Interview with author James Beamon

James Beamon, a writer of fantasy and science fiction, currently lives in the windswept land of Afghanistan. He has published stories in numerous professional-paying magazines. He is a member of the Codex Writer’s Group, and he hasn’t told me whether he is a member of SFWA, though he almost certainly qualifies.

Take it away, James!

1) Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?

Funny you say “bit”… my life kind of comes in bits. I grew up in Southern Virginia, a little bit in Chesapeake, a little bit in Portsmouth, a stretch in Louisville KY. Then I joined the Air Force and really moved around while adding other bits. Specifically, I spent my first enlistment as a Turkish linguist and spent my second enlistment as an IT guy before getting out and becoming a defense contractor. Even schooling came in bits…a couple high schools, a little bit of Old Dominion University and University of Phoenix Sacramento.

2) Do you like fantasy, science fiction, or horror more?

I like predominately fantasy and science fiction. I especially like blurring the lines… because nothing’s sleeker than having some pseudo-science magically working. That’s the future without all the technical rigor! FTL travel without the manual.

3) You are currently in Afghanistan. I’d imagine that is quite scary. However, speculative fiction often deals with war — does it inspire you at all or make your stories more realistic?

While deployed I have written some war pieces like Song of Passing Grief and Yours in Heaven. Mostly I’d say the natural environment has inspired stories. I know “windswept” was just a word to me until I came out here and experienced constant, relentless, endless wind. It inspired me to write Hollow Man Dances, which will be in the Origins issue of Third Flatiron come December. And there are several scenes that made my novels that I’ve experienced looking out at the countrysides of Iraq and Afghanistan from a helicopter.

4) What do you find most challenging about writing?

It’s definitely not the story in my mind that’s challenging! I think the challenge is getting the writing to a point where others see the story I see as clearly as I do. It gets easier every time, but I’m convinced the job as translator will always be the most work.

5) What do you enjoy the most about writing?

QWERTY. You ever try to actually write a story with pen and paper? Takes forever and when you finally finish no one understands what the hell it is you wrote. Not the best route to the Hugo.

.6) Do you enjoy writing short stories or novels more? Which form do you think you are the most successful at?

It’s funny, I actually started writing short stories just as a way to break into novels, assuming an SFWA pro peddling a book trumps Joe Nobody peddling books. Dozens of stories later, I’m a lot more proficient at story telling and I actually go back to it whenever a get a burst of inspiration while writing books. But overall, I enjoy the freedom of narrative that comes with novel writing. Since I’m still looking for a home for my first novel and still in the middle of writing the second, I’d have to say I’m more successful at short stories. Perhaps that’ll change in the future.

7) What do you like to read the most?

Responses from the readership! Seriously, nothing’s better to me than getting feedback, after someone’s read a story of mine and contacts me just to say they appreciated it. I’m like “you appreciate it?! Well, I appreciate you appreciating it!” Most of my stories get a few rejections, so it’s nice to see that validation out there among readers after working so hard to place a story.

8) What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon? Are you more into independent publishing, or do you want a trade publisher for your books?

I’m currently working on the second book of a trilogy while the first book, Pendulum Heroes, works the slush. I guess that tells you where I’d like to see this series, since I’m actively looking for a publisher. I’m really excited about the world of independent publishing, but I have a serious fear that I’d never get notice in the e-pub world. My name’s not cool and catchy and I have a suspect feeling most of my readership came into my first story with skepticism that I had to convert by giving them a decent read. Since I’m too busy writing more stories to develop awesome pseudonyms, I’d like to have a trade publisher back me with ad campaigns and expensive artwork.

9) You are a professionally published author. Do you have any advice for newer writers?

Never get involved in a land war in Asia… Other than that, I often offer specific tips on my blog site’s Creative Combat Arms section. If I could pass one thing on to your readers, I would say to the best way to progress is to stay engaged in a cycle of Writing then Reading the works of others then Critically Thinking on Writing before starting the process again. Write. Read. Think.

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