An Interview With Joel Seath: Author and Creator of Beauty…

Joel Seath is an author who writes to find the beautiful things in the world and to explore the characters that make life wonderful and sad. I met Joel on my travels and immediately cottoned onto his love for all things literary. We set up and interview and he answered my questions with ease. I found myself sitting back to listen to what he had to say rather than thinking of another question. Easy interviews are rare– but this was one of the easiest.

Joel

Q) So Joel, why did you become an author?

A) It’s a compulsion, a drive, I suppose. When you write you just need to keep on writing.

Q) What does a compulsive drive to write feel like?

A) It often feels like blocking out, locking in, sinking in. You know? Some days it’s a rush. Some days you read and re-read and it’s like you’re looking at something that shines (or might shine) and you want to keep that, show that, have that, always.

Q) Do you ever find it hard to stop yourself from writing? Is it like a daze or a dream you can’t break from?

A) Physically writing (or typing), yes, I suppose. I mean, it can be extremely immersive, as many writers will know. However, that immersion also plays itself out in the day-to-day, pen not in hand, computer not on. Words (or the possibility of them) are everywhere.

Q) Words are your thing as a writer? So what is your favourite word?

A) What an excellent question! A barman asked me what my favourite book was recently (your question reminds me of that): how to pick one? You can tell by the long pause that this has given me cause to think. I can tell you what my most recently learned word is (and, by extension, a current favourite): tenebrous.

Q) Tenebrous? So what does tenebrous mean?

A) It’s to do with the obscure, the dark, as I understand it. This isn’t a reflection of my writing; rather, the word has a sort of rhythmic quality to me.

Q) Well, you have to learn something new everyday! So, lets reflect on your writing. What do you like to write about? Tell me about your writing.

A) In all its forms, long and short, my writing is intended as a means of finding the small gems of this world. There are hidden things in between what we just see on the surface– there are textures and layers to relationships, subtleties, moments. I’m looking for the moments that also linger. There are ‘objects’ of beauty, even in the laments, in many places.

Q) It’s interesting that you write about “beauty,” as everyone’s definition of beauty is so different. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written about? What is “beautiful” to you?

A) Well, beauty is subjective, of course, but I’m sometimes taken aback by how things turn out. It’s unexpected. There are moments that happen which I read time and again because they still have some power over me. In one of my stories, a child’s brief interaction with the narrator takes me in every time; in another piece, it was something I wrote in a female voice because I needed to do this more, I was there with her, as her, in Venice because the words were in that flow state; poetry is a vanity, but there are lines of colour and there are lines that sink me sometimes. Questions such as these are like choosing between children!

Q) If you could write anywhere in the world– where would it be? What landscape would really incite your creativity?

A) On a beach, in the mountains, in a forest, all of these. Specifically, though I’ve done my fair share of overseas travelling, I’d come back to the west of Cornwall. Standing on the cliffs overlooking some of the little unknown coves down there, the sea and the wind in your hair and on your face, that huge sky (it really is huge, like they say in their tourism promotions), makes words just come in for me. The artists there laud it for the light; I just can’t get enough of the energy.

Q) I understand that you’re published so others can enjoy your creative energy. Which of your works are currently available?

A) I’ve got a collection out at the moment (Disintegration and Other Stories). I loosely label this as literary fiction (though that term can be interpreted in many ways). DaOS is out in ebook and print. This collection came together in an odd way: I didn’t realise that there’d been a thread running through some of my writings for a number of years. It was like seeing invisible ink slowly become visible. I’m working on a collection of micro fiction, which will be a first volume (Four Kinds of Wreckage) to be added to. Micro fiction is much misunderstood. Away from fiction, I’m also published in the field of what’s known as ‘playwork’ (a particular way of working with children). I’ve had writings taken on by the national/international playwork publication for the sector, as well as credits with the organisation concerned with psycholudic playwork practice. (Now though, I fear I’m stepping into the jargon of my other calling – though writing is also a big part of this, too).

disintegration

Q) So tell me Joel– why did you want to be interviewed by me?

A) You do a good job of finding writers, Nick. When I became aware of your work I came over to your blog, and yes, I like what I see here. What you’re doing is exactly what writers need– a way of getting their words out there.

Q) Thank you, Joel. One of my stock questions is to ask– if you could be any writer from any time who would it be?

A) As far as writers are concerned, I have a range (as we all do probably): Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jeannette Winterson, Iain Banks, Ian McEwan, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Adrian Henri. There are others. I wouldn’t want just one small list to define me, though we start somewhere with questions such as these.

Q) Characters are important to you. What makes a good character for you?

A) The unusual wrapped up in the usual. Subtlety people often might not see. The strangely put. Love in odd places, ways; perceptions of this. Someone who aches in some way.

