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
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own