Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview with Ron Leighton, fantasy author of "Beneath a Vengeful Sun"...

Today, I'm delighted to have in the forum Ron Leighton, the fascinating and funny fantasy author who is here to talk about his ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun’ story. We’re also going to get a few exclusive first comments about his upcoming fantasy novel.

Tim Greaton: Ron, I’ve been pleased to know you for quite some time through our overlapping social networks, however, some of our audience might not be so fortunate. Could you tell them a little about your background?

Ron Leighton: I’m pleased to know you too. Thanks for the invite.
My background? Um. It’s just an ordinary off-white wall thoughtlessly interrupted with some non-descript “art.” Nothing special. But of course you meant ‘background’ figuratively. Okay, I am originally from New Mexico, but have lived in California for 27 years, since I was about 20. The bit on my Twitter profile about being an actual Romanian gypsy is…untrue. Did you know that already? However, my grandfather on my dad’s side did come from Maine, by the way. I know there are Leightons in Maine. I’m sure I’m related to some of them. Anyway, he was a merchant marine who ended up in Houston. From there it’s only a hop, skip and a largish jump to New Mexico. So the ‘gypsy’ thing is not entirely ridiculous. I’ve done all kinds of work, from office to labor and beyond! But for the last twenty years, and in relative earnest, I have, come rain or shine, worked at honing my writing. Furthermore, until recently I was simply a high school grad. But now, at long last, I’m taking some college courses. I’m trying to decide if I should continue towards a major. One reason I’m not sure is that school really cuts into my writing time, you know? It is a dilemma. As an aside, I am definitely one of the oldest students on campus and I am more annoyed by 20 year olds than I thought I would be. Just kidding, school buddies.

Tim Greaton: I know you currently have quite a number of stories on the market and that you’re also a talented artist (which reminds me a lot of my good friend Larry Donnell). First, which artistic medium do you prefer most? And I think we’d all love to know how you squeeze in the time to learn two difficult crafts?

Ron Leighton: Thank you, by the way, for the compliment—I’ll tell my art instructor you think so. I have three short stories, yes. ‘A Cheerful Smoke for the Dead,’ ‘Child of Chaos’ and most recently, ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun.’ They are all set in the world I have created, Varaeim, or the Shining Lands. Regarding time, it helps that I am only partially employed. I’m part of the “new normal,” you might say. The decline in the quality of employment that began in the 70s leads directly to me. It’s so good to feel part of something larger than myself. As for my favorite artistic medium, I’d have to say I prefer charcoal—a surprise to me since it is messy and I generally avoid messy things, mostly because I hate cleaning them up. I recently tried my hand at pastel pencils and I am not yet as enamored with them as I am with charcoal pencils, even though they are a lot neater to work with. I pretty much suck at pastels right now is what I’m saying. But it’s not the pastels’ fault.

Tim Greaton: Ron, I first read one of your fantasy stories in 2011 and was immediately surprised that you hadn’t already published a number of books. Your clarity, detail and characterization are all beautifully done. Are you a naturally amazing writer or have you put in lots of what I call drawer time, which is when you write and write and write, constantly shuffling the works into a drawer or closet because in your mind they’re not “quite” there?

Ron Leighton: Well, that’s nice to hear. I’d like to answer yes regarding the “amazing writer” thing without sounding ridiculously full of myself. Is that possible? Anyway, the answer might be a little of both in a way. I sometimes write scenes or dialogue and they hardly change after that. But what happens more often is that goodish scenes or dialogue get punched up a bit over time. I’ll find just the right thing to turn the scene or dialogue into what I am trying to achieve. Attending a writer’s group—not so much lately—has certainly helped that! The three stories I mentioned were done rather quickly, but crucially, I’d say, they were only finished after feedback from my writers’ group. Another thing that helps me, writing epic fantasy, is that I am very focused on creating something rare, something that just feels a certain way. So I guess what I mean is I have developed or am still developing a mindset from which I write. I’m sure I didn’t invent this and it doesn’t require hallucinogens to get there, I swear. I want readers of my fantasy to get chills as they suddenly feel that, despite the fantastic elements in the story, they are immersed in a very real place with very real people (and monsters). Whether I achieve that is another question, but simply and desperately desiring to create such epic fantasy helps, I think. Do I as a writer want to create something special or not? I really, really want to.

