Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview with Joseph Schneller, Author of Your Average Joe Unplugged

Joining us today is Joseph Schneller, author of Your Average Joe Unplugged. Joe served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a Psychology degree from Whitworth. He is an alumnus of the Christian Writers Guild. His publishing credits include Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, Clubhouse, and Focus on the Family; LifeWay’s Stand Firm; and Walk Thru the Bible’s Indeed. He writes nonfiction and humor for adults, and fiction for children, youth, and adults. He and his wife, Kippi, live in Colorado with their two young boys.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Joe. It's wonderful to have you with us. When did you begin writing?

In the third grade, I wrote a series of short stories on “Super Pickle,” a superhero vegetable who (I’m assuming now) went around doing heroic things in the plant kingdom. The class loved it when I read new installments to them—at least that’s how I remember it. Our teacher, Mrs. Baseman, was very encouraging about my writing. I think I’ll break out those old stories some day and see if there are any publishable concepts, maybe a Vlasic-meets-VeggieTales theme. Oh, I got it: VlasicTales.

Sometime in elementary school, I also wrote a story entitled “Dead Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” So you can see that most of my early writing centered around food.

What is this book about?

Your Average Joe: Unplugged is a Christian devotional and humor book. It takes a gritty, honest approach to issues such as employment, unemployment, trial, fear, and the Word of God. It also includes Dave Barry/Erma Bombeck-style humor articles about married life.

The Christian life is no easy gig, but for some harebrained reason Christians can think that we’re supposed to have it all together, that life should be smooth and prosperous. That’s unbiblical nonsense. This book takes a what-the-Bible-says-even-if-I-don’t-like-it approach, including transparent renderings of my personal experience. I hope readers find it liberating.

Early reader feedback includes accolades for tear-jerking honesty, an easy and “conversational” writing style, and laugh-out-loud humor. I’ve been hearing the “lovin’ it” phrase, which of course makes me think of McDonald’s. But there I go about food again.

What inspired you to write it?

I spent 9 ½ months unemployed/underemployed, and this with a wife and toddler at home and a second child on the way. To a minor extent, I felt like the Biblical character Job (pronounced “Jobe”), who lost nearly everything he had and spent much time grappling with loss and with his faith in God. Like I said, the faith walk is no cake walk.

I knew that this life is but a womb for the next, that God uses it to prepare us for service here and for life in heaven. But, in the midst of my desert—a most difficult time in my marriage, a most difficult time for me personally—I asked God if it’s really worth it. Is Kingdom-work on earth and preparation for heaven really worth all this heartache, all this headache, all this loss?

During most of that time, I ran a website and posted articles about my pilgrimage. At one point I read an email about the impact the website had on a woman. It struck her to the core, and was one of the things that helped her return to the Lord. As I finished reading that email, instinctively I said aloud, “This makes it all worth it.”

So, my deep hope is that God would use this book to draw people closer to Him. And yeah, if I’m able to help someone because of the low places I’ve seen, then it’s all worth it.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The book can be purchased from the publisher (http://www.nordskogpublishing.com/), from Amazon, or (if you want an autograph and possibly some leftover pickle) directly from me (http://www.josephschneller.com/). Because I’m a first-time book author, it may take a little while to get on the bookstore shelves. But I think you may be able to order it through your local bookstore as well.

What is up next for you?

First off, I need to take a shower. I smell like a yak. Secondly, I have a completed young adult novel which I’m pitching to publishers. I’m also interested in further nonfiction for adults, and have a couple more novels rumbling around in my head. I’m also considering the children’s market. Of course, there are always the magazine articles (I’ve written for Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family, Clubhouse and Focus on the Family magazine; LifeWay’s Stand Firm; Walk Thru the Bible’s Indeed, Wesleyan Publishing House’s Vista; etc.). So, I’m currently in the cool place of having more potential opportunities than I have time.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Joe. We wish you continued success.

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