- J. J. Hanna
Interview with Writer J. A. Beaumont
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
It's November! That means I'm busy with NaNoWriMo. So rather than hearing from me this week and in the weeks coming, I thought I may as well let you hear from some of the other amazing writers I've had the pleasure to interview or hang out with in person.
J. A. Beaumont is one of those writers I've met in real life and admire greatly. So, without further ado, an interview with J. A. Beaumont.
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
When did you start writing? How did you get interested in writing?
I’ve got stories dating back to 1st and 2nd grade, when during “Quiet Journaling Time” I wrote stories involving my friends from school and any kind of wacky adventures I was reading about at the time. I distinctly remember writing a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” knockoff with political intrigue and corrupt human kings leading colonies of ants, as well as a spy thriller with an Antarctic 3rd act.
I started exercising my narrative voice more consistently in 4th grade, and my English teacher at the time (eternal shoutouts to Mr. Rugenstien) let me write little half-page vignettes for extra credit.
However, I wouldn’t say I started on my “Fantasy Writer” route until the beginning of 8th grade, when I and a couple friends wrote Knights of the Round Table knockoffs starring ourselves and others in our friend group. I envisioned fantasy battles and prophecies, all fueled by my background exposure to titles like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, Harry Potter, The Secrets of Droon, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Simply put: I wanted to write battle scenes with the gravitas of the Battle of Helms Deep and character arcs with the nuance of Prince Zuko. The last 11 years have featured me building toward that. Hopefully.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
This is a toughie, and my answer to this question has definitely evolved as I’ve grown. First, I loved the escapism and grandiose scale I could achieve with just a scene (still do!). Then, I loved the emotional therapy and release putting pen to paper could provide (still do!). Then, I loved the real-world reflection and impact a story could have (still do!).
Nowadays, I’d probably say my favorite thing about writing—along with an amalgamation of everything I’ve already mentioned—is its ability to combine my love of language, my passion for history, and my obsession with injecting my imagination into both of those things. Seriously, combining prose, history, and the magic of imagination is one of the best highs I can think of.
How do you get past writer’s block?
I was hoping you’d tell me, Jori!
Sorry, Josh. Unfortunately I, too, am limited in knowledge.
But seriously, I haven’t found a foolproof method for beating writer’s block except for this: getting to the bottom of whatever’s causing the block in the first place.
Sometimes my writing stalls because my subject matter explores or forces me to expose a part of myself I’m not a huge fan of. Nonetheless, if I think the piece is worth writing, I do some introspection or talk out the issues I’m facing with someone I trust.
Sometimes I’m going through the day-to-day minutiae of life, and my mind is in a “refueling stage.” For me, this refueling takes the form of consuming art critically. Reading history and novels, watching shows and movies, and discussing art and artists with fellow creatives are all great avenues for drumming up inspiration.
Sometimes, life just hits you in the jaw. If I’m going through something particularly trying, like grief over a loved one’s death or something like that, I don’t really consider my condition “Writer’s Block,” despite their similarities. If an athlete tears their ACL, they literally can’t play the game. I look at depression or grief or anxiety or any other mental hindrance/illness as my mind suffering an ACL tear. In those cases, I give myself time to heal, to process, to journal, to talk to safe people, if need be. Most of all: I don’t beat myself up.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write what you love.
A lot of advice sounds like “Write what you know,” but if you’re just starting out, you may not exactly know how to make that advice useful to you. If you start out young like I did, you’ll think, Well I don’t really know anything. And if you’re older, you might think, What do I know that others don’t already know better?
Whatever spark got you interested in writing in the first place, I’d advise you fan that spark as often as you can. The purest motivations for writing are the ones that got you into the game in the first place. If ever you’re lost and not sure how to proceed, go back to your roots.
What’s your favorite social media trick? After all, we all need to build platforms somehow. Where can we find you online?
By no means do I have a large following, but I’d say the best thing you can do to keep people engaged in your content is to engage positively in theirs. Be supportive! Encouraging! Excited for others! Explain what you enjoy about others’ content and output!
As for links:
My World of Galdrilas: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/galdrilas-jabeaumont
This is still a very sparse assembling of some of my worldbuilding for Galdrilas, the setting for my major epic fantasy series, including The Storm that Breaks trilogy (book 1 currently in progress!). This whole thing is extremely piecemeal at the moment, but I want to add to it as often and as much as I can.
I used to write a blog, but that’s fallen by the wayside. Should I ever pick that up again, you’ll find out from my Twitter, inevitably.
