Author Joshua Graham is taking the world one reader at a time. He is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and the winner of the 2011 International Book Awards. Suspense Magazine listed Beyond Justice in its Best of 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor. His short story “The Door’s Open” won the HarperCollins Authonomy Competition (Christmas 2010.)
A native of Brooklyn, he holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).
Today he resides in Southern California with his wife and children.
Thank you for this interview, Joshua. Before we get into your wonderful new book, Darkroom, I’d like to ask you how you got into the suspense genre?
Suspense and thrillers have always been my genre of choice to read and watch on the screen. So naturally, I’d write what I enjoy. Alfred Hitchcock has been a favorite of mine since I was quite young.
What genre have you not written that you’d like to write one day or are you a strictly suspense author?
I haven’t yet written a historical fiction novel, though with my background in classical music, I plan to. Writing as Ian Alexander, I have actually written Young Adult/Epic Fantasy.
What do you do for a living besides writing books?
I’m a full-time writer, so I make my living exclusively through writing. However, I have held other professions in the past, such as IT director, classical musician, college professor, etc.
Your book, Darkroom, is published by Simon & Schuster, one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. How did that happen for you?
Quite simply, through divine providence. Faith requires action, though, because without action, it’s dead faith. So in my case, I wrote the book, prayed a lot, wrote the query letter to a top editor, prayed a lot, waited, prayed, then got the offer for a contract. (I’m still praying every day, notice a pattern?)
What would you say is the best tip you can give those authors wishing for a NY publishing contract?
See previous question above.
Also, learn as much as you can about writing a great novel, and writing a great query letter/proposal. Consider independent publishing to grow your platform. If you’re an author with a great book with an established track record and following, you’ll probably have an advantage over another author with an equally great book, but without a following and track record. The business of publishing is just that, a business. Decisions to acquire a title involve so much more than its artistic merit. As with any business, before they invest in your work, they must decide if the potential for sales outweigh the risks sufficiently. In a nutshell, my advice is twofold: Write the best book you can possibly write, and make yourself marketable.
Now let’s focus on this fantastic suspense novel, Darkroom. The cover is spectacular. Did you have any say in the production of it?
I do like this cover very much. I had the privilege and pleasure of working with the art department on it. It was a stipulation that my IP attorney placed into the contract, and in hindsight, I’m really glad she did. I love cover design and count myself blessed that I got to participate in this part of the process for Darkroom.
Mixing the end of the Vietnam War with a young woman’s paranormal visions of a murder in today’s New York sets the premise of your book. Where did you ever get the idea to write this?
Once again, divine providence (inspiration.) I can recall sitting in my cubicle at my day job some years ago. I was finishing up another novel and wondering what my next suspense book would be. The title Darkroom came to mind. I thought, What a cool double-entendre! This was not something I sat and thought about for hours, it just fell into my mind while I was probably thinking about a hundred other things — as though someone suggested it to me. In fact, I do believe it was from above.
So I went on to figure out what kind of premise would match a title Darkroom. I had some old fashioned photography experience when I was in junior high school, and I remembered how the hairs on my neck and scalp would prickle every time an image would come up under the developing solution in our makeshift darkroom. At first, it looked like a negative, and the people looked like ghosts. Eventually, everything cleared up and looked normal. But I never forgot that eerie sensation.
As I thought about that title, the premise arose. What if someone could see things clairvoyantly in the images they develop in the darkroom? Things that the human eye could not see, but revealed things. Terrible things. I loved the premise and filed it away in the back of my mind, because in that same year, my mother-in-law passed away, and after working at my day job for nearly 10 years, my entire department was outsourced to an offshore operation. I found myself without a job. But this became a time of rebirth, and from it, with the inspiration of my beautiful muse, and the love of my life (my bride), Darkroom was born.
Do you have more books coming out soon?
As long as The Lord gives me strength, breath, and favor, I will always have another book coming out. I hope we’ll see some more in the Fall of 2012.
Thank you again for this interview, Joshua. Do you have any final words?
There are many reasons why you may be tempted to think negative thoughts about the world in which we live, what with the economy, the precarious global political situations, etc. But I would like to challenge you not to give in to gloom and doom, or complaining. For all of history, as a wise ancient king once said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” People have always had a choice: be a victim, or take responsibility for your life. I believe that no matter what the circumstance, no matter your belief, you always have a choice. And that choice will affect your thoughts, your words, your actions, your habits, your character, and ultimately your destiny.
I am so blessed that during my darkest days, my family and dear friends from church would not allow me to think or speak negativity into my life. They knew very well how anyone might think or speak that way, given my circumstances. But they also knew too well how doing so would directly affect my destiny. So they encouraged me to anchor my hope and future to the promises of God in His word (the Bible). I made that choice — more of a commitment — and that choice dictated my beliefs, thoughts and actions. I hope you’ll consider what your anchor is, and how certain you are of its ability to direct your future.
If you’d like to discuss this further, I welcome your feedback. Please contact me on my website or facebook. www.joshua-graham.com/contact.