Today we are lucky enough to have J. Thomas Beaton with us to talk about a book he has recently published called Orion – a spectacular science fiction novel that will cater for those looking to sit back and enjoy a combination of adventure, science-fiction, action and futuristic genres. He has agreed to give us a look at the main character of Orion as well as share his creative process and inspiration. We are also allowed to catch a glimpse of the next book we can look forward to from this exciting new author.
1. How do you get your ideas?
I just have ideas. They come to me and I write them. Sometimes they are abstract at first and I have to beat them out of myself and sometimes they just flow. Sometimes I will say a phrase and think – there is something in that. Other times someone like my sister will say the most profoundly odd thing and I will think “Yea, why not?”. Not always sure where the ideas come from, they just do.
2. What kind of books do you like to read and which authors have inspired you?
Science fiction (Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly and books by L Ron Hubbard, Orson Scott Card and folk like that)
Fantasy (Tolkien, Hubbard, George R R Martin, Robert Jordan, Neil Gaiman, Ben Aaronovitch and many more)
Young Adult / New Adult – JK Rowling and similar.
Mysteries – Ken Follet, Gordon Ferris
Paranormal – Robert J Crane, Daniel O’Malley, Guy Adams.
Many, Many authors are on this list but it would go on and on and of course has changed over the years along with my tastes.
3. When did you start writing and what gave you the courage to do that?
I am a new author and just self published my first novella, Orion: Suresh Adventure, in April and am well into a second novel. So I could answer that I started writing in February but that would only be true of that particular story. I have “dabbled with” writing for years but never got farther than the first couple of paragraphs or perhaps a chapter before something else took over and my interest was off into that subject instead – generally work but also study, movies, you name it. The end result was that my writing would get the short shrift.
What gave me the courage to actually finish a story and start another? A number of things but first and foremost I had to stop telling myself in my head that what I had written was no good or poor quality – a self invalidation that likely most artists have to push through. I had to decide I was good and keep telling myself that. Oddly enough it helped and I considered that it was good writing.
But I had to watch myself. A friend that I have known for years asked “What are you writing?” My instant response was “Oh you know, just some crap”. Later, I was annoyed with myself. No it wasn’t. It was good and I was even almost finished with it. So why did I say that? I need to keep my guard up on my own considerations because those are far more powerful than what anyone else will ever tell me.
4. When you write, is the character fully formed in your mind or do they grow as the story progresses?
When I write the character is never fully formed in my mind. I do try and get a really complete concept of who they are and their likes and dislikes, age, gender and idiosyncrasies. But then as a write these change and develop and get added to or taken away as I get to know them better myself. For instance the primary protagonist in Orion: Suresh Adventure started off as a woman which I thought was a good idea. It’s a “soft” military environment (in that I don’t bring up the military aspect too much though it is there) and I was fine with that. But as she developed she became quite a tough nut. When I gave the book out to a few readers they hated that portion. To them this character was a male through and through and the portion of the story where I was clear that she was a she caused all of them to balk so I had to go back and re-write and turn the ‘she’ into a ‘he’.
5. If you could share a jewel of advice with new writers, what would it be?
Never tell yourself you are not good enough or that your writing is of poor quality. Believe in your own writing and do it and practice, you will get better and better and a good editor can help you improve your work. First and foremost believe in yourself.
6. Do you start with the whole idea including the ending or do you start with a thought and work with it and could you explain your ‘creation’ process?
I start with a primary concept and work it out as a picture and draw it out in terrible form with little stick figure men and scribble little buildings and so on which provides me with a basic foundation. From there I start to write the story and let it take me where it takes me as it will generally just flow.
Occasionally I will hit a rough spot where I know I need to decide what happens next and it is not clear enough to me where it is going or what needs to happen next. A long walk with no phone and no internet (no distractions) helps to work that out. Or a long boring journey in the car gives me the time and space to figure it. If that happens then when I get home I will grab my note book and write and write until I have the whole concept down on paper.
When I next get back to writing the story, I might use a little of what I decided in my previous brain storm, certainly the part that immediately comes next in the book, but after words it’s just flowing again and the characters are developing again. I looked back a few times and only about 50% of my brain storm from the walk or road trip actually made it into the book itself – which is okay.
