Author Interview: Beem Weeks author of Jazz Baby

Author Photo

1. What’s your name (pen if you prefer) and what are you here to promote?

My name is Beem Weeks. I wrote the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel Jazz Baby.

2. Is this your first book or have you been writing for a while?

While Jazz Baby is my first novel, I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life—at least since age eight or nine.

Jazz_Baby_thumb

3. Is this book part of a series?

No. This is a stand-alone novel, not part of any series—though I have had thoughts about a sequel perhaps. I’ve lately imagined the main character a few years older, living in New York, realizing her dreams, meeting the challenges that a small-town girl might face in a big city. But Jazz Baby is quite dark at times, so any sequel would require sufficient tension.

4. Tell me a little about the book, what genre, short summary, that kind of thing, also what age group is it meant for?

It’s a historical fiction/coming-of-age story set in 1925 Mississippi and New Orleans. The story follows a newly orphaned young teenage girl as she embarks on a chase of her dream as a jazz singer. The girl, named Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, has an amazing voice. When she sings in church, she’s able to make even the saintliest of saints cry. But it’s in the speakeasies and jazz clubs where she seeks a different reaction to her songs. Along the way she meets many characters, some which have only the darkest of interests in the girl. There is violence, drinking, some drug use, and sexuality, so the age group is probably mid-teens and older.

5. How about a little bit about you? (or a lot if you prefer) What makes you tick? What turn’s you on? 😉

I am a 46-year-old divorced father of two grown children, grandfather of twin girls. I was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. Writing makes me tick. I love that whole notion of creating something out of little more than my own thoughts. Manufacturing people and places that haven’t previously existed—to make them believable—is such a wonderful challenge. When success arrives, that’s the sweetest part.

Follow-up: I agree writing is a wonderful hobby and being appreciated and a little sucessful is a great feeling Smile.

6. Have you always been interested in writing?

From the first time I learned to read and write I’ve been interested in stories of all sorts. I’ve been writing stories since about age eight. While in fifth grade, I co-wrote a play that was performed for the entire school. In high school, I wrote album and concert reviews for the school newspaper. I figured journalism would be my career—until I hit on fiction and the creativity behind that form. Fiction challenged me in ways journalism didn’t.

7. What do you think is the best part about being a writer?

The ability to create worlds that don’t exist without my pen.

8. What’s the worst part of writing?

Not being able to support myself on book sales alone at this point. I’d love to be able to write for a living.

Follow-up: I think most writers would love to do it fulltime,  I know I certainly would as well, hopefully someday.

9. Do you think the future is in Ebooks? Or will print make a comeback?

Ebooks are certainly the wave of the future. It’s happening just the way it did in music. Many people buy their music in digital downloads, preferring to listen on an iPod or MP3 player. But compact discs are still selling. CDs may not move the numbers they once did, but they aren’t going away anytime soon. I still buy my music in CD format—though I upload them onto my computer, so I can put them on an iPod. My book sales are seeing slightly more print copies than Ebooks, though Ebooks are catching up. Ebooks are convenient, sure, but a print book can go pretty much anywhere.

10. What are you reading right now?

A book called The Well-Fed Publisher by Peter Bowerman. It’s a guide for indie authors. I’m hoping to learn some different marketing tools for selling my novel.

11. What was the last movie you saw?

I just saw The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. A very funny film.

12. What was the last book you really loved?

A novel called Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. The twist at the end fooled me. I like it when an author has the ability to put one over on me.

13. Do you ever read comic books/graphic novels?

I never really got into the comic book scene. Graphic novels? That depends on subject matter. I’ve read only a handful, but I’ve been impressed by the ones I’ve found.

14. How do you feel about promotion? Any tips for other writers?

Promotion can be quite frustrating. Getting word out about a book isn’t a guarantee the author will sell copies. The only advice I can offer other writers is to have patience, use Twitter and other social media, keep plugging away, and don’t get too down when sales aren’t what you expect. Reviews and interviews are always a blessing.

Follow-up: I’ll admit my expectations were high when my book first came out (sales-wise) and I was disappointed with the numbers. Being realistic and just sticking to it are certainly points I’d agree with.

15. Favourite author?

Probably Barbara Kingsolver or Daniel Woodrell. It’s too close to call at this time. Each author has written novels that still resonate with me years after first reading them. The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver is just brilliant. But so is Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.

16. Favourite person (living or dead)?

My mother. She’s done so much for me during the course of my lifetime. I could never repay her in a million years.

17. Would you consider yourself religious?

Yes. As a young man, I delved into drugs and alcohol in a big way. One night I died, clinically, for a short period of time. I saw things that let me know there is something to come after we leave this world. If I’d have stayed dead, well, I don’t even want to think about that. I won’t say I saw hell—but it certainly wasn’t heaven. God is real. I have absolutely no doubt about this fact. I won’t cram it in the faces of others, but if others choose to shove their beliefs at me, I’ll gladly shove back. I’ll always talk about my faith. It’s a big part of who I am today.

18. What do you think is the biggest problem in the world today?

Lack of civility. Selfishness. Vanity. Pride. Arrogance. These aren’t new issues; these have been around for thousands of years. It’s the human condition. They’re just widespread today.

19. If you had all the money you ever wanted, what would you do?

I would help others with their daily needs (food, clothing, shelter). Nobody should ever go hungry or live on the streets—especially those with children. There are always going to be poor and impoverished people. Jesus Christ said as much. But if each of us who have a little extra helped one other person, there’d be a lot less trouble in the world.

Follow-up: Well said, I agree those who have more should help those who have less.

20. What’s the secret to happiness?

I’m still looking for that answer. It’s a day-by-day quest. What makes me happy today may not have what it takes to make me happy tomorrow. Nobody is ever going to be happy every minute of every day. But even those down-in-the-dumps moments can be quite inspiring. Wisdom arises from troubled times. Wisdom is to be sought above wealth.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, best of luck with your book and hey I’m a writer too. E-mail me anytime if you want to chat TheNLVampire@gmail.com thanks again!

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4 Comments

  1. Jazz Baby sounds great.

    • Hi Kent 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, I agree it sounds like a good one. Beem gave a great interview, have a good day! =)

      • How did you hear about him?

      • Hi Kent 🙂

        I followed Beem on Twitter, he followed me back and I asked if he’d like to do the interview. I’ve gotten to know some good people from Twitter.


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