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The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips (Illust. Isabelle Follath)

Writing.ie | Magazine | Children & Young Adult | Interviews
The Beast and the Bethany

By Jack Meggitt-Phillips

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With a major film deal announced with Warner Brothers and Harry Potter producer David Heyman, The Beast and the Bethany is one of the most anticipated children’s books of 2020. In this article, the author Jack Meggitt-Phillips describes how he fell into becoming a writing addict . . .

Writing is an addiction that needs to be cultivated. Like all good vices, it’s easy to get hooked.

There are few things more satisfying than writing a good sentence. It’s right up there with sinking into a perfectly bubbled bath, or absolutely nailing a conversation with a former schoolyard enemy.

Sentences are gateways to paragraphs. Chapters follow pretty sharpish after that. And then, before you know it, you’ll emerge from some fever dream, and find a full-blown novel has poured out of your veins.

You’ll scratch your head and wonder where on earth the monstrous manuscript came from, because you could have sworn that, up until recently, you were the sort of person who only occasionally dabbled in sentence-writing.

This new addiction will not strip you of your money, your mind, your friends, or any of the other more popular casualties of obsession. All it will demand of you is time.

For, you see, writing doesn’t require fancy computers, or splendid pens carved in the Himalayan mountains. There is no log-cabin, picturesque coffee shop, or remote Highlands retreat that will guarantee the appearance of the muse.

If you want inspiration to strike, then it needs to know where to find you. And it can only do that if you show up to your notepad/ typewriter/ dictaphone/ terribly fancy computer every day.

A common complaint that people make about writing is that they simply don’t have time for it. In my opinion, that’s a load of bollards.

We all make time for the things we really want to do. And there are very few people who live lives that are so chock-a-block that they can’t carve some time of each day to just write a sentence of whatever book is burning inside of them.

My debut is called The Beast and the Bethany. It’s a children’s story about a beast, a youthful 511-year-old, and a rebellious prankster who’s about to be eaten, and it was written squished between a fullish life.

It’s the first full-length book I finished, and I was only able to do so by making a priority. More specifically, by taking an inventory of my week to see which areas I could pinch time away from, in order to give to writing. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone who feels like their struggling to make time for their passions. 

I was able to thieve time from TV-watching, commuting, and sleeping. I curbed myself to just one episode of Better Call Saul per night, I worked on my tube journey by typing ideas into my phone, and I woke up an hour earlier each morning. Much of this was torturous initially, because I am not a morning or tube-loving sort of person, and because there are few things I enjoy more than binging entire series of Jimmy McGill’s descent into villainy. 

However, the more time I made for writing about child-eating beasts, the more I wanted to make time for it. I also found that it was much easier to push on with the plot, and not get quite so stuck on the big moments, than when I was writing it every couple of weeks or so. Naturally, if something’s on your mind constantly, you’re going to be able to give it far more brainspace.   

There may be days when you hit a block, and can’t find a way through your book, and, on these occasions, I think it’s still important to write something. 

Write new scenes of your favourite TV shows, write sprawling made-up histories about the secret life of goats, write about your Aunt Mildred’s disgusting habit of chewing other people’s fingernails. All of it will make you better.

Everyone starts out rubbish at first, but if you write often enough, then you’ll find your voice, and hopefully the kinds of stories that no-one else can tell.

(c) Jack Meggitt-Phillips

About The Beast and the Bethany:

The most exciting new children’s book of 2020 and a modern classic in the making. The Beast and the Bethany has all the classic macabre humour of Roald Dahl with the warmth and charm of Despicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite of Little Shop of Horrors! This book should be on every little monster’s birthday and Christmas list.

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan …

Reads like a modern classic. Sharp, funny, original – I thought this was brilliant’ – Sam Copeland, author of the bestselling Charlie Changes into a Chicken

‘What a FEAST! A funny and (bone) cracking good read’ – Michelle Harrison, bestselling author of A Pinch of Magic

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Jack Meggitt Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels.

Isabelle Follath is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children’s books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabellelives in Zurich, Switzerland.

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