Welcome to Paul J. Joseph
Please tell us a little about yourself. I am a writer and a film maker from North Carolina where I teach at a small private university. I love computers, photography, and science fiction. I am married and have a four year old boy genius who loves Dr. Who. I have been writing science fiction for many years and have completed six novels in all, and am in the process of beginning a new series once these are all self-published. I have also created two short independent films based on some of my short stories and am working on a few feature film scripts. I believe in God, love my family, and I am slowly learning how to fly airplanes.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write primarily science fiction, which includes space travel, time travel, and other concepts that inspire me. My novel series is called “Through the Fold,” and includes Marker Stone, Homesick, Web of Life, Splashdown, Infinity Machine, and Window in the Sky. All of these novels contain a group of common characters I’ve been writing about since the beginning. The stories each stand alone, but are written sequentially. I have been working on this series for 17 years.
How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? I’ve been writing since I was in high school and my first choice was always science fiction. I don’t know that I chose science fiction, but it clearly chose me. I enjoy science fiction films as well, and (surprise) my independent films tend to be science fiction.
My writing has its roots early in my life, but I became particularly active when I began Through the Fold in 1995 while waiting for something to download. I have also written short stories and scripts throughout this time.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? I don’t honestly know where writing comes from, but I typically know when I have been inspired. Most of my best work has come from seemingly random things. Like most science fiction writers, I take an interest in technology and technological trends. Occasionally I’ll ponder some aspect of these and see something interesting to add to one of my stories. Other times, inspiration may grow out of almost any situation one can find themselves in that has a “what if . . .” element to it. Sometimes I get the characters before the story or the journey before I know its destination. It is an organic process.
Can you name both a positive and a negative experience from your writing? My most wonderful writing experiences take place when I am feeling with my characters, particularly when I don’t know exactly what will happen until it happens. I’ve felt great joy, pain, and wonder through their eyes.
My worst writing experiences happen when I try to force writing when there’s nothing there to write. Sometimes writing happens fast, other times it can drag out for a long time. Sometimes I think I am ready to write and I am not. Sometimes I may have a week off and imagine writing several chapters, but nothing comes. Other times I may write till 3:AM when I have to get up at six. That can be incredibly frustrating.
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? As of yet I have not published in print, but fully intend to. I will say, however, that ebooks are an incredible new development whose time has come. It empowers both readers and writers and shifts the power away from the few who hold the keys to the expensive presses and agencies and gives a real voice to emerging writers who may otherwise not have the means to publish. Let’s face it, in order to publish, a writer has to be far more than a writer. They have to be a sales person, too. Many books never make it to press because the writer never found a way to get their work seen by the right person. I, for one, don’t think that’s fair.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? Normally I prefer quiet, but I’ve found that, since my son was born, I can tune out just about anything if I have to.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books and movies provide the same exact form of entertainment, but they use very different means. In some ways the book’s main advantages are in its disadvantages. Books can’t come to you in high definition and surround sound, though a good writer will describe to you exactly what you see and hear. The writer guides your memories and imagination to create the most wonderful special effects that could ever exist and many that could not. These can include smells, tastes, and even just general feelings. We can also get an insight into what a character remembers and how they think. Even with the great advancements in film making and computer graphics, a simple handful of paper can still create more wonder.
What advice would you give new writers? Write. No amount of how-to books, seminars, workshops, and classes can make you a writer. Even English professors aren’t necessarily good writers. But somebody who starts writing a little every day because they want to may well become great. But it takes time. Each time I revise one of my novels, I see mistakes that I wouldn’t make now. And the next revision will be even better. It also helps to read as much as possible. See how good writers use words to describe things. Watch how they handle dialogue. Recognize that not all published work is good. There is plenty of bad writing out there, but there are also great book masterpieces. Like appreciating a fine wine, you begin to know quality when you see it. In time a new writer will define their own unique style like a great painter or composer. Most importantly of all, never let anybody tell you what you should and should not write about. Follow your instincts. If you like science fiction, write science fiction. If you like romance, write romance. Don’t write what you think somebody else wants to read. You’ll hate doing it and your audience will hate reading it. And never give up! Any idiot can tell you how hard it is and how unlikely success will be. Listen to honest criticism, but tune out discouragement. The way may be long, but the rewards are great, whether you are recognized in your lifetime or not.
Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? I enjoy good science fiction. I like such writers as Nathan Lowell, Scott Siegler, Dean R. Koonz, Arthur C. Clark, and many others. I’ve also been fascinated by the works of Stephen Hawking, which are not fiction, but science as one man sees it. I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, but I often enjoy reading obscure books or independent books. When I like a book, I like that book.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? College professors and writers are not typically rich. I taught myself how to fix my laptop because I couldn’t afford to replace it. I’ve replaced the screen, keyboard, hard drive, and power circuitry. If you’ve ever taken apart a laptop, you’ll know what a trick that is.
My main website is http://www.throughthefold.com
Smashwords Page = https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ottonia
Where can readers find your book? Currently, the first four books in the series are available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Smashwords.
The links to those listings are as follows:
Web of Life
Barnes and Noble
Web of Life