While doing a little research about Joseph and his
books, I got lost in his website. I know many
authors and it's a constant boggle what we should
or shouldn't put on our websites - Joseph has probably
the most spectacular website in all those author sites
I've been to. Some put too little information, but on
Joseph's - what was supposed to be a quick look ended
up being a long visit while I read through everything - all
of it entertaining!!
1. Who is Joseph Devon?
You probably wanted a little more detail than that, huh? Joseph Devon is a wise-ass who grew up in New Jersey and has an absolute love of anything that can tell him a story. He likes to wear clever t-shirts and jeans. He is very hungry for ribs right now. He plays too many video games. He is described as “very weird” by a lot of his friends, in a good way...he thinks. Someone once called him a subversive and he liked the sound of that, but secretly he doubts he’s cool enough to hold that title. He grew up working in the family scrap yard and appreciates the power of hydraulics, steel, and heat. He is one of many people trying to tame the self-publishing business model into something easily usable by all those writers out there who deserve to have their work find an audience.
He is starting to enjoy writing about himself in the third person.
2. Where did you get your inspiration from for The Matthew and Epp Stories?
A giant purple alien landed in my apartment and handed me a stack of typewritten pages that had the books on them. All I really had to do was enter them into my computer word for word.
No. That’s silly. How would an alien even land in my apartment?
What really happened was that a few years ago I took on a writing project where I wrote a short story every two weeks for a year. By my third story I had zero ideas left. Two weeks is *not* a lot of time to write a short story, or it didn’t seem like it anyway, so I just started throwing crap together. I decided I wanted to try a story where a guy makes a deal with the devil and then things go all wrong. That sort of thing, right? But then that seemed too formulaic and I had already written a story like that in college and I wanted to try something different. So I starting thinking of ways to twist that story idea into something new and I got it into my head where the “devil” character in that set up is actually the good guy. Where the person who brings you troubles is doing it to help you. That’s the core idea of these books. That’s what the main characters do, they’re dead people who stuck around on earth and they give humans trouble and then push them to grow from that trouble instead of crumbling under it.
With that core concept in place the world of Matthew and Epp just started rattling along and getting more and more added to it.
3. Do you ever have problems with writers block? If so how do you get through it?
I constantly have problems with writer’s block. I think self-doubt is a pretty common problem for most artists and I’m no exception. Sitting down to an empty page can be terrifying. Annoyingly there’s only one way to get through it that I know of, and that’s to push through and get your writing done. You have to sort of gag that scared voice in your head. There are times when deeper underlying problems with my plot or a character is the problem, and I need to recognize that and figure it out before I go back to writing, but that’s the rarity. Ninety five percent of the time the way to get past writer’s block is to get those first few words written. Then the next few. Then the next few. And so on.
4. I really noticed the covers for your books, they stand out with all of the bright flashy covers. Where did the idea to use the very effective black and white covers come from?
Ha...that was almost entirely by accident. Well for Probability Angels it was. Putting together a cover isn’t as easy as it seems and I was having some problems with borders and bleed. So at one point I stripped everything out to just the cover image and the words. I was planning on tinkering some more and then re-adding some color but I took one look at the now totally white cover and knew it was perfect. I liked the look and, as you mentioned, going low-key makes it stand out amongst a sea of flashy covers. For Persistent Illusions I already knew I was going to do the same thing so I was able to have a lot of fun finding the perfect picture for that book. I really love that cover.
5. While working on a story, do you type directly onto the computer or are there notebooks and plot ideas jotted down in various places?
I do all the writing for the actual story at my desk on my computer. But sometimes, to figure out a character or plot point, I’ll sit somewhere else with a legal pad and do some free-writing. That’s a great writing exercise. Just write with a pen for an entire page straight through without letting yourself pause and then never read it again. No idea why but for some reason it clears the head. I’m also constantly emailing myself things. A lot of times a perfectly worded quote will pop into my head while I’m out. Smart phones are an awesome tool for writers because I can type it out, send it off to myself, and forget about it. Then when I’m back at work I’ll go over my emails and pull out all these great little nuggets that I wrote while I wasn’t writing.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/ editing?
I’m a television junky. There are an astounding number of great shows on nowadays and I can spend a whole rainy Saturday burning through my DVR or Netflix discs. I love photography, though I purposely keep myself from learning to much about it because I have a bad habit of taking things I enjoy and turning them into work. But I have a digital camera and I enjoy wandering around the city and snapping tons of pictures. I like cooking, but don’t get that much opportunity to do it. Cooking for one is kind of boring. And of course there are drinks with friends in New York bars.
7. If you had one piece of advice for all those writers sitting out there procrastinating about making that first submission or committing to self publish, what would it be?
I don’t know if I would feel comfortable about giving advice to anyone about self-publishing. This is a very raw process right now and I’m constantly changing my site and tweaking things and signing up for the next social media gizmo to try and stay on top of my game. I guess that would be my advice? To keep in mind that it’s still work, there’s no magical publishing machine where you put your book in and it spits money out.
That being said I would absolutely encourage you to get your work out there in some form or another. Get it read, start finding fans. The experience of having my stories loved by complete strangers has been one of the highlights of my life so far. It completes the creative process in a way that I don’t think I can quite explain but can not recommend enough.
8. Please share your favourite scene with us from Probability of Angels and Persistent Illusions.
I’ve been asked this a lot, but the nice thing is that my favorite scenes are constantly changing so everyone has gotten a fresh answer so far. On the other I have to worry about spoilers...so now I’m over-thinking this. Ha...um...let’s see. I’m in a Bartleby sort of mood today.
This is a minor spoiler but he becomes a bit of a firebug in the earlier parts of Probability Angels. And by that I mean that he’s constantly lighting on fire and incinerating things accidentally when he loses control. He struggles to manage and train this power of his throughout the books. Anyway, there’s a scene when Kyo wants somebody followed from a secret meeting. The meeting is taking place out in the desert, so Kyo plans the meeting near an oil refinery and has Bartleby watch over the meeting while hidden *inside* the refinery’s overflow fire.
I chuckled when I wrote that.
Thanks so much for taking the time to be here today, Joseph!
Blurb for Probability Angels:
Matthew Huntington’s problems seem to keep growing. Not only is he seeing things in garbage cans but his mentor doesn’t think he’s working up to his full potential, his best friend can’t offer any solace but drunken confusion, and his wife is dying in Central Park.
Of course, the fact that Matthew himself died over two decades ago isn’t helping things.
And then things start to really go wrong.
Come explore the world of Matthew and Epp and see what a samurai from
Feudal Japan has to do with the course of modern physics, what a two-thousand year old Roman slave has to do with the summit of Mount Everest and what a dead man from Brooklyn has to do with the fate of the world.
Blurb for Persistent Illusions:
In Probability Angels, we were introduced to the world of Matthew and Epp. Back then, Matthew thought he had his hands full just learning how to be an undead tester of humanity, but then Hector staged an uprising and everything Matthew thought he could take for granted fell apart.
Yet, over the past few months, a strained peace has settled over his world and Matthew is starting to feel like he can finally get back to training at his usual New York haunts.
However, things are more fragile than they appear. Nobody can see the stress lines already clawing away at the new peace. Nobody has guessed the toll that was taken on those at the forefront of their war. And, when a new tester wakes up with the power to possibly unravel the universe...well that's when things really start to get interesting.
Come see how a zombie can protect and serve, a photographic memory can earn you a permanent place on Mount Everest, and a teenage drug addict can hold everyone's fate in her nail-bitten fingers.
Joseph Devon was born in New Jersey and has been a pioneer in the
field of self-publishing since his first book, The Letter. He is known
for his world-building literary style, instantly accessible characters
and poetic dialogue as well as the "26 Stories in 52 Weeks" writing
project from his website at JosephDevon.com.
Find Joseph on the web: