What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Brian Beam. I currently reside in Van Lear, KY, but will be moving in the next few months for my wife's work, most likely to North Carolina.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Starting in elementary school, I always knew I wanted to do something with writing. I originally wanted to be a big author, but ended up with a degree in Marketing and another in Nursing. When my son was born, my wife and I decided that I would stay home with him until he was a year old and we felt better about putting him in daycare. That gave me ample time to get back into writing, and now I'm a self-published author.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
On one hand, I'd like to say when I finished my first story as a kid called "The Scary Halloween" when I was 6 or 7. However, when it comes to "serious" writing, I'd say when I started my first book in high school, probably when I was 15 or 16. That book remains unfinished, but it was the first time I realized that I had the ability to actually write big stories.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Well, I self-published through Amazon KDP, so once my book was finished, no it did not. When it comes to the good half-dozen unfinished stories I have worked on for the past 15 years, then yes, it did take a long time. There's such an awesome indie community out there.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Right now I am still a stay at home father until we move for my wife's job in August, but when we move, I'll be going back into nursing as an RN.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My debut fantasy eBook is called The Dragon Gem and it is the first in a planned trilogy called Korin's Journal. It is an action-packed fantasy adventure about a man whose life is upended as his past is revealed.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
The Dragon Gem took me the better part of the year and ended at about 142,000 words. I'm at work on the sequel and anticipate that to take a year or so as well.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
The Dragon Gem is my first book, but it flowed so well once I started. I actually started out to write a series of novellas, but the story kind of took a hold of me and took me down roads I didn't originally plan on going. Hence the 142,000 words :).
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
For now my plans are to finish this trilogy. From there, I'm not 100% sure. I've always been quite the fantasy nerd, so I as of now I don't see myself leaving the genre for future books/series. However, a part of me would love to embrace the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone and try something different.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes, I'm currently working on the sequel(the name's under wraps for now) and will really dive into it after I've finished my initial promotion run for The Dragon Gem. As of now it is set to be a trilogy. Given how quickly the first book bloomed from a novella to decently-long novel, those plans could always change...
What genre would you place your books into?
Definitely fantasy. As a whole, the Korin's Journal trilogy will be an epic fantasy series.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
My brother and some of my friends got me hooked on fantasy books when I was in middle school. I fell in love with the fact that not only did the author get to create interesting characters, but entire worlds with histories, races and sociopolitical structures. Fantasy books allowed my imagination to go wild, picturing creatures and worlds that did not truly exist. Those factors stuck with me in my own writing. I love the concept of not only character building, but world building. I love the idea of taking my reader to a whole other place during their time with my story where the real world can be pushed from their mind and allow them to simply be engrossed in the story.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I want to say Korin, the protagonist, because the book is from his point of view and I pushed some of my own personality traits and morals into the character. He's only loosely based on me, but still, that connection should make him my favorite. But, no, my favorite is Max, Korin's cat who is actually a wizard with a shadowed past He's just so fun to write. I can just be as sarcastic as I want to be when writing him into the book. Plus, he's got this air of condescension that is fun to work with. It's just a joy to write his parts :)
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
I'm going to go with Max. He may be a cat, but he can perform some awesome magic and being a fantasy nerd, I'd be all about having that power :
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
One thing that drives me to writing is that sometimes I just get ideas for stories in my head out of nowhere. Other times, I'll be reading a fantasy novel and see a part that makes me think, "What if they did this instead?" I'm an avid jogger and I actually get tons of ideas during my runs. The Dragon Gem took several turns I didn't plan at first because I'd be out jogging and thinking about the story and something new and exciting for the story would pop into my head. If I get writer's block, a good jog takes care of it.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Nope, I just write when inspiration hits(or when I have time). I typically work in our office room, but sometimes I put the file on the laptop and work on it in other places. I'm not one for routine when writing.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
With The Dragon Gem, I originally kept my work on it a secret so that I could surprise my wife with it for Christmas. I gave copies to friends and family and got a really positive response from it. That's what led to taking it from just something I did for fun to self-publishing it to make it available to anyone who loves fantasy books. When I finish the next book, I will definitely put it out there for some advance reviews before its release as well as hand it out to friends/family first.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Yes. If someone wants to take the time to review my book, they can have it for free.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I don't have many reviews just yet( just released the book on March 26), but i plan on reading all of them. I want to know what I can do to make the next one better for the readers. The few reviews I have received have been really positive overall and I have received a couple emails from people who have enjoyed the book as well. I love to hear all the feedback whether good or bad.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No, I would not. That would be very unprofessional on my part. People are entitled to their opinion. Now, if it was say, an Amazon review that was obviously just trolling by someone who hadn't read the book, I would report it. In general though, I expect that some people will have issues with my book and if that leads to a low review, that's okay. That's a learning opportunity.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
With the Dragon Gem, I had most of the story in my mind, but came up with the name well before finishing it, so I guess I choose the title first. I have a tentative title for the next book, but I'm keeping it secret because a)It is subject to change, and b)I don't want to give anything away about the sequel just yet...
