Beryl Kingston Q&A: What I Wish I’d Known Before I Was Published

If you’ve never been published before, it’s easy to get bogged down by indefinite writing with no concrete end in sight. But if there’s anyone who can show you that there is indeed a light at the end of your writing tunnel, it’s an author who has figured out the key to getting published — and we just so happen to have a few of those who are willing to share their expertise with you!

This week, Beryl Kingston, bestselling author of over 30 titles — including our latest, Hearts and Farthings takes a turn in our hot seat and chats about having her debut novel reissued 30 years later.


If you could tell your pre-published self one thing, what would it be?

‘Get writing earlier’ I didn’t dare write a novel until that one and certainly didn’t expect it to be published or to be a best seller.

Did your approach to writing change after being published?

I wrote with more confidence but in the same way and the same style. It took me a little while to realise that this success was happening and that I was actually a real writer, it made a lot of difference. Before it happened I had seen myself as a worthless failure and thereby hangs a really horrible tale, which I keep quiet about.

What do you wish you’d known about being published before you became a published author?

What fun it was. This is going to sound really dreadful! But I’ll tell you the story anyway. One of my happy occupations when I was at Kings was to go to Burlington Arcade and lust after the jewellery there, I got it down to a fine art. I would walk into the shops as though I had every right to be there and the owner would show me the particular piece of jewellery I was interested in. I would hold it in my hand and dream of wearing it and then I would very politely tell the jeweller I would think about it and come back if I decided to buy it. On my way to have lunch with my editor when we were going to discuss book 2 I went past the Burlington Arcade and of course went in and found a delectable pair of opal earrings, very beautiful and very expensive. I played my usual game and left him smiling, then I went off to lunch, I was a bit late and my editor teased me and asked me what I’d been up to, so I told her. Then she asked me ‘Did you buy them?’  so I told her how much they cost and her answer to that made me stop breathing. ‘So?’ she said. I sat there in the restaurant thinking I’m rich, I can buy things, it was a wonderful moment and an even better one followed. I brought the earrings on the way home!

Later on when my agent was negotiating for my first trilogy, he earned me so much money that I bought a house with it. How’s that for a story? And all true!

Hearts and Farthings, your debut novel from 1985, has just been republished after 30 years. What are your new goals or expectations for your story and yourself as you publish this book 30 years later?

I’m going to a local history meeting in Tooting on Saturday afternoon complete with my research notes for that novel and local pictures. It’ll be great to meet up with old friends and hear what they think. ​It’s just a lovely thought that it’s going to be on sale again and that people I know in Tooting will be able to buy it.

What do you believe this story will impart on this century’s generation?

No idea. It’ll be interesting to see. I learnt as a teacher that it is pretty useless telling people anything, it’s much easier to let them find out for themselves. And what they find out from my books might not be anything that I would expect. We are all individuals; that’s what makes writing such a joy.

What can we expect next from you?

Next book is a modern story about a totally dishonest, lying, self-aggrandising, politician who gets a well-deserved come-uppance. Well there’s a surprise!


As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN if you have any questions for our authors about being published!