April 21, 2023
This article contains spoilers relating to Flowers for Papa by Margaret Beaver.
2023 is proving to be a cramped year for Margaret Beaver as she intends to simultaneously release her debut novel and second poetry collection surrounding the extensive story of August Johnson, an anxious but earnest eighteen-year-old high school senior as he progresses into adulthood and endures the hardships of uncertain success.
“Initially, Flowers opens with August being a very doubtful, ponderous, scared child—emotions that are typical of any eighteen-year-old about to graduate high school and, for the first time in their lives, be faced with the trepidation of actually having to make a choice,” said Beaver. “I’m actually being confronted with the same anxieties as I graduate high school in June and am pretty aimless at the moment. I really feel for August, especially considering he is essentially the fictional translation of myself.”
Beaver’s debut is notable within the publishing industry for its expansiveness, written across a very lengthy period and encompassing the meticulous and unhurried development of her primary characters. Readers witness the lives of Peter and Alvin Johnson before August is born, when he is a child, when he is eighteen, and then following the turbulence consisting of the bulk of the novel, Beaver concludes the story with time jumps reflecting on August’s milestones within his career post-graduation and into his early twenties. The last moments of the novel serve as a poignant and effectual epilogue, observing August’s becoming a published poet and the detailing of his experiences parading around the country for his book tour— “which was very successful, I might add,” said Beaver.
1. Beaver meditates on her decision to continue the portrayal of August Johnson rather than conclude with the novel’s end.
“I’ve been asked my intentions and they center on allowing the readers originating from Flowers for Papa an immersive extension into the wholeness of August's character; he’s always been very intricately described and his voice very studious and rhythmical, such as in the way of poetry, and I, for one, felt that merely mentioning his future rather than elaborating on it was truly insufficient. He was such an enjoyable and homely character for me to write and embrace my own self; he deserved so much more than that, as do my readers. His becoming a poet was the logical next step—something I didn’t even have to think twice about. And what’s better, I just so happened to be a poet myself. It was a no-brainer.”
2. What reactions is she expecting when this collection is published?
"I don't expect anything; I'm entitled to nothing. Simply, my reasons for publishing this book stem directly from its accompanying novel: I never really wanted to let August go, and so I chose to venture into the center of his identity to fully realize the prospect of his becoming a published poet at the end of the novel. Rather than briefly stating his fate, I wanted to delve deeper into his creative potential and almost impersonate him as a writer, thus providing further insight into the relationships and concepts merely attempted in the novel.
“Above all, I wrote this collection how I write anything at all—to continue my aspiration of honest mental health awareness, representation, and perhaps remedying. And hopefully, in that, the reactions are becoming."
3. In her last poetry collection, inkwells., she combined poetry with photography. Are there any other media incorporated in Seasons?
“There is, yes. It’s briefly mentioned or insinuated that August draws sometimes or is an amateur illustrator. I wanted to emphasize this fact and truly make this collection as if he had created it himself. Both of my parents are very artistic people—my mother is a mixed media artist, and my father originally went to school to be a commercial artist—and so I’d like to think I have somewhat of a good hand from time to time. I draw a lot when I’m stressed about writing and need a break from myself—just small scribblings and some black-and-white sketches. Don’t expect masterpieces.”
4. Considering how rigorously she writes, what does she enjoy doing outside her work?
“Unfortunately, I’m a workaholic, and my response probably won’t be as fruitful as anticipated. My interests center around the different mediums of language: writing prose and engaging in therapeutic journaling, reading across various genres and subgenres, watching educational and entertaining films and TV shows with immersive and well-rounded narratives, listening to music distinct for its intense lyricism, and occasionally keeping with photography. I am extremely work-oriented, and my modes of relaxation are specifically selected so as to potentially inspire creativity. I’m never not thinking about work or doing work—because writing is never a job to me.”
5. How does she view her future in writing? Are there other things she wants to achieve?
“I am a widely diverse writer and seek to write amongst an assortment of genres and subgenres so long as they interest me. I am currently working on perfecting an immense science-fiction narrative, accompanied by another poetry collection in inspiration, and am also beginning the heavily researched project of an historical novel. I am constantly circulating with ideas for fictional angles on any and all narratives and seek to publish a great array of novels and collections across my career. I’ve even entertained the thought that when I’m older I might retire novels and go into children’s books.
"As far as other things I may want to achieve, I always thought being an actress would be kind of cool, but I have to stay realistic on that front: I’m terribly camera-shy and go into hysterics when I have to pick up the phone.”
6. Finally, what message or idea does she want her readers to take away from August Johnson?
“Truly, the purpose of this collection is to continue in the memory of August Johnson and what he represents.
Flowers for Papa and Seasons: August's Collection are scheduled for release in early 2024 by Pegasus Publishers and are not yet available for preorder.* You can follow Beaver on her social media channels or visit her at margaretbeaverbooks.com.
* This article will be updated once dates become available.