What’s something unique you want people to know about you? What distinguishes your brand?
I’m by no means an expert, but I am obsessed with ancient history and (more recently) analysis of ancient texts—like the Enuma Elish and The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as the Pentateuch and other Old Testament books, for starters. I try to incorporate more and more my love for history and historical analysis into my writing, as you might start seeing if you take a passing glance at my World Anvil Galdrilas wiki.
History, ancient and recent, is our best reckoning for where we’ve come from, and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to paint the most accurate mural of humanity’s story—and not just from the perspectives of the most powerful during any given era. I want to infuse my fantasy with this idea: that the voices of the downtrodden and marginalized carry just as much weight and value as those in power.
What’s the hardest part of the creative process?
I constantly grapple with self-doubt.
Every time I sit down to write, I have to stifle the voices in my head that say, “No one’ll care what I have to say; no one’s gonna think this’ll be any good.” When I can’t beat down those thoughts outright, I re-center myself with why I’m writing in the first place: because I love it. Anyone else’s opinions on my pieces shouldn’t have any effect at all on my foundational love for the Work itself.
Writing’s almost never easy, but always worthwhile.
Tell me about your current projects, your hopes for them, and how far along they are.
The First Omen (The Storm that Breaks trilogy, book 1):
This is the big one, at the moment. This trilogy is my attempt to contribute to the Hero’s Journey mythical/archetypal structure with a change in the third act: tragedy instead of triumph. The series follows the life of Lukan Antar, one of the most influential rulers in the history of Galdrilas, whose path of conquest dealt in the grays of life and sowed seeds of future discord and war. I want this book and resulting trilogy to kick off the backbone story of the (tentatively) 11-book Turnings of Galdrilas mega-series (two trilogies and a five-book saga)
Memory Like Sand (A Galdrilas Short Story)
Where The Storm that Breaks deals with one of Galdrilas’s mightiest, Memory Like Sand focuses on the last adherent to an ancient religion, whose charitable work in a tiny mountain village at the edge of a desert goes almost unnoticed. Life grows strange when he meets a boy no one’s ever seen in the village before—quite a rarity, given the nearest settlement is several days’ journey away. I hope to submit this story to the Writers of the Future contest when it’s done and polished.
What projects have you had published? Where can we find them/read them/buy them?
Splickety Publishing (RIP) gave me my first publishing opportunity with my short story, "How the Sea Loved the Sky." While their website and blog don’t exist anymore, you can still find the story here: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/galdrilas-jabeaumont/a/how-the-sea-loved-the-sky-a-galdrilas-short-story-article
On top of that, Christopher Herron at Tall Tale TV recorded a YouTube Audiobook of my short story, From Eden to Nod, which you can check out here: http://talltaletv.com/from-eden-to-nod/
For any future publishing developments, keep in touch with my Twitter!
What are some of your favorite books/authors and why?
If you want beautiful prose and stories that analyze our cultural and mythological lenses and how those lenses impact our societal development, look no further than Ursula K. Le Guin. She’d be my favorite author just for her short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" alone, but her Earthsea series constantly crushes me with its beauty, and The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the best sociological/anthropological thought experiments I’ve ever read.
I also love George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. Both of them approach fantasy from a historian’s perspective. Martin obviously rules the fantasy world with his A Song of Ice and Fire series, and those books read like the best historical fiction with a dash of magic, but I don’t want to downplay Hobb’s Assassin books either. She executes the first-person reflective POV perfectly, and that narrative voice is one of the chief inspirations for my The Storm that Breaks.
One of my favorite reads this year has been Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. There’s just a way Okorafor captures brutality and tenderness that creates true beauty.
Why are you writing the genre you write?
Fantasy is the perfect intersection of my love of language, history, and magic. There’s just no other genre that quite fits my tastes so perfectly, and it’s having a huge boom in pop culture. What a time to be alive!
Is there anything you wish I’d asked you about?
“Why Do You Love Playing Falco in Super Smash Bros. Melee?”
Because he’s the coolest character! Who cares if double-laser from the ledge isn’t safe? It’s so swag!
Josh Beaumont (goes by J. A. Beaumont so as not to be confused with the rugby player) spends far too much time in his own head, but sometimes he can convert that mind-time into concrete words that people have occasionally said are enjoyable to read. He frames those words in fantasy worlds of varying levels of magic and very consistent levels of character introspection and melancholy.
Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Josh! This has been a real pleasure, and I wish you the best in your writing endeavors!
Again, go check out his Twitter here.
I'll see you next week with another author interview!
J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.
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