As an educator, it’s only natural we’d find Joseph Lewis authoring award-winning books. With a passion for writing, a gift for penning thriller fiction and a penchant for creating heartfelt blogs, Joe graciously took time away from his laptop to answer questions about his life, his milestones and his most recent novel, Betrayed.
How do you spend your days? I just retired from education after 44 years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. So, for now, it is my day job. I love writing and look forward to it each day. I generally take a portion of my morning advertising my work on various platforms. In the afternoon, I work on my work in progress.
Did you always want to be an author? No, not really. It came to me later in life. Although I have to say that my sixth grade teacher lit the spark that has now become a fire.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My newest is Betrayed, which takes characters from my previous work and moves them forward into a new adventure. The setting is the Navajo Nation land in Northeastern Arizona. It was the home for one of my characters, and the lure to bring him, and two of his brothers, back is that his long-time friend is missing.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? My books have characters who are broken in various ways, yet they survive and thrive. They don’t quit. They keep moving forward. I believe that is the overarching theme in my writing.
What are you most excited about with this book? My two previous books, Caught in a Web and Spiral Into Darkness won awards. Yet, I feel Betrayed is even better than the previous ones. My readers tell me they love my characters. The setting is special in this one, as is the blending of Navajo culture and spiritualism.
How did writing a book help your career take off? I developed a steady, hard-core following that keeps growing. I believe the solid reviews and the awards I’ve won helped.
It looks like you left your day job when your writing career started. What advice would you give to someone wanting to do the same? It is scary, but oh so worthwhile. Keep at it. Don’t quit. And keep reading. If you don’t read, your writing will suffer because you learn from reading the work of others.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism in regard to your work? It stings. You have to develop thick skin because some are absolutely cold and cruel. Still, there are others who simply love what I write and can’t wait for the next one.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I see myself as an example for other writers. I’ve received enough rejections to wallpaper a room in my house. My first book, Taking Lives, was published when I was sixty years old. It was published the same month we buried my son, Wil, who was shot and killed inadvertently as he was between two rival gang members intent on killing each other. There was hardly enough time for me to celebrate. My family and I mourned, and to some degree, still are.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? Whether it was education and helping kids or my writing about kids (my main characters in each of my books), I see myself as an example. I had to fight and claw to get published. Finally, at age 60, it happened. I never gave up and with each book, I seek to improve.
What book uplifts you? There are so many. On Writing by Stephen King is my go-to Bible. I loved Lord of the Flies.
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? I write an inspirational blog entitled Simple Thoughts from a Complicated Mind, Sort Of… that seeks to lift up, inspire and give hope.
Joe invites you to follow and connect with him on his Facebook page, where you can learn more about all his works, including his latest release Betrayal.
Image Courtesy of Joseph Lewis