Welcome! Pull up a seat and enjoy a chat with Today’s Tease Michael Joseph
Your Name or Pen Name you use: Michael Joseph
Title of the book you are promoting: Holding On
Link to purchase your Book: http://michaeljoseph.info/books/david-gun-series/holding-on/
Genre: Gay Romance
Welcome MJ…I, LH have some questions for you 😉
LH: I wanted to be a ballerina, race car driver and a private detective when I was little. What did you want to be when you grew up?
MJ: An architect. I actually graduated with a professional degree in Architecture, but my career took a left turn right out of university. It was the first of many.
LH: I didn’t really have a literary influence, I just decided one day to start writing. Who influenced you in your writing career?
MJ: Aldous Huxley – specifically “Island” – is the one who really taught me to look critically at the world around me. Mary Renault opened my eyes to the world of gay fiction, as well as the long history of western homosexuality.
LH: I self published all of my books and was then “discovered” by a publisher. Are you an Indie or published author?
MJ: I’m definitely an indie author. I responded to a publisher’s inquiry when I was in the process of finalizing “Holding On” but nothing ever came of it, which I’m glad of. I write mostly for my own pleasure. I’ve promised myself that I never want it to feel like a ‘job’, which it would if I had a publisher on my back waiting for a draft or a revision. Of course, when my muse cracks the whip with a new idea, I have no choice to write down what he gives me. A publisher might help my books reach a wider audience, but I’d rather have the freedom to write what I want, as well as keep a bigger percentage of my sales.
LH: As an Indie Author, I was hesitant about being with a publishing company. If you are an Indie author, would you like to be published by a traditional publisher and if so, why or why not?
MJ: As I’ve said, I’m happy as an independent author. If a publisher came to me, I’d definitely be flattered, but I’d have to look at the offer before I accepted it, which I probably wouldn’t. I may be relatively new to fiction, but I’ve been writing about travel for well over ten years. I’ve been published in magazines and even had a book deal at one time. But these days, most of the offers I see don’t make business sense for me, or any author with any professionalism, who understands what it’s going to cost them to produce the content requested.
My understanding of the fiction world is that it’s gone much the same way. Publishers offer very little – no or minimal editing and proofing, covers out of the author’s pocket, etc. – in exchange for a substantial piece of the sales price. They might help you to sell more books, but you might end up making less money. What’s the point?
LH: This is easy for me…I’d invite Johnny Depp and I would not discuss movies! Who would you invite to dinner, living or dead, and what one topic would you NOT discuss with them?
MJ: There are so many possibilities, I don’t know which to choose. I could invite Alexander the Great and discuss the Iliad rather than world domination. Then again, I could have dinner with Hephaestion and find out what Alexander was like in bed rather than in battle. I could invite Patroclus and Antinous, and we could have a round table discussion on what’s like to have a boyfriend who wants to – or already does – rule the world.
LH: I personally think that there is way too much sex and violence everywhere in society these days and it’s everywhere but that Hollywood is one of the biggest offenders. Do you think that society as a whole is subjected to too much sex and violence and are you concerned about it? Which form of media do you think is the worst offender?
MJ: Whoa, big complicated question. First of all, let’s be clear that we’re talking about American society here. I’m just back from living in Thailand for over 20 years, and I can tell you that other cultures don’t have quite the same fascination with either topic. That’s not to say they aren’t present in the media. One of the most widely read Thai newspapers regularly features big color photos of mangled bodies in car wrecks or found murdered on the roadside. It’s actually much more shocking that what you’ll see on any American news channel, but does that make Thailand a more violent country? No, it’s somewhat less violent that the US.
It’s also curious that we always talk about sex and violence together, like the two things are linked. Certainly there are areas where the two issues intersect, like violence against women, but on the whole I think the only thing the two have in common is that, in America, we can’t have a rational discussion about either one.
I think the fascination with sex goes back to our puritan roots. It’s amazing what a grip some of those ideals still have on at least part of our society, and the funny thing is, by continuing to rally against sex in the mainstream, it just makes people more curious about it. It’s human nature to want to delve into the taboo.
Violence is another thing that seems to have been here for a long time, but I would also agree that it’s gotten worse in recent years. I think a lot of it may have to do with the bunker mentality that’s become prevalent since 9/11. It’s understandable, but unproductive. Americans need to understand that the world doesn’t hate them, individually or collectively.
The ‘media’ is a common whipping horse for putting all these things in front of us, but I consider it a symptom rather than the cause. The government, thankfully, has no control over the American media. News and entertainment in this country is all provided by corporations, which are there solely to make money. The more people that read or watch what they put out, the more money they make. So, they’re going to produce the news and entertainment that people want to see. If you don’t like what’s on TV, blame your neighbors, not the networks.
LH: I’m a huge softie and by no means a beauty queen… lol but, I truly would want world peace in the blink of an eye if I could make it happen…If you could change one thing in the world, in the blink of an eye, what would it be?
