and knowledge you'll get can be invaluable. When it comes to advice though I always listen but rarely take, but I think that’s just me, I tend to be quite headstrong with my ideas.

Would your ideal life be similar to the one portrayed in Beachdog? Living the beach life, out of the reach of Western culture?

It would certainly be tempting, I’d like to live and work somewhere as exotic as the novels setting but doubt I could live that life permanently. The term ‘beachdog’ refers to backpackers who travel to far off places for months and then never leave the beach; I've met hundreds of them. I think people just find the simplicity of that lifestyle very appealing, we like the idea of leaving western society behind and living barefoot on the sand with no TV and just the contents of a rucksack. They’re not travelling to see anything but just to escape reality, but I don’t think you can do that forever, it will always catch up with you in the end. At one point in the book the protagonist meets an old, drunken hippy and asks himself “is that my that what I’m aspiring to?” and I think I’d come to the same conclusion.

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Well I'm looking forward to reading Beachdog and possibly following that, a trip to Goa! Thanks for the chat, Joseph, and best of luck with the launch!


  1. Sounds like an interesting book about a subculture I haven't really read a lot about before.

    Best of luck!

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