Interview: Joseph Garraty

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Enjoy this interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I grew up in a tiny town in the frozen arctic tundra of Wisconsin. Once I moved out and went to college, I started a trend of moving to larger towns and then larger cities until I ended up in Dallas, Texas, about eight years ago. Think I’ll stop here for a while.

I’ve been writing most of my life in one form or another. Short, bizarre stories as a kid and throughout high school, songs after that, and I began writing novels about six years ago. That’s the form that really hooked me, given the opportunity for character growth and development.

Tell us about your latest book.  What do you hope readers take away from it?

My latest book is called Voice, and it’s about a group of struggling rock musicians. The guitarist, Case, is incredibly talented, but she has a bad attitude and a huge chip on her shoulder. The singer, Johnny, is tremendously insecure, largely with good reason—he’s a lousy singer, and he’s severely outclassed in his own band. However, Johnny gets an opportunity to make a deal that will fix all that and give him a voice to move millions. . . but when you deal with the devil, you never get exactly what you bargain for.

Above all, it’s a story of the sacrifices people make to go after their dreams, and maybe a look at what happens when those sacrifices go too far.

I hope readers get a sense of the larger-than-life, extreme personalities at the heart of a rock band, as well as a look at some of the offstage lives of musicians. But it’s a horror novel, too, so I hope everyone gets a few chills from it!

Share some of your writing goals.  What’s next for you?

I want to write a better book every time. Something that challenges me and my readers in a new way and tells a different story than the one I’ve told before.

My next book is a nasty urban fantasy novel called The Price, which I expect to have available before the end of the year. It’s about a naïve kid who ends up as a wizard for the Mafia, thinking he’ll be able to protect his family and make a name for himself. He finds out, though, that the price of doing business with these guys is much higher than he’d expected, both in terms of blood and the wear and tear on his soul.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

Fiction? Catch 22, by Joseph Heller. It’s a chaotic, frenzied, brilliant, demented masterwork, and I really don’t have enough adjectives to describe it. It’s a look at war through absurdest eyes, which may be the only appropriate way to look at war.

One of the most interesting non-fiction books I’ve read would be The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, by Matt Ridley. This is a fascinating discussion of how parasites shaped the evolution of sexual reproduction, and the concepts in here blew my mind.

Book you’re currently reading?

I just finished Juliet, Naked: a novel, by Nick Hornby. It’s about a musician who’s gone on hiatus for, oh, twenty years or so, having totally burned out, and it’s written with Nick Hornby’s characteristic humor and depth of emotion. Very good read.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

I don’t know if I believe in writer’s block in the sense that all ideas just stop coming. By all appearances, ideas are the least of my problems, and I could write for the next five years based on my idea backlog alone. There are times, however, when I get a little stuck. I’m not sure what comes next, or I become convinced that what I’m writing is going off the rails in some way.

I’ve found that the best way past that is also the most obvious: Sit down and write a few pages. Maybe they won’t be the best pages you’ve ever written, but the momentum alone has a way of pushing you past the block. Ruminating over your stuck-ness never seems to get the job done for me. And I’m surprised how often I go back and can’t tell by reading where I got stuck—it usually flows together pretty well, suggesting that the problem is more in my head than in the words.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

A writer who gets better with every book and refuses to be content with the last thing he or she wrote.

Advice for other writers?

Read everything! I write speculative fiction, but I’ve incorporated influences from crime and literary authors into my work at times, and I can’t even count the oddities that have crept into my work from random nonfiction, ranging from statistics textbooks to sociological treatises to impenetrable physics tomes. There’s always something new to learn.

Where can we learn more about you?

The best place to go would be my website, http://www.josephgarraty.com. I keep a regularly updated blog with news and whatnot.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for your time and the interview!

Books by Joseph Garraty:

 

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