I met with Joe over a cup of joe. We laughed a lot.
Let's see what he had to say about zombies, reading, and writing.
1. It’s the zombie apocalypse and writers have got to stick together to survive. Pick 3 authors to be on your zombie apocalypse killing team and tell us why you’d choose them.
Joe Says: Elmore Leonard – because he's so cool nobody can touch him. And that would have to extend to zombies, even in their emaciated, brainless state. We'd walk through them like Moses through the Red Sea.
Michael Crichton – because he would come up with cool, high tech solutions to the problems of survival that we could MacGyver out of tin foil, duct tape and old transistor radios.
Tom Clancy – because he'd have all sorts of connections to get us rescued – a Puff The Magic Dragon (Douglas AC-47D Spooky) gunship circling our site with 50 cals, mowing down the undead and providing cover for Seal Team 6 to rappel down from a Chinook helicopter, form a perimeter, and pull us out of there.
Just occurred to me I picked three dead authors. I hope they're not all Zees.
Meredith says: Monte Dutton picked a few dead authors. I think you guys have something going with including supernatural beings into the zombie apocalypse. But seriously, I can't even get over your choices and reasoning, priceless and awesome!
Joe Says: Notice I didn't bring anything to the party. And with all of those powerhouses present, I probably wouldn't even get to write the inevitable book about it. Suppose I should just be grateful to walk away from the experience.
2. If Stephen King and J. K. Rowling were drowning in a river, who would you save first? And now you have to tell us why.
Joe Says: Rowling. It's ladies first. Besides, King has used Deus Ex Machina in his novels so much that it owes him a huge favor.
Meredith says: I love that you pointed out the Deus Ex Machina and your rationale. Amazingness. And gentlemen rule.
Joe Says: I thought about referring to it as King Ex Machina, but decided I'd be kind.
3. We authors are voracious readers. My TBR list is approximately 8 miles long. What are you currently reading?
Joe Says: An English translation of L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian, re-published under the title Mood Indigo, after the recent film it was made into. I try not to read a book after seeing the movie, but Michael Gondry's film was so information dense that I wondered what the source was like. Turns out they're related only by plot, but after getting into the novel, I can see that his approach makes sense.
Meredith says: I've read a few books after seeing the movie (ex Harry Potter, I know, I know... stop judging me)
Joe Says: The big problem I have with reading the book after seeing the movie is I can't get the movie cast out of my head. I'd much rather cast the book out of my own imagination.
4. What is the one book that you could read a million times and never get bored with?
Joe Says: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I read it once every ten years (due again in 2020). It's an amazing book, with Huck not just growing up but evolving from his redneck racist ways. The line "All right then, I'll go to hell" gets me every time and is one of the greatest moments in American literature.
Meredith says: Jeeze, I haven't read Huck Finn since I was in grade school. Now I feel like I need to pull it out and read it again!
Joe Says: It'll be totally different reading it as an adult. I love books that do that.
5. Last year my favorite read was The Martian by Andy Weir. What was your best read of 2014?
Joe Says: I read a lot of history and in '14 I realized that I hadn't yet read anything about Napoleon Bonaparte. So I went through the available books for the Kindle, looking for the highest rated book about him, but also wanting something of an overview. Lo and behold, I picked Napoleon for Dummies – yes, a Dummies book – which was written by a noted Napoleonic scholar. And it was amazingly good. It really changed my perception of the man (we've bought into all the bad press the British have given him since the late 18th century) and it inspired me to pick up a second, more massive bio that's now waiting in my Kindle's memory for the right moment to be opened.
Meredith says: Wow. That's kind of inspiring!
Joe Says: So now at your prompting I have to read The Martian before October or I'll keep seeing Mark Damon's face when I read. Or is it Matt Wahlberg? I keep getting those two mixed up.
Meredith says: They're pretty much twins and their names are fully interchangeable. (But it's Matt Damon) I think you know this though, lol.
6. This year my favorite read has been The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?
Joe Says: How to Pick Up A Stripper by Todd and Erin Stevens. It's not what you think. I'm very involved in church work, and this is about how a church can reach out into the community by developing personal relationships. It's good stuff.
On a more laic (and fictional) plane, the best novel I've read this year is Elmore Leonard's Maximum Bob. People tend not to like this one, but I found it had more dark humor than some of Leonard's other work, and that was just my cuppa tea.
Meredith says: Those are some interesting books. I just had to go look them up and add them to my reading list. I do like dark humor.
Joe Says: A fellow traveller! One of the highlights of my young life was discovering a book of Chas Addams cartoons in the local library.
7. You’re a writer by day and a superhero by night. (Take off those geeky glasses Superman) What’s your superpower?
Joe Says: I can fly, I can fly, I can fly! See, for decades I have had recurring dreams that I could fly. And since I'm a lucid dreamer, over the years I actually figured out how to control my flight in those dreams. So if I suddenly gained that power, I'd know just how to work it. As compared to, say, the ability to transmute solid objects into pudding, which would mean quite a learning curve on my part.
