The Top Shelf and Pump Up Your Book has joined together to bring Joseph Spencer to the blog! His book Grim looks great and we can’t wait to dive in. Our review will be up soon but in the meantime, you get to check out this awesome interview!
TTS: How did the idea for this book come about?
Joseph: Grim started with the character Heath Grim. He was inspired by Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in Dark Knight. I wanted to create a character which created chaos like the Joker character, but had more of a sympathetic story. I’ve always loved gritty, edgy characters which are morally gray. I wanted to take my readers down a more chaotic path than what was explored in the Dark Knight.
TTS: I like to ask this question of every author I interview because I find character creation interesting. How did you name your characters and did you shape them after people you know in real life?
Joseph: There are a lot of people I know in real life in this book. The characters with the same name may not be intended to be exact copies o f the real life person I know, but I hate trying to come up with good names off the top of my head. Also, some people begged me to be in the book once they knew I was writing.
TTS: Did you have the storyline all planned out when you sat down to write or did it take on a life of its own beyond the initial paragraph?
Joseph: An editor I worked with said there are two types of writers – architects who have intricately designed scenes, characters and plots and gardeners who plant a small seed and let it blossom. I was a gardener. I started with a few ideas and let me characters speak to me.
TTS: Were there moments where the story didn’t go the way you planned or personally wanted it to go? How did you deal with that?
Joseph: I reached the middle part of the book and saw it was heading in a completely different direction than the one I intended when I started. I wasn’t planning to follow different viewpoint characters like I did, either. However, I loved how everything turned out. Many people have complimented my characters with their intricate backstories and connections.
TTS: What led you to writing?
Joseph: I began my professional life as a newspaper reporter, writing for large regional dailies in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia over a 10-year career. When digital media began to threaten the future of print media, I decided to switch careers and have worked as an emergency 9-1-1 telecommunicator for the past four years. I missed writing, and thought that writing crime fiction would be a nice blend of my two jobs. I work with police, firefighters and paramedics on a daily basis, so I try to integrate some of the personalities from my real life experiences into my characters.
TTS: Almost every author says they’re a reader first. What do you like to read?
Joseph: I read across genres all the time. My favorites the past few years include YA series like Beautiful Creatures, The Hunger Games and Mortal Instruments, the Dr. Kay Scarpetta crime series from Patricia Cornwell, action series like Sigma Force from James Rollins and Jack Reacher from Lee Child and George R.R. Martin’s tremendous fantasy series Song of Fire and Ice. I am inspired by Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series in my preferred writing genres – crime thrillers with dark humor. Charlaine Harris’ paranormal novels featuring Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly also inspire my otherworldly characters.
TTS: Does music influence your work at all? If so how?
Joseph: I like to listen to music when I write certain scenes. My book has universally been reviewed as gory and gritty and there are raw emotions which come out when you listen to the type of rock I like. I like Three Days Grace, Incubus, Linkin Park, Shinedown and classic rockers like AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.
TTS: Do you feel what you read or listen to influences what you write?
Joseph: I think everything you experience influences your writing. The way you see the world colors the views of how the characters in your book see their worlds.
TTS: Are you planning on sticking to one genre or do you see yourself branching out into others?
Joseph: I am going to be writing thrillers. My planned Sons of Darkness series will feature mainly occult crime thrillers such as in the TV show Supernatural. I am currently working on a book which isn’t along the paranormal line, though. It delves into the human trafficking problem we have here in the United States. A small town girl gets conned into a life of sex and violence in the big city.
TTS: What advice would you give a writer just starting out? Maybe something that you wish you would have known before you started?
Joseph: It’s all about your internal drive. There are going to be a million distractions keeping you from writing, but it’s up to you to put your feet to the fire and write. You also have to have pretty thick skin if you’re thinking about publishing your work. There are going to people who think what you wrote is absolutely fantastic and they love it. There are going to be others who hate it. You have to deal with the ups and downs of your creation.
TTS: What is next for you? Can you tell us a little bit about your current work in progress?
Joseph: The second book of The Sons of Darkness Series – Wrage – just came out on June 1st. It is available at www.damnationbooks.com, www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. It picks up the story where Grim left off. Jeff is trying to avenge his wife, and the Prairieville Police Department is rocked by the stunning developments at the end of Grim for hero cop Adam White. My publisher Damnation Books is offering 28 percent off all ebook purchases with code 289snake.
Synopsis: In a gritty town rife with organized crime, dirty cops and corrupt politicians, Detective Adam White stands alone as the people’s symbol of justice and hope for a brighter future. He’s cracked the biggest cases, and stood up to the crime families who’ve torn apart Prairieville with their power struggles. He’s gorgeous, humble and incorruptible; a crime fighter so pure that the locals nicknamed him the White Knight.
What the people don’t know is their reluctant hero is cracking before their eyes. Ten years have passed since a pack of bank robbers gunned down his wife in the street. He’s relentlessly worked every case he could get his hands on since that night with the hopes of finding some link to her killer, but every lead always winds up a dead end. He made a vow on her death bed that he wouldn’t stop looking or move on with his life, personal or otherwise, until her killer was either dead or behind bars.
His obsession is starting to affect his work, including a new set of murders which are eerily similar to cold cases in which a gangland legend called The Reaper is the main suspect. A routine canvas of the area in which the bodies were found led Detective White to Heath Grim, a reclusive millionaire with grisly facial scars and a past which doesn’t quite add up. There’s something about his story which makes Detective White curious to dig deeper into his background.
Just as Detective White closes in on his killer, the mob hatches an elaborate scheme which could cost him everything. In his moment of need, an unlikely ally presents a way out of the plot against him and information on his wife’s killer. However, it leaves Prairieville’s paragon of justice with a moral dilemma. Can he abandon all of the heroic ideals upon which he’s based his life and become the type of man he’s hunted for so long to settle a score with his wife’s killer?
As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.
Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.
Joseph was married Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph and Amy look forward to their honeymoon in Paris in September 2012. Murphy, a 15-year-old orange tabby, is perhaps the most vocal member of the family. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space”.
His latest book is the paranormal crime thriller, Grim.
Visit his website at www.josephbspencer.com.
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