Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Joe Perrone Jr, and I am probably best known as the author of the Matt Davis Mystery Series. However, I am also the author of Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, a coming-of-age novel set in the 60s and A “Real” Man’s Guide to Divorce (First you bend over and . . . ), a humorous look at a very serious subject. In addition, I co-authored (along with Manny Luftglass), Gone Fishin’ with Kids (How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still be Friends).
In addition to my writing, about seven years ago, I started a small publishing company called Escarpment Press, the goal of which was to help unknown authors self publish their books. To date, we have made that dream come true for a half dozen authors, publishing at least one book each year. I love helping other authors, and have even given two seminars on self publishing at the former Blue Ridge Book Festival held at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, NC.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I started writing in the late ‘80s while I was struggling to make a living and working at three different jobs: house painter, real estate salesperson, and limousine driver. I began writing the equivalent of my memoirs during down time waiting for limousine clients at airports, but very early on, I determined that since my name was not a household word, I ought to morph the work into a novel, which I did. I spent the next nearly 20 years writing, editing, and rewriting my work, until, at last, I had grown weary of the process and especially tired of examining my early life under a microscope. After two years of banging my head against the wall in a futile attempt to secure an agent and/or a publishing contract, I decided to self publish what had by now become Escaping Innocence. Then, because I wanted to keep writing, I chose to write something totally different: a murder mystery. I began with the premise of “It was a dark and stormy night,” and the rest is history. Less than a year later I published As the Twig is Bent, which, at its inception, reached the lofty position of number 24 best seller in the Kindle book store, and which became the first in the Matt Davis mystery series, which now numbers five books in all: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises, and Deadly Ransom. The series revolves around Matt Davis, a one-time New York homicide detective turned local police chief in the town of Roscoe, New York. We are often told to “write what you know,” and I took that advice to heart. For 10 years I had been a professional fly fishing guide in a little Upstate New York fishing village called Roscoe, so I set the series there. With their permission, I used the names and personalities of a number of my friends to create believable characters with whom my audience could identify, Opening Day and Broken Promises each received the prestigious Indie BRAG medallion, in recognition of excellence in writing by an independent author. I am very proud of that accomplishment. To date, all of my books have been made into audio books, and a number of them have been translated into Spanish, German, and even Portuguese.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I would imagine the biggest mistake one can make in writing a book is to not fact check. Because I work at a computer and not a typewriter, I have the Internet at my fingertips, and am constantly utilizing that vast resource to check and recheck events, dates, and facts associated with my writing. I like nothing better than finding a spot on the map, and, using Google Maps or any other such tool, creating a location for a scene that is totally believable and based upon real streets and neighborhoods, but with a story that is complete fiction. Once I had a reader write to me, asking where exactly was the police station in Roscoe. It seems that the reader had grown up in the area, but “couldn’t quite remember where the police station was located. It gave me great pleasure to inform her that, indeed, there was no police station, and that I had made it up entirely from whole cloth.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
have a totally different process for writing than most writers I
know. First, I come up with a general idea or theme for a book.
Then, if it’s a Matt Davis mystery, I choose a title with just two
words, i.e. Deadly Ransom, Opening Day, etc. Then, I design the
cover, complete with a back page and spine, before I ever write a
word of the story. Since I love movies, it helps me to envision what
I am writing as a movie, seen through the eye of the camera. Call
me crazy, but it has worked for me so far, and I see no reason to
change my modus operandi now.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
In the beginning, I had a great deal of difficulty coping with negative reviews. I was inclined to reply to reviewers, especially if the review was on a site like Amazon.com. However, gradually, it occurred to me that one negative review out of every ten or twenty positive ones was nothing to concern myself with. I observed that even the most successful best selling authors had plenty of negative reviews for their books. So, I was in good company. Eventually, if the reviewer cited examples of flaws, I channeled their advice or criticism into making my writing better.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I don’t know if my creative process has improved, but I find that I make fewer mistakes, and that just comes from doing something over and over again. I read as many articles about writing as time permits, and I am always open to learning something new, whether it be from a critic or from reading an article.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
When I am in “writing mode,” I am almost entirely motivated by attempting to please myself. Most of the time, I believe, if we please ourselves, we also please our readers. Occasionally, I will write a particular scene purely because I think a reader would expect that kind of scene, and I want to please the reader. I guess that’s as close to balancing my personal satisfaction with that of my readers.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
For me, emotion plays a large role not so much in the quality of my writing, but whether I choose to write or not to write. If I’m not in the mood to write, I just choose not to write at that particular time. However, if I’ve gone too long without writing, I will, on occasion, attempt to overcome a bad mood by just sitting at my computer and forcing myself to not get up until I have written something. Once I get started, however, it becomes a self-perpetuating process. The more I write, the more I want to write!
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I only wish that I did! Unfortunately, there are no tricks that I am aware of . . . other than hard work and perseverance. As I have said, if I sit there long enough and with enough determination, something will happen. It always does. If if doesn’t, I don’t beat myself up over it, I just make a promise to myself to come back the next day and start trying again. The more times I sit down in front of the computer, the better chance that something good will happen.
What are your plans for future books?
Funny you should ask. Ever since I began publishing for others, I have not had the impetus to write much more. However, just a week ago, I awoke with a burning need to write something. In 2003, we were staying at a bed and breakfast in Charlottesville, Virginia, while celebrating a particular wedding anniversary. I got the idea for a literary novel (something really, really serious), and couldn’t wait to get home so I could start work on it. I titled it Changes, and upon returning home, I wrote the entire prologue at one sitting. Then, over the next 15 years, I proceeded to write not one more word – until last week. Again, in one sitting, I wrote three chapters, and haven’t written another word since. However, as soon as I have finished getting us settled in our new townhouse (we moved in on April 26th), I intend to get cracking on it again. The book begins with a man being struck by lightning, and revolves around his difficult relationship with a grown daughter. I expect this will be my last novel, and reason that it will take anywhere from two to three years to complete – if I can only get rolling.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
Oh my. Let’s see. I love to write at odd hours of the night (usually in my underwear). Some of my best writing has been done at 4:00 AM. When I am deeply engaged in my writing, my appetite drops off considerably, and it is not unusual for me to work right through breakfast and lunch. I love to meet new people, and I am an incorrigible “people watcher,” a skill I guess I developed during the numerous years I spent either as a taxi driver or limousine chauffeur while waiting at airports and train stations. I will say hello to virtually anyone, and engage people in conversation anytime and at any place. I also love to cook – and to eat! I love fly fishing and spending time with my two granddaughters. But most of all, I enjoy spending time with Becky, my wife of nearly 38 years. We both enjoy movies and car trips, and never tire of either.
Personal website: http://www.joeperronejr.com
My publishing company http://www.escarpmentpress.weebly.com
My author page at Amazon.com Joe Perrone Jr