Author Interview with Billy Beasley
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I am often reminded by friends, that during the nineties I told them I was going to write a book and my dream was to be published.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
My first two novels, The River Hideaway and The Preacher’s Letter, I could have told you exactly where the idea came from but for my latest work all I have is a post it note that reads, The girl in the river on a snowy day.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Both. The Girl in the River, includes several friends who agreed to come along for the fictitious journey but the little girl and the congress member for example, are completely a figment of my imagination.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
I just start writing as the story comes to me and I make notes along the way for material I want to insert later in the story. I never use an outline. The process is similar but with the last one I started using a piece of white foamboard with straight lines marked across. I wrote each chapter number and the basic content of the chapter. On the reverse side, I wrote down the characters, their role and age, and whether they were a main character, frequent character or a one-time character.
Length is hard to determine but the first one I recall being around ten months. I was working full time then. I think the last one was probably six to eight months. I took a break half way through out of frustration of not finding a home for my second novel. After I signed a contract for The Preacher’s Letter, I finished, The Girl in the River.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
I have three stories on my computer that I need to tweak and rewrite somewhat. At the moment, after all of the editing and trying to market my latest book I am taking a break from writing until maybe the Fall.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
Be prepared to invest a huge amount of time and unless you go the self-publishing route, and I am in no way being critical of that path, be prepared for a lot of rejections. My big surprise when I began this journey was that while I knew it would be difficult to have a publisher to agree to publish my story. I did not realize how difficult it would be to even persuade them to read your story. My first published novel, the initial step was a query letter and nothing else. Learn how to write a great query letter that pulls the interest of a publisher or you won’t even get to the next step.
Promotion advice, obviously social media. I have a pretty active Facebook author page and I now have a website. I am on twitter and I don’t think it has helped me sell one book. It obviously works for others. I don’t know how to attract a huge following on twitter. I confess that the only reason I am on twitter is because publishers want you on it and if you are not, they may not publish your story even if they like it.
What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why? Do you have a favorite literary author?
I can’t pick one book but I can pick a favorite author, Pat Conroy. My style of writing and being a southern author, I have been compared favorably to him by readers. I find it embarrassing to be honest. I am not five per cent of the writer Pat Conroy was.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
Sadly, two of my three favorite writers are no longer with us. Pat Conroy, Robert Parker, but thankfully James Lee Burke is still with us and writing.
I always have a book on hand. I just finished, House Rules, by Mike Lawson and currently I am reading, A Reasonable Doubt, by Phillip Margolin.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
I prefer morning but with sleep issues I have become more of an afternoon writer at times.
How did you find your publisher? What was your journey to publication like?
I am on my third traditionally published book and with my third different publisher. I have searched Writers Market in the past and made a list. My last book, I googled traditional publishers accepting fiction without an agent. I was in the process of trying to land an agent without success and I saw this publisher and the guidelines were easy to submit, Query, and the first five pages. I obviously already had the query and a simple copy and paste was all that was required. Later that day, they asked to see the entire story. That is rare and it is typical to wait for months and hear nothing from the publisher.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
Teke, our cattle dog, who stars in my recent novel, is the only one allowed in my office and does not interrupt me when new ideas are emerging.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?
Yes, very much so.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
Proper tense! I am terrible.
About the Book
Clint Hurley and his faithful Australian Cattle Dog, Josie, save a runaway girl from drowning, on a snowy Christmas Day.
Now he is faced with a choice. Should he turn her over to the authorities or “rescue” her from far more than the river?
About the Author
It was in 2013, when my new wife, asked when was the last time I had tried to get published. It had been a few years. I randomly selected one publisher and sent the story out to appease her. Later that year, I was offered a contract for The River Hideaway. A story I wrote in 1998. The Preacher’s Letter, my second published novel, released in January of 2016. The Girl in the River released July 21 of this year.
I have been more engaged to write stories than to tackle the arduous task of finding a publisher to say yes.
As a result there are completed stories resting in my computer today that I hope to see in print one day.
I live in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, with my beautiful wife and biggest supporter, Julie, and our Australian Cattle Dog, Teke.