Meredith says: It's like you have another realm in your sleeping mind! And as I read the 'pudding' bit, I envisioned a scene from Heroes in which that character in season 3 (I think) could melt things and turned them into pudding-like consistency.
Joe Says: I'm talking actual pudding here. A big plus would be getting to pick the flavor just before you do it. Imagine instead of shattering brick and rending metal, that runaway locomotive stops in a splatter of chocolatey goodness.
8. I have writing spots all over my house: my desk, my couch, the patio, and my bed. Where’s your favorite spot to write?
Joe Says: I have a huge brown La-Z-Boy recliner that we bought after we were first married, and over the decades it has become known as the Editing Chair. I've written in it, I've edited all of my novels in it, rocked my kids and snuggled with my wife on it. It's about to collapse after 30+ years of hard work, but I can't seem to part with it, in spite of my wife's pleas to exercise common sense.
Meredith says: But there's so many memories in the Editing Chair. I think your only option is to have it bronzed.
Joe Says: I like the way you think. The only trouble with that would be getting it back through the door of the office.
Meredith says: See the meme ------------->
9. We’re supposed to love all of our children equally, but there are some scenes I’ve written that really stick out in my mind. Tell us your favorite scene from your book Drawing Down the Moon.
Joe Says: < SPOILER > My favorite bit in Drawing Down the Moon is the Truth or Dare scene. The night before the big climax the two main characters, Ricky and Kada, are holed up in a motel room, and it's entirely possible that this will be their last night together after being on the run for a week. With nothing to do but avoid the subject of sex, they get into a game of Truth or Dare that lets them clear the air and say all the things they never said or should have said to each other. They verbally feint and parry around one another until the subject of sex comes up again, and hopefully it resolves in a way the reader doesn't expect. I didn't realize how good that scene was until the last stages of getting the manuscript ready for Amazon. When it hit me, it was one of those moments where I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I hadn't cribbed it from somebody else. < /SPOILER >
Meredith says: Awesome. Who knew, Truth or Dare!
Joe Says: Glad I didn't take the Dare on this one. Unless maybe it had to do with chocolate pudding.
10. Sometimes a little too much of myself slips into my characters. Which one of your characters most resembles you?
Joe Says: Like all writers, I tend to give my main characters little bits of myself, and it varies from book to book. Unfortunately for them, what they usually get are the parts of me I wish I didn't have. Those moments in Drawing Down the Moon where Ricky has to put aside his selfish desires and do the right thing, and then regrets doing the right thing? Me.
Meredith says: Me and Craig Hart talked about this a few weeks ago. I think we both agreed it's cool to explore the less pleasant sides of our personalities through our writings.
Joe Says: And therapeutic. I think people automatically assume that writers like, say, Stephen King are writing trauma out of their lives because of the genre they write, but I think it's a safe bet to say that even the writer of the most harmless character study novel where there's virtually no action does the same thing.
11. I’ve always got tunes rocking while I’m writing. Tell us five songs that are on your playlist.
Joe Says: Glad to hear of another music-powered writer! I've got ~15k songs in my iTunes for fuel that run the gamut of genres. Here are the last five songs that played during this interview:
Trouble Man - Rickie Lee Jones
Right Now - Garth Brooks
Parallels - Yes
Over - Ivy
Give Blood - Pete Townshend
That's a cover, a half-cover from my wife's playlist, some prog, some pop, and a good rocker. The only thing you didn't get a sampling of was Jandek, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to go there.
Meredith says: More power to the music lovers of the world! Love the mix.
Joe Says: You hit me on a good day. Another time and you would have been left scratching your head.
12. If you could tell an aspiring author one tiny tidbit of information, what would you say?
Joe Says: You mean besides "Don't do it, if you want to torture yourself take up golf instead and at least be around other people"? I guess it would be that it's okay to write for money, but if you write for love, your work will be so much better. In a lot of ways The Mushroom Shift is my best novel because I did it with no expectation of riches. I wrote it because I loved the people I worked with in law enforcement and I wanted to tell what their lives were really like, not the kind of stuff you see on the teevee. It was also written out of the joy of sitting down at the typewriter (giving my age away here) and banging words onto a page. It was a perfect writing storm, and I'm not sure I'll ever have that experience again.
Meredith says: Gosh, my writer's soul just throbbed with joy at reading that. Inspiring.
Joe Says: Now if I could just get my writer's wallet to throb with joy, I'd be more inspired. Or did saying that just undo my answer to this one?
Meredith says: Hahaha
Connect with Joe!
(Joe's on Wikipedia. That means he's cooler than the rest of us.)
Joe Clifford Faust was born in North Dakota, raised in Alberta and Wyoming, went to college in Oklahoma, and now lives in Ohio. He has been married to the former Miss Connie Sweitzer for going on thirty-five years, has two adult children, and worked for 25 years as an advertising copywriter.
He currently works full-time as a Shepherd at his local Church. When not working or writing, he spends his time eating chili, playing wargames, and reading books on his Kindle.
He is currently at work on his next novel, which he says, "May involve either UFOs, amnesia, or dogs. I haven't decided which."