Nothing to Lose, aka, Still Alive at Twenty-five

Nothing to Lose, J.P. Beaumont #25, hits the shelves on 2/22/22. The only one more surprised than I am about Beau still being around after all these years and books is J.P. himself.

Forty years ago, in the fall of 1982, I set myself the task of writing a book about a middle-aged Seattle homicide detective. I gave him a name, a place to work, and a place to live, then I spent the next six months hanging around waiting to see what he would do which, as it turned out, was pretty much nothing. As in nada; zippo! The story simply wouldn’t jell.

By March of 1983, frustrated with being a single mom and stalled out as an author, I sent my kids to Camp Orkila for Spring Break and then I sent myself to Portland where I planned to spend the week with a friend from my days in the insurance business. I boarded the train with a stack of blue lined notebooks (No computer back then!) and a fistful of ballpoint pens. As the train pulled out of the King Street Station, I thought, “What would happen if I wrote this book through the detective’s point of view?”

Minutes later, I pulled out pen and notebook and went to work writing the words, “She might have been a cute kid once. That was hard to tell now, she was dead.” Those were then and still are the opening lines in Beaumont # 1, Until Proven Guilty.

As soon as I wrote those two short sentences, something magical happened. Suddenly there I was, on the back of Seattle’s Magnolia Bluff, walking around a crime scene in J.P. Beaumont’s shoes. I was seeing what he saw and hearing what he heard—not only the things that other people said to him but also what was going on in his head. He and I have been together as character and author ever since.

By the way, I didn’t spend a lot of time visiting with my friend in Portland. Instead, I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. The rest of the time I wrote like a fiend—composing 30,000 words in long hand over a five-day period. The story was constructed in my head. All I needed to find was the right point of view from which to tell it. A few months later, when I did buy a computer, I never bothered going back to that handwritten document. The story was all right there in my head.

At the time, I was under the impression that I was was writing a stand-alone book. Avon Books thought otherwise and purchased the manuscript as the first in a series. When it came time to write book number two, I made a conscious decision that, unlike John D. McDonald’s Travis MaGee, Beau would age over time. He would learn things along the way. Events that occurred in one book would continue to impact his life in later books, and that’s certainly the case with Nothing to Lose.

Beau’s partner, Sue Danielson, perished tragically at the hands of an abusive husband in Breach of Duty, Beaumont #14. Her death was a watershed moment in Beau’s life, one that haunts him still. It’s what compelled him to pull the plug on his career as a homicide cop for Seattle PD and put him on a path that sent him in an entirely new direction. Beau has mellowed some over the course of the past forty years. He’s a bit older and wiser now, and I like to think I am, too.

If you look at the book tour schedule, you’ll find it’s a lot more limited than it used to be. That’s due in part to the pandemic, but it also has to do with the the fact that I’m in my mid-seventies. This old girl just ain’t what she used to be in terms of energy for traveling and doing appearances. If you want an autographed book, please contact one of the bookstores where I’ll be doing in-person events and order your book from there.

I’m definitely looking forward to attending the Tucson Festival of Books. I was saddened when it fell victim to Covid last year, and I’m glad that the festival is back on track for 2022.

Let’s make it a great year for all of us.

34 thoughts on “Nothing to Lose, aka, Still Alive at Twenty-five

  1. I love this post! I love knowing your thought process as Beau emerged to tell his story. I often say it took 31 years to write my first mystery, but the following five came much faster! LOL Thank you for sharing! You give such a “human”perspective of the writing process!

  2. I spent last week’s snowstorm re-reading “Until Proven Guilty”. I had forgotten so much of it. It was good to read the first book again.

    I like how you have had Beau move along with the times and get a phone answering machine, cell phone, etc. My favorite book remains #15 “Birds of Prey” where he is on a cruise to Alaska. Crazy things keep happening to him, but he deals with them.

    Am glad there is a new book.

  3. I picked up a copy of Until Proven Guilty at the freebie table at a VA clinic. That book introduced me to not only Beau but also to JA Jance. Since then I have read every single book of yours, each series in order. Beau is my favorite character. I sometimes say if I didn’t have my husband I want Beau.

