Interview with Joseph Spencer, author of ‘Wrage’

Joseph SpencerOur guest today is Joseph Spencer, author of the occult crime thriller, Wrage. As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.” Visit his website at www.JosephBSpencer.com.

WrageWhat made you decide to become a published author?

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.

Would you consider your latest book, Wrage, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

I feel like I’ve created a hybrid. I follow different viewpoint characters. Part of the book is more like a traditional crime novel, and other parts of the book delve into supernatural thriller aspects. I don’t see many other novels attempting to blend genres and push boundaries as much I’ve tried to in Grim and Wrage. My writing is gritty, dark, raw and bold, and I think there are readers out there who appreciate that.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

Not to impart a terrible visual, but I liken myself to the Al Bundy of the writing world. I’m at my best camped in a comfy green recliner with my legs kicked up on the footrest and the laptop in my lap.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

I don’t think a writer should ever harass an agent, publisher or any professional with constant emails about feedback. Those professionals will let you know what they think of your writing on their own time. If you don’t hear from them, you could take their silence as feedback, too. In my experience, you only want to work with people who are as enthusiastic about your writing as you are. You will hear from those professionals right away.

What inspires you?

I read a lot across genres. I take inspiration from a number of authors and types of literature. As I grew up, I enjoyed reading mythology, crime fiction, comic books and supernatural horror stories. I’d say that Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books, Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and Frank Miller’s graphic novels all have had an impact on my writing style.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

I found out that readers and critics thought my writing was a lot more intense than I thought it was. I’ve had several reviewers remark that my writing is incredibly visceral and paints memorable visuals in their head. I write gritty, dark and raw material, and I’ve found that there is still a market out there for that.

Why do you love to write occult crime thrillers?

Though I’ve read a lot of crime fiction and it’s one of my favorite genres, I’ve gathered part of my inspiration for the characters which work for the Prairieville Police Department from my real life experiences. I work as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center for my full-time job, so I work alongside police officers every day. My center handles between 300 to 400 9-1-1 calls on a daily basis and even more non-emergency calls. I’ve also experienced a lot of loss in my life. Many people I hold dear to me in my heart are dead, so I think that’s why I’ve always been interested in the afterlife and the supernatural.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

Compelling characters are the straws that stir the drink. As a reader, I don’t keep reading if I don’t care about the characters. I have to want to find out if that character gets the girl or guy, solves the crime, lives or dies, etc.

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

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.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

I’ve had several real life experiences in Grim and Wrage. Some readers and critics mentioned that they thought that certain characters were treated too harshly and didn’t necessarily get what they deserved in the resolution of the novel. One of the characters in Grim was an arsonist who killed a family in a fire. He planned to kill an uncle who sexually abused him. I had a personal experience with an abusive relationship in my family life, and I wanted to impart those feelings into the novel. That was a personal passage.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on my third novel in the Sons of Darkness series. It’s titled Malice, and will feature a controversial heavy metal rocker named Malice Madsen. His character will take inspiration from Marilyn Manson, and will symbolize the deadly sin of pride.

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