J.P. Beaumont #23, Proof of Life, September 5, 2017

Occasionally people will ask me where J.P. Beaumont came from, and I’ll answer, “I met him on a train, thirty plus years ago.”  That’s the truth, or at least it’s more or less the truth.

What really happened is this.  It was March of 1983.  For months I had been spinning my wheels trying to write what would eventually become Until Proven Guilty, Beaumont # 1. My kids were still in elementary school, and it was spring break at Seattle Public Schools.  I put them on a bus to go to Camp Orkila on Orcas Island in the San Juans, and then I put myself on a train to go to Portland to spend a few days with Carol Wray, a friend from my life insurance days in Longview and Pe Ell.  I boarded the train in Seattle with a stack of blue-lined notebooks and a fistful of ball point pens.
As the train pulled out of the King Street Station, I said to myself, “What if I wrote this book from the detective’s point of view?”  I pulled out a notebook and a pen and wrote:  “She might have been a cute kid once. That was hard to tell now. She was dead.”  In the course of the next five days, I worked almost around the clock.  I ate when I was hungry; I slept when I was tired; and the rest of the time I wrote—30,000 words by hand!  (No computer at the time.) I had blisters on my writing fingers that required bandages.
So, when I met Beau, I was indeed on a train.  Where was he?  At a crime scene on the back side of Magnolia Bluff, investigating the homicide of a child.  But from the moment I wrote those words, I was at the crime scene with him; seeing what he was seeing; walking in his shoes; hearing what he said; and hearing what he thought.  We’ve been together as author and character ever since.  When it’s time to write another Beau book, it only takes a few pages for me to be sucked into his orbit.  I love the things he says, but more than that, I love the things he thinks—the little mental asides that are like private jokes he shares only with me and my readers.  Does that sound a little schizophrenic?  Beau would say right about now, “Bite me.”
Last week in Cannon Beach, someone asked me, “Which of your characters has more of you in them than the others?”  All of them have some, but remember, J.P. is my literary first born.  He and I share a birthday—October 27, 1944.  He gets seasick on boats and turns green on the Teacups at Disneyland.  Guess where that came from?  He had a mother who sewed his “home made” clothing on a treadle Singer Sewing Machine.  The same thing happened to me.  And when you read Proof of Life, (Due out SEPTEMBER 5 at a bookstore near you!!!) and discover Beau has a soft spot for clam strips from Chinook’s at Fisherman’s Terminal, guess what?  I love them, too.
So when it’s time to write a Beaumont book, it’s like slipping on a comfortable old shoe.  It fits in all the right places.  There aren’t any unexpected rough spots that give me blisters.  I can write far into the night and feel like I’m communing with an old friend, someone whose every politically incorrect foible is perfectly understandable and whose mistakes are forgivable as well.
That’s how I felt as I wrote Proof of Life, and that’s how I’m hoping my readers will feel as they read it, too.  And for those of you out there who are J.P. Beaumont virgins and who have never read any of these books before?  That’s okay, when you finish with this one, I hope you’ll go back and read the others.  I hope you’ll find you have a lot of catching up to do!
Before I go, one last word to my audio readers.  In a career that spans more than three decades, I’ve had several changes in narrators as far as audio editions are concerned.  For audio readers, the narrator becomes the characters, and changes are tough on everyone.  Some of my narrators have been great—Gene Engene comes to mind—and some have been not so great.  Mispronunciation of common geographical words is especially irksome to local-yokel readers.  Gila Bend—pronounced Gee Lah instead of Hee La.  And don’t even bother mentioning all the possible manglings of Puyallup or Sequim!  This time when a previous narrator retired and for the first time ever, my publisher sent me samples of work from several different narrators.  Together Bill and I together settled on Alan Sklar, and he’s the reader for both the novella Still Dead and Proof of Life.  I’m happy to say that in the course of doing the recording sessions, he sent me numerous e-mail inquiries about possibly troublesome words.
So enjoy catching up with my old friend, J.P.  It turns out he’s still kicking, and so am I.

PS: As many of you know, our Cannon Beach trip was interrupted by a quick trip to KillerNashville, a writer’s conference where I had been nominated for an award. I had asked for my fans to vote for me for the Reader’s Choice awards, but given my history with that kind of thing, I wasn’t exactly holding my breath.

It was my second visit to KillerNashville. I was the guest of honor there in 2009 and guest of honor at Bouchercon in Long Beach in 2014, but the last time I was nominated for an award was 1992 at Bouchercon in Toronto for Hour of the Hunter. I didn’t win.

This time in Nashville, however, I made up for lost time, walking away with not just one but three awards. Clawback won a Silver Falchion (a broad-bladed slightly curved sword of medieval times) award for Best Thriller Adult Fiction. That one is from attendees at the conference. Clawback also won the Reader’s Choice Best Thriller—that one was voted by my fans. I also won Reader’s Choice Best Author. (Another one voted on by fans.) Obviously my fans came through for me. Thank you to EVERYONE who made that possible.

17 thoughts on “J.P. Beaumont #23, Proof of Life, September 5, 2017

  1. Thank you for giving us the history of Beau. I’ve been re-reading the books and love the way he is always getting into trouble. The Guard Red Porsche has suffered a bit, too.

    Congratulations on the three awards. I knew of only one, but am so glad you received more. You really deserve them.

    I found something which I think you will enjoy. Sue Grafton is explaining the advantages to writing fiction. She said “In my view, the delight of fiction is its enhancement of the facts and the embellishment of reality. Aside from that—as my father used to say—‘I know it’s true because I made it up myself.'”

