How publishing's newest wonder ended up on the dole

Two months ago Keri Beevis was hailed as one of the literary phenomena of recent times with, according to her publishers, a record first book deal worth pounds 750,000 waiting to be signed. Today, The Independent can reveal, she is preparing for a different kind of signing - signing on for the dole. Kim Sengupta investigates the story behind the hype.

After some 50 newspaper interviews, photo-shoots, radio and television chat show appearances Keri Beevis sits at home reflecting on her own version of the 15 minutes of fame. "I feel embarrassed, humiliated, angry and fed up," she declares. "God knows what's happening to my books. I've got no alternative but to sign on. I have been left with egg on my face."

After consultation with her publishers, the hitherto little known firm of Buckley-Bennion, Ms Beevis, who twice failed her English O level, gave up her job at a travel agency to concentrate on her writing and undertake promotions.

That was a month ago. The company was supposed to pay her pounds 200 a week to cover her loss of earnings. Ms Beevis, who writes under the name of Keri Leigh, says she has not received a penny, neither has she seen anything of the pounds 750,000, despite the alleged lodging of a cheque for pounds 200,000 as the first instalment of the advance.

The launch of her book, the first of three horror novels which were supposed to take the genre to a new plane, was originally meant to be in mid-July. It was then delayed until last Monday. Now, according to Buckley-Bennion, it will appear sometime in the future, but they do not know when. To complicate matters further, Emrys Bowen, the publishing executive dealing with the project, has left to start his own company.

This is all very different from the fanfare which greeted Ms Beevis's arrival on the scene, and got acres of free publicity both for her and Buckley-Bennion. It was said she had finished three manuscripts, When The Pen Writes, The Host, and Dead By Dawn. She was described as " the Picasso of writing" and her publishers claimed "Hollywood people" were negotiating film rights. Jack Nicholson was said to be "very interested".

Ms Beevis was allegedly hooked on horror after being left alone when 12 with a pile of videos including the film The Shining, in which Nicholson starred - hence the rumours of his interest. After that, according to a Buckley-Bennion press release, she would go upstairs every night accompanied by her dog and cat, go into a trance, and write. Sometimes all night.

According to a press release on the literary genius in the making, her mother Linda despaired: "She is a natural fun-loving girl until 8pm, then we lose her. It's been the same ritual for 13 years ... she has written four books now ... they are all recollections of her nightmares". It was also claimed that the books were the subject of a fierce tussle between literary agents Curtis Brown, and AP Watt, two of the most renowned in the country.

A previous inquiry by this newspaper had cast doubt on many of the claims. Established publishing houses expressed astonishment at the size of the supposed advance, and Curtis Brown and AP Watt disclaimed interest.

Buckley-Bennion, it was discovered, started three years ago and is primarily involved in sports promotion. It has published just one work so far, a 96 -page instruction manual called Rugby for Heroes, illustrated by artist and promoter Paul Trevillion, who is now Ms Beevis's agent.

Ms Beevis is no longer giving media interviews, but she made an exception for The Independent. Speaking at the family home near Norfolk, she said: "I suppose I have been naive. I was made all these promises and I trusted these people. Now I feel, very very let down. How can I explain to people why the book isn't coming out? The public will feel they have been fooled.

"Of course, there was huge media interest because of the size of the advance. I cannot go into the details, but I have got nothing from it. The contract is now with solicitors."

She showed a letter from Marcus Buckley-Bennion, managing director of Buckley-Bennion Associates, which stated: "We are all better served by your being able to give up your work at the travel agency. I am therefore glad to offer you a non-redeemable advance on your commission of pounds 200 gross per week. The offer is to start as soon as you can be released from your present employment and we hope that you will now be able to concentrate on your writing".

Ms Beevis said: "All we have got from them so far has been around pounds 150 for travelling expenses when the family went down to London for a television interview. We have had to pay for things like photocopying ourselves. I am now broke, and I can't even get my old job back, although they may be able to give me a week's work."

"The [publishing] company made all sorts of public promises. But in reality they seemed to be amateurish. They produced a `mock-up' copy of When The Pen Writes, and it was full of spelling mistakes. They weren't my mistakes, but theirs."

Andrew MacLachlan, assistant to Marcus Buckley-Bennion, had said in the past: "We read Keri's book and it was obvious that she was an extremely talented writer. The advance she is receiving is a lot of money, and we believe it is a British record. but we consider it a wise investment."

Yesterday he was less bullish: "The launch has been put off, but we do not want to say when, we don't want to give any information out."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference