Joining us today is Josephy Garraty, author of the horror novel, Voice.
Joseph is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Joseph. It's great to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! Like the bio says, I’ve had a lot of day jobs, mostly of a technical nature. That keeps the left brain happy. Creative pursuits—writing and music, primarily—take up most of the rest of my non-day-job time and give me an outlet for the right brain.
I’m a speculative fiction writer by nature. I was always drawn to horror, fantasy, and science fiction growing up, and while I read a lot more widely these days, spec fic still feels like home. I know the tropes inside and out, and I’m completely comfortable playing around with them. Besides that, I feel like spec fic really lets me give my imagination free rein, which can be very rewarding.
Besides that, I play guitar and I’m learning to play the drums. The former I play pretty well, the latter—let’s not talk about that now. Maybe in a year.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve written short stories and vignettes for most of my life—imagine, if you will, a boy at age eight, writing longhand in a spiral notebook, bizarre tales of Mikhail Gorbachev piloting a flying jeep and even weirder stories than that. I continued writing little bits through high school and college, though I hope with a somewhat more refined choice of subject matter. I never tried to publish any of it—the thought never crossed my mind back then.
I didn’t try my hand at writing a novel until about six years ago, when an idea grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I’d got it all out. As first novels tend to be, it was a disaster. I (wisely, I think) chucked it in the trash, but by then I was hooked.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I typically get up a couple of hours before work and write. It’s a quiet time, with none of the distractions of the evening. Some days I’ll sneak a little writing in at the end of the day, if I can. Hmm. It sounds so unhealthy when I put it like that. . .
What is this book about?
Voice is the story of a group of young rock musicians. Johnny wants to be a famous rock singer more than anything. He hooks up with a hotshot guitarist, Stephanie Case, and she helps propel his band forward. The problem is, Johnny’s a lousy singer, and he’s in danger of being severely outclassed by his own band. But somebody’s been watching Johnny. . . Somebody who can make Johnny’s dreams come true, if he’s willing to make a deal.
But when you deal with the devil, you never get exactly what you bargained for.
What inspired you to write it?
Crazy rock musicians is the short answer. The long answer is that I’m a huge fan of rock and roll, and I’ve played in one rock band or another for over ten years now. From what I can tell, rock musicians are some of the most driven, egomaniacal, risk tolerant, creative, just plain crazy people on the earth. Throw a group of them in a small room, give them similar goals (though not necessarily the same goals), and stand back to watch the fireworks. Great conflict and interesting stories result, and bringing in the supernatural element was an excellent way of amplifying that.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
Not really, no. I’ve dropped in on a few, and I used to attend one group semi-regularly, but critique groups haven’t worked for me very well as a way to get valuable criticism. I’ve found that writers are kind of like economists—ask six of them the same question and you’ll get seven different opinions (or more). In the groups I’ve tried, none of the seven opinions matched and they often conflicted. That didn’t really provide much in the way of helpful direction.
So, no, I haven’t had the greatest luck with critique groups. Instead, I rely on a handful of friends who really “get” my work and are merciless in their honesty. The results tend to be tightly focused and very useful.
Who is your favorite author?
Can I pick a few? I love Stephen King for his characters—I maintain that nobody anywhere does character better. I read Neal Stephenson and Charles Stross for their ideas. Both those guys can jam a book with more ideas than I can fully grasp, even after several readings, so their stuff is challenging and interesting. Caitlin Kiernan is great for the extremely creepy and subtle. And Charlie Huston is great for plot and breakneck pace.
You bet! My blog is at http://www.josephgarraty.com. I update it regularly with news about my books, musings about writing and music, and random detritus that drifts through my head.
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
The best investment has been time spent researching book blogs, corresponding with their authors, and getting involved in their sites, even just as a commenter. Book bloggers perform a tremendous service in hooking authors and readers up with each other, and I can’t say enough nice things about them.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Read everything! I write speculative fiction, but I’ve incorporated influences from crime and literary authors into my work at times, and I can’t even count the oddities that have crept into my work from random nonfiction, ranging from statistics textbooks to sociological treatises to impenetrable physics tomes. There’s always something new to learn.
What is up next for you?
I’m finishing up revisions on a nasty urban fantasy novel called The Price, which I expect to have available before the end of the year. It’s about a naïve kid who ends up as a wizard for the Mafia, thinking he’ll be able to protect his family and make a name for himself. He finds out, though, that the price of doing business with these guys is much higher than he’d expected, both in terms of blood and the wear and tear on his soul.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for the interview!
Thanks for spending time with us today, Joseph. We wish you great success.