Sometimes I get a picture into my head of what I know the cover needs to look like and if that occurs, writing gets parked and cover design kicks in. That’s not totally a divergence as it will be part of the story growth to me and needs to be gotten down before I carry on.
Finishing is harder than starting or carrying on. Orion needed to come in under 17,000 as I was entering it into a competition and that was the word limit so as I hit 15,000 I knew “uh oh, time to round up here”. But the characters were like family. I didn’t want to be through with them yet. And so I left myself an opening through the book to be able to embark on another adventure with them if I choose to do so.
7. Do you edit and proofread as you go along or do you wait till the end to do a rewrite?
When I write, its hand written in a notebook, old fashioned eh? So no re-writing or editing or proof reading gets done as I go and that all waits till the end.
The benefit of that is that I can’t tinker with it which I know is a bad habit of mine and would result in no finished product (as I describe in a post on my blog). Another benefit is that when I re-write it (type it out) I’ve done with it in my mind. The story is created and is. So now typing it if something at the beginning does not flow with the end I can easily adjust it with the full picture in place.
Proofreading and editing is the very last activity. I went through Orion about thirty times. In my head, out loud, on paper, on kindle. Double spaced, single spaced. Anything to force myself to look at it each time newly and thus see things I didn’t the last time. And let me tell you, by the thirtieth time I read it, I really was ready to move on to something totally different.
8. What was the process like to get your book published?
And possibly the reason that I stopped telling myself “I could write a book” and actually just did it. I was reading the Sierra series by Robert J Crane and going over his blog and saw that he decided to be self published for his own reasons. I hadn’t heard of the concept before. l thought if I did write a book I would have to take the time to sell it to an agent or publishing house and didn’t want to go through the pain of rejection and nor do I really have the time to do that.
But then I decided to look into this “self publishing” concept and found it was really easy. I thought myself how to format a professional eBook that I would enjoy and pay for as a customer (details of that on my blog) and then launched it on Kindle Direct. I thought it would go live automatically and the 24 hours that I needed to wait to get through their review process was probably the longest I have had to wait in long while.
I repeated that same “nervous excited waiting” with Smashwords and CreateSpace and will go through the same again with my next book.
9. Could you introduce us to your main character?
Captain John Kruiger (who first came to life as Captain Sarah Lee Rieker) is the Captain of a Scout Ship, the Orion. He has two crew under him, James, his second in command and Scott the navigator and communications officer. He is a little uncertain of himself as a leader to start with but he is also insouciant. He is not your typical “straight cut” military man with a shaved head and “Yes sir”. He’s got a pony tail and interfering with a culture (as opposed to not altering the course of a civilization Star Trek point of view) might actually be kind of fun once in a while. In other words he is a little bit of rebel.
At the same time however, Kruiger knows his values and what he considers to be right and will fight for it even if he is a taking on huge odds.
His uncertainties are only in his head as his crew will follow him and do what he says without question, trusting him and by the end of the story he recognizes that and is more certain of himself, more comfortable in his roll.
He is a role model. He is who I would want to be if I were in those same circumstances.
What is your favourite thing about him?
That he isn’t cocky or know-it-all. He’s human and has uncertainties like the rest of us and knows it. But plays them to his advantage and does not complain about them and instead works to overcome them.
1 If your character to climb out the book for a few moments and talk to you, what do you think he would say?
Hard one. What would he tell me? ‘You can reach the stars, you just need to try.’
1 Do you write full time or part time?
I write part time, in car trips, on lunch breaks, at home in bed or in the park on a weekend off.
1 Do you have another book in the works?
Sure do. Its title is Duality Inc. Its either fully done handwritten or half done – I haven’t decided if I am going to split into two books or keep it all in just one. It sort of depends on the word count when I finish typing. But if it is two books they will be released within a few weeks of one another. I can’t stand as a reader having to wait months for a sequel so would not do that to readers of mine.
1 If so, could you share a bit with us?
Private Investigator Joshun Godwood rushes to save the life of a girl and uncovers an insidiously evil plot against mankind. Suddenly finding himself as humanities only hope he is overwhelmingly outnumbered and must outsmart the enemies of our race to save us from extinction.”
If you would like to find out more about J. Thomas Beaton or his book, head over to his website where you can download the first few chapters for free!
Just follow the link below.