Published on December 10th, 2011 | by Jenah0
Welcome Jason A. Beineke
J.B. – I am from Bancroft, Nebraska, a small village in the Heartland. Overall, I do not have much to recommend it and there aren’t all that many fond memories of the place outside of being with my grandparents. In fact, there are a lot of bitter and painful memories from my youth in that village.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?
J.B. – I did want to be a writer when I was growing up and I did my first rough draft of a novel when I was 16 (it wasn’t very pretty). I also wanted to be an Evil Overlord, heh. I just knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life tinkering with cars or working in a slaughterhouse like so many of the classmates seemed to be destined for. Sadly, there really wasn’t much support for an aspiring writer when I was young, even though Bancroft has a museum in town for a famous writer/poet (John G. Neihardt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Neihardt).
I eventually went into English in college. Since I was specializing in genre fiction I again didn’t find much support from the university faculty. It was extremely discouraging. Disheartened, I pretty much allowed my grades to fall and I flunked out of school. When I returned to college I was well into the throes of a decade long writer’s block and majored in International Business and Economics.
Unable to secure a decent job with my degree, I’ve found my creative juices bursting the dam and I can’t seem to find enough time to write all of the projects that I want to do, which is strangely ironic.
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
J.B. – My latest (actually, first published) book is entitled Blackstone: Drawing the Circle and begins a series of novels set in a fantasy world. While magic shapes much of the world and society, I am doing all that I can to keep things centered on the characters and plot. To that end, I have eschewed tight geographical references and religious structures. At the core of this book are the relationships between the three protagonists, Blackstone, Hiroe and Loralune the Moonhavoc. Each one is a damaged character and much of this book is about the friction between Blackstone and Hiroe.
Blackstone is a mercenary sorcerer who hires himself out to a rather powerful and unsavory Sorcerer Queen to do a quick assassination job. At the last moment he balks at his orders and turns against her employer. The damage is done, though, as she had used him as a stalking horse and the rest of her forces are causing terrible havoc not only for Blackstone’s mark, but for all of the people of the lands that he was infiltrating. Tasked by the mark to look after his son, Blackstone finds himself the guardian for 14 year old Hiroe. Raised to hate and distrust sorcerers, Hiroe is less than thrilled by the proposition.
The two learn, bit by painful bit, to accept each other, though Hiroe remains open to the idea of seeing the sorcerer dead. Things are complicated when Blackstone frees a caged werewolf and returns her to her human form. Again, Hiroe finds himself in the presence of a sorcerer whom he instinctively hates, but upon hearing her story he begins to soften towards her.
Now the trio has the agents of an empire, the Warden of a small community and an uncontrollable werewolf causing them havoc. Just when they seem to find respite, things go horribly wrong.
One of the things I have been hearing from reviewers is that they loved the plot twist that occurs in the last section of the book. I hadn’t realized that this would be such a hook to readers and reviewers. Now I fear that I will never be able to match this plot twist in my future works!
Why did you write this book?
J.B. – It was taking up space in my head and refusing to pay rent!
Actually, this book took ten years to be written. In recent years my writer’s block has finally fallen away and this was the oldest project I had swimming in my brain. Over the years the characters have become very personal to me and I have come up with not just an initial series, but three different possible series to write. These character and stories were demanding to be let out!
How did you come up with the title?
J.B. – Initially, this was to be trilogy with the titles reflecting concepts of alchemical philosophy. Drawing the Circle refers to the beginning of a great magical working. It also is a setting of boundaries. This book begins the life adventures of our characters and the three core characters represent the initial circle of friendship, love and mutual reliance. Other characters will come and go from Blackstone’s group in the future, but these three are the core.
The original titles for the trilogy were: Drawing the Circle, Black Sun Alchemy and Gold Sun Seeker. The series has greatly expanded since then and these titles have had to be abandoned in favor of others. The second book in the series will now be titled Butcher’s Winter and the third book will be Masquerade of the Black Sun. I have tentative titles for the rest of the series but I better hold back on them in case things change again.
How did you choose your genre?
J.B. – I think it was Jim Henson’s fault, actually. He put out this little movie entitled The Dark Crystal. It had a powerful impact on me when I was young and steered me to the fantasy genre. Then there was this dude in California named George Lucas. In 1977, I went to see Star Wars in a local theatre with my father. I spent the whole half hour ride home lying in the back seat, my six year old mind blown by what I had seen and experienced in the movie. From that night onward this world has been too small for me…
What inspired you to be a writer?
