Tiah Marie Beautement


Ice Rider, fiction, issue 45, December 15, 2018





Tiah Marie Beautement is an American-Brit living on the South African Garden Route with her family, two dogs, and a flock of chickens. She is the author of the award-nominated This Day )2014, Modjaji), Moons Don't Go to Venus (2006, Bateleur), and numerous short stories. She is the managing editor of the TSSF journal, teaches writing to all ages, and freelances for a variety of publications, including the Sunday Times and FunDza. In her spare time she has been spotted riding horses, as pillion on a motorbike, and belly dancing. https://tiahbeautement.wordpress.com/



Get to know Tiah...

Birthdate?

12 / 12 / 77


When did you start writing?

I'm not sure. For as long as I can remember, I have made up stories in my head, played make believe. There was that time in 4th grade where a friend and I tried to write a novel that was a complete rip-off of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Obviously, it was a failure of a project.


When and what and where did you first get published?

Moons Don't Go To Venus, was the first piece published after I graduated university. My then agent couldn't find a publisher for it in the Western traditional press, but an in-law of mine in the South African textbook industry heard of an opportunity via the South African government. The RSA government was looking for new, contemporary fiction set in post-apartheid South Africa. The book was submitted and, despite not being YA, it was accepted as an approved text for the then Grade 11 English literary curriculum.

My first short story, "Gas Station Growing Pains" was published about a year after that, to an American online flash fiction zine which has since closed. A pity, because they paid.


Why do you write?

A question I often ask myself. I have discovered over the years that I am more miserable when I don't write.


Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy?

For a long time, I didn't think I could, actually. It was pretty much the only genre I wrote in as a child, and my stories from that time are terrible. Also, a lot of the fantasy and science fiction – speculative fiction – have complicated plots, where my best tales tend to focus on the quotidian. But I admire many stories and writers from the genre and a few years ago a couple of my own attempts trickled out into the world and were received with encouragement. Eight months into 2016, I left a five year stint at an African literary not-for-profit and found I had time to write – really write – and decided to use it as a chance to start writing outside my comfort zone, from writing YA to trying all things science fiction and fantasy. The past two years have been a steep learning curve, but I've relished the challenge.


Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story?

It would feel like a betrayal to answer this question. I read in abundance, and widely.


What are you trying to say with your fiction?

For the reader: Allow me tell you a story, a story I hope to tell well, by painting a picture for you with words. I hope you'll enjoy it, that it will create some empathy, perhaps go, "Oh, yes, this is me too," and, lastly, perhaps make you think.

For me: My writing, as a whole, creates a conversation with myself, about ideas, challenges, themes, memories, and even politics that people in my everyday life might not wish to discuss in depth or find interesting. So rather than babbling to myself, I make up characters and have it played out through them.


If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

In 2014, in honour of Thanksgiving, Isabella Jernigan, then eight, proclaimed: "I’m thankful for all the dead people because at least they tried."

How fitting, since that is all we really do at life – try and then try again. So when I die, I hope my loved ones can say of me, "She tried."


Do you blog?


I keep a blog, mostly of quotes I've pulled from things I've read, but other items find their way on there too: 
http://tiahbeautement.wordpress.com/



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