Welcome to the first Author Spotlight post of 2022! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.
This month, the author in the spotlight is B. Joyce! I met B. on Instagram, and as soon as I saw that she was publishing a book, I jumped on her ARC readers list. I was honoured to read Moon Beetles early, and I'm excited to see how the series continues!
Bio: B. Joyce is a Canadian independent author. She moved around a lot growing up. The movement made it into her blood, and she has never lived in the same house for more than four years. For now, she lives in the woods, by a lake, with her parents and her brother close by, and a little black cat. B. has taken her time to get to know her path in life, first with a quick jaunt through the scientific realm of psychology and biology, but went quickly back to artistic endeavours. Alongside her writing, she takes care of her mom, who suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder. Between writing and caretaking, she can be found playing videogames, drawing, and taking long walks.
Q: Can you tell readers about Moon Beetles?
A: The story of Moon Beetles centers on Rinnaya Burgheim as she takes her first steps on her own path. She comes from a broken home and a Lineage that is in ruin, despised by the world. Rin’s steps are shaky as she has to battle with new powerful abilities, a new environment, and new struggles but a whole lot of old too. Rin’s past experiences have left her with a heavy load to carry and with the stress of following her dream to become a Guardian, that old load comes crashing down on her. To top it off, her older brother reveals that she is at the center of a plot for Ironskin rebellion. In order to gain control over her powerful abilities and stop a war, she first has to tackle her trauma. The other characters in the story each have unique loads to carry. Through their own struggles, they find ways to strengthen their hearts and minds as they push to a common goal of becoming Guardians.
Q: How did you get the idea for Moon Beetles?
A: In eighth grade I had a beautiful dream about Guardians. They were strong, well-trained, honorable defenders of a magical land. I wrote some stories using this idea, but nothing permanent. The Guardian idea stuck and when I took my gap year from university, I asked myself why the stories didn’t stick. It was because I didn’t put real themes and goals into that writing and I needed to focus on what I knew. What I know is the hardships of family and friendship, the struggles of mental health, moving and starting over, and hope after dark times. So, I kept working until the story showed true character growth that portrayed authentic life experience.
Q: What made you want to be a writer?
A: In university I never had a clear path of what I wanted to study. It changed quite a few times. I took a gap year after my second year of uni and started writing in my free time from work. It was therapeutic, fun, and I felt really accomplished when I finished that first draft. I went back to school and finished a degree in biology, but through all those years of study, writing my novel what the thing that I always came back to and it gave me the most joy. I realized how much I really had to say, how much creativity I could pour out on the page, and finally that I needed to share it with other people because the things I struggle with, other people struggle with them too.
Q: Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
A: I chose self-publishing because I didn’t want to go through the “pick-me” process. I just wanted to start. I work best on my own deadlines. Being able to choose when to start each part of the process was really great because I know what is doable for me and I didn’t have to compromise my work style.
Q: How do you choose your characters’ names?
A: That’s a great question. The process isn’t clear to me either. It’s different for each character. My main character's name is Rinnaya. It started because I loved the Japanese unisex name, Rin. I also wanted her name to be something unique and pretty. I lengthened the name to Rinnaya just by playing around with different endings. With other names, I take a common name like Michael and change the spelling—Mycul. To keep things consistent, I created a rule for my names: familiar but different. Start with something familiar like the name Brandon. It’s generally a masculine name, but I gave it to a feminine character and shortened it to Brand. That’s how we get my character Brand Highcaller. It’s really a combination of thinking of character attributes and what sort of sounds and visuals those attributes create in my mind.
Q: Have any of your characters surprised you? If so, how?
A: Johanna surprises me the most. So much of her character revealed itself to me in later drafts. It was really exciting to develop her story—her relationship with her mom and with Rin, her relationship with herself, and the advancement of her fire manipulation abilities. Johanna really has a story of her own now.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)
A: I think I’m a pretty chaotic writer. I don’t write every day and my location for writing changes often. Some days I write in bed, on the floor, at a desk, or in a big comfy chair. Sometimes I stay in my pyjamas all day, sometimes I have to get dressed, do my hair, and even do my make up (rare occasions). The only thing that really stays the same is the time of day that I write. I prefer writing in the afternoon from about 1:00 to 4:00. Sometimes the writing session will be longer or shorter depending on how full my brain is. I also have to be wearing socks, even in summer. I like to be warm when I write, so a space heater or blanket are good companions or a good cup of tea.
Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you've learned from on your writing journey?
A: There really aren’t any specifics. I always read critically, whether it’s an informational text, fantasy or whatever, I’m constantly finding things to learn. I don’t read a lot of craft books (cringes). I find reading about writing tedious. So, if I pick up a craft book I usually skim or skip to sections that I struggle with. I don’t know, I read what makes me happy and take note of what kinds of words, sentence structure, plot structures, and elements of voice stand out to me. I think that’s the best way to learn how to write. If I have to name some authors I would say I learned about writing voice from Margaret Atwood and fantasy world-building from Tomi Adeyemi.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
A: I don’t think publishing is what changed my process. Editing is what changed it. Working with an editor gave me a better idea of how to plan a satisfying novel that I now incorporate. I didn’t have a process before that. Now I have an established process. I outline, I draft, get alpha reader feedback, draft, beta reader feedback, draft, developmental edit, revise, copy edit.
Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?
A: Be honest with yourself. If you are creating art that fits your goals and that is authentic to you, then sharing it with others won’t make you feel like you’re speaking out of turn. Your work doesn’t need to stand up to other works of art. If you wrote something that you enjoy and put in the necessary corrections, research, and time to make something you are proud of, then you’ve claimed your spot. You’re not parading around as an author/artist, you are one.
Q: How do you refill your creative well?
A: I like to switch creative endeavours. If I’m a little burned out on writing I like to pick up a pencil and draw, maybe paint something, or just absorb other forms of art like books or movies. But sometimes if I get really really drained, silence is good. Or the complete opposite is good too. Playing Call of Duty for hours on end might seem like a bad thing but sometimes it’s the cure for writer's block.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working on book two of the Moon Beetles series. It continues right where Moon Beetles left off, so no need to power through a summary of events that happen in between; I hate that. Readers want to know what happens next, not three months down the road.
If you'd like to follow B. Joyce on her writing journey or find out more about her stories, this is where you can find her: