I adore Louise Beech. She is one of the funniest, kindest, and most bonkers people I have had the pleasure of meeting and I am over the bloody moon to have her join me today to chat about her latest main character, Ben. Ben is the star of Louise’s new book, The Lion Tamer Who Lost, which is storming the charts and getting the most wonderful reviews.
As is always the case when Louise and I get together, there was copious amounts of alcohol involved when this interview took place but we did manage to make sense and talk about Ben before things got messy and she wrote another story about me!
So, Louise, thank you so much for joining me today, can you introduce Ben to us please …
Ben is twenty-two and over halfway through his degree at York university. His mum died when he was small, and he has a poor relationship with his brusque, opinionated father, Will. He’s gay but hasn’t come out because of an uncle who was ostracised by the family for this. He also dreams of rescuing lions in Zimbabwe but has never found the courage to go and do it. And then he meets Andrew …
When did you create him?
I created Ben way back in 2009 when the story first came to me. I could see him very clearly – young, a tad immature, full of heart, sensitive. But I didn’t see that he was gay until an early reader pointed it out to me. His lover, Amy, then became Andrew, and the novel became exactly what it was supposed to be.
Did you write the book to accommodate Ben or Ben to accommodate the book?
The characters always lead for me. They come vividly, and the story around them starts to emerge. As I write, I find that full story.
What do you like most about him?
I love Ben’s sensitivity. He’s therefore quite moody at times, but I felt very protective about him, as though he was my own son. He probably grows and changes more than any other character in the novel. And I loved seeing that.
What do you like least about him?
Ben can be quite self-pitying at times. But his heart is in the right place and as he grows up and finds his place in the world, he really comes into his own.
Did your early readers/editorial team like him to start with or did you have to change him in any way?
Haha – they found him too whiny. Which he was at the start of the book. But we were all afraid that might put readers off him, and of course I didn’t want that. So I toned it down a bit. But that’s who he is. Can’t change it entirely to please an audience.
Does he have any similarities with anyone real?
I’m trying to think. Not directly, no. But our characters always have a dash of one person or another, I suppose, including ourselves.
What are your plans for him?
My plans after the book ends? Some readers have asked about a sequel. I’d never write one though. My books end when they end. I like to think Ben (trying not to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet) finds happiness now he is truly comfortable with who he is.
Would you be friends in real life?
Yes, definitely. We were for the duration of writing the book and I missed him when it was over!
Ben sounds wonderful, Louise, thank you so much for giving us this insight into him!
And if you think so too, you can find out everything about his journey in The Lion Tamer Who Lost which is out now! Here’s the blurb …
ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (15 July 2018)
Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…
You can get your copy now:
Huge thanks to Anne Cater and the team at Orenda Books for my stop on the blog tour, make sure you keep up with the rest of it:
About the author …
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her next book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012