Tim Greaton: Because we writers tend to start out telling real life stories, I wonder if you have a funny or exciting event from your past that you’d like to tell us about?

Ron Leighton: At the beginning of ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun,’ there is a black pit. When I was a teenager hiking in the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, N.M., a friend and I found an abandoned mine high up—and way off—a narrow, winding trail. About twenty yards into this dark mine we found a hole preventing us from going any further. The tunnel went on in three directions on the other side of this hole—this pit—but I couldn’t shake my fascination with the pit. I dropped a stone into it and, as I recall, it took some time to make a noise. My friend and I imagined that mine contained more potential for adventure than you could shake a stick at—if only one could get beyond the pit! I still have an itch in the back of my mind to get beyond that pit! So, yeah, I’ve always wanted to put the pit in a story and now I have.

Tim Greaton: Do you have beta readers in your family or circle of friends, or do you trust your own instincts before you publish your works?

Ron Leighton: Up until about a year and a half ago, I had only my own instincts to rely on, which, as you may know, are good to have though it is also good to understand their limits. I started attending a writer’s group. I think I actually got the idea from a literary agent who gently rejected my request for his or her representation. Or maybe from an agent’s blog. I can’t recall exactly. Being in a writers’ critique group has helped tremendously. As a writer and as the originator of a story, you can develop blind spots that, to put it simply, are not blind spots for others. You discover both good things and bad in a critique group. Such a group’s goal could be summed up as “maximize readability.” So, feedback is invaluable and indispensable. Even the most accomplished writers would agree, I think. As for beta readers, no, I’m afraid not. I would like to have one. Volunteers are being accepted.

Wait! That’s not entirely true! One gentleman in my group did a great deal of beta reading for my novel! Guy named Peter Jessup. Invaluable input. By the way, the novel is called ‘Belt of the Wolf’ and I hope to have it out in the near future.

Tim Greaton: What is your most recent story release, Ron? And could you tell us about it?

Ron Leighton: My most recent story is called ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun.’ Like ‘A Cheerful Smoke for the Dead’ and ‘Child of Chaos’ before it, it’s a short story. It is specifically about a young Kuetran (koo-Eh-trun) woman named Ránača (ray-NOTCH-uh). She’s a slave, a concubine, kept by a large estate owner, Hergesto, who lives in the country just east of the Waywood in the land of West Kuetra (or, the Eastern March, as the powers-that-be call it—you can look at a map at my blog). She’s faced with—what is to her, and would be to many—a hard choice.
Tim Greaton: What led you to tell this particular story?

Ron Leighton: There is a point in my nearly-edited novel when Ránača, the protagonist in ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun,’ talks about some of her life with another character. I always wanted to tell some of that story, but didn’t think it fit in the novel. Actually, now that I think about it, my aunt Michele read my novel. Though she didn’t really do it as a beta reader, per se, she did provide some feedback. One of the things she said was she really liked the character Ránača. That reinforced my own special feeling for this character. Okay, maybe I have a crush on her. Anyway, in the novel, Ránača is a secondary character, but a very good secondary character! Now, I think, when in the future someone reads my novel, they will, having read ‘Beneath a Vengeful Sun,’ recognize Ránača and feel like they know her already. Personally, I always want stories like that—the stories in the stories that are only hinted at. I think it makes the world more expansive, gives depth to its backdrop. I crave even the back-stories about secondary characters. I guess what I’m assuming is that others might feel the same way. But I’d do it anyway.

Tim Greaton: Will there be other stories connected to this one? Or do you plan on exploring other realms or even genres next?

Ron Leighton: I am committed to epic fantasy over the long term, though I won’t rule out dabbling in other genres. The world I’ve created is complex and full of countless people (and creatures) and places, as well as possibilities—histories, cultures, myths, legends, etc. Frankly, I can’t wait to discover them all! There will likely be more short stories set in this world, some directly related to my upcoming novel and some not. I am considering writing more shorts specifically about other characters in my novel. But to answer your first question directly, yes. I think there will be stories about the further adventures of Ránača. She’s an interesting person.

Tim Greaton: Which author do you model your work after, or do you not see any parallels with past works you’ve read?

