I’m really sad that this will be Josh’s last interview here as I always enjoy having him on the site. He has been most gracious to grant me interviews whenever I ask and I really appreciate that he treated me with the utmost professionalism when I approached him in 2008 for what was My First BIG Interview. Of course, being me, I chose an icon in the genre for this dubious honour – talk about having balls. 😀 Hell, what could he say other than “no” and he might say “yes.” Being Josh, he graciously granted my request; maybe he wanted to be welcoming to the newbie from the Great White North (Canada) in the interest of cross-border relations. 🙂 Since then I have interviewed Josh every year. You would think I’d run out of things to ask, but no such luck Josh) 😆
Jeez. Do these goofs need hobbies or what? 😆 But if I’m going to be mistaken for someone, I am honored it would be you, Wave. I am also honored people think I could do everything I do AND everything you do!
Seriously Josh, this will be our last interview together so you should celebrate that you won’t have to answer my questions anymore. This is our 8th sit down (some years I was greedy and interviewed you more than once) and I’m stumped about what questions I should ask. I have probably asked you at least 200+ questions over the past 5 ½ years, and I’m wondering now what’s left. However I’ll try to make this short, painless and interesting for your fans.
Admit it, I’ve finally worn you out!
Did you accomplish almost everything you thought you would in this first year back?
Ouch. No. I have to wince thinking of all the projects I naively imagined I could complete this year. Not because I’m less productive (although that was my initial fear when I began to fall behind), but because I spend so much of my time doing stuff that was never a factor before. Like the audio books, for example. Surprisingly time consuming.
Was there something you realize you have to work on more because you’re such a workaholic?
Um…everything? 🙂 I really am obsessive about work. I used to tell myself I made some of the decisions I did based on finances or laying the groundwork for the future, but the fact is, I work constantly because I don’t know any other way.
One of the things I noticed about your writing since your return is that there’s a new depth to it (not that it wasn’t deep enough before) lol. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but you seem to have changed personally and this is reflected in your writing in a positive way. Consequently you have become more adventurous with your characterizations IMO. You have always been one of my top 3 favourite authors because your plots and characters are so compelling, but now your writing is showing a new creativity, breadth and innovation and you’re boldly turning around some of your best known/best loved characters such as Will and Taylor in Dangerous Ground whom you have re-invented.
Was it risky changing the series arc of the Dangerous Ground series or did you feel that if the characters and series arc didn’t evolve the series itself wouldn’t survive long term? I know you have a master plan for every series just like you did for Adrien English, which leads me to my question about DG – we’re now at book 5, would you like to share with us how many books in total you’re planning for this series? You knew I was going to ask this question. :hysterics:
Well, first of all, thank you. That’s a lovely compliment. I think taking that time off served (among other things) to remind me what it is I love so much about writing. Namely the individual characters and their unique journeys. I do feel more relaxed and confident about exploring and pushing their boundaries — and mine! — you’re right.
As for Kick Start, I either had to wind up the series — and I still enjoy writing it — or I had to reinvent it. I chose to reinvent it, but in order to do that I had to use one instalment just to set up the new dynamics both personally and professionally for Will and Taylor. So Kick Start ended up being a mix of old and new. I think that did confuse a few readers.
In answer to your question, I calculate either four more novellas or two novels. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. I do enjoy novellas a lot and they work really well for these kinds of stories, but a couple of these plot lines are more complicated, and one of them is straight out mystery, which would likely do better in long format.
Is what I perceive as a change in writing style partly because of what you said when I interviewed you at the end of 2011?
I also want to figure out my game plan for the next decade or so. My wish is to write less but perhaps concentrate on more complicated and in-depth works — beyond the existing series obligations I have. I want to have time to research without feeling rushed because some of the best stories and characters come out of the research itself.
Yes. Although I’m still refining that plan.
I noticed that you’re not writing as many police procedurals or murder mysteries but that you’re concentrating more on other genres such as paranormal/ghost stories (The Haunted Heart : Winter), something brand new for you – YAOI (Blood Red Butterfly, complicated characters with major personal issues such as alcoholism e.g. Tim McShay in The Parting Glass, etc. Was this a conscious decision to tinker with what you’re best known for – mysteries and police procedurals with complex characters and plots that keep readers glued to the seats of their chairs? Is this something you’re planning to continue?
Mystery remains my first and foremost love. Mystery is where I cut my writing teeth and it’s where I’m still most comfortable. But one thing I’ve learned is that if I keep changing it up, trying new things, I enjoy everything more. And when I enjoy the work more, I believe readers enjoy the work more.
A couple weeks ago you released Kick Start the 5th Dangerous Ground novella which I absolutely loved. Obviously I was very happy about this, but selfishly I was disappointed that The Boy with the Painful Tattoo, book 3 in the Holmes and Moriarity series would be delayed until next year even though I understood the reason why – that you don’t want to make the same mistakes like before when you hurt your wrists and were generally stressed out for most of 2011 because you over committed. As a reader and fan of this series what can I say – I always want more, more, more. BTW how are the wrists now?
