Our second literary guest is Joseph Grant, American short-story writer. His place on the web is called Joseph Grant Published (josephgrantpublished.blogspot.com), but his short stories are scattered all over the net and printed pages (he’s got around 230 stories published worldwide, but no novel … yet). I found a beautiful story called In God’s Country in my mail couple of days ago which going to appear on this pages soon – and we are going to keep an eye on this guy for sure!
Hi, Joe. Tell as a little about yourself …
I am originally from the East Coast of North America, but now live in Los Angeles, California. I write short stories and have had luck with a number of them published in literary reviews around the world. I get emails from readers in England, Poland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Canada, India, the United States and hopefully soon from Slovenia. I have a novel I have completed and am looking to get published.
When and why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was very young and it was probably out of boredom. My mother told me that one day when I was about 3 years old, she asked me: “What are you writing?” My response was: “A book.” So, it’s something I’ve always done, ostensibly, even though I’m sure that first attempt was nothing more than a word or scribble on each page but it was an attempt. I have different, early pieces of writing from elementary school on up so it’s something I’ve always done. I do it now to alleviate boredom, yes, but I also have a restless mind and come up with stories all of the time.
You’re a very productive guy – more than 200 stories is quite a number. Where do you get the ideas for your work?
Thank you. That’s an excellent question. I wish I knew the answer. Like I said, I come up with stories all of the time out of the blue. I can look at an object or see people in the street and imagine a complete story. Sometimes, I get my ideas from dreams. One night, right before I fell into a dream, however, the whole story was given to me, plot, characters, everything, even the end. It played like a movie in my head, but I was not asleep. I just got up and wrote it all down. Usually, the ideas just pop into my head and it is the beginning or main plot to a story. Such as a detective, I have to figure out where it all leads.
How much is your work inspired by your life, friends, and real events?
I have written of my travels in Mexico but then again, it is usually a fictionalized version and not based on any real-life characters. I may use a word or a phrase someone I know has said or that I’ve overheard somewhere or even misconstrued. For example, sometimes I’ll get an idea when I’m reading the newspaper, say, about an unsolved crime and then I’ll write a story in my own way and solve the crime, so to speak. Newspapers come in handy for inspiration when I’m looking for a story to write.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t really know if I have a certain style, per se. I just write fiction in the most true-to-life way I can so as to make it believable to the reader. I report what I see. If anything, I have an observational, journalistic style. I try to make dialogue read true for the reader. I don’t like phony dialogue and there are some writers out there who are very good at writing phony dialogue but I cannot do that to my characters or anyone who happens to read my stories. Maybe I’m a realistic fiction writer.
What is your approach to writing? A lot of planning and study or just getting the story out of your head and land it on a page before the muse leaves?
I have no set plan to writing, whether it’s a poem, a story an article or a book review. The hardest part about being a writer is sitting your ass in the chair. The rest should come easy or easier, I should say. Meaning, a lot of writers procrastinate and give themselves the reasons not to sit down and write. If I have any approach to writing, it’s to get it out of my head, as you put it and land it on the page. The muse never leaves. That’s the problem. She’s always here, handing me the next story. So, there is little in planning or research given the fact that I’m writing fiction. In fiction, it is all the untrue made true. If I don’t know something and am too lazy to look it up, I’ll make it up. But if it’s a technical thing like quantum physics, I’ll tend to do some research and look it up. But, I will just write a story and make fiction fact, if it’s something I’m not certain about, nine times out of ten. That’s the best part about fiction-it’s fiction.
You are also into poetry and non-fiction?
Yes, I do write a bit of poetry and non-fiction. I used to write for the Pasadena Star, The Whittier News and other area newspapers. I have had a book of verse out, as well.
In which area or genre of writing you are most comfortable?
I am most comfortable in fiction writing. I’ve written stories mainly on Mexico, horseracing, failed relationships, horror or crime stories. I’ve been told that some of my stories have a dark tinge to them. I guess for the reader that can be true, but it’s where the story took me at the time. No stories outside of children’s books should have to have a happy ending. Life has no happy ending, just an ending. I write about real life so whatever story comes to me, I write about. A story can come to me about Africa and I will write about it.
If you didn’t write, you would …?
Be a literary agent.
Are you cooking up any longer prose? Novella or novel?
Yes, I have just finished an espionage novel that I am very pleased with and will be looking for it to be published this year, hopefully.
Your favourite authors?
My favorite authors are: Poe, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Plath are among the dead. Among the living are: Gabriel Garcia Marquez from Colombia, Paul Brazill from England, Stephen King, Adam J. Whitlatch, Kevin Michaels, Jeanette Cheezum, Zelda Martin from America, Marina Perezagua from Spain and Canadians Danila Botha, John Hemingway and Nicole Aube, who is also a very talented lyricist and singer.
Any advice for young (and not so young) writers?
Don’t listen to people who don’t write but tell you that you can’t. Keep writing no matter who says no. Rejections suck but they are not the end of the world, just someone’s ignorant opinion. Keep writing. If you’re any good at writing, you’ll get better. If you’re not any good at writing, you can be a critic.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Thank you very much for your reading my story and interview. Please support Radikalnews Literary Review!
Thank you very much, Joe.