JENA @ PURE TEXTUALITY [JENA]: Welcome to the 2014 edition of Indies In Their Undies, a month-long interview series with 31 indie authors! Today we are sitting down with Joseph Lallo.
Book of Deacon Facebook Fanpage
The Book Of Deacon
The Great Convergence
The Battle of Verril
The Rise of the Red Shadow
The Other Eight
[JENA] We have readers all over the world and I am always curious to see where our favorite authors are from. Where do you call base camp?
[JOSEPH] Well, I’m born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up in Bayonne, and a few months ago I bought a house in Colonia.
[JENA] A common trend as of late is cross-genre authors. It has become relatively uncommon to come across an author who only writes in one specific genre. It seems there are a lot of writers who like to dip their toes in all sorts of pools. Which genre or genres do you write?
[JOSEPH] My main genre is fantasy, but I’ve also dabbled in science fiction. More recently I’ve tried my hand at Steampunk too. I guess that’s about an 80%/20% split between fantasy and sci-fi. I’ve also written a superhero novel. Heaven only knows where that one belongs. I’ve been told it is anything from urban fantasy to standard sci-fi.
[JENA] Writers get inspiration from all over the place. Movies, books, music, people in their life, their own life, etc. Who or what is your most common muse?
[JOSEPH] I get a lot of inspiration from music. Quite often a whole scene will form in my head when I hear a particularly interesting song. It usually doesn’t even have anything to do with the lyrics either. Conversations with my friends and family have a way of giving me tons of ideas too.
[JENA] Are you 100% independently published or do you have traditional contracts as well? If you are 100% indie, would you ever consider a traditional publishing contract? Why or why not?
[JOSEPH] I suppose technically I’ve got two traditional contracts, but they’re sort of… non-traditional. A company called MBG Books has published my Book of Deacon trilogy in Bulgarian. (Yeah, it shocked me, too.) A great company called Tantor Audio also picked up the audiobook rights for the trilogy. As for whether I would ever go traditional traditional, I’m not ruling it out, but it seems that neither I, nor the publishing industry, are terribly enthusiastic about the prospect.
[JENA] Writer’s block sucks. What do you do to overcome the blank stare when it hits you with everything it has got?
[JOSEPH] Usually a discussion with my brother, or practically anyone else, will get the juices flowing. It is surprising how often just defining what it is that’s got you stuck can get you unstuck. Failing that, I’ll ditch the scene. My stories frequently have multiple plot threads weaving back and forth. Jumping from one thread to another can often get the ball rolling again for me. Sometimes it’s necessary to jump to an entirely different story for a while. Something I just recently started trying was what I call “The Bad Idea Exercise.” That’s where I write an intentionally bad or contradictory idea just to get it out of my head and make room for a better one.
[JENA] Let’s gab about your books. What fictiony goodness have you already unleashed on the general populous?
[JOSEPH] The books I’m best known for are my fantasy series, The Book of Deacon. That’s composed of the trilogy—The Book of Deacon, The Great Convergence, and The Battle of Verril—as well as a novella named Jade and a prequel called The Rise of the Red Shadow. They collectively form an epic fantasy with most of the important features of the genre checked off: chosen warriors, ancient prophesy, cuddly dragon sidekick. You know, all of the key stuff. When a friend of mine suggested I write some sci-fi, I created a series which has recently been dubbed Big Sigma. Right now that’s Bypass Gemini and Unstable Prototypes, but there’s a third on the way… eventually. Just this month I also released The Other Eight, a superhero novel about heroes with really unfortunate powers. One of the main characters has the ability to say gibberish phrases so confusing they cause the listener to twitch. That’s it. Another has the ability to be forgotten about. Not exactly Avengers material.
[JENA] What’s next for you and your writing? Any new titles coming out?
[JOSEPH] Aside from The Other Eight, I’m just about ready to pick a release date for the steampunk novel, which I’m calling Free-Wrench. It is a thinly veiled excuse to have a sequence of zeppelin battles and steam-powered gadgetry. Also a corset.
[JENA] The latest trend with the indie author world is massive book signings and conventions featuring anywhere from 20 authors to 200 authors. What has your experience been at these events? Do you enjoy them? Or do they make you twitch and sweat?
[JOSEPH] I can’t say I’ve ever been to a massive book signing or convention (at least not one that had me on the famous side of the signing pen). I love conventions, so I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to do so, so long as I wasn’t otherwise engaged at my pesky day job, which is unfortunately why I wasn’t able to attend your upcoming Pure Textuality Convention. I’m not bitter though… Nope. Not bitter at all…
[JENA] Do you have any appearances coming up? If so, tell us when and where (provide links if you have them).
[JOSEPH] I must once again point to the day job and its remarkable ability to prevent me from doing things like that. There is an outside chance I’ll be on the campus of my alma mater, NJIT, but that’s unconfirmed and is only mildly related to my authorly pursuits.
[JENA] Now it’s time for some just-for-fun questions! If you were digitized like Tron and put on the internet what site would you visit first?
[JOSEPH] Deviant Art… I love art in its various forms and walking among it in some cyberspace gallery would be excellent. Though, Deviant Art being what it is, I’d probably have to watch my step lest I stumble into “what has been seen cannot be unseen” territory.
[JENA] Have you ever Googled yourself? If so, were you surprised or shocked by any of the results?
[JOSEPH] I’ve not only googled myself, I’ve set up google alerts for myself. And yes, as the internet is uniquely able to do, I’ve been shocked and surprised by much of what I’ve seen. Some of it is as mundane as discovering people were creating torrents of my work. (Seriously, I’m worth pirating?) Others have involved brief discussions on forums where people were pairing my characters with little regard for gender or species boundaries. Yay internet! Oh, and I’ve seen one or two people who listed me as a favorite book/influence. Wacky.
[JENA] What would you do with a million dollars?
[JOSEPH] The boring stuff: Pay off my mortgage, set up a retirement and health plan for myself, and finally quit the day job. The Less Boring Stuff: Hire someone to help me set up and create some actual merchandise. The fans have been asking for it, but I just don’t have the wit or wherewithal to get it done.
[JENA] If you were trapped on a desert island with one CD that you could listen to for the rest of your life what would it be?
[JOSEPH] Oof. Tough one. I guess making a mix CD would be cheating. I’m going to make an odd selection here and say one of the better Weird Al albums. I mean, parodies are like two songs at once, right? More bang for your buck. Plus there’s always a medley. So let’s go with Poodle Hat by Weird Al. Failing that, I’d go for a Best Of album of either Van Halen or Billy Joel.
[JENA] How do you consume – read the book then watch the movie or watch the movie then read the book?
[JOSEPH] I treat the book and movie as two entirely separate forms of entertainment. I don’t feel any obligation to read and watch the same story. For the really monumental stuff, though, I’ll usually do both. Frequently the movie will come first, because watching a movie is a much more spur of the moment decision than reading a book.
[JENA] If you could live forever, would you? Why or why not?
[JOSEPH] I don’t know if I’d want to live forever. I don’t cope with loss very well, and making friends and losing them over and over would eventually scour me out emotionally until I was just a shriveled up husk of regret and sadness. (Not that I’m not that already.) Plus, if we don’t get off the planet, eventually the sun’s going to enter the next stage and expand past earth’s orbit. Something tells me sinking to the core of a nuclear fireball and remaining there until the heat death of the universe would be kind of a bummer. Or am I thinking too scientifically on this topic…
[JENA] If you were faced with the zombie apocalypse and had to pick five people to be on your survival team, who would you pick?
[JOSEPH] Okay, I’m picking my buddies Sean and Cary, because we tend to function reasonably well as a team. There needs to be some ladies, just in case we’re the only ones to survive. Kari Byron of the Mythbusters is an obvious choice, since she’d be able to concoct just about everything we need. Honestly, I’m throwing Jamie Hyneman on there too. I’ve seen him make a bullet proof vest out of old soda cans and plumbing supplies. There’s also a tech hacker I follow, Lady Ada of adafruit.com. I suspect she’d be able to get the infrastructure of modern society rebuilt pretty quickly.
[JENA] Imagine the concept of reincarnation is real, who or what would you hope to come back as in your next life?
[JOSEPH] I’ve always felt like cats have a pretty awesome life. Take your pick. The big cats stalking gazelles all the way through to the savanna all the way to the big fat housecats sleeping all day. That’d only be cool if I came back with the intellect of a cat. Otherwise I’d come back as someone in the distant future, just so I can get a glimpse of all of the cool stuff that we’re only just dreaming up right now.
[JENA] Thank you for participating in Indies In Their Undies!
[JOSEPH] No problem! Thanks for having me.