Ron Leighton: I’ve read only a very small number of fantasy writers. Tolkien, of course. But after him, only Robert E. Howard of Conan fame, as well as his co-writers and legatees. I’ve read Robert Jordan, but only his Conan novel (can’t recall its exact name). However, if you come to my writing specifically looking for carbon (and necessarily faded) copies of Tolkien or Howard, you’ll be disappointed. I’m trying to go in my own direction. As to avoidance of fantasy, partly this has to do with my nearly-superstitious wish to steer clear of undue influence and bleeding-over. I once read that for a fantasy writer to avoid clichéd and formulaic results he or she should simply avoid reading fantasy. Read other stuff, this guy said, including non-fiction. I think he was right. As for being modeled on other writers, I don’t think so, except in the most general sense. They write epic fantasy, I write epic fantasy. (I am aware, however, that my map is particularly Tolkienesque.) I try hard—most often while not really knowing what I’m doing—to blend fiction and nonfiction writing in a way that produces story with realism. I like fantasy, but I’m a stickler for realism. Go figure. I get bored really quickly with fantasy filled with characters that don’t feel real to me, or worlds that feel two-dimensional. Of course, since I don’t read much of it, it’s usually an instinctual reaction to something. Did I answer the question?

Tim Greaton: You answered the question exceedingly well, Ron, and while we’re talking about it, you are a spectacular interviewee. Your personality and facility with language really shines through in this format, and I for one am having a ball. Thanks again for coming.

Getting back to Ron-business, which part of your story was the most difficult to write? Why?

Ron Leighton: I tend to be better at dialogue and certain kinds of, I don’t know, idyllic scenes, but feel a little clumsy writing action. I think it is in part because many of my scenes tend to revolve, really, around world-building—hopefully in the most subtle and with-the-flow manner. Writing action requires a break from that. Action is boom, boom, boom, you know? So, yeah, the action scenes were definitely the hardest. But I am getting better at it! My novel will show this, he declares with confidence.

Tim Greaton: If one of your works made it all the way to Hollywood, what kind of a monster would be in the film? And which actor or actress would you have battling it?

Ron Leighton: I’d like to think Hollywood would be wise to make a movie of one of my stories! But I think I’d be worried they might screw up my characters or change the heart of the story…I wonder if all writers feel that way? What was your question? Oh, yeah. Regarding a monster, think zombie giant (yes, it’s copywrited already). He could fight an equally bizarre creature—to the death, perhaps? The actor would likely be wearing a motion-capture suit, so maybe Andy Serkis (Gollum) or Willem Dafoe (Tars Tarkas in the new John Carter of Mars movie) could play the part.  I’m wondering who will play Ránača. Somebody tough and beautiful like Sarah Silverman. The potty mouth would okay, but she’d have to dye her hair.

Tim Greaton: (In the interest of semi-disclosure, I’m currently protecting my William Dafoe and Sarah Silverman studio posters. For an author, Ron’s pretty quick, though J) It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.

Ron Leighton: Readers can visit my blog at There they will find the aforementioned map as well as various stories and myths set in my world. My unrelated art is there too. To get my stories, the ones mentioned above, readers should go to my Smashwords profile at Should I mention my Twitter account? @Ron_Leighton And last but not least, readers can go and like the Tales of the Shining Lands Facebook page, I think that covers it. Did I say readers should go to my Smashwords profile?

Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time with me today, Ron. I’m fortunate to have some of the greatest forum readers in the world and I have every faith that many of them will be looking up your stories as soon as we finish up here.

Ron Leighton: No, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity. I’m waving to the audience/readers right now but they can’t see me, so… Thanks, everybody! Happy reading. And may the gods bless you with showerings. I may have translated that wrong.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Interview with Linell Jeppsen, author of the amazing sci-fi novel "Story Time"...

I am pleased today to introduce friend and consummate storyteller Linell Jeppsen. She’s here to talk with us today about her apocalyptic science fiction novel Story Time, one of my favorite recent books.

Tim Greaton: Linell, you’ve had a fascinating life, which I think our readers would love to hear about. I’ve heard you’ve been in some tight but exciting scrapes. Could you tell us about one or two of them while you’re giving us some insight into your past?

Linell Jeppsen: All right… who have you sent to spy on me? LOL! Actually, I’ve had a fairly normal life, although I hope most of the younger set does NOT follow my example as they muddle through their teenage years! (child of the sixties…er-hm).