MJ: Damn, another complicated question. So many things pop into mind at first, such as eliminating race, religion or poverty. Our differences are what leaders of one stripe or another use to divide us. But then you think, what kind of world would we have if everyone looked the same and thought the same? What incentive would there be to create and invent if we were all truly equal? No, there is no simple one-off solution.
I think what I would like to see is people exercising more empathy. I’m not talking about telepathy or even the western/Christian “do unto others” golden rule. I’m talking about the basic human ability to put ourselves in someone else’s place. It’s a basic human ability, and a lot of successful people – especially salesmen – that I’ve met in my life were very good at getting into people’s heads and figuring what motivated them. We seem to be losing that more and more, hence, the inability to have any rational discourse on sensitive topics.
LH: With the traditional bookstore becoming obsolete and everyone turning to buying books online, I don’t buy the hype that “the cover is everything”. How important do you think book covers are now that almost all shopping is done online?
MJ: I think covers are useful for attracting attention to our books. A cover can help a book stand out from the crowd if you’re looking at a long list of books on a web site. If I were going to spend more money on producing my books, my first choice would be to spend it on covers. That said, I’ve never bought a book just because I like the cover. If the blurb doesn’t get me interested in the story, it doesn’t matter how eye-catching the cover is.
LH: I can remember wanting to write as a kid. I got a really late start! Have you always wanted to write and when did you start?
MJ: I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, and wrote well enough, although I don’t think I every wanted to be a writer. I wrote a little not long after I got out of university, but then life and work got in the way and it wasn’t until a few years ago that the bug really hit me to write fiction again. Of course, writing non-fiction has always ended up being a big part of most of the jobs I’ve had.
LH: I love to see if I can see myself in a character. What interests you most about a story?
MJ: I always put myself in the main character’s place and write about what’s happening to them, how it makes them feel. Of course, sometimes this can get a little too close to home, as it did with “Holding On” where there is a lot me in the character of David.
LH: For me, I just get hit with this whole movie in my head and start writing. How do you come up with your stories?
MJ: It’s generally quite the same with me, although in my case, I usually just get hit with a scene. It might roll around in my head for a week or two before I’ll decide I have to write it down. That’s definitely how “Holding On” started. It was just a few scenes that I thought I would jot down, and maybe make into a short story later, but the way it works for me is, once I get the stuff out of my head, the next scenes start to fill it up again. It might be three or four chapters before I really have a sense of where the book will end up, and even then, there have been a few times when the characters clearly had different ideas about where they were going to go.
LH: I can’t tell you or I’d have to…lol Are you working on anything now?
MJ: Right now, I’m not working on anything. I turned my life upside down at the start of this year, when I decided to end my long self-imposed exile and return to the USA. A parental health issue was one of the reasons for coming back to stay, so between that and getting settled and looking for work, my mind is too preoccupied to think about writing, but I’m beginning to feel the itch coming back. I have one book, a science fiction story called “Worlds Apart”, just needing to be edited and another one in the early stages.
LH: I’m working on #6…3 are published and the other 3 are due out this year… How many books have you written? How many have been published?
MJ: I’ve published seven and have another one written, just awaiting final edits.
LH: I write for fun I don’t even dream of riches…Do you write for fun or money?
MJ: I write and publish just for fun. One of the promises I’ve made myself is to never let fiction writing feel like a job. I do it when the mood – or muse – strikes me, and if I don’t feel like writing, I don’t do it.
LH: Some of my family members had a bit of a problem with me writing my first book “A Beautiful Liar” because the character Maggie West is basically me…to a point 😉 They had a problem with the genre and me “putting it all out there” so to speak so I took a pen name. They eventually came around as I have never cared who knows who I am what I’ve done or what they think of me. I’ve never wanted to be famous, just infamous! What has been your biggest problem when it comes to family or friends when writing?
MJ: I haven’t had any problems. I took a pen name when I started writing fiction to keep it separate from my travel writing, in which I have a substantial body of work, and that also means people, including family, are less likely to even know about it. It also helps that I was on the other side of the world when I started, so I didn’t have family around to ask what I was doing.
LH: I have never experienced writers block…I have experienced writers “don’t want to”… Have you ever experienced writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?
MJ: I don’t think I’ve ever experienced writer’s block, but as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve avoided putting myself in the situation where I had to write. I don’t have deadlines and I generally don’t set goals. For me, those things would result in work that I wasn’t happy with. If something I’m writing isn’t working, I just set it aside.
What I have experienced is finishing writing up a chapter or scene that’s been burning a hole in my skull, and having no idea what happens next. I may know where the arc of the story is going, I just don’t know what the characters do next to get there. I’ve learned not to get overly concerned about this. I just close the file and go do something else, like work out at the gym, and it’s when I’m distracted with other things that the muse is most likely to creep into my head and give me the next idea.