  4. I think the decision to have your characters age was wise. You are not writing the same book over and over. In fact my favorite Beaumont book is Sins of the Fathers. So Beau is aging well. There are some series (by other authors of course), where no one ages and nothing changes. Those get boring and I quit reading. I like all of your series but the Joanna Brady books are still my favorites. Hint, hint.

  5. I enjoy all your books and buy them the minute they are published, but I love JP Beaumont the most! And I hear you about that aging business. I’m in my mid 60’s although I’m unclear exactly how that happened as I feel like the same person Iwas in my 30’s. Well, other than I cannot imagine a book tour. No stamina. So, thank you for making the effort! It is appreciated! Oh, I did hear you speak once. I think it was at a bookstore in Boulder, Colorado named High Crimes which is no longer there. I now buy your books through the Poisoned Pen or Murder by Books. And listen to your online interviews!

  6. neat that First comment is one of your Peers (fellow author Bono) you can feel the respect he/she has for you. Thank you for info on where to get Next J.P. installment. good blog/update..2/3rds thru Judgment Call after finishing Birds Of Prey 2 days ago. UR writting is addictive! Thank you So much for ‘Keeping on’. Chuck from Tacoma who is headed to his volunteer work at Foss Seaport museum. I am even older than U. Motivation comes in many forms But YOU are the most enjoyable form I have in my Life.

  7. On FB recently, someone posted the question:”What author do you enjoy so much that you buy every one of their books as soon as it comes out?”

    For me, that answer is you, and it has been for many years!

    Thanks for sharing the background of Beau— I appreciate the inspiration that opened the door to his series. I’m excited about the release of “Nothing to Lose” and grateful that you are still writing about characters that have become old friends.

  8. I haven’t bought a new book since the last ja jance release! I am constantly reading & re-reading Beau! Joanna! Alli!
    Every story “is kinda familiar”, but becomes a brand new warm-friend, again and again! JP is my favorite and NOTHING TO LOSE will be a wonderful addition.
    Thank you JA Jance, for being a constant friend.

  9. Couldn’t agree more about your wish for 2022! And I an so looking forward to seeing you again and enjoying an evening of your talk and book signing at Third Place Books. A nice treat to be able to get lost in a new story with Beau as I await spring.

  10. Thank you for sharing how J.P. Beaumont came into being in your head. I am in awe of this kind of creative vision. I wish I had it – it is a true gift.
    I look forward to seeing you at the Tucson Festival of Books. I am driving down from Prescott on Saturday for my book signing, but hope to find you for an autographed copy of Beau. Do you know the name of your booth?

  11. You most likely have heard this before but here goes – JP was the first book of yours I read/listened to because it was on Overdrive from my county library. Thank goodness. So many writers are not on Overdrive or if they are they are in Kindle-type books which I cannot read unless I am desperate. By the time, the ophthalmologists figure out what is really wrong with my eyes, I will be dead. Finding out what I can do with audiobooks is a blessing. I worked in libraries for years and have plenty of experience with a book in my hands. So thank you.

  12. I read all your books. My husband is a fan of the Beaumont series.
    I am. In my 80’s and move slower these days. Books are relaxing.

  13. What I also like about Beau is his experiences with the Guard Red Porsche he inherited from Anne Corley. It causes a lot of comment from the other detectives. It is driven into a river, is blown up during a fire and so replaced.

    I’ve watched two detective programs from the UK where the men drive red sports cars. It must go with the job.

  14. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to share some time with “Beau”. With so much time to read the past two years, I’ve gone back to Beau’s beginning. It’s amazing how new and fresh a re-read can be. You discover things you had missed before and the depths of his experiencses are so much more meaningful.

  15. I am SO SO SO happy Beau is back! As someone born and bred in Seattle, I’ve walked most of the streets in most of the neighborhoods that Beau has. I even enjoyed his trip to Deception Pass. In my 80’s now, his books bring back lots of memories for me and that adds a richness to his stories that you never intended. I love Beau! I love you for keeping him alive! Many THANKS.
    P.S. It is very OK to slow down at our age and not feel guilty about it for one moment.

  16. I started reading your books about Beau way back when they first came out. I was so excited to relate to the story because, living in Seattle, I could envision where everything was happening. I loved it. Then I think you started writing another series taking place in Arizona and I lost interest and lost touch.
    But now that I have reconnected with you by seeing you at a book talk via the Retired Seattle Teacher’s Association, and more recently via our friend Ed, I am so looking forward to reading your books again. Just bought the first three in the series and can’t wait to get started.
    Thanks for sharing your process of writing and for continuing to write. I love reading your blogs every Friday! Cheers!

