The Writing Life of: T.S. Beier
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author T.S. Beier, who will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her new book ‘What Branches Grow‘, which was released on 12th April 2020 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
T.S. Beier is a science fiction aficionado. Her first published novel, What Branches Grow, is her love letter to the post-apocalyptic genre. It was also the focus of her Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. On top of her grad certificate, T.S. has a B.A. in English, a Certificate in Publishing, and a Certificate in Interior Decorating.
T.S. Beier lives in Ontario, Canada, with her partner, two daughters, and two dogs. She is a book reviewer who loves ghost towns and the ruins of industry.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
There was nothing that pervaded throughout my childhood, but I mortified my mother by telling people I wanted to be “an assassin” after watching the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight when I was 12.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
R.L. Stine (Goosebumps). I still have some of my Goosebump books to give my own daughters.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was 13. I’d always dreamed about writing full time but I never considered it a real opportunity. After my first maternity leave, I had an opportunity to try to make it a reality.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
When I was writing What Branches Grow I would lie on the couch with my small notepad laptop whenever I had a few hours or a half-day. When I was writing full time, I would drop my kid off at daycare and write/edit in my office from 8-4, minus a break to walk the dog or a chore around the house.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I’ve written 5 books, all unpublished except for What Branches Grow. For now!
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a pantser. While I tend to set a word count goal per chapter, I tend to let the narrative flow. I find I plot more when my motivation dips or when I’m at the end of a novel.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Nostromo Publications
Pages – 428
Release Date – 12th April 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1777129514
Format – ebook, paperback
Thirty-five years ago, the world was ravaged by a third world war, leaving most countries desolate wastelands. Tom Gennero is second-in-command of the struggling town of Churchill and is growing uncomfortable with the increasingly dictatorial methods of his boss, Church. When Church attempts to force Delia, a wasteland survivalist, into the sex trade without her consent, Gennero’s tenuous loyalty is severed. When Delia escapes into the wasteland, Gennero is ordered to retrieve her. As he tracks her, Gennero begins to realize he wishes to ally with her on her quest north to find a city rumoured to be untouched by war. If she’ll allow his company.
Delia is initially resistant to a companion, but after being forced to work with Gennero, first to save an old man and his dog from a mob, and second to escape said mob themselves, Delia agrees to a tenuous partnership. Neither is willing to trust one another with their past trauma, though the further they travel into the unknown, the more they will have to rely on one another. Together with the eccentric old man, who has his own sorrows, they make their way from one strange town after another. Their route takes them to the epicentre of raider operations, where they are confronted by Greta, an unhinged leader who will stop at nothing to defend her territory.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
Aside from Google searches for accuracy (regarding firearms and Southern expressions), I didn’t need to do a lot of research, as the novel is set in a fictional future with minimal technology.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
I’m not sure – I started writing the novel in 2010 and I don’t remember exactly when I finished it (2014 I think). It’s been through several iterations including a couple of chapter rewrites in 2019 when it was the focus of my Grad Certificate in Creative Writing.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
I’ve always loved T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (I have another quote from it as a tattoo). While I know it’s about a cultural wasteland rather than literal, the imagery is quite striking. I decided on “What Branches Grow” from the line “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow – Out of this stony rubbish?” because it suggests holding on despite adversity. I thought it represented very well the emotional and physical journey of my characters. I see their personal integrity as “the roots”, the post-apocalyptic landscape/their trauma as the “stony rubbish” and their friendship the “branches”.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Delia is tough. She’s been through a hellish upbringing and recently lost a friend who was like a sister to her. As such, she puts up walls around others, especially men. While she is strong and has a conscience, she often acts rashly and sometimes says things without thinking. She’s definitely a shoot first and ask questions later type of person. Delia’s journey involves learning to trust others.
Gennero is tormented. He has a strict sense of loyalty towards the people he cares about which makes it hard for him to do things selfishly. He’s not a pushover, but he is wracked with guilt over things that aren’t his fault. His arc surrounds letting go.
Mort, the pug, has a stubborn and fearless personality based on my own dog, Denny!
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
For years I’d considered sending it to a traditional publisher but never knew where to start. I took a few writing courses at different institutions, eventually enrolling in Humber College’s Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing, where the novel and my writing were critiqued by my mentor in the program. After I received a Letter of Distinction, I started sending out query letters, to no avail. Back problems in pregnancy caused me to have a few months off work just before COVID-19 struck, so I worked out a plan to have the book edited, hired a cover artist, and formatted it myself.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I’m working on part 3 of a trilogy that I plan to release in early 2021. I will be releasing one of my finished novels in 2023. At the end of July, a friend and I started a business of providing self-editing services (editing, formatting and book marketing – it’s called Rising Action Publishing Co), so if that picks up my writing might slow down.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
I’d take Captain Marvel’s powers – then I could fly around in space and blow up inanimate objects with energy blasts.
2) Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs! Denny, my one-eyed pug, and Ruger, my shepherd-mastiff.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
“Mediocre at Best” – mainly because nothing in my life has been overly exciting and I have a rather self-deprecating sense of humour.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I can’t act for the life of me, so I’d probably be a guard in a town or a raider – a non-speaking role.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
It’s so hard to choose, but the most beautiful place I’ve been is Kauai, Hawaii and my favourite city is Dublin, Ireland. But Lake Huron in Ontario is my happy place, either cottaging, paddle-boarding, or boating on it.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
“Why are all your books on the floor?” (The answer: my toddler is constantly pulling them off the shelves. It drives me up the wall!)
I would like to say a big thank you to T.S. Beier for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.