I’m almost a year pain free now, which is incredible given that by the end of 2011 I couldn’t move my thumbs. I thought for sure I’d have to have surgery, so I’m very grateful. I’m much more conscious now of pacing myself and making healthy choices. In fact, if I can give some advice to my fellow writers: watch your posture, do carpal tunnel preventative exercises BEFORE you have a problem, listen closely to your body.
Being such a huge fan of your books I was very interested in this comment you made in your 2012 interview :
I do have some new stuff up my sleeve. Winter Kill is going to be a standalone thriller about an FBI agent who teams up with a small town sheriff to catch a serial killer. Stranger on the Shore is classic romantic suspense about a reporter investigating a long ago kidnapping.
Can we look forward to the release of these two books in the first half of 2014 or would you prefer not to commit to a date? Also, are you planning to release other books in 2014 that you want to talk about?
Stranger on the Shore will be published by Carina Press in May 2014. The sequel to Fair Game will also come out through Carina in late 2014. Winter Kill is slated for late 2014 as well. I plan to publish that one myself. And yes, I am absolutely going to do Boy With the Painful Tattoo next year. I honestly didn’t feel I could do it justice this year.
Changing the subject: As you know, I believe that self publishing can compete in our genre with books released by epublishers. I have been pleasantly surprised at the excellent quality and content of many self pubbed books so far and I was wondering how you have found this new direction since you’re now self publishing most of your books? I know it’s a huge workload so the obvious question is will you continue self publishing the majority of your books, and is there any advice you would like to offer your peers who are contemplating doing so?
Initially I was going to self-publish everything because there’s just no competing with those earnings, but the fact is it’s exhausting doing everything yourself all the time. It’s actually nice to rely on a publisher and let them handle the promo and marketing and so forth. Plus, I’ve always loved working with different editors. Every editor has her or his strengths and weaknesses, and it keeps you mentally sharp and creatively flexible having to accommodate different personalities. You always learn something new. So moving forward, I see a 50/50 split of working with publishers and self-publishing.
I don’t recommend self-publishing in this current glutted environment for anyone who hasn’t already established a loyal readership. Not that you can’t be successful, but that it takes so much more work, and that work would be better spent on honing your craft and letting someone else market and promote you. I also don’t recommend self-publishing for anyone who thinks it’s going to be a shortcut or a way to circumvent annoyances such as editing and copyediting. If you choose to self-publish prepare yourself to invest in good cover art, editing, copyediting, professional formatting, advertising, etc. In order to make money, you must be willing to invest. But the main problem is, time spent being your own publisher is time not spent on becoming the best possible writer you can be.
Most authors in this genre are too inexperienced to realize that the modest success they’ve experienced is only a fraction of what they could have if they actually, well, learned to write. That sounds pretty harsh, I know, but we have a lot of authors who mistake “success” in a relatively small genre as proof they’ve mastered their craft and the only reason they can’t get published in mainstream is mainstream doesn’t publish M/M. That’s not the case. Go ahead and test it, if you doubt me. 🙂 You’ve mastered your craft when you can write and sell in any genre you put your mind to. Period. If you’re not there, you need to keep working at developing and refining your craft. Because in the end, the only thing you really have is your craft. Fashions in storytelling come and go, but the ability to write well is perennial.
My last question is one I asked you at the end of our first interview:
Question: Is there a question about yourself that you have never been asked but are dying to answer? 🙂
Answer: Not after EIGHT FRICKING PAGES OF QUESTIONS. Are you kidding me? I think you’ve pretty much covered my entire life, Wave! 😀
This time it’s not 8 fricking pages of questions, 🙂 so I repeat my question that you never answered in 2008. Damn, you were testy :grumble:
😆 You continue to hold the title for the longest ever interview I’ve faced, Wave. No one has ever come close. 😀
Is there a question about yourself that you have never been asked but are dying to answer? 😀
Why can’t I think of something! 😕
Thank you, Wave. Thank you sincerely for the years of friendship and laughter — and even the occasional head-butting. Thank you also for everything you’ve done to establish and expand the M/M genre. I can’t think of any blogger or reviewer who has done as much to help shape the genre. You and your cast of thousands will be missed by all of us. I wish you the very best always. You’re going to be a very tough act to follow.
We’ve come full circle Josh. Thanks for everything you’ve done for the site: all the articles you have written and I’m sure the hundreds of books you have donated to readers. Thanks also for being so kind to a newbie blogger and not kicking me to the curb. :bravo: On a personal note, I appreciate you for your friendship, support and advice over the years. Most of all, thanks for your books which have been an incredible source of pleasure for me and I look forward with great anticipation to seeing how your writing changes and evolves as you tweak everything – just don’t tweak it too much. 🙂 For most of us, while the plots and new characters are very entertaining, it’s your wonderful writing that brings us back time and again … and again. BTW did I tell you that I’m now hooked on audio books? You should never have introduced me to them. 😀
Last, one of my favourite JL books is a story many readers probably don’t remember, but it stuck with me – Out of the Blue – I just couldn’t forget those airmen so I’m adding the cover to close off this interview.
Three weeks from now reviewsbyjessewave will go dark but Josh’s interviews, together with those of all the other authors, will still shine brightly when the site re-opens.
And that’s a wrap.