Interview with Author Joseph Amiel

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a writer since Fourth Grade, when we were required to hand in a story every week.  I loved it. Even while working as a lawyer I continued to write.  An agent read three chapters of my first novel, now titled STALKING THE SKY, and sold it to a top publisher within ten days.  Magic!

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had an idea for a short story, a murder mystery, and put aside what I was working on to write it.  I found I loved the form: Completing a novel could take a year or two, but I had finished the story in only a few days.  It’s the second in my new collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES.  Almost immediately an intriguing title for a new story popped into my head, THE GIRL WHO SPOKE VENTRILOQUISM, but I had no  story.  While agonizing over possible characters and plot and getting nowhere, inspiration came in the form of a sudden recollection of the trip I and my family had made the year before to Ireland.  I have no idea where that unexpected recollection came from, but instead of dismissing it, I was aware enough to realize my subconscious had just presented me with the structure I had been searching for.  The third story was suggested by an incident involving Donald Trump: He was alerted by his lawyer that the pre-nuptial agreement with his new wife was about to expire and any divorce after that could be far more expensive.  His shocked wife soon received divorce papers. That story, the last of the three, is titled DEADLINE DIVORCE.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’m a story teller, someone who writes to entertain and perhaps enlighten an audience of readers with an engrossing tale.  I named this collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES because my purpose in writing the stories was to entertain my readers with wit, humor, drