A native Toledoan, Jim Beard was introduced to comic books at an early age by his father, who passed on to him a love for the medium and the pulp characters who preceded it. After decades of reading, collecting and dissecting comics, Jim became a published writer when he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. Since that time he’s written official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comic stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history.
His work includes GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES, a book of essays on the 1966 Batman TV series, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, a collection of pulp ghost stories featuring an Edwardian occult detective, a giant monster anthology called MONSTER EARTH, and CAPTAIN ACTION: RIDDLE OF THE GLOWING MEN, the first pulp prose novel based on the classic 1960s action figure.
Currently, Jim provides regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, is a regular columnist for Toledo Free Press and has forthcoming comic and prose work from Bluewater, TwoMorrows, Airship 27 and Pro Se.
I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
Everywhere. And that’s one of the things I love about writing, that anything at all might influence it. Sometimes it’s simply something that interests me as a reader that lays the groundwork for a story, or maybe the characters have spoken to me and told me what they’d like to do, but often times I stumble across a nugget of an idea while watching TV, reading a book or a magazine, and even, yes, surfing the internet.
What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter, though once I get into it, I usually am flying by the seat of my britches.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
A little of both, as I said above. No two of my stories have been crafted alike; it usually comes down to what the story itself demands. Gotta be loose if ya wanna build some good stories.
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision. If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
Part-time writer, full time procrastinator.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (Or your self-publishing experiences?)
Each of my publisher experiences have been different, and none of them bad. I’ve been pretty lucky so far in that area. I’m pretty high-maintenance myself, so opinions may differ on the other side of that question.
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
I’m in an anthology from Pro Se called THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MAJOR LACY AND AMUSEMENT, INC., which may win an award for Biggest Mouthful of a New Pulp Title. I’m also proud to say that for the very first time a story of mine has been recorded for an audiobook. That’s BOX THIRTEEN, based on an Alan Ladd radio drama from the 1940s, about a writer who solicits adventures through an ad in the paper for fodder for his books.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
I write comic books, and contribute to books about comics history, and I also created and edited a book about the 1960s Batman TV series called GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES. The bulk of my writing is fiction, though, and primarily in the New Pulp arena. I’m most proud of my Sgt. Janus character and the two volumes (so far) of his ghost investigations, as well as my two Captain Action novels and being the co-creator of a shared-world giant monster anthology series called Monster Earth.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Don’t listen to praise from your family or friends; that can eff you up pretty bad. Go to someone who knows grammar and spelling and how to plot and who doesn’t really know you and BEG them for an HONEST opinion of your writing. Because, guess what? We’re not all cut out for it. And there are a lot of us out there who are part of a larger circle jerk where mediocre and even poor writing is being applauded or excused. Take a good hard look at the stuff you put out there – and be brutal with yourself. Don’t let Mom tell you that you’re genius.
Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book by that author?
James P. Blaylock. Look for THE LAST COIN or THE PAPER GRAIL or ALL THE BELLS ON EARTH. Guy doesn’t write much anymore, but what he did is pretty unique.