Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interview with Joseph Spencer, author of 'Wrage'

Joseph SpencerAs a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”
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About the Book:

Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

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 Q: Thank you for this interview, Joseph. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wrage, is all about?

When I decided to expand Grim into the Sons of Darkness series with Wrage, I incorporated many references from religion and historical lore. The “War Scroll” from the Dead Sea Scrolls foretells of an apocalyptic fight between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness in which Light will earn eternal peace by destroying Darkness. Each son in the Sons of Darkness series will represent a deadly sin, and each son in my future Sons of Light series will symbolize a cardinal virtue. Wrage introduces the coming struggle between these two forces in both the supernatural and mortal realms.
Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
The title character Jeff Wrage, devastated by his wife’s brutal murder in Grim, seeks vengeance by bartering his soul to a demon named Abaddon who is building an army for his Sons of Darkness to rise in an apocalyptic fight against the Sons of Light. The Archangel Michael appeals to Jeff’s conscience to turn back from his path to damnation.
Anna Duke, heartbroken from the death of her mentor in Grim, gets promoted from patrol to the detective bureau in the Prairieville Police Department and her first case presents her with a chance of busting the bad cop responsible for her teacher’s fall from grace.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Every character is either a part of me or of people I’ve known. I work at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center so many of the police characters are an amalgamation of police officers I work alongside on a daily basis.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I start with a loose organization of where the novel will take the continuing story arc I have for the series, but I’m flexible with where the characters take me on the path to getting there. I believe in writing compelling characters because I feel readers are sucked in by investing their time into their favorite characters. I want readers to want to know what’s going to happen next so they keep turning pages.
Q: Your book is set in Prairieville.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
I’ve lived most of my life in central Illinois. I wanted to create a fictional copy of the type of city I’ve lived in. I didn’t want the rigidity of having to stay faithful to a real place. I wanted the freedom to mold the setting around the story.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
The setting underscores the dark nature of the novel. Prairieville is a corrupt, violent city sort of from the mold of Gotham City in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?
Jeff Wrage receives a visit from the Archangel Michael and has a crisis of conscience. He wants desperately to enact a personal form of vengeance against the man who took his wife from him, but he’s unsure if he can actually go through with killing another man. He’s not a violent person by nature.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
“Dad! Is that you?” Anna recoiled with her hands rushing up to her mouth as if to snatch up each word of her inexplicable outburst and bury them deep inside of her. Her whole body tensed and hunched backward like a frightened cat waiting to dart away to safety. The frigid bite of the air gnashing against her skin transformed her caramel complexion into a cherry shade of irritated skin.
“Seek The Way, The Truth and The Life. The Way leads to death. Death stalks you now. You can’t escape Death. You must face death to find The Life.”
The sea of officers scrubbed prim and proper in their dress blue uniforms, the tartan-clad bagpipe players, the somber clergy, and the black-suited politicians all washed away into an indistinguishable herd being driven somewhere in the distance. The wind swept Anna to a whole other world, one where it was just her and the smoke man.
“Keep your head, Rube.”
“What?” Anna heard herself cry out her question. She’d heard the smoke man’s words echo inside her head. They were familiar words from long ago, but she couldn’t believe she heard them from whatever this thing was.
Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
While working on Wrage, I suffered a fatal hardware failure on my laptop and I lost 40-50 pages of work. I thought I’d backed up that part of the manuscript, but I hadn’t. I wondered for a few weeks if I could ever finish this book because I kept trying to write everything exactly how I had it, and it gave me writer’s block. At that point, I opened myself up to new ideas and powered through that difficult time. I don’t have any tricks. It was all about determination for me.
Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
I would either read another few chapters in the James Rollins novel I’m currently reading or I’d hack away at my keyboard and compose of few more pages of my third book in the Sons of Darkness series which will be titled Malice.
Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?
I wish I’d written the Count of Monte Cristo. I love that book. It introduced me to antiheroes. That sort of revolutionized my reading experience for the rest of my life after I read that in junior high school.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?
Just don’t ever give up on yourself. In this life, there’s always going to be someone standing in your way, telling you that what you’ve done isn’t good enough. It’s your responsibility to yourself to keep pushing to make your dreams come true.

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