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.JosephSpencer.com.
Connect & Socialize with Joseph!
I would call myself a born storyteller. I worked as a reporter for regional daily newspapers in the Midwest for 10 years. I worked mainly in sports, but I tried to go beyond the box scores and personalize the stories by telling people a part of athletes’ stories they couldn’t see just by watching the games. I focused on that aspect when I began writing fiction. I wanted to create characters which captivate readers. I want them so wrapped up in the characters they can’t put the book down.
What was your inspiration for Grim?
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.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
My book attempts to make you take a closer look at the human condition. It’s a morality tale about losing your humanity when you become obsessed with personal loss.My message is that it’s easy for any of us to fall from grace. Without discipline, faith and hope, any of us can lose our way. In my story, great men fall victim to the temptation of one of the deadly sins – wrath. They lose everything but can’t stop themselves, even when they suspect what they’re doing is wrong.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
I wrote the novel in about 3 to 4 months, but the publishing process took much longer. I had the honor of having the manuscript edited by Stephen King’s first editor, Michael Garret. Then, I began submitting it to presses which accept unsolicited manuscripts. I had a few different small presses accept it, and I selected Damnation Books.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
With the responsibilities of my full-time job, it was difficult to devote time to write, too. I imposed a daily goal of writing at least three pages per day, and that steady commitment to it helped me finish. I’d never written fiction or before Grim, so it was an accomplishment to see it through. My best advice for any writer is to write every day, and never quit.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
With my full-time career taking up so much of my time, I had to stop and start so much that often I read and re-read the material I’d already written to ensure I was staying consistent with the characters, the plot and the story driving toward the resolution.
What do you love most about being an author?
There are so many parts of life that are defined for you. What I love about writing is the freedom to create whole new worlds and characters. The only limits to what you can create are the ones that you place on yourself. It’s an exhilirating process to start with nothing but an empty white screen on my laptop, and finish with a story I made up on my own.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
My publisher is Damnation Books, an independent horror trade press from Santa Rosa, Calif. I queried several houses which accepted unsolicited manuscripts, and right away they were excited to work on Grim. It was quite an exciting week for me because they accepted my manuscript on March 15, 2012, the day after my wedding. I am happy with my decision because Damnation helps me out so much, and they are quick to respond to my concerns with solutions.
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