Lewis J. Beilman III lives in Hamden, Connecticut, with his family, dog, and two cats. He writes fiction in his spare time. His stories have appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, ArLiJo, Reed Magazine, and other literary publications. In 2009, he won first prize in the Fred R. Shaw Poetry Contest.
Outside of writing, Lewis enjoys reading, playing soccer, and volunteering in his community. He has a law degree from the University of Maine Law School and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Sacred Heart University—but he is first and foremost a writer.
You can find out more about Lewis at www.lewisbeilman.com and on Twitter and Instagram @LJBeilman3.
INTERVIEW WITH LEWIS J. BEILMAN III
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
As a child, I moved a lot. By the time I was in high school, I had lived in Florida, Connecticut, Texas, a few other states, and Germany. That exposure to different places and different cultures helped make me open to accepting new things and being less judgmental toward people who aren’t “like me.” I think that exposure continues to help me view situations and characters through different lenses.
I started writing poetry in high school but stopped writing creatively when I was in college and law school. Eventually, after law school, I decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer and got a job for a short time as a journalist and editor. I started writing poetry again then (a little more than 15 years ago) but switched to fiction about seven or eight years ago. Primarily, I consider myself to be a short story writer.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
I’m very excited to have my novella, Fourth of July, published by Scarlet Leaf Publishing, and I’m hoping many people will read it. I’ve had several short stories published in online and print journals over the last few years, but my ambition is to have a collection of stories published. Currently, I have an unpublished collection called The Changing Tide, which I’ve submitted to agents and a few contests—so far with little success. It would be nice to see that collection in print someday. In the meantime, I keep writing stories and expanding my body of work.
Q: Where can we buy or see your published stories?
Links to my published stories can be found on my website, www.lewisbeilman.com. Also, my novella, “Gina and the Dolphin, which is in the collection, Garden of the Goddesses, and my stand-alone novella, Fourth of July, are available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Lewis+J.+Beilman+III&search-alias=books&field-author=Lewis+J.+Beilman+III&sort=relevancerank.
Q: What was the name of your last book? Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? What’s it about?
My book is called Fourth of July. It’s set in New York City and is a satire about privilege run amok. The main character, Ogden Goodman, is a wealthy lawyer who, harried one evening by boredom, hires a homeless man to perform for his family. The “success” of that evening's performance leads Ogden—and others he knows—to engage a variety of characters in a host of increasingly outrageous and disturbing activities.
The story was written before Donald Trump became President of the United States, but it is eerily—and unfortunately—relevant today. A friend told me that the book is likely to make many readers uncomfortable, but these are uncomfortable times. People—particularly Americans—should be discomfited.
Q: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Ben Affleck, definitely Ben Affleck. (That’s an inside joke. My brothers will get it.) If not Ben Affleck, maybe Matt Damon. In any case, either one of them can contact me if they want the movie rights. If I don’t answer my phone, they can leave a message. I’ll get back to them.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I have a full-time job. I try to write for 45 minutes to an hour a day before I go to work. I used to be better about keeping this schedule—but, when you have a family, dog, and two cats, it can be hard sometimes to squeeze in that writing time.
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
Occasionally, I have an idea for a short story that comes out of the blue. Usually, though, I just sit down to write and a story starts to form. Later, when I’m running or walking the dog, I’ll ruminate on the idea for a while and flesh out the story in my head. As I work on the story day-to-day, it generally stays pretty true to the course I’ve plotted in my head.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
Finding time to sit and write is the hardest thing. For me, the best time to write is in the morning before anyone in the house is awake. It’s when my mind seems to be the clearest—and I don’t have to struggle with distractions.
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
I don’t think there’s anything particularly easy about writing.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I read a little bit every day. My favorite authors are William Shakespeare, Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, and J.M. Coetzee. For short stories specifically, I like Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Junot Diaz, and Jhumpa Lahiri. I read print-edition books as opposed to eBooks—but only because I’m technologically inept. At some point, I’ll make a further stride into the 21st century.
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks. I like to rotate my reading between fiction and nonfiction.
Q: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I proofread and edit my own stories. Someday, perhaps, that will change. I wouldn’t mind having an editor to challenge me at times.
Q: How do you relax?
Ironically, physical activity helps me to relax. I play soccer, run, walk the dog, do yoga—these things seem to clear my mind and help me focus. I particularly enjoy playing soccer in an Over-40 league. I find that the world slips away whenever I’m on the pitch. I play winger mostly, but I’m more George Worst than George Best.
Q: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Slaughterhouse Five. Of all the books I’ve read, I feel it contains the most perfect blend of sadness and humor.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write, write, write. Like most things in life, the more you do something, the better you tend to get at it.
Q: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
To bring joy to readers everywhere.