Morning everyone. I hope you’re all having a good week so far? I’m still head deep in assignments! But I took a little break, and this week I”m delighted to welcome Joseph Lewis over to Meet the Author. We’re chatting about the best thing he’s done in life, which of his characters he take on a desert island, what advice he’d give his younger self, what he enjoys about book signings, his most recent book, Betrayed and more…..
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Joseph Lewis recently retired after 44 years in education as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. He is currently teaching part-time at a high school. In his writing, he uses his psychology and counseling background and his knowledge of kids in crafting his characters and dialogue. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married for twenty-eight years and counting to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily, and they now reside in Virginia.
How many books have you written and published?
Lewis has published seven books, all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and each to excellent reviews. Taking Lives (August 2014) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (November 2014) Book One of the Lives Trilogy; Shattered Lives (March 2015) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (November 2015) Book Three of the Trilogy are based upon his work in counseling and his work with the Wetterling Foundation for Stranger Abducted and Sexually Exploited Children. It was his effort to give back to the families and kids by telling their story, though in fiction.
Caught in a Web (April 2018) won a PenCraft Literary Award for Thriller Fiction, and was named one of the best crime thrillers by Best Thriller. Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019) is his most recent offering, and was nominated for a TopShelf Book Award and was named as a Ready Reader’s Recommended Read. His newest, Betrayed, features some of the same characters from his previous work and will be released world-wide 11-12-20.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The publication date is up to the publishing company, but generally, the approximate time from concept to publication has been on average nine months to a year.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
I get asked this question a lot. I read an interview with Keith Urban, a country music star, who was about to release his greatest hits album. The interviewer asked him which song was his favorite. His answer stuck with me, and it exemplifies my feelings exactly. He said that each song was one of his babies. To choose one song over the other would be like choosing a favorite among one of your children. I feel the same way. I feel I’ve grown with each book, gotten better. Each story, at the time it was written, was my favorite. Looking back on them, I think ‘would I change this or that?’ The answer is, perhaps. But at the time, minus edits that were missed or poor formatting, I was completely satisfied with each one. Now, if a gun were at my head and I was forced to pick one, I would pick two: Stolen Lives (the first book of the Lives Trilogy) and Betrayed, my most recent publication. I like the character depth in each. The reader will at times weep. The reader will get angry and disgusted. The reader will feel happy and laugh. I know this because I did the same upon writing each. If the writer doesn’t feel, the reader won’t either.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
This is a terrific question. I would have to choose two: George, a sixteen-year-old full-blooded Navajo boy who was raised in a traditional way in hopes of one day becoming a Haatalii (medicine man) like his grandfather, and Brian, a sixteen-year-old that is struggling internally, but has it seemingly altogether on the outside. Both George and Brian have a great deal of depth to them. These are two of my favorite characters, and my readers seem to love them too.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Don’t get discouraged. I could wallpaper a room with all the rejection slips I’ve received. Some, general and cold. Others, quite lovely, but a rejection nonetheless. It happens to all of us, famous or not. The other piece of advice I would give is to read. Read both in and out of your writing genre. To me, reading is to writing as weightlifting is to the athlete. One makes the other better and both are integral to the process.
Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?
I struggled with this one because there are all sorts of books that have impacted me. I would choose two: Lord of the Flies, because it is raw. The kids transform before the reader’s eyes. Innocence is lost, friendships challenged, and lives are lost. They are on their own and for the most part, they survive and come out on the other side. The other book is a novella: The Body, by Stephen King, found in his book, Different Seasons. This one story, made into a movie titled, Stand By Me, single-handedly transformed me into the writer I am. It taught me, spoke to me, led me. I found it powerful. Stephen King is one of my heroes because of it.
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
By far, Stand By Me. A powerful film that is way more than an adventure taken by kids. It speaks of mortality, yearning, friendship, and survival. Such a great film that has layers upon layers. Ironically, it was one of the screenplays we studied in film school.
What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?
The very best thing I’ve ever done was marry my wife, Kim, and have three wonderful kids. Wil, was adopted from Guatemala, Hannah and Emily were born to us. I love them dearly and they were my best “publications” to date. Nothing I will ever do will compare.
Describe yourself using three words only…….
Passionate, Creative/Imaginative, Caring
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
I believe what Stephen King wrote in his book, On Writing, which has become one of my go-to Bibles on writing. He feels that the best stories surround the character. You can’t have a story without them, and a rich satisfying story will always have rich satisfying characters. Plot and setting come about only when characters act, react or interact. You can have a pretty garden, but if no one goes there, who cares? You can’t have a mystery or a murder unless you have characters. In my mind, characters are first and foremost.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
I love psychological thriller/mystery. I want to understand the why and figure out the who. I devour James Patterson, John Sandford, David Baldacci and C.J. Box. One reader wrote a review that said, “If you like James Patterson, you’ll love Joseph Lewis.” That is such a humbling comment and I don’t know if I will ever deserve it. But to be mentioned positively in the same sentence is remarkable.
Do you do book signings or guest speak at book clubs?
Book signings and meeting readers are the most fun things for me to do. Readers always ask the most interesting questions. I think it’s fun for the reader to meet someone who has written a book. I especially like speaking to youth about writing. I encourage them to follow their dream, their heart. Book clubs are interesting because they are made up by people who take books and writing seriously. They aren’t afraid to call you out on a plot point or try to pin you down on what you’ve written. Tell me when and where and I’ll be there!
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Betrayed is my most recent and is currently available for preorder. It features Brian, George, and Brett, three adopted sixteen-year-old brothers who embark on an adventure after a desperate late-night phone call from one of George’s childhood friends. Her brother is missing, and some of their sheep have been shot to death. When they arrive, they find that a family was murdered, and no one is willing to talk. No leads. No clues. Only threats. Betrayed is a story of love, family, and friendship; a promise is made and kept even thought it might mean the death of one of the boys.
thank you so much joseph for coming over to chat with us! What an insightful interview!
If you have any questions or comments for Joseph, be sure to get in touch – he’d love to hear from you.
I’ll be back soon, as I also have a review for you today……