One of my favorite stories involves my childhood. I was about nine years old and LOVED TV. My mother was studying for her Master’s degree and got so sick of hearing the television blaring away in the living room, she hid the TV from me. When I got home from school that day I screamed, “Where’s the TV?” She said it was broken and being fixed (with a straight face). I said, “Well, what am I supposed to do now?”   She said,  “I suggest you read something.” I said, “whaaaaat?”  She answered, “Try this book…it’s good.”  It was Gone With The Wind…and it really was good.

Three years later the TV magically re-appeared, but the damage was done. I started reading, and writing that very day, and haven’t stopped yet!

Tim Greaton: What made you decide to join the world of scribblers? And how has it influenced the path you’ve taken and plan to take?

Linell Jeppsen: I told my husband one day, about twenty- five years ago, that I wanted to write a book about vampires. He said, “Okay, do it.”  I answered,  “What if I’m no good?”  He said, “You’ll never know until you try it.”  Well, frankly, I wasn’t good at it- not then, anyway. I wrote my novel, The Hunt, and put it in a box until about a year and a half ago. When I pulled the manuscript out of the box and blew the dust off, I knew what needed to be done with it. Time- experience- more education, and maturity helped me become a writer. Since then I have written an award- winning short story, another novel called Story Time and am about half- way through my newest work, entitled ONIO.

Tim Greaton: Since we’re talking about writing, what has been the high point of your career so far?
Linell Jeppsen: Well, there have been highs AND lows since I picked up the pen (so to speak!) I was thrilled to be picked up by a publisher, but terribly disappointed with the results so I went Indy with my work. I’ve been having a blast! It’s a great feeling to have a total stranger say that Story Time brought tears to their eyes or have a reviewer tell me that they look at life differently after reading my novel.

Tim Greaton: Story Time is an amazing science fiction novel. I’ve heard that you’ve had a science fiction kind of event in your life that readers might find hard believe.

Linell Jeppsen: I DID! I used to live in a log cabin up on the tippy-top of a mountain. The house was a little run-down and shabby but it had windows that wrapped all around it so the views were amazing! One night I was sitting in my living room reading. It was very quiet and my three dogs were sprawled around the floor snoozing… like dogs do. Suddenly, the whole room filled with a bright green light. All three of the dogs jumped up and ran to the far window barking and growling. I ran to the window and looked out at the night sky. There was a giant green ball of light moving very slowly across the horizon…I mean really, really, slowly! The dogs were having a panic attack and so was I at this point, so I called my husband at work. “There’s a U.F.O crawling across the sky!” (I screamed). My husband said, “What am I supposed to do about it? Lock the doors!”   The U.F.O. sailed blithely on…

Tim Greaton: Most of our readers won’t realize just how busy your life is, given your hectic home life and your store duties. How do you ever find time to write such amazing novels?

Linell Jeppsen: Sometimes it’s hard, I admit it. I run a bookstore and try to write at least two chapters a week. I also have a house to maintain and a husband who will eat nothing but potato chips if left to his own devices. Writing is a labor of love though. Once I get a story running through my head, its clamoring to get out. Writing can be infuriating, frustrating, challenging and, in the end, the most rewarding thing in the world.

Tim Greaton: Our goal today was to talk specifically about your Story Time novel, which is one of my top favorite recent science fiction books. In a few minutes, I’m going to throw out my twisted view of your book, so this is your last chance to tell our readers the truth about this amazing tale and how you came to tell it?

Linell Jeppsen: I live in Washington State, quite close to Grand Coulee dam and the Hanford nuclear reservation. There has been a lot of speculation about what would happen if a mighty earthquake broke the dam. I sketched out a series of possible scenarios, tossed in some people- (good folks and some terrible, criminal types), sprinkled them with some aliens and tossed it all into a big post-apocalyptic salad bowl. To be honest, emotion started to take over at some point so the characters came alive for me. When I finished writing Story Time I put my head down on my desk and sobbed.

Tim Greaton: I’ve said it before, and it deserves repeating—your novel is unique enough to be a successful movie. Have you read a lot of science fiction which might have fed into your vision, or are you just one of those geniuses who wakes every day with a million-dollar idea?

Linell Jeppsen: I would love to see Story Time made into a film. I like the message it sends: that we are in this life together and despite our differences, we should try to love one another, as a species. And yes- I think every sci-fi movie I ever read or movie I watched contributed in some way to the novel.

Tim Greaton: I was hoping you might tell us which scene was your favorite to write? How long did that one take you?

