Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn't return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors' Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen's Book Reviews. Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.
D.O: Thanks for joining us today on Authors' Curtilage Book Dialogue Andrew Joyce, and welcome.
AJ: Thank you for inviting me Darmie.
D.O: The audience would like to know which part of the world you’re joining us from.
AJ: I reside in the state of Florida, in the USA.
D.O: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
AJ: One morning, about seven years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window.
D.O: [HAHAHAHAHA!] You did what?
AJ: I threw my TV out the window.
D.O: That’s really funny. Please go on.
AJ: Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. And just for the hell of it, I threw it up on a writing site. A few months later, I was informed that it had been selected for publication in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it. I’ve been writing ever since.
D.O: Wow! That’s awesome opportunity. Before we dialogue about the various efforts that went into writing your book and bringing it to publishing stage, let’s dialogue about the distraction writers are facing in this age.
AJ: I have rid myself of most distractions. I have no TV and that helps a lot. I live alone with my dog and he’s not much of a distraction … while I’m writing. I don’t know what other writers have to put up with, but I live a simple life. I write when I want to.
D.O: My goodness! You don’t have a TV anymore? I don’t think I can do without a television. Even if I can’t see the images, I need voices around me sometimes when I’m writing. However, the voices other time can really be distracting too, depending on my mood. Talking of distraction, it’s a serious problem writers encounter. I for instance have, up to eight finished books/screenplays, which I’ve not brought to polished stages. In this age of distraction, writers are challenged to find the time and means to be productive. Between juggling commitments, other careers and fighting our own attempts at procrastination and self-sabotage, it can often feel like a losing battle. What can be done Andrew?
AJ: Writing is what’s important. I once knew a woman that spent forty-six years polishing her one manuscript. She never did publish it before she died. But that wasn’t important. Creating is what it’s all about. And you are creating. If getting published is imperative to you, then I suggest you take one of your novels and start editing it and no more writing until you are finished. Then have someone else read it and point out all the stuff that you missed. Make no mistake about it … a writer cannot edit his or her own writing alone. We all need help. And when all that work is done, you’ll have a book that you can publish. However, it looks to me that you enjoy the creativity of writing. So I say, go with it. Your words will be written on the skein of time and space where they will last forever regardless if you’re published or not.
D.O I don’t kid myself that my words are perfect just because I’m a concept creator. Every trained writer should know their project needs to be reviewed, rewrite and rewrite and then, professionally edited. Thanks for the advice. On the distraction, some writers even say why should I strive to be a super-productive writer? What inspiration can be consider when a writer feels this way?
AJ: You should do whatever you want to do as long as it does no harm to another.
D.O: In this age of distraction, it is also easy to be moving but without progress as a writer. What information do you think can help to achieve progress?
AJ: What is progress to you? Whatever it is, you can achieve it if you have “the fire in the belly.”
D.O: Hmmm… What should writers do to grow into successful professional writers?
AJ: Once again, what is successful? I think success is writing the book. You have eight. I think that is a success. It’s a very good success. As to being professional, I think that one who has the discipline to sit down at the computer every day and convey the words that are in their head onto “paper” is professional enough for me.
D.O: That’s very true Andrew. “One who has the discipline to sit down at the computer every day and convey the words that are in their head onto “paper” is professional enough for me.” Thank you for that thoughtful point. How can a person tell writing career is a good fit for them?
AJ: For 98.4% percent of us, writing will never be a career. It will be something that we love doing. And that’s better than a career. The writers that sell millions of books are chained to their desks. They have contracts with big publishing houses, they have to deliver a book on a set date or else they can be sued. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I write because I like to. I write when I want to. And when I don’t want to write—be it a week or a month—I don’t.
D.O For writers who have been dreaming about earning a good living through their creative writing, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t happened for them yet, what sort of investment would you suggest they make to move forward creatively and productively?
AJ: I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but as I’ve said, for most of us that is not going to happen. I know I’ll never be a Stephen King although I believe I can write as well as he does. I just do it in different genres.
Here’s my best advice: AFTER you’ve written your novel, edited the hell out of it, and made it perfect, then you can worry about that other stuff.
After my first novel was completed, I went out looking for an agent. It took me one full year sitting at my computer for ten hours a day, seven days a week. It finally paid off and I was signed with one of the biggest agencies in the country—by the CEO nonetheless.
Then, for marketing, I had to do the same thing. I spent six months at the computer marketing my book, all day every day. I’ve done that for all five of my books. Even Stephen King has to market his own books in this day and age.
The short answer is, you’ve got to work hard. There is no way around it. There is no short cut if you want “success.”
D.O: What's the subject matter of your new book?
AJ: Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against my better judgment. If I had known that one day they’d be published, I might not have been as honest when describing my past. This collection is a tome of true stories about my criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though I’m sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as I keep coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.
D.O: Wow! That sounds interesting. I would sure read my copy once I’m free. Thank you so much for all the awesome information. What are the various craft you've studied before you came into the entertainment industry or do you just possess some natural tendencies to write stories?
AJ: I’m just a natural born story teller. But I had to learn where all the commas go and about active and passive voice … all that stuff.
D.O: Those are quite necessary for every writer. What are the steps you took to develop your book from a rough draft into a published novel?
AJ: My latest book is a book of short stories. They are stories that I had written over the years and then put away. At the behest of my editor, I dragged them out, and together we edited them so that they were readable. Then we published.
D.O: What did you do differently in your book to make readers feel fear, concern, sadness, love and laughter?
AJ: Nothing. I just told my stories in my usual way.
D.O: What sensitive materials does your book deal with?
AJ: That’s a hard one to answer. Being a book of short stories—a very long book of short stories (218,000 words)—I deal with a lot of stuff. I guess what is sensitive to one person is not sensitive to another.
D.O: How do you think your book will influence reader’s growth positively?
AJ: I’m not looking to influence anyone’s growth positively or otherwise. I only want to entertain people.
D.O: But of course that’s not bad. A story can either entertain or do the other. Any hint about your next book?
AJ: Not at this time. I’ve got two started, but I’m lazy. I don’t feel like working this month.
D.O: That’s not bad. Catch your breath and start writing again. What better effort do you suggest writers, should put into their writing to have great sales in the ever-changing economics of the entertainment industry?
AJ: Just write the best damn story that you can, and do your research. Also, I might add … never ever respond to a negative review. Let it go. You cannot please everyone.
D.O: Thank you once again for joining us on Authors Curtilage Book Dialogue. I wish you the publishing best and hope that all good things come your way with your book.
AJ: Thank you for having me, it’s been a pleasure.
Andrew Joyce joined Authors’ Curtilage Book Dialogue via email from state of Florida, in the USA.