I find this is true of just about any work I do. Solutions to difficult problems rarely come to me if I just focus on them head on. Distraction is the key. Answers often come to me when I’m not thinking about a problem. My gym membership should definitely be a deductible business expense, since it’s where I get most of my answers.
LH: I get asked all the time “Do you have any advice for new writers?”… Do you?
MJ: My advice is to just do it. So many people seem to just ‘wish’ they could be a writer, but like everything else in the real world, wishing ain’t going to make it happen. You have to sit down and write what’s in your head, and like a lot of things, the more you do it the better you get at it. I think the idea of getting published is what stops a lot of people, but as we discussed earlier, that’s not so hard any more. However, that said, if you’re writing to get published, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason. Do it because you want to, or better yet, do it because you have to.
In the last two years I’ve reviewed well over 100 books on my own site. I’ve read stuff that blew me away and made me feel like a crappy writer, and I’ve read books that I thought needed a lot of work (it’s not just the writing, folks, proofing and editing are important too!) Despite some real drivel, I can only think of one book where I would really advise the author to give it up, or at least not write in English, since it clearly wasn’t her native tongue.
LH: I would not change one thing in my life as I would not be me if I did… If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be?
MJ: Really tricky question, especially now. I’m at a point where it looks like leaving the US to live in Thailand 20 years ago was a mistake. It might have kept me from realizing things about myself that I could have figured out much sooner. But, as you suggest, everything that has happened to me adds up to make me what I am today, so if I changed that one little thing in the past, I would be a totally different person now, and maybe not any happier or better off. No, I wouldn’t really change a thing.
LH: If I could go back in time and tell someone something, I’d go back and tell the founding fathers they were doing a few things wrong…If you could go back in time and tell someone something, who would you tell and what would you tell them?
MJ: Hmm, what to do, suggest to Lincoln that he skip the play? Tell Kennedy that it was going to rain in Dallas so he would keep the bubble-top on? Or inform the guy who put the bomb in Hitler’s bunker that he needs to set it on the other side of the table leg? The possibilities are endless, but I’m a believer in the law of unintended consequences, so I don’t think I’d change anything. The problem isn’t our history, it’s that we don’t learn from it.
LH: I would freak out if someone contacted me and said they wanted to make one of my books or my series of book into a movie as I am really very shy in person and I’d probably go into hiding. I don’t think I could handle it. How would you handle it? Who would be the first person you told?
MJ: Erm… well… given the highly erotic content of my books, this would be tricky. One of my most popular novellas could only realistically be made into a hard core porno. I am also extremely introverted, so appearing in public as the center of attention is something that would be extremely hard for me. I’m not sure how I would do it, but I’d probably screw up to courage if I had to. Who I would tell first would be easy: I’d tell Twitter.
Thank you for that well rounded and well thought out interview…Now… for the fun stuff!
Favorite Beverage? Coffee – the good stuff, not that green goddess crap.
Exercise or Bubble Bath? Exercise, followed by a steamy-hot shower.
Favorite Color? Blue
Take out or Dine in? Cooking for myself.
Camping or Hotel? Hotel, five-star, please.
Sports or Chocolate? Chocolate, even though I’m allergic.
Dogs or Cats? Both
Favorite Food? A Thai dish called Jungle Curry. Done right, it’s the hottest dish on the planet.
Favorite Song? “Red Light” by Jonny Lang keeps popping into my head recently.
Favorite Movie? “Fargo”. I never get bored by this movie.
Favorite Car? 1914 Stutz Bearcat
Sex or Chocolate? (The answer “Both” is totally acceptable 😉 Both, definitely both.
And now for the essay part of the interview 😉
If you could go anywhere for a week, with anyone you wanted and no one would ever find out about it…where would you go, what would you do and who would you take?
MJ: Interesting question, and I don’t have an “interesting” answer to it. The “where” is probably easiest. Greece is still on my bucket list. It’s in my mind right now because I just reviewed the book “Song of Achilles”, based on the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus from the Illiad. But I’ve always been fascinated with Ancient Greece and have read all of Mary Renault’s books. I’d want to explore the famous places of the mainland, from Macedon to Sparta, and then sail through the islands to see Santorini, Rhodes and the other ancient sites. Since this is a fantasy, we’ll travel in the style of a Greek Shipping Magnate, with a private yacht crewed by shapely Mediterranean men.
The “who” is the really tricky part. I’m not really crushing on anyone at the moment. Whoever it was would have to be as into the history of the region as I was. I’ve had the experience of traveling with boyfriends who had no interest in the stuff, and that’s not fun. I’m tempted to just bring a porn star, so the nights would be just as interesting as the days, in a completely different way. I’m also tempted to suggest a Korean pop star called Rain. He’s done a few big movies for the western audience so some people might know him. He’s very cute and once confessed in an interview that he would like to have a private life. I’d give him a week of that.
Thank you for spending this time with us. Make sure to pick up your copy of Michael Joseph’s