Whether you’re already finished with this month’s Barnes & Noble Spotlight title, Until Proven Guilty (available in August for just 99 cents), or it’s still on your to-be-read list, you can find out more about bestselling author J.A. Jance in this exclusive author Q&A. Learn how Jance’s portrayal of her beloved Seattle setting has changed over the years, and how many new J.P. Beaumont books are on the horizon (sort of!). Spoiler Alert: The following Q&A contains some minor plot details, in case you’re still working your way through the series.
You began writing the first J.P. Beaumont book in 1982. How did you come up with the story in Until Proven Guilty? And is Beau based on any real detective?
I started with the crime scene that is the start of the book. By the time that scene was over, I was looking at the world through J. P. Beaumont's eyes rather than my own. It's been that way ever since.
You’ve said that when you wrote the first Beau book, you thought you were writing a book, not a series. At what point in the series did you start to realize Beau was going to be around for a while?
It was a step by step process. I thought the first book was a one off. When they bought it as a series, I was surprised. And every time a publisher bought two more books, I knew I was there for that many more anyway.
Would the Beau in Betrayal of Trust recognize himself in Until Proven Guilty? How has he changed and evolved as a detective and as a man?
I think Beau is still Beau. He still has no idea that he's an attractive man--that women like him--and that's an attraction in and of itself. In the beginning, he had a problematic relationship with his former wife and was estranged from his children. He's been dealing with those issues as he's gotten older and, I like to believe, wiser. But he still has the same wry way of looking at the world. His point of view is always fun for me to write.
How do events in the real world impact on Beau’s world (eg, the AIDS crisis when the books first were published to the war on terror now)?
AIDS came into my life in the early eighties when I was working in the insurance business. Then it was a death sentence; now it's a chronic condition. I've had characters in books that reflect both those realities. The Beaumont books are a reflection of how Seattle has changed in the last 25 years.
Have you ever done anything in the J.P. Beaumont series that the fans got upset about? Did you ever kill anyone off any character that you regretted later?
People have objected to the romantic moment that occurred between Beau and Joanna in Partner in Crime. Some of them were under the impression that it was a full blown affair. It was a MOMENT!! At the end of the third Beaumont book, in the first draft Ron Peters was dead. My husband, my agent, and my editor all said, "Please don't kill Ron Peters." And you'll notice, he isn't dead.
In addition to the Beaumont series, you write a number of other series (Joanna Brady, Walker Family, Ali Reynolds). Do you have any special affection for Beau because he was your first? Do the characters ever interact in stories?
So far Ralph Ames, Beau's friend and attorney, has crossed over into both the Walker books and the Ali Reynolds stories. There have been two books, Partner in Crime and Fire and Ice, that stars Beaumont and Brady.
How far into the future do you plan Beau’s storylines? How many more J.P. Beaumonts can we look forward to?
I met outlining in Mrs. Watkins's sixth grade geography class. I hated outlining then; I hate it now. Nothing has happened to me in the intervening years to change my mind. I also have a terminal fear of Roman Numerals. If you don't do Roman Numerals, you can't outline. In other words, if I don't outline when it comes to writing books, you can bet I don't outline series, either. So the real answer to how many more J.P. Beaumonts is this: I have NO idea.
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for “JA Jance” to download her long list of bestselling novels.
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