  17. we are anxiously awaiting the new Beau book. I like that you let him and your other characters age along with the times. It keeps them so real.

  18. Dear Judy, I’m sorry my husband’s and my usual trips to enjoy AZ aren’t coinciding with your Tuscon signing. But you can bet I’ll be visiting Beau again after the 22nd. Have a great Arizona trip! Melinda

  19. I have read all the
    Beaument books over the years and love them all. I agree with the idea of having him age and move along professionally as well as personally. Looking forward to reading the new one also.

  20. I love all your books but Beau is first and Joanna is second. I grew up in the Seattle area and have lived in Las Cruces for the last 42 years. We have been to Bisbee several times and go through Tucson at least once a year. Love your descriptions of both the NW and the SW. So glad the new Beau book is out. I know I will enjoy reading it. Please keep writing.

  21. Wonderful to learn how Beau “got on board” that train to Portland-
    It always amazes me that you write in so many different voices- I started out with Joanna Brady, then later discovered Beau- Despite Beau’s attempts at sounding “hard-boiled,” he is really a tender guy who gets angry when vulnerable people are victimized by thugs and con artists- If he has a weakness, it is that he cares so much-
    I am so looking forward to finding out what Beau and his loved ones are up to these days-

  22. I started out listening to Joanna Brady and loved all those books, the female leader challenges were helpful as my career took on leadership roles. It took me a while to try the Beaumont books. I guess I knew of him from one of the books they were both in, and I decided to try some. I was hooked! I have enjoyed reading them all and look forward to his next case!

  23. I like the way your characters age; very true to life. No picture of Dorian Gray here.

  24. I was at my library and checked out A More Perfect Union and Payment in Kind last week and I always read the back cover for the description of the story. I was so surprised to see the murder took place in the Seattle School District office and the pair was discovered in the closet, in Payment in Kind. My mom was the personal secretary ( she actually was a journalist) to Mr. Berg, Superintendent of Schools in 1959-62 when I was attending Queen Anne jr. sr. High School . I can picture the building, the front doors, receptionist, reception area and stairs, still! Sometimes, I walked to the office after school via those long stairs situated around the hill, to see mom. In the summer, I would walk from our house at 617 Lee, just off 5th Ave N, to have lunch with her. We lived in a large, beautiful old house with big windows looking out over Lake Union. I am very familiar with most, or all of the locations you mention in your books. In fact, I only moved back to eastern Washington in 2017. I enjoy Beaumont, your descriptions of Seattle and our beautiful Northwest .

  25. Oh, Judy, how I love reading all of the comments of each blog! Almost as good as reading your latest book. Can hardly wait for the Tucson Festival of Books.

  26. Just wanted you to know I am waiting for your next book release. We have been doing really well, until I got a pinched nerve in my right leg. That is not letting me drive because of the intense pain and lack of control with my foot on the peddles. Having to laugh about it or loose my mind.

    Safe travels with your husband and 4~legged children. My child is going through growth spurts, learning new tricks/behaviors that keep us laughing. Laughter is the best medicine. Hope we can talk again soon.

  27. I was already a big fan and credit your first book with FINALLY getting my teenage son into reading books instead of only anything sports. I started to give it to him and pulled it back saying. “Maybe I shouldn’t give this to you because there is too much sex in it.” He said, “That’s okay Mom, I’ll try it” and he was hooked. My thanks to you and Beau??

  28. Am so happy to learn that JP is back. He was my favorite character! Now to learn that he’s coming back makes me so excited to read. Thanks for not forgetting this “old, but beloved” character.

  29. I look forward to seeing Beau again and have enjoyed his/your growth, insights, and, wisdom over the years! I have lived near Seattle for 27 years and can picture many of the locals used in your books. I’ve also enjoyed how you integrated AZ into his life and career and was eager to visit the state when two of our “kids” went to college in Tucson and Phoenix. (enjoyed your other AZ characters too!) You are a writer’s writer, schooling us in your craft – I’m excited to read this new story!

    Well done J.A. and good to see you again Beau!

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