Q) It has often been said that “repeated readability makes a book.” Would you as an author agree with that?

A) Yes, I think I would. Who was it who said that journalism is read once, whilst literature more than this? Something like that. Anyway, it’s the sentiment here that counts. There are books on my shelf that I come back to time and again; there are passages on some pages that just astound me. Kerouac wrote about ‘fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries’ in On the Road. I come back to that time and again.

Q) You strike me as an intellectual– someone striving for the beautiful things in life. Would you agree with that?

A) I don’t know about intellectual! I certainly am on the search for the beauty of the world though. That’s in words, in moments, in art, in love and lament, in the play of children, in the play of us, in nature.

Q) What would you personally deem as “ugly”?

A) There’s nothing so ugly as not wanting to see, perhaps. Ugliness is also wrapped up in the politics of power, greed, deceit.

Q) Power, greed, deceit are words usually entwined with politics. How do you feel about the political scene in America right now? Are you an Obama follower?

A) For me these words are part of Politics (as in that which a politician is involved in); however, these words are also within the politics of everyone, their relations. Lennon had an angle here! As for Obama, I don’t really get too immersed in Politics anywhere, if I can help it, because politicians bring the media to their door in many ways. That said, when politicians willfully ignore children and their play, this gets me going! Back to Obama, he strikes me as intelligent enough, though of course I’m not in the US and not directly subjected to American policy.

Q) Well, I think we’ll end there Joel. Thank you for a great interview!

A New Career? “Try Writing Books!” says Lloyd Tackitt

Soldier, Construction Project Manager, Author. Lloyd Tackitt has lived and now he is on my blog for an interview. How did I meet Lloyd? Just another fateful meeting when two people start a conversation. I asked Lloyd over for an interview and he replied by asking me when would be a good time? Right now? Okay, lets talk….

Lloyd Tackitt
Q) Nice to meet you, Lloyd! So you’ve written a few books. Which of your works is your favourite?

A) Hi Nicholas, it’s a pleasure to visit with you.

I’ve published three books in a post-apocalyptic slash survival series. The first two books – A Distant Eden and Adrian’s War. They are half survival manual and half novel. I thought it would be interesting to mix real survival instruction with a fictional account of how they were used. The books are getting excellent reviews and selling very well – getting attention mostly by word of mouth. Top reviews have been given for both elements of these books, the instruction element and the story line.

The third book – Eden’s Hammer – is more novel than manual. Survival instructions are finite, at least real ones are. I covered just about everything in the first two books on survival without getting into the esoteric techniques – such as starting a fire with a candy bar and a can of soda. Eden’s Hammer includes tribal scale guerrilla warfare tactics that are explained, but mostly it’s about the adventures of the main character, Adrian Hunter. This book was released the first week of January.

I am writing the fourth book in the series now. I haven’t settled on a title yet. I think this fourth book may be my favorite so far.

Q) What drove you to become a writer and which book was your first release?

A) My first release was A Distant Eden. It was published in March of 2012. The second book Adrian’s War was released in August of 2012, and the third, Eden’s Hammer, in January of 2013.

What drove me to write the first book was a combination of three things. 1. A fascination with the subject of post-apocalyptic survival. 2. The advent of self-publishing at the level it recently reached, making it available to me. 3. I spend three hours per day commuting to and from work, leaving me a lot of time to think about what to write.

What drove me to write the others, and to continue writing, is a love of writing. I have written a considerable number of short stories (available for free at lloydtackitt.com). Those stories eventually led to writing the first novel. My novels, so far, have been on the short side of the classic novel definition, around sixty-thousand words each. My writing style is compressed and direct – nothing florid about it. I try to make every word count and not put any filler or fluff in. I could easily double the length of these books, but the story would be the same story with a lot of window dressing. Not my style.

A Distant Eden

Q) How are the public taking to your work? How are sales?

A) Excellent. Far better than I had dared to hope for. Sales have been truly wonderful and the feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams. I am developing a rapidly expanding reader base, and get emails every day asking when the next story will be available. My answer to that question is – As soon as I can get it finished, polished, and published. I write part-time, my days are very full and leave little time for writing, but I squeeze writing in every chance I get. I’ve published three books in ten months, so you can see that while my writing career is part-time, it is productive.

Q) So your latest release is Edens Hammer. Can you tell me what us a little bit about it?