  2. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. In fact, my mom told me my first word at one year of age was “book!” I have a very few authors who never disappoint. When I hear about a new JA Janice book, I count the days until it is released. Thanks for the many hours I’ve spent living the stories with your characters. Don’t ever stop writing!

  3. Oh how I envy someone that is reading a Beaumont book for the first time. I have reread some 3 times. He becomes an old friend that you laugh with and sometimes there is a tear Congratulation on the awards you really deserved them

  4. Congratulations on the awards. Glad it was worth interrupting Cannon Beach (That would be a tough decision). As a Seattleite I’m anxiously awaiting Beau back in my life Sept 5th. Thanks and hope to see you soon in Seattle area.

  5. Congratulations on the awards! I just wanted to let you know that the JP Beaumont books were the first books that I had ever read, written in first person, that I liked. Before them, I didn’t like books written in first person. He really came to life for me and I really enjoy reading them. Thanks for the awesome books!

  6. I love all your characters but Joanna Brady is my favorite. I just love that scrappy, little red-haired lady with super organizing skills because I used to be one. My husband and I even went to Bisbee and drove around, trying to find the places featured in your books. I always advance-order your new books from Amazon for my Kindle but I have nine shelves full of your and other older pre-kindle books. Recently, we needed more space for a new piece of furniture so I had to thin them out. Your books I kept, and always will. I’m 77 years old and have found there is one advantage to age. After a couple of years, I can re-read and enjoy my favorites all over again. I’m hoping you come to Salt Lake City or Provo on tour because I’d love to meet you. That’s a big deal for me because I’m wheel-chair bound but I’d make the effort to meet you. Thank you for hanging in there through lousy professors and alcoholic husbands to bring years of pleasure to me and many others. Congratulations on your awards. Oh, and I adore your poetry. It speaks to me. I can’t read it without crying.

  7. Congratulations on the awards – amazing that you weren’t the readers choice just about annually – go figure. I agree that the reader of an audio book can make all the difference – maybe I’ll try saving one of your books for a road trip; usually I read them as soon as they come out.


  8. Congratulations on your awards! Well-deserved! I really enjoyed your latest blog about JP Beaumont, who I thoroughly enjoy. I am one of your fans who complained to you when Gene Engene was replaced as narrator and you explained that you have no input on that at all. I am so glad you were included on selecting a narrator for your audio versions and also that the person is contacting you about difficult words. (I would expect no less!) My husband and I look forward to seeing you next weekend in Spokane Valley!

  9. Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Thank you so much for the JP Beaumont series. Hands down, it is my absolute favorite series! Over the years, I’ve read the series three times. (While waiting on the next JP book to come out.) I can’t wait to read Proof of Life to see what he’s been up to.

  10. Just finished Proof of Life…loved it! I just wish I didn’t look up the poem about the “Wofie”. Wanna see a 74 year old bawl like a baby? Your empathy for ‘critters’ never fails to make me smile.

    As a former Seattleite, it is really enjoyable to be able to connect the areas (still a NWer at heart). Ah, ya just had to mention “Chinook’s” (LOL).

    Thank you again for ALL of your books and congrats on the awards!

  11. Can I ask a favor of J.P and you? Can you not leave Lucy in the car ever again? It really doesn’t matter the outside temperature, it is not safe to leave a dog in any locked car. The web site about this is at: http://mydogiscool.com/newsroom/how-hot-is-too-hot/. The particular part is “when is it ok to take your dog along for a ride?”

    There are two relevant quotes: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, outside temperatures in the 60s can still cause a car temperature to rise well above 110 degrees (43 Celsius). Would you leave your four-year old child in this situation?


    The size and temperament of your dog can factor in as well. A larger dog, just by volume, can make the car heat up faster. The hotter a dog gets, the more heat he or she radiates into the small space of an enclosed car. And when a dog gets into danger, they start to panic. A more stressful dog may panic sooner, but even the most the most mellow dog will aggressively react to being cooked to death with panic. As panic sets in, incessant barking or scratching will use up energy and heat up the dogs’ body temperature even more. …dogs with heavy coats are at greater risk

    And, humidity also increases the heat factor.

    Plus, in Washington it happens to be against the law.

    This really bothered me and I cringed every time I read that J.P. and Mel left Lucy in his locked car. I was terrified that they would come back to find her dead or seriously ill.

  12. I have only “read” some of your novellas but I have listened to every book except the poetry book. You are right about the narrator being important. I was a little afraid that the new one wouldn’t be as good as your previous one but he did an excellent job. JP is my favorite character and I was glad to see another of his books but I do like Ali Reynolds and Joanna Brady. I hope you can keep on writing. I have a number of different authors that I listen to but you and Clive Cussler are my favorites.

  13. “Proof of Life” really was worth waiting for. You have certainly made an involved and complicated story very compelling, fascinating, and entertaining.
    Thanks again for producing another great read !

  14. Just finished listening to Proof of Life. Loved hearing about JP and Mel again. And the dog training info was spot on. Hope to send some folks to Adademy of Canine Behavior. I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind and folks are always asking for trainer suggestions. My only quibble, as a Seattleite was your new narrator didn’t quite get some things right. Salmon Bay ended up sounding like Sallmohn Bay and Green Lake had emphasis on lake rather than Green like locals do. Funny how one mispronunciation leaves me on edge waiting for the next one!

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