Masters student Braydon Beaulieu won entry to the 2012 tournament with his Kafkaesque submission Field Guild to Kleptoparasitism. A Deathmatch tragedy: Beaulieu held a steady lead in the last few days of the semi-finals, but in the closing hours of the round, a StarCraft blogger gave orders to his 5000 followers to rain carnage on the comment board and take away the imminent win. But Field Guide is not a story to shrug off, and blood stains are no match for a bathtub of bleach. Now, Beaulieu is telling of his experience with the Deathmatch and how, since the competition, his writing has begun to thrive.
What do you get out of being a Deathmatch contestant?
Exposure. Believe it or not, some pretty heavy-hitting authors were reading those stories when they were online. My story went viral on Twitter and in various forums. Several thousand people voted each round. Even professional StarCraft II players know my name now. It also got me a few dates. No, I’m not lying.
Is there anything from the comment board that still resonates with you?
Rosemary Nixon’s crazy-deep analysis of “Field Guide to Kleptoparasitism.” Rosemary is one of my favourite fiction authors, and her book of interconnected short stories The Cock’s Egg remains a very influential book for me. Her posts were long and very thoughtful, and provided insight into my writing that I had never before considered. Since the Deathmatch, Rosemary and I have become very close friends, and I’m really grateful for – and flattered by – her supportive interpretation of my story.
What brought you to submit to a tournament that pins up stories like targets at a gun range?
As laid-back as I am, I love competition. I love walking that fine line between being sportsmanlike and beating your opponent into the dust. Obviously, I didn’t win the Deathmatch in terms of votes, but I definitely won in terms of exposure, publication, and learning to remain gentlemanly in the face of some pretty heavy adversity. I think we all won in that respect. You can’t ask for much more than that as an up-and-coming writer.
What kind of support did you get from friends and family during the tournament?
Every kind of support you can imagine. My family woke me up at 2:00 a.m. to help me confront Madeline Masters’s proxy voters in the first round. My friends made me cookies when Colin Brush beat me out. Everyone I know from school, work, home, sports teams, everywhere—they were all voting, and a fair amount of them were commenting. Some of my students got really into it. My mom, bless her, was a huge asset in gaining voters. One of the best aspects of Deathmatching was the support; it’s inspiring when so many people fight for you.
What were the most hostile thoughts you found yourself thinking about the Deathmatch?
“If I were Batman I would totally track [the elusive snake-tongued spectre] backinthesaddle’s IP address and send him viruses. And possibly a poisoned batch of bat-shaped cupcakes. With guano in them, too.”
Did you ever want to drop out of the competition?
Hell no. I don’t quit.
Beaulieu will be on of this years Deathmatch Moderators.
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