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Some I just base on how they sound, making sure that their names fit into the general structure of the world. Others I base off of names of friends and family.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I decide before writing the book most of the time. The ones I don't plan beforehand are the characters that I didn't expect to be written in.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I come up with the general plot first and then let the story take me where it wishes. That's how The Dragon Gem ended up double my original plan for length, and I'm incredibly happy about where the story took me.
How do you market/promote your books?
So far I have focused on submitting to reviewers, posting on various writing forums, and there are loads of sites that are truly supportive of indie authors and getting their books promoted.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Good story, likeable(or hateable), believable characters, and a connection to the reader.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
A good jog clears up writer's block for me :)
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
Spending time with my wife and son, watching tv/movies, jogging, video games(probably too much of those), and playing guitar.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I try to put a couple things in, but I leave the interpretation up to the reader.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I have to name a few authors here who have really influenced my writing. Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher, Patrick Rothfuss, and Terry Goodkind have all served as major influences to my writing.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
Sadly, eBook. I say sadly, because for years I said that I would never get an ereader, that I loved the smell and feel of a new book. I would say how I loved to go to bookstores too much to look for my next read. However, I caved in, got an ereader and have no regrets. Now that I'm a self-published indie author, I realize that there are so many other indie authors out there with books only available in ebook format. I am exposed to so much more than I used to be when I would buy all my books from Barnes and Noble or Books a Million. Plus, I can easily take them all with me wherever I go. There's still something special about the feel and smell of a brand new book, though.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
Strangely enough, my favorite book is a recent read: Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire. He just did such a wonderful job of creating a ridiculously unique world, magic system, and plot with amazing characters. There is not a single bad thing I can say about the book. The whole trilogy is just simply amazing. If you like fantasy and haven't read it, do yourself a favor and check it out!
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
I don't think I can give this a yes or no. Sometimes books make great movies, sometimes they don't. My favorite is the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole. There's word of a Mistborn movie in the works an they are working closely with Brandon Sanderson on it. I'm excited to see how that turns out.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
This interview is going to turn into more of a promotion for Brandon Sanderson than myself...Anyway, I'm currently reading Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings in ebook format. It is absolutely wonderful so far.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I don't believe that they will ever totally replace them, but I definitely believe they will continue to grow in popularity. I mean, look at the music industry. CDs are still sold, but most music is now downloaded. I would hate the idea of printed books not being an option for my son as he grows up. I think they'll always be there, though.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
I feel that I received a lot of encouragement in school to read and write when I was younger, but I don't know how things are in schools today. I guess I'll have a better answer to this in four or five years when my son's in school.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I ALWAYS had a book when I was younger and loved to write. I always participated in the Young Authors program and took any excuse to write that I could. Thankfully, I haven't grown out of that.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
Hmm...as a child, I had a bunch of favorites depending on my age. I loved Dr. Seuss, Patricia C. Wrede, J.R.R. Tolkien, R.L. Stine, and C.S. Lewis to name a few.
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it? Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Alice in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass. My dad used to read chapters of it to me and my brother and night when were kids. I recently obtained that same copy from my father and have since read it to my own little boy. I hope that my son can read it to his child when he is older. My favourite genre(if you couldn't guess) is fantasy. Usually epic fantasy.
What do you think about book trailers?
I think they are wonderful marketing tools and I am interested in possibly using them for my future books.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Write what you love and love what you write.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
No, I'll be sticking to my plain ol' boring real name :)
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, and Jim Hines. I'm sure that the conversation would keep me laughing too hard to eat, though...