Q&A with Karl Beckstrand 

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Writing might be in author and publisher Karl Beckstrand's DNA. His late grandfather, Ransom Wilcox, bequeathed him a mystery-story manuscript, which Beckstrand revised into a thriller, To Swallow the Earth. The book earned Beckstrand this year's International Book Award for Western fiction given by Bookvana.com. The San Jose native, BYU graduate and Midvale resident talks about the new mystery—and books in general.

This isn't your first book, right?
No; my 18th book, The Bridge of the Golden Wood, is due out in January. It teaches kids how to earn money.

Tell us about your grandfather.
He was a character—had something like six wives [not at the same time], didn't have a stable career and told off-color jokes—but he was generous, loved to dance and could fix anything. His other book, Horse & Dog Adventures in Early California, tells how his family farmed, tended livestock and sometimes got by via hunting and fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He had some narrow escapes, including one from a charging wild boar.

What's the plot of the novel?
A tough young woman and a half-Mexican man raised by American Indians are each searching for missing family in silver-rush Nevada. They clash in a frightening land snare that leaves each unsure who to trust, and scrambling to stay alive.

Do you see any additional novels in your future?
I have one on the shelf that needs a lot of restructuring, and readers now want a sequel to To Swallow the Earth, so I'm starting to think on it.

I hear you have a book promotion going on.
Yes, To Swallow the Earth is free this month until Nov. 25 on most e-book platforms.

How did you begin writing?
By accident. I didn't like writing, but got ambushed by ideas in college (when I should have been doing my homework).

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Do you have any advice to budding writers?
Prepare to rewrite a lot!

You're also a publisher, right?
Yes, but since self-publishing is ubiquitous now, I'm more of a distributor for a couple other authors. And I have so many books in the pipeline that I don't take submissions.

Any advice to authors who are trying to get their books in print?
Pay a professional editor and learn self-publishing.

What about so-called "vanity presses" that charge writers to print manuscripts?
Avoid them.

What books are on your nightstand?
Churchill's The Gathering Storm. (Now my brother is going to remember who he loaned it to and want it back!)

What books are on your nightstand?
Churchill's The Gathering Storm. (Now my brother is going to remember who he loaned it to and want it back!)

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About The Author

Lance Gudmundsen

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