Linell Jeppsen: Okay- this is going to sound hokey, but the hardest stuff for me to write is romance. I fretted and moaned about a love scene I knew was coming up. I had to write…and write some more…and delete everything I wrote. Finally, I chickened out entirely and just kind of jumped over it! LOL- you Know what I’m talking about!

Tim Greaton: You and I have dozens of friends in common, and everyone says that you’re one of the kindest, most helpful people they know. Does that come naturally or is it just an act? (For the record, Linell has thrown two pencils and heavy, leather-bound book which barely missed my grin) Seriously, do you think your kindness or other personality traits are reflected in your characters?

Linell Jeppsen:  I DO try to be kind.  I think that common courtesy is lacking in today’s society and I think that those of us who try to be good, decent people will be rewarded…even if it IS only with a cheese-head award!

Tim Greaton: Can we look forward to a Story Time sequel?

Linell Jeppsen:  If I do a sequel for Story Time it will be a ways down the road. First, I have to finish my Sasquatch novel, Onio (which is HUGE, BTW), and go back to finish my haunted western, Deadman’s Lament. In addition, I might be doing a joint effort later this fall with a good friend of mine, Bryden Lloyd!

Tim Greaton: Just for fun, if a national advertising firm offered you a free promotion to drop flyers from hot air balloons over New York. What would they say?

Linell Jeppsen: “It’s the end of the world as we know it! Squeeeee!” LOL!

Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly purchase your books.

Linell Jeppsen: Thank you- go to, or directly to Amazon:

Tim Greaton: After our time together, I expect that a number of our readers are probably searching online bookstores for your novels right now. I really appreciate you spending so much time with me today…but, probably more importantly, I truly appreciate you writing the fascinating novel called STORY TIME. It has been the highpoint of my recent reading list. Thanks for spending time on the forum today, Linell.

Linell Jeppsen: Thanks so much Tim for reading Story Time and taking the time to review it and give me an interview on your blog-site. One of THE MOST IMPORTANT gifts I’ve received since becoming a published writer is the friendship and support from people like you.

Tim Greaton: Here’s my review of Story Time…

One of the best Sci-fi stories I’ve read in years…

The apocalyptic novel Story Time by Linell Jeppsen shines with intelligence and reads with the clarity and speed of an action movie, shaming works by some of the best-known science fiction writers of our time.

In 2015, a young teacher is asked to return to her parents’ ranch in Kettle Falls, Washington to spend the week with her seventeen- and twelve-year-old brothers while her parents vacation in Hawaii. None of them could have known that their world would begin to crumble that very week. As earthquakes and volcanoes lay waste to inland cities, tsunamis, hurricanes and floods obliterate the coastal areas. Horrified, Naomi, Zack and Josh are forced to watch the destruction of their world, first through television images and ultimately by firsthand experience. Because their parents’ ranch encompasses 1200 acres of timber and prime farmland, complete with livestock and a greenhouse, they fare better than most and ultimately find themselves taking in survivors, first by the handfuls and then by the dozens.

I can best describe this book as a more tightly focused “The Stand” or even a more gripping and believable version of the movie “Independence Day.” Either way, I encourage every reader to delve into this hair-raising account of a future that seems so convincingly real that I can still see the horrific and emotional scenes unfolding as I write these words. Through the shifting vantage point of the overwhelmed young teacher Naomi, the reporter Steve Cummings, and the giant basketball player Michael Anderson (who resembles Michael Jordan in my mind’s eye), we witness the utter destruction of planet Earth, an event which has apparently signaled a free-for-all among ruthless alien races who arrive to harvest the magnetic energy beneath our soils. Blood coats the ground as alien ships strafe what remains of our dying planet. In the midst of it all, Harmony Ranch’s population swells into the hundreds and becomes the target of a radical religious group known as “The Angel’s Sword.” It’s truly a battle of good versus evil as the last vestiges of humanity struggle to survive.

To tell you how these events unfurl and culminate would steal away half your fun, but rest assured your eyes will be riveted to the very last page.  I give Linell Jeppsen’s Story Time a colossal FIVE STARS.

Reviewed by “Maine’s Other Author”TM  Tim Greaton


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Interview with Joseph Beekman author of the "Little Orphan Anvil" series...

