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Interview: Joseph Schneller, Author of Your Average Joe: Unplugged

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Joseph Schneller 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.

Your Average Joe: Unplugged is his first book. You can visit Joseph Schneller’s website at www.josephschneller.com.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and hold a degree in Psychology from Whitworth University. I am an alumnus of the Christian Writers Guild. My 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. I write nonfiction and humor for adults, and fiction for children, youth, and adults. My wife, Kippi, and I live in Colorado with our two young boys and an outrageously misbehaving beagle.

What made you first decide to become a writer?

I saw a YouTube commercial on The World’s Most Interesting Man — the spot was “On Careers.” Sitting at a late-night dinner table in some stylish country amidst his beautiful friends, he said in his gravelly voice, “Find out what you are not good at in life, and do not do this thing.”

That kills me because he, in pithy fashion, summed up the entire point of Now, Discover Your Strengths (Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton): don’t waste your time trying to improve what you’re not good at, find out what you’re good at and bring it to excellence.

Writing has stood out among my strengths since I was a kid. I recall reading episodes of “Super Pickle” to my third grade class, which enthusiastically looked forward to the latest exploits and triumphs of my superhero vegetable. I’ve basically been chasing that pinnacle of fame ever since.

Can you tell us about your latest book?

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 un-biblical 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.

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, 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.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want readers to know that Christ is relevant to them amidst the pains and joys, the responsibilities and tragedies of life. Through Christ, there is meaning in everything.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The book can be purchased from the publisher (www.nordskogpublishing.com), from Amazon, or (if you want an autograph and possibly some leftover pickle) directly from me (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.

If you could meet any writer (living or dead) who would it be?

From the Christian literature realm, I’d like to meet C.S. Lewis. His versatility, collegiate air, and depth of insight are of high appeal. I also am interested in publishing across a breadth of genres, so I look to him as a de facto mentor. (Note to self: look up “de facto”).

From the general market, I’d like to meet Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country for Old Men, The Road, etc.). He writes with power, grit, and ease. Add redemption to that and you’d go from literary giant to modern day prophet.

What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?

I think scars are interesting. I find it hard to trust someone without them.

What is up next for you?

I’m currently preparing to pitch a completed young adult novel and the proposal for a Christian non-fiction book – something a bit different than Your Average Joe. In the Joe book I combine humor and devotion. Now I want to add another unexpected element.

Is there anything you would like to add?

You can visit me at www.josephschneller.com. I love hearing reader feedback. If it’s good, I mean. And compliments my sense of fashion. And also doesn’t get all caught up in the fact that I really did have to look up “de facto.”

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

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About Cheryl C. Malandrinos