When did you first realize that you were a writer?
I think when I was maybe 12. Before that, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I was pretty good at drawing, but finally realized that wasn’t where my talent was. I need to create stories, to get the words out of my head and down on paper. I wrote my first novel when I was 20, and it was pretty awful, but I’d like to think I’ve improved just a bit over the years!
What inspired you to write your latest novel?
I just turned in LEAP YEAR to my editor, and it should be published later this year. I’ve always had a fascination with the thought that someone born on leap year, if all the stars aligned just right in the universe, might only age one year for every four years that pass. I took that notion and ran with it.
Who is your favorite author?
The late, great Ken Grimwood. His most successful novel was REPLAY, about a man who dies in his 40s and keeps reliving his life over and over again. It’s an amazing novel, one I’ve read at least a dozen times since I first discovered it in 1988. His writing has definitely inspired my own.
Have you ever written a “real life” person into one of your books?
Yes, often. My grandmother is in my debut novel. SMALL THINGS. She had just passed away at the time I was writing the novel, and that was my way of honoring her memory.
Who is the one character you are most proud of/favorite writing and why?
Claire, from MEMORIES OF A GHOST. I think she is, by far, the most complicated character I’ve ever written, and definitely my favorite. If I were to say more, it might spoil the story.
Describe the worst criticism you ever received as a writer, and how you overcame it.
The overuse of certain words. It’s just something you have to watch for, and a good editor will definitely help with that.
How do you stay motivated to write?
By reading. I’m a voracious reader, and that pumps the well of imagination, helping me to get my own ideas out on paper. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks. If the words aren’t coming, go play a video game or take a walk and come back to your story later.
What are you currently working on?
The third and final book in the SMALL THINGS trilogy. It’s been a long time coming and is about 75% finished.
Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m just a vert. For most of my life, I thought I was an introvert, but as it turned out, I’m just shy. I do gain energy from being around and interacting with people, so I definitely have some extrovert in me, but I also value my alone time. So I am both, or neither, whichever way you want to go with that!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write what YOU want to write. Don’t follow trends. If you write what you’re passionate about, you will improve as a writer and you will gain readers. If you don’t believe in what you’re writing, no one else will. Don’t try to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling; just be you.
Where can readers connect with you?
Thank you so much for talking with us, Joe! Please keep us posted on the release of your third installment for Small Things!