With no spoilers? Okay, I’ll give it a try. Imagine a man who is in a post-apocalyptic world and has recently lost the love of his life. He has gone off into the mountains to be alone, but ended up in a war with a group of raiders that also practiced cannibalism. He’s just finished that war when his uncle sends word to come home as fast as possible, their entire village – Fort Brazos — is under threat of annihilation. Adrian, the protagonist, rushes home to find a large group of criminals about to descend on his village and overwhelm it with superior numbers and firepower. Adrian assesses the situation and goes into action to save his village. Much more than that and I start to tell the story itself.

Q) Where did the title Edens Hammer come from?

A) I’m not completely sure it’s explainable. Partly because it is a part of the Distant Eden series of course; but also partly because the protagonist, Adrian, is the one man that his family and friends believes can save them. Titles are strange, you try several out, roll them around in your mind for a while and then try some more. When one finally feels right you leave it alone for a few weeks, then try it again and see if it still feels right. Eventually, one feels right and keeps feeling right and you go with it. There’s a lot to the selection process that isn’t rational, more intuitive. Like working out the cover art.

Q) How would you describe the process of writing a book?

A) I’ve written tons of short stories and the books are kind of different and kind of the same. At least the process I follow is– probably different for each writer. First, I think about the story while commuting. I roughly shape it in my head, the introduction phase, the first couple of pinch points, the main crisis and the resolution. These are my guideposts.

When I have that firmly in my mind, I begin writing. The first draft is almost purely spontaneous, letting the characters lead me as I go along. You’ve heard of the characters taking over the story? That’s true for me. Often the characters are out there wandering around getting into and out of trouble and I have no idea what they’re going to be up to next. Other than they follow the general guideposts I mentioned earlier. That’s the first draft.

Once the first draft is complete, then I go back and start re-writing, changing the story here and there, adding and subtracting. That’s the second draft.

When the second draft is complete I go back and really tweak the “close to the ground” part of the story. Re-working dialogue, checking for conformity of details, adding descriptions of places and people.

When that’s complete, I go through it looking for spelling and grammar errors, or clumsy sentences. After that I send it to the editor, get it back from the editor and go through the comment review/approval process. The final version goes to the formatter to get it in shape to upload. I’ll have been working with the cover artist for a few weeks at this point and it should be completed. After formatting is done and cover art is done, I upload it and then start chewing my nails waiting for reviews.

Q) If you could have written any book by any author– which would it have been and why?

A) “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. My all time, number one (with no number two even close) favorite book. Harper Lee creates a world that is completely immersive and inclusive. I cannot read that book without being pulled into it. I’ve read it perhaps fifty or sixty times, trying to understand her writing style – but I always get pulled into the story and can’t see the trees for the forest. Her style is completely invisible, you just can’t see it.

It’s also a story that has every element in it that you could ask for, and the characters become so real that I sometimes think of them when I am recalling family members of long ago.

Q) How many books do you have in mind for release?

A) Total? I have no idea. I am going to start a murder mystery series soon. The Distant Eden series has at least one more book to go– the one I am working on now. I may come back to it later and add more, it’s an open ended world that can be described in story for many books to come.

Adrians War

Q) How was your publishing experience? Would you promote self publishing?

Since I self-publish it’s a peaceful experience. It’s all in my control – other than the amount of time it takes to get material back from editing, formatting and cover art. I can’t control those time frames entirely, but by planning ahead with the various people involved the time is kept to a minimum.

Q) Do you have an editor or do you edit your own work?

A) I’ve worked with editors. I can’t edit my own work objectively. If I tried to self-edit I would never finish a book. I never look at one of my manuscripts without wanting to make changes, and sometimes a lot of them. At some point though you have to let go and move on, and by sending it out to an editor I can make that break while getting objective criticism on the final book. That’s a great way to work. Editors and editing were invented for a reason.

Q) Edens Hammer is out now, correct? Where can people buy it?

It’s out now and can be purchased on Amazon for the Kindle version and CreateSpace for the paperback. The paperback will eventually be available on Amazon also, but that always takes time. A Distant Eden has just been released in audio format as well.

Q) Have you got a website for readers to keep up with your work?

A) I do have a website that has many of my short stories on it. I’m not a computer savvy person so I don’t update the site often with recent news. It’s lloydtackitt.com.

I also have an author’s Facebook page that I can operate so it has more up-to-date information on it. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLloydTackitt

I also have an email address where readers can correspond with me. I always try to answer within five days and usually do better than that. I’ll answer questions about the books, the upcoming releases, survival, or just about anything other than religion and politics. lloydtackitt@gmail.com

On the subject of politics, I sometimes blog at: libertyauthors.com/index.php/lloydtackitt/

I am also an avid fly fisherman and blog on fishing at: fishexplorer.com on the Texas part of the website.

So! Now, I have to go out and get a copy of Edens Hammer. I’ll do that just as soon as I click the publish button on here! I’m coming, Lloyd!