If you're looking for some profound and profoundly funny summer reading, please consider picking up Jim Beaver's new memoir, Life's That Way.
Many of you TV fans know Jim from his work as prospector Ellsworth on Deadwood, demon hunter Bobby on Supernatural and sheriff Charlie Mills on Harper's Island, but you might not know that Jim's also a professional writer with two books and several scripts under his belt. He put that prose power to work when his beloved wife Cecily Adams (daughter of Get Smart star Don Adams) became gravely ill with lung cancer several years ago. Cecily was a health-nut non-smoker and the diagnosis came as a sudden and devastating shock. In order to keep friends and family apprised of Cecily's illness and treatment (and the impact of her eventual death), Jim began sending a series of emails that eventually formed the basis for the book. You can read one online that will give you a sense of why the missives, which started out being for a small circle of friends, eventually became so widely read that they were collected for print.
We just talked to Jim about what the book has meant to those who have read it so far, as well as to get answers to your fan Q's about his current on-air projects, Supernatural and Harper's Island...
The book, and the emails before them, are an effort to glean some meaning out of Cecily's illness. Jim tells us, "I didn't put this out just to tell Jim Beaver's sad story, because there are millions of sad stories out there. I learned a lot of stuff during this process, and it seemed to me that it was worth sharing the lessons. I've been getting an awful lot of feedback from people who have told me that it's helped them in some way through similar journeys, and that until they read this book they thought they were the only ones who ever had weak moments or guilty moments or things that they regret doing or not doing. It was meaningful for them to learn that we all have our failings and lapses and that there's no shame in that. I was very torn in my time of difficulty by the realization that there were lots of things I could have done better, and lots of places where I really flopped badly. I just thought there was something useful about being open about that."
And don't be put off by the seemingly grim subject matter. As Jim says, "One thing that I've been very happy about is that a lot of people have been responding to the humor. I hope it's helpful and meaningful, and even in a weird sense enjoyable. And it's not just a story about somebody being sick and somebody else having to participate in that. The title of the book is a little misleading. It's not a c'est la vie thing, it's much more a signpost—a guide and a direction that we should travel: Life is in that direction. What was important for me in doing the book was to point ahead toward life. Here's how one man found his way toward something better. "
Interested in taking a look? Life's That Way is out now in libraries and bookstores nationwide and can also be purchased online. And now on to the answers to your burning fan Q's!
Madeline in Brooklyn, New York: I'm loving Harper's Island, but will we ever see more of Charlie Mills?
JB: Charlie Mills is going to be a much more prominent figure in the story very soon. When you're the only law enforcement officer on an island where people start dropping like flies, your workload picks up pretty quickly, but Charlie's also got some very interesting secrets. I can't say much without somebody from CBS barging through the door and shooting me, but Charlie Mills' part in Harper's Island is going to get real rich real quick.
Vicki in Brazil: On Supernatural, do Jared and Jensen treat you as an uncle figure offscreen as well as on, or do they prank you as they apparently do everyone else?
Those aren't exactly oppositional questions! But, no, they don't treat me like an uncle. They treat me like a friend. I never get any sense that they think I'm older and wiser. [Laughs.] We're just three guys doing a job that we love and we enjoy each other's company. They haven't pranked me much, just once maybe twice, and I don't know if that's because they're scared of me, but I don't think that's true. Maybe I just don't give them enough reaction, but I will say, oh my gosh, I love working with Jared and Jensen! They're just absolute hoots to be with, and we get along great. They're sweet, smart guys and they're good at what they do and that's what I look for in a colleague.
Grahame in Washington, D.C.: What's Bobby's current feeling about the angels?
Bobby's got a certain wait and see quality about him. I think probably he doesn't accept everything at face value but he's willing to go along until the facts prove him wrong or prove that he should take another look at things. I think he's kind of willing to accept the angels as allies and make use of them, as long as nothing signals that he should change that opinion.
Patrice in Evansville, Ind.: Lately there's been a lot of talk about how being close to the Winchesters can be dangerous to one's health. Is Bobby in especial danger—could he become a target?
I think there's probably something to that. I hadn't given much thought to that aspect but the fact is that when you're a solo hunter all you've really got to look out is for yourself. When your job description includes getting two hotheaded young guys out of various situations then regardless of your personal feelings for them, it's going to be dangerous. You've got to have eyes in the back of your head if you're keeping eyes on the two guys.
Any fans of Supernatural's Bobby out there? Anyone interested in taking his job of keeping yes on Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki?