Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Questions with Horror Novelist Joseph Souza (@josephsouza3)

This Author Spotlight features award-winning horror novelist Joseph Souza.

Joseph worked on the South Boston docks during Whitey Bulger's criminal reign. He has a degree from Northeastern University and once worked in the Organized Crime division of the DEA. His award winning short fiction and essays have published in various literary journals throughout the country. In 2004 he was awarded the Andre Dubus Award in short fiction from the University of Southern Maine for his short story ‘Loss Prevention.’ His most recent short story, ‘The Devil's Dumping Ground’ was published in Quarry; Crime Stories by New England Writers. In 2010 Joseph Souza won Honorable Mention for the Al Blanchard Award for his short crime story ‘The Stone Walls of Lebanon.’ The Reawakening is his debut horror novel and available on Amazon. Joseph lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and two children.

1. How did you get into writing?

I didn’t get into writing as much as writing got into me. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, feeling the need to tell these stories that are bubbling deep inside me. Of course I’m not the only one who feels this way. People throughout history have had this compulsion to pass on stories as a way to emphasize our humanity and build a moral, mythical construct to this chaotic world we humans have labeled as civilization. Being a writer is like being a mobster; you’re born into the life and there’s no getting out alive. 

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love getting in the zone when I’m writing. It’s like playing basketball when you’re hitting every shot and from every angle. When you’re in the zone, the words and ideas flow without you even thinking about it. It’s almost as if a divine force is guiding your hand and you’re simply the facilitator of this wonderful creation. It’s a beautiful feeling.

The worst thing is when it’s not flowing and each word is like lifting a large boulder from one spot to another. That feeling just sucks!

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I have a family and kids and so I have trained myself in the Zen-like art of concentration. I can write in the middle of a fire with sirens blaring and people throwing rotten tomatoes at me while a full-on zombie apocalypse is occurring just outside the window. Technology has helped as well. I take my iPad everywhere and write anytime and anywhere I can, even if it’s for ten minutes between periods of my kid’s hockey game, or before the school play, or between innings of my other child’s softball game, maybe in the car while in transit. Two of my books were written almost entirely on my iPad during the chaos that is my life.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I love English writers, especially Martin Amis. His book ‘Money’ is one of the nastiest and funniest books ever. I love the early books of John Irving and Stephen King. “The White Trilogy” by Ken Bruen is a crime masterpiece as is ‘The Friend of Eddie Coyle’ by the late, brilliant George V. Higgins. Although my trilogy series takes place during a living dead apocalypse, I really love literary writers and those that have a special way with words.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Ahhh, that’s a very existential question to ask a writer. I think it all depends on the person writing that sentence and what their intent happens to be by asking it. When it is embodied inside the quote like that it takes on more of a Stephen Dedalus-like inner monologue with layers of depth and ulterior meanings. Like the novel ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce, it represents mystery and makes it unreadable to me. When it appears outside the quotes I think it is the writer trying to make a subtle statement and telling me that he or she is a political and artistic outcast from mainstream society and is seeking gainful employment, a hot meal, and maybe a bed for the night. Either way is cool though.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Ouch! Now you’ve got my blood pressure up. Let me state for the record that I am vehemently opposed to the Oxford Comma and feel that much of modern society’s ills have been caused by that vile punctuation mark, with its small but judgmental swoosh. Like Colonel Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’ it speaks to me and says “You can kill me, but you have no right to judge me.’ It is a rigid little slash, and its goal is to break down the whole into its smaller components, and thus becomes a metaphor for the disintegration of society as a whole. I say “It takes an Oxford Comma to raze a sentence!” In my opinion that little Monarchical divider has caused wars, famine, and deadly pandemics. Apart from that, why should we allow stuffy Oxford to dictate how we categorize our items? This isn’t Masterpiece Theater. What has Oxford given us besides shoes, an uppity university, and a class-based comma? I predict that if the Oxford Comma is allowed to propagate and is not eradicated with extreme prejudice in our lifetime then we are doomed to witness the zombie apocalypse. And if you don’t believe me ask any librarian, English teacher, or refer to Strunk and White for that matter.

7. What is The Reawakening, The Living Dead Trilogy, Book I about and how did it come to fruition?

The entire trilogy came to me in a Eureka moment one day and I instantly began writing it soon after on my iPad. The novel came to me so quickly that without notes or an outline I had a working draft in one month. I’d never written horror before so this was a new genre to me. But I must say that I had immense fun writing it and feeling liberated from all convention.

8. What’s your current writing project?

Darpocalypse, The living Dead Trilogy, Book II is 99% done and should be published this fall. Currently, I am working on the third installment, doing research on pandemics and the Lakota Indian tribes in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m rereading ‘Black Flagged Redux’ by my amazingly talented author friend Steven Konkoly. This guy is the real deal and ripping up the Amazon charts for spy fiction. I’m a serial reader and so I’m also reading John Irving’s ‘In One Person’; Nathan Wolfe’s incredibly fascinating ‘The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age’; and ‘The Lakotas and The Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground’ by Jeffrey Ostler.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Many authors inspired my writing and writing style. Living in Maine, I've always loved the stories and novels of Stephen King. King's writing transcends the horror genre and what I like best about his novels is the way the develops characters, and forces them to interact in difficult situations. The early novels of John Irving also had an important influence on me. I love the way he tells a story and weaves characters in and out. The other major influence has been Martin Amis, and English writer. His dazzling use of the English Language and sense of humor still amaze me to this day. I also love Robert Parker, Ken Bruen and Margaret Atwood. Atwood's book Oryx and Crake is the best post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc

If anyone is interested in learning more about my work, looking at the beautiful cover art of ‘The Reawakening’, or reading my bio, they can go to my website at www.josephsouza.net. They can also read reviews about ‘The Reawakening’, read an excerpt of the novel, and if they like the excerpt there is a link where they can purchase it on Amazon. Many of the reviews have commented on the originality of the novels and the high quality of the writing. I like to think that I bring both a unique take to the genre as well as a literary style that both transcends the genre and is appealing to a wide range of readers. In fact many of my fans have commented that they’ve never read a zombie-like book before. Dark River Press commented, “Souza has written a mind-bending tale of a zombie apocalypse that has turned the sub-genre upside down with his blood-soaked tale.” Indie Horror News added, “The Reawakening is an instant Indie classic.” I sincerely hope that anyone who likes the novel or has any questions contacts me and starts a dialogue.

Thank you very much for this fun interview and allowing me to talk about my novel The Reawakening.

You're welcome, Joseph. Please visit with us again as soon as Darpocalypse is published.

Be sure to visit Joseph's website JosephSouza.net and take a moment to check out his award-winning writing.

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