J.B. – This goes all the way back to my first grade class. Even then I had a very active imagination (which got me into trouble more than once). My first little story was about aliens invading Earth and I had to read it in front of the first grade class. The teacher even turned out the lights to “enhance the mood”. I was SO embarrassed! I’ve been writing and/or daydreaming ever since. I even got a few local writing awards when I was in school. Sadly, this was nowhere near as cool to the local populace as winning the District football championship.
Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?
J.B. – When it comes to my writing I have found that, to one extent or another, I am ALL of the characters. I don’t think it’s caused by split personality disorder or schizophrenia, but some of my best conversations ARE with myself.
Blackstone represents the tall, quiet and intimidating type of person that I think I would like to be when I grow up (whenever that is…).
Hiroe is what I wish I had been like as a teenager, susceptible to fears and doubts but plowing on despite adversity and loss. While he is not the titular character of the series, he is my focus in the series and that will become more and more evident in the books to come.
Loralune is the most broken, traumatized character, but also presents the resilience of the individual. She could well have fallen into becoming a horrid evil or even committed suicide out of guilt and fear of what she had and would do to innocents in the future. She refuses to give up, though. I am glad to report that she will shine even more in future books. I’ve done a lot of roleplaying over the years and I often run a female character. I guess I have a strong Yin influence in my personality.
I am going to give out a sneak peek on the next book and reveal the next regular character, Musty. He’s the old, surly bastard whose intentions are not really known and he really can’t be trusted. But he is old and wise compared to the rest and becomes something of a shepherd to the rest. More than any other, I think he reflects who I am today in my old age looking back bemusedly (and with a touch of jealousy) on youth.
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
J.B. – No, I really don’t like works that do that. You date a work by doing that and limit the work’s long-term relevancy. There are, of course, exceptions to this such as Catch-22, The Count of Monte Cristo (based on real events) and The Three Musketeers (also based on true events).
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
J.B. – The research, particularly in terms of technological levels in a medieval fantasy setting, social norms and the different cultures that I am trying to emulate throughout my writings.
Also, I want my writing to be about the characters and the plot, not the magic or weapons or geography. It is always a challenge keeping this focus and maintaining a level of quality story telling that will keep readers interested and enthralled.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
J.B. – Never listen to professional literary critics. They are a horrible influence on the literary world and they try to fulfill their own shattered dreams by tearing down others (I feel that they are one of the root causes for Ernest Hemingway’s suicide). Stick to fellow authors in your field and to reviewers who happen to love the field in which you are writing.
Read the classics, even some of the boring ones. Even if they are nowhere nears what you are going to write, you will still learn a great deal about the writing craft.
We have all seen how horrible the Hollywood culture has destroyed great works (the most recent horror was Susan Cooper’s book, The Dark Is Rising, which was turned into the terrible The Seeker.) You will find much of the same thinking in the New York publishing industry. Sometimes the best bet is to go with the small publishing houses or even going independent.
Going independent means that the writing is the easy part. After you publish through Amazon, Smashwords or another platform you are stuck with all of the rest of the work, including the marketing and promotion. It’s a steep learning curve, but I am actually quite happy with how much I have learned since publishing independently. You will also find a lot of hate being directed towards the indie world, but also a pretty satisfying field of support.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
J.B. – As stated earlier, I went through a decade of writer’s block, much of which was brought on by discouragement by the wall of rejection letters. I spent those years keeping the stories in my mind and constantly playing through different scenes, dialogues and ideas. When the block finally crumbled I had a torrent to deal with and I am still dealing with the flood.
I suffer from severe depressive disorder and much of that has been an influence on my writing. Writing has been a tool of therapy for me. Now, more than ever, I really don’t care what others think of my hyperactive imagination and some of my strange quirks.
Sometimes I force myself to write through a blockage period, but I have not really been satisfied with what I produce during those periods. I find it much more productive to write out plot points for future use when I am ready to get back to writing.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
J.B. – A single favorite author? That would be a very hard thing to choose. One of the most influential authors on me has been Lloyd Alexander with his Chronicles of Prydain series, which really opened up the fantasy world experience to me. Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series was a wonderful experience on me as well. In middle grade I was also strongly influenced by John Christohper’s Tripod Series. In high school I was swept away by Frank Herbert’s Dune. Recently, I have fallen in love with the works of Alexandre Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsky and others, including James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
J.B. – Not well. It’s one of the reasons why I finally said to heck with it and went with the indie publishing route.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
J.B. – Coffee, beer, a good internet connection (I do a lot of on-the-fly research, all hail Wikipedia!) and a good word processing program.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
J.B. – Bugging the Astrophysics graduate student department of my local university for their thoughts on Jupiter and its relations with its moons.
Cooking classic Georgian dishes, some of which came out quite good!
Visit Jason On The Web!
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005BCPEHG
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005BCPEHG