Today, in the Forum, I’m excited to be back and interviewing Joseph Beekman, author of the Little Orphan Anvil series and A Tail Spun

Tim Greaton: Joseph, it would be great if we could start off with a little background. Could you tell us about you, and don’t forget a juicy detail or two?

Joseph Beekman: I moved to the “wild west” of Arizona when I was a year-old from Bozeman, Montana.   Had a great childhood with my two older brothers and younger sister; went to high school and then college at the University of Arizona.  I Love music, play the guitar, although a bit rusty at the moment. Love to explore and find out of the way ghost towns and graveyards from the early days of settlers.  Fishing, cooking, and learning about the history of the world are fun things I like doing. 

While living in Tucson, back in 1990, I had a few paranormal happenings  in a house that I rented out with two others, where many times things like objects were displaced unexplained, at random times when no one else was around; shattering lights at odd hours of the night; dogs going crazy at the same area of the living room where knocking could be heard under the floor of this one story old house!  That was a something to remember! 

Tim Greaton: Have you found that writing has at all changed the way that you look at the world or the way that you live your life?

Joseph Beekman: It most certainly has.  It enables me to see this world as a far more beautiful, yet fragile, place.  And when I write, I have to remember that even though my style focuses in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, there are always going to be elements that co-exist within the larger world.  When people read the stories, maybe these elements somehow touch upon fragments of their own lives, either directly or indirectly, and hopefully that adds something beneficial to their life. 

Writing has also helped me stay a bit more focused on how I treat others and everything around me; kindness and honesty, and honesty with myself first and foremost.  Realizing that the world is full of infinite stories and that everyone, whether they are a writer or not, has a story to tell.  One thing I realized as I was writing my first story, A Tail Spun, is that I was writing with a lot of emotion from a spiritual perspective on how my own beliefs had been re-focused in a more realistic manner.  I had gone through a severe, life-threatening incident prior to finishing the story, and it really was a blessing in disguise! Not to get to detailed about the whole incident—for it would take quite a few pages in itself—but it was something that put my perspective of myself, others, and the world around me into a beautiful and spiritual light. 

Tim Greaton: Often, writers have an event or a period of time that really cemented their desire to be a writer. What was it for you?

Joseph Beekman: That’s a tough one! I always wanted to tell stories since I can remember.  I recall being in the third grade and the teacher asking all of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a storyteller, and she just smiled at me.  And I cannot leave out the same period of time when I saw a fantastic movie called “Star Wars” on the giant silver screen - Wow! That definitely catapulted my desire to tell stories, indeed!

But really, I’d have to say the period of time was around high school, and I was discovering so much great music that had really exploded in the mid-80’s rock and roll/heavy metal scene! I remember always wanting to write stories like many of the bands were writing in some of their songs.  There were certain bands that really set their music around stories - for example, Iron Maiden and the poet/writer Samuel Taylor Cooleridge with his poem “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” - and bands writing stories around the music they wrote, as well - Pink Floyd and Queensryche with their conceptual story albums.
Basically, that era of time probably was the cementing factor for my decision to be a writer, and not just a storyteller.  It set me on a more defined track of where I was going with my writing and of the genre I would continue to write within; sci-fi/fantasy/and even horror/paranormal. 

Tim Greaton: I know you’ve had some amazing things happen to you. What is one true event from your life that readers might even find hard to believe?

Joseph Beekman: Well, there were certainly a few, but I guess one that flashes to mind would have to be the incident I referred to earlier involving a life-threatening incident I had.  I’ll try to be brief. I suffered for a while with severe anxiety, and having finally accepted taking prescription pills for this, I then decided after a time to withdraw from them, thinking I no longer needed them.  That thinking would lead me to who I am now, although it was a great risk to my life.  After two days of deciding to withdraw from the pills, I suffered a massive seizure - brain shut-off - and falling to a tile floor, shattered the frontal bone structure of my face.  As a true “God shot”, as I would call it, my mother happened to be in my apartment area and found me in a pool of blood and barely able to breath. 

Long story short:  after coming out of a coma and extensive facial surgery and recovery, I am – 3 plus years later - in great health (some pain), no anxiety, and in full force of my writing dreams!  This also reflects back to what I said earlier about spiritual perspective:  I always believed in God, but put Him in the background, and me in the forefront.  Now, for me, it’s God first and everything thereafter.  This has truly enabled me to put so much of my writing and of life itself into sharper focus and move forward without fear of what I believe I was always intended to do: write!

Tim Greaton: Most of our readers won’t realize how hard you work to not just market your books but to give exposure to many other writers’ works. What motivates you to get up early and work late each day?

Joseph Beekman: My love for books and storytelling! I love not only writing and reading, but I have always loved helping others in any capacity of life, including the welfare of animals and of course helping others pursue their dreams of writing and getting as much exposure as possible.  Again, this isn’t about me, it’s about all of us, and we cannot do this alone.  I believe we need each other to help make our passions come to life.  So every minute I have free from my weekly routine of life, I head straight into my passion and do my best to help out wherever possible!

Tim Greaton: You gained a lot of initial attention for one particular title. Could you tell what that book is and maybe give us a brief glimpse at the story?

Joseph Beekman: Yeah, it has been!  The book, a first volume short story called “Little Orphan Anvil” is a “tale of magic and metal” and the story revolves around an orphaned robot who journeys to the Land of Shadows to help save an orphanage of children from the hands of a wicked witch and hopefully save an entire realm from her spell.  After being lost to the wilds of a divided realm, the robot is found by a little boy and his dog, eventually reuniting with its creator along the way, and off they set out to save the orphaned children and the realm from the witch’s rule. 
Amazing how fast this book really took off in terms of writing it, promoting it, and finally being accepted into a publishing house!  Patience and the pursuit of a passion - That’s it.  Never give up and keep trudging forward at all costs. 

Tim Greaton: Your plot has a very unique twist. What gave you the inspiration and idea?

Joseph Beekman: The inspiration for “Little Orphan Anvil” came from my love for the fantasy genre as well as the science fiction genre.  I have always loved books by Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ray Bradbury, for example, and as a kid, really enjoyed books like Charlotte’s Web and the Chronicles of Narnia.  Plus, the films like Star Wars and 2001, were also great, inspiring factors. 

I also liked the idea of inanimate objects coming to life and have always been fascinated with robots and the horror genre, too.  So really it was kind of a mish-mash of inspiration that brought this “little” tale to light!

Tim Greaton: You’ve already mentioned several fascinating points, but could you tell us which character was your favorite to write? And which one was the worst to write?

Joseph Beekman: My favorite character in “Little Orphan Anvil” would have to be the old man, Will.  He was fun to write - a bit loony but full of life and was the inspiring, go-getter, of the bunch that kept the others moving and to never lose faith.

The worst, that’s hard to say because I liked them all.  But in terms of “worst”, I guess writing the character would be the robot itself, and only “worst” because of the fact that I really had never put human qualities into a robot, especially one made from a pounding hammer and anvil. But, still a lot of fun to write!

Tim Greaton: People need only to look at your marketing efforts to see that you are an extremely visual person. Do you have an art background? Either way, where did you learn your storytelling skills? 

Joseph Beekman: I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1994 with a fine arts degree in media arts, so I had much to learn with art classes and had some really great literary classes and teachers, as well.  Some of the classes I enrolled in were exceptionally outstanding!  I made sure I got the most out of classes that dealt with literature, history, art, and even various types of media and marketing in these fields.  But, like I said, storytelling and writing was always something I kept at since childhood, so practice and patience.

Tim Greaton: Do you plan a sequel or is your book part of a series?

Joseph Beekman: The sequel is out now, but it may turn into a series depending on how the story itself rolls.  So far the second has been really well received.

Tim Greaton: Just for fun, if you could choose three celebrities or other famous people to read your book and do a television commercial together, who would they be and why?

Joseph Beekman: Quentin Tarantino, James Earl Jones, and Anne Rice.  That would be pretty wild! They are all people who have inspired me and all have unique talents and driving passions to tell stories.  Plus they’ve all dealt in the dark side at some point of their careers and lives!
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly purchase your books.
Joseph Beekman: Thanks! Here are a few places to visit:  A Tail Spun - paperback/kindle

Tim Greaton: After our time together, I expect that a number of our readers are probably searching for your novels on their e-readers right now. Thanks for spending time on the Forum today, Joseph.

Joseph Beekman: Thank you so much, Tim for the time and the opportunity to share a bit about me and my passion, as well as the upcoming release of “Little Orphan Anvil”!!   Much appreciation to you and all the readers and writers!!  - Joseph

“Never Abandon Hope”