It is my pleasure to introduce you to Joseph Lewis, the author of Taking Lives currently sold on Amazon. I enjoyed speaking with Joseph and learning more about him and about his writing projects. Please join me in finding out about Joseph and wishing him the best of luck with his writing.
David: Tell us a a little about your self. Where are you from?
Joseph: I grew up in the Midwest, Wisconsin, but began teaching and coaching high school in Wyoming. I then coached college basketball at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where I received my M.S. in Counseling. I came back to Wisconsin, moved to California, moved back to Wisconsin, and am now living and working in Virginia. I also like to travel.
David: Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.
Joseph: Met my wife, Kim, in California, but we both grew up in Wisconsin and attended the same University, though ten years apart. I have spent 38 years in education as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. I had a rock and roll cover band throughout middle school, was a soloist in high school, and even recorded a commercial or two.
David: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Joseph: I am a high school principal and a father of three (though my son, Wil, was recently deceased).
David: How would you describe this book to someone who has not read any of your previous novels?
Joseph: I write thrillers with a lot of mystery and suspense. My main characters are teenagers, and I would like to think that though I write thriller fiction, my stories contain a message of hope, courage, and survival.
The book currently found on Amazon is titled Taking Lives and has received particularly excellent reviews. It is a work of fiction and the prequel to my trilogy. It is about human trafficking, specifically children, and based upon my experience as a counselor and as an adjunct educator who had volunteered with an organization dedicated to children who are missing and sexually exploited. The first book of the trilogy, Stolen Lives, is also a work of fiction, and it comes out November 10th.
David: Is this part of a series and does it have to be read in order?
Joseph: Yes. Taking Lives is the prequel to my trilogy and introduces me to readers and readers to the trilogy. I don’t believe one has to read it first, though I’m told by my beta readers that it is helpful in getting to know the characters and in understanding some of the action and thoughts in the series. I think the series, actually any series whether mine or someone else’s, should be read in sequence.
David: Which part of researching your book was personally the most interesting to you?
Joseph: I think the facts from the Center for Missing Children, along with facts from the FBI site were interesting, but what was most interesting was listening to stories from kids and parents of those kids who had been abused and in at least one or two cases, still missing.
David: When and why did you begin writing?
Joseph: Way back in elementary school. I had a marvelous sixth grade teacher, Sr. Josephe’ Marie, who I’m lucky enough that even today I can call her a friend. She used to give us story prompts whenever we finished work early. These would be open-ended lead paragraphs and the idea was for us to complete it into a story. This gave me my first love of writing. I could never get or do enough of them growing up.
David: How do you relate to the characters? And how does that help make them feel more like real people?
Joseph: My characters are very real to me. I see them. I hear them speak. I watch as they react. I tend to write visually and vividly, and from what I’ve read from the reviews, the readers seem to “picture” them and “see” them too. I will say that I have a couple of favorites and I think any reader will quickly tell who they are as they turn the pages.
David: How important was it for you to make the book as realistic as possible?
Joseph: Without realism, any book becomes boring and a “cardboard cutout” and that doesn’t interest me in the least. Readers are so very intelligent and they can readily and intuitively feel when an author is lazy. I’ve been told that Taking Lives and Stolen Lives is too gritty and disturbing. Well, so is human trafficking and if I can disturb others, all the better because bottom-line, we need to protect our kids and educate the public. I take pride in making my stories real. If not, I’m wasting my time and the reader’s time.
David: Do you write with a detailed master plan, or take a general idea and characters and see where it goes as you write? Why?
Joseph: I have an idea and go with it. I don’t outline. I do a lot of prewriting in my head way before I sit at a computer to write. There have been times when I sit down thinking that the story will go in one direction, only to be happily surprised when it shifts in a different direction based upon dialogue, action and setting. I know it sounds crazy, but I mean it when I say that sometimes, my characters take over and I just become the facilitator.
David: What inspired you to write your first book?
Joseph: Jacob Wetterling’s story. If you aren’t familiar with him, Jacob was taken at gunpoint in front of friends in October of 1989. He was eleven years old at the time. There have been many leads and a tremendous amount of investigation, but Jake is still missing. Taking Lives is actually dedicated to all missing children, but specifically dedicated to Jacob Wetterling.
David: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Joseph: I believe all and any writing, good writing, should teach a truth or make a truth apparent. So yes, in my writing, I want the reader to understand that the world can be both – sometimes at the same time – an ugly and beautiful place to live, and that there is always hope and that the human spirit is courageous and inspiring.
David: What are you reading right now? Are there any authors that you would name as influences?
Joseph: I’m reading Death Comes Home by Jeffrey Bruff; Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge; and Deadline by John Sanford. I would say that Sanford, Patterson, and David Baldacci are my influences, but would give a shout out and nod to Nathanial Hawthorne and Edgar Alan Poe.
David: If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
Joseph: Anything that is thriller fiction, in the crime/mystery/suspense area. Can’t get enough, and as a writer, one has to read, especially in the genre in which one writes.
David: Where there any specific books that have influenced your writing the most?
Joseph: Stephen King’s novella, The Body that was later made into the movie Stand By Me. I’ve read that particular story and watched that movie some many times that I think I can almost say the dialogue along with the characters. Ghost Story by Peter Straub is another.
David: What are you currently working on?
Joseph: I am currently writing the last book in the trilogy, Splintered Lives. I’m about a fourth of the way through it. I know how it will end and I already know the last scene. I just have to get there. The second book of the trilogy, Shattered Lives is already finished and waiting for publication, which will be sometime this winter or spring after readers have a go at Stolen Lives, due out November 10th.
Taking Lives may be purchased on Amazon via: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Lives-Joseph-Lewis-ebook/dp/B00MG2JAWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407974964&sr=8-1&keywords=Taking+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis
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