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Interview: Joseph Garraty, Author of Voice

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Joseph Garraty is a newer author to the horror scene and he busts through the barriers with a mind-blowing novel titled Voice.  Personally, this is one of my favorite books this year.  With a combination of rock and roll and horror, this is one non-stop thrill ride from start to finish.

Mr. Garraty has worked several jobs including construction, rocket test engineer, technical writer, environmental consultant and dead-beat musician. His writing genres include horror, dark fantasy and science fiction.  

This is an author to be on the lookout for, without a doubt.  Readers can learn more about Joseph Garraty by visiting his website.

Please tell us a bit about your book, Voice, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Johnny’s a lousy singer for a mediocre rock band, and he wants to be famous more than anything. Case is a hotshot guitarist with an enormous chip on her shoulder who happens to need a band. When she joins up with Johnny’s band, Ragman, the group gets a jolt of new life, and it soon becomes obvious that Johnny doesn’t have the chops to keep up. But somebody’s been watching Johnny. Somebody who can give him a voice to move millions. . . if he’s willing to make a deal.

But when you deal with the devil, you never get quite what you bargained for.

Johnny gets what he wants, but his new voice has some fairly, shall we say, hellacious side effects.

It’s a horror novel, so I hope readers take away at least a few chills from the story. I also hope that readers get a good sense of the characters and the sacrifices each of them has to make — or decide not to make — in order to succeed.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

My favorite character is Stephanie Case, the band’s guitarist. She’s a conflicted character, and most of her past relationships have been characterized by a sort of slash-and-burn approach, where she gets what she needs from others and gets out before forming too close a connection. As part of the band, though, she starts forming real relationships, and she decides they’re worth pursuing. Writing her struggle as things start to get weird around Johnny was a very rewarding part of the book for me.

And she’s a guitar player, so I’ve gotta like that.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

Yeah. The bit where Johnny starts to do his deal is one of my favorites:

John turned around. There was somebody standing there, not ten feet away. John tried to scream, but terror had frozen his throat. He stared, eyes bulging and mouth open.

“Nice night,” the man said. His voice was deep and warm, good-humored and somehow calming. John’s scream dissipated, turned into regular, if somewhat rapid, breathing. The man waited patiently. He stood with an easy slouch, his black shirt open to the third or fourth button. In his left hand, he carried a battered guitar case, and silver rings glittered on his fingers. Dark hair spilled from beneath a cowboy hat and curled across his cheek. The brim of the hat cast his eyes into deep shadow.

“Uh. Yeah. Beautiful.” John’s voice was hoarse, his mouth dry. He seemed to have recently swallowed a pound of ash. He coughed.

“You okay?” the man asked, grinning.

John nodded.

“Didn’t mean to startle you,” the man continued. “You looked like someone I used to know.” Had John thought his voice pleasant? Maybe it was, on the surface, but something oily churned and slithered underneath it.

“I, ah, I get that a lot.”

The man just grinned again. He was closer now, close enough for John to see the neatly trimmed, pencil-thin line of beard edging his jaw, flowing into a tidy, short goatee. The man put down his guitar case. John’s eyes darted to it, then flicked away.

“You play?” the man asked.

“No. Not really. Uh, no.” That was the best John could do for an answer. Terror had split his brain into a dozen fragments, each handling a different problem badly. One fragment was gauging the distance to the car and screaming RUNRUNRUNRUN! over and over again. Another was warning him that his bladder was dangerously full and telling him it would be best to dump it right now. Still another was frantically supplying rational explanations for the apparition before him.

That last was easy to ignore. He knew what—who—was in front of him, whether he wanted to fully come to grips with it or not.

“Too bad,” the man said, disappointed. “Music is good for the soul. I gotta admit, I’m surprised. You look like a player.”

“I don’t—I mean, I sing,” John said.

The man’s grin widened, showing teeth unnaturally white in the moonlight. “Ah. There you go. Best instrument of all, the voice.” He took on a conspiratorial tone. “How’s that working out for you?”

John didn’t answer.

“I might be able to help you out.” The man’s teeth parted slightly, and his tongue glistened.

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

Johnny – The perfect actor for Johnny would be a young Edward Norton. Johnny is skinny, awkward, and insecure while also being incredibly driven, and Edward Norton could nail that. Of course, Johnny’s also about twenty-three years old, so a modern filming would probably require a younger actor.

Case – Case is tough, smart, and takes absolutely no lip from anyone. I think Keira Knightley would be a good candidate for this role.

Douglas – Douglas is a nasty character, the guy who seduces Johnny into making his deal. He comes across as an old, burned-out rocker with a mean edge. Gabriel Byrne would be perfect.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

My favorite aspect of writing is getting to know a new set of characters, figure out what makes them tick, and watch them do their thing. A lot of the time, “their thing” is not what I had called for in the original outline, but that’s what makes it fun!

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Writing endings. Endings are tough. I like a tidy ending with all the loose bits tied off and a nice little bow on it. That’s a lot easier said than done, but it’s incredibly rewarding when it comes together.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

Joseph Heller – Catch-22
Stephen King – The Stand, It
Caitlin Kiernan – The Red Tree
Charlie Huston – The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

What are you reading right now?

Charlie Huston’s Sleepless. It’s a horrifying plague scenario all tangled up in a man’s love for his family and his quest for justice, and it’s mind-blowing.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

Mark Twain – Frog legs
Joseph Heller – Chocolate-covered cotton
Kurt Vonnegut – A bowl of Wheaties
Stephen King – A cheeseburger
H.P. Lovecraft – Calamari

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Yeah, it’s not horror — it’s not speculative fiction at all — but it’s a masterful blend of the absurd and the profound. Even when dealing with the heaviest of subjects, Heller never loses his sense of humor, and I think that’s an important, and essentially human, element. I try to keep that in mind in most of my writing.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

“Do something, even if it’s wrong.” My dad used to tell me that, and I think it’s applicable to every day of my life and not just my writing. Whatever you’re going to do, do it, without allowing yourself to feel afraid that you’ll screw it up somehow. That fear will keep you from doing anything at all, and it must be ignored.

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  • Cheryl Malandrinos

    Rock and roll stories are so much fun. Best of luck.