Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Words with... Joe Perrone Jr

Thanks to Joe Perrone Jr, author of the Matt Davis Mystery series and other titles, for this interview

First off, a giveaway challenge from Joe Perrone Jr...

If anyone can arrange for their book club to choose
one of my Matt Davis mysteries as its book of the month selection, I will reward them with a personally inscribed, autographed copy of 
Twice Bitten,
and agree to do a group Skype interview with their
book club.

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write
for a living?

I am a full-time author and publishing consultant.

What books have you written so far?

I co-authored my first book with a friend in 1997. It is called Gone Fishin’ With Kids (How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still be Friends). I published my first novel, Escaping Innocence (A Story of Awakening) in 2007, followed closely by the first Matt Davis Mystery, As the Twig is Bent, which I published in 2008. In 2010, I published the second Matt Davis Mystery, Opening Day, as well as A ‘Real’ Man’s Guide to Divorce (First, you bend over and…). In 2012, I published the third Matt Davis Mystery, Twice Bitten.

What works in progress do you have?

I am currently writing the fourth in the Matt Davis Mystery Series, called Broken Promises. It should be ready for publication in March or April 2013. I am also working intermittently on a literary novel entitled Changes, which I expect to take several years to complete.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Approximately one year. Escaping Innocence was written (and rewritten numerous times) over a 20-year period, while the divorce book was written in less than a week. As the Twig is Bent was written over a 10-year period.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

It depends upon the book. Escaping Innocence began as a memoir, which then morphed into a novel, and was written linearly, as were the fishing book and the divorce book. The three (soon to be four) Matt Davis mysteries all jump back and forth, which is something I really like to do. For the most part I write by the seat of my pants, with the exception of Broken Promises; the mystery I’m working on now. I conceived the entire plot in my sleep, and wrote it down at 4 a.m. in the morning. Of course, as with all of my books, even with a definitive plot, they still tend to go where they want to, which is the true fun and adventure of writing fiction.

Why do you write?

I write primarily because I enjoy it and because I’m somewhat driven to do so. I love to know that others are reading what I write and, for the most part, are receiving enjoyment from doing so. However, now I also write to make a living, so it has also become a business.

How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember, in some fashion or other, but only seriously for about 15 years.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?
I have an office in my finished basement where I write (I share it with my two cats, Cassie and Callie). As far as when I write, that’s a bit complex. I try to write every day after breakfast, but often my best work is done when the mood strikes me, which is usually at 3 or 4 in the morning.

Which character from your books do you like most/are most like?

Without a doubt, my favourite character is Matt Davis, the protagonist in the Matt Davis Mystery Series. He is most like me, except for the fact that I was never in law enforcement.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

My mother was the one who inspired me to read (at a very early age) and began my love affair with words, but I was definitely influenced in my writing by numerous teachers and professors along the way. More recently, it is my wife, Becky, who has become my muse.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

Conflict! A good story must have at its core some form of conflict, whether it be moral or even physical. Also, it must be believable (even though it’s fiction). But, in my opinion, the two most important qualities of good fiction are three-dimensional characters and solid, accurate dialogue.  I work very hard at making my dialogue read as natural as possible. If it’s good, it will never be in the way of the story, but will always augment it.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

Absolutely! In fact, I find myself doing it more and more often (always with the permission of the real person). Most recently, I used my wife’s oncologist in Twice Bitten. I also use several good friends as recurring characters in the Matt Davis Mystery Series.

If you had to pick some actors/actresses to play the characters in your book, who would you hire?

Oh, gosh. That’s a tough one. When I wrote the first Matt Davis mystery, As the Twig is Bent, I actually had a real person – an actor in a TV commercial – in my mind as I wrote the book. But, I think it would depend upon when a book was made into a movie and who was available at the time that would most determine my choices. Right now, there’s an actor on the new series, Major Crimes, whose name escapes me, who I might choose to play Matt Davis. Anything beyond that would be pure speculation.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

Cat. Pizza. Mountain Dew. The Big Lebowski. The Beatles. Time in a Bottle. A tie between Roscoe, NY and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Baseball cap.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

Early on, I wanted to be a famous artist. Then, as I grew older, I wanted to be a famous actor. Not once did I ever dream of being a writer “and now I am one…LOL”!

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

I have been blessed beyond belief in my personal and now my business life. I have been blessed with wonderful children and a wife (my best friend in the world) of 31 years. I guess I always dreamed of being famous (or, more accurately, well-known) and in a minor way that dream has certainly come true. There are literally thousands of people whom I’ve never met that have read my books, and some eagerly await the next book I’m writing. That is a blessing!

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. I would start with Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. It is the first book that I remember falling in love with. To that I would add In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Boys and Girls Together by William Goldman, Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, and Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. Naturally, there are dozens more, but you only asked for five.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Probably Detective Edward X Delaney in the First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders. That character definitely influenced my characterisation of Matt Davis, at least as he was drawn in the first book in the series.

Who is your hero/heroine?
Without a doubt, my father and my wife. Close seconds would be President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the two best leaders in my lifetime.

Which book do you wish you had written?

On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I was a ‘published’ writer with a newspaper and have had some fly-fishing short stories ‘published’. I also wrote advertising copy freelance. But, I proudly consider myself an ‘indie’ author. In fact, later this year or early next year, I intend to form my own publishing company.

How do you find the marketing experience?

Marketing is what separates, in large measure, the successes from the failures. By that I mean that there are thousands of really good books written and self-published every year, but only a few succeed ­or, to be blunt, sell. As most of us know, the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies in its lifetime. All things being equal, it’s the marketing that makes the difference. I probably spend as much, or more, time marketing my books as I do writing them. As I mentioned earlier, writing is my passion and also my business, and, as such, I invest a good deal of each day promoting it.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

Read as much as you can of those writers you admire most. Observe what it is that they do so well that makes them successful. Then, emulate them. Work hard at your craft, including taking workshops and courses if necessary to shore up your skills. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Good, honest, objective criticism is what helps us become better writers. Sometimes it can be painful, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Learn how to write good dialogue; it’s critical to good fiction. Above all, be open to new ideas and technology. Then, above all else, write, write, write.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I do. It’s mostly about me. I find that my readers enjoy learning about me as a person. It’s their way of feeling connected to me and my writing. I probably have put more ‘out there’ than some wish to know, but, hey, that’s me. I’m a natural social animal. I welcome emails from my readers and gladly respond to their inquiries. Naturally, when I blog, I tend to emphasise anything to do with my books.

What other hobbies do you have?

I have always been a bit of a ‘jock’. However, in recent years, physical disabilities have curtailed my athletic endeavours quite a bit. My favourite physical activity is fly fishing. I was a professional fly-fishing guide for ten years in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and use fishing scenes quite a bit as interludes in my Matt Davis mysteries. I also tie my own flies, fish with them (for trout), and write short stories about fly-fishing. My favourite hobby is watching movies (usually with my calico cat, Cassie, seated in my lap). My wife and I have a large, flat-screen television with super surround sound and we own several hundred films on DVD. I also like to listen to music and play my guitar (I’m not very good, but I find it relaxing), and I LOVE to cook ­ and eat! The latter will be the death of me.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I would like to finish my literary novel, Changes, and have it published by a major publishing house. Personally, I would like to travel to the western part of the United States, especially to Montana (before I’m too old to fly fish those fantastic rivers), and to England and Italy. We’re hoping to visit the UK in 2013.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

That’s an easy one. My wife and I talk about this all the time. The very first thing I would do is buy a travel trailer and have it permanently lodged at a campsite alongside the Beaverkill River in Upstate New York. Then, we’d start travelling and not stop until we’d seen all the things we’d always dreamed of seeing. If there was anything left, I’d start a scholarship fund for aspiring writers and leave the rest to my kids.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

1. There was once a wee worm called Fred...
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
3. One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world...

There was once a wee worm called Fred who wanted to catch the largest trout in the world. Each day he exercised and ate plenty of whatever worms eat, so he’d be strong enough to accomplish his goal. He tried his skills on panfish, being ingested, then spit out as quickly as possible, but that got to be boring. So he set his sights on largemouth bass, which provided a bit more sport. He was caught (and released) by several in the three-pound range. Just when he was ready to try for trout, he drowned in a rainstorm. So sad.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

Do you believe in God?

Absolutely! How could I not.

Thanks so much Vickie for this delightful, insightful interview. I’ve really enjoyed it.


Thanks for reading! Vickie

1 comment:

  1. Well, from meeting Joe several years ago (not in person, yet) and reading his work, I feel like we know each other. His writing style, personality (which shows through his characters), and his enjoyment of life solidify my opinion.
    I highly recommend Joe's novels. I am proud to call him a friend. "Keep writin' and smilin'..."


Thanks for commenting - have a kitty cool day! :)