Joseph Spencer is a graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and author of the Sons of Darkness series published by Damnation Books. His debut release, Grim, received an average of over four stars in reviews on both Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Wrage picks up the action where Grim left off in the bloody town of Prairieville with Jeff Wrage looking to avenge his murdered wife and freshly-promoted homicide detective Anna Duke charged with busting the dirty cop who framed her mentor.
Joseph works full-time as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center in central Illinois and writes part time. He and his wife Amy, a veterinarian, enjoy reading crime, thriller, paranormal and YA novels as well as traveling, cooking, and taking care of pets.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Wrage. When did you start writing and what got you into occult crime thrillers?
I worked as a newspaper journalist for ten years in large regional daily newspapers at Peoria, Ill., Burlington, Iowa, Martinsville, Va., and Grand Junction, Colo. Five years ago, I switched careers to join public safety because the outlook of the newspaper industry wasn’t too bright. That’s when I started thinking about a fiction writing career because I missed the creative outlet of writing. I’ve only been writing fiction for about 2 ½ years.
I write crime thrillers because those are the sorts of books I like to read. I also use my experience of working with law enforcement in the 9-1-1 emergency communications center where I work to develop police characters and add some authentic details about police work in my writing. I’ve also always loved studying mythology and the occult, so I blend that in to create an out of the ordinary crime novel experience.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
I’ve met a lot of authors like Charlaine Harris, James Rollins, Jack Ketchum, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, and they’ve all encouraged me to pursue my writing career. I’ve also had editors like Avril Dannenbaum and Michael Garrett, who was Stephen King’s first editor, work with me and that’s helped me improve some of my skills.
Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
I work 50 to 60 hours per week at my full-time job, so my biggest difficulty is finding time to write. I kept my daily goal at about 3-5 pages per day, and by hitting those small daily goals it helped me reach the overall goal of finishing the novel. I also had to work on my dialogue. It was a bit too formal at first.
What was your inspiration for Wrage?
When I decided to expand Grim into the Sons of Darkness series with Wrage, I wanted to incorporate themes which intrigued me from religion and history to tell epic stories. The “War Scroll” from the Dead Sea Scrolls foretells of an apocalyptic fight between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness in which Light will earn eternal peace by destroying Darkness. Each son in the Sons of Darkness series will represent a deadly sin, and each son in my future Sons of Light series will symbolize a cardinal virtue.
What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
I usually feed my muse with some form of ice cream as a sacrifice to the God of muses. After that, the muse usually speaks to me freely.
I certainly can identify with this feeling, especially considering that I have to start and stop so frequently on a daily basis. I often have to go back and read what I wrote the day before so I make sure I don’t repeat something. I still struggle with that from time to time. It stinks because normally by the time my writing starts flowing well my designated work time for that day is up.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
I keep daily goals of writing about 3-5 pages per day. I can’t hit it every day, but I hit it more times than not. When you chip away like that, the work adds up quickly and it isn’t so daunting. You break it down into scenes and chapters rather than thinking about a whole book.
How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
I normally don’t take a lot of time celebrating because that’s when my editing phase begins. I love to write, but sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to edit. I’m not the greatest at catching my own mistakes, so I use a lot of friends, families, writer friends and my editor to help me.
How do you define success?
I feel successful already. Three years ago, I wasn’t even sure I could write an entire novel. Now, I’ve written two and have about a quarter of my third novel finished. People at my job ask me all the time when I’m going to quit and when I’m going to be rich and famous. Obviously, that would be nice, but it’s not why I do it. It is thrilling every time a reader or reviewer writes that they enjoyed my work. It is rewarding to know you entertained someone else.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
I love the freedom to create whole new worlds and captivating characters. It’s a sort of therapy to get all of those emotions out into my characters.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about and your work?
Yes, my site is www.josephbspencer.com. It’s got links to trailers and video interviews as well as more information about me and the books.
Where is your book available?
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
I’m writing the third book in the series, Malice, which will come out in 2014. It will feature a controversial heavy metal rocker Malice Madsen, based loosely on Marilyn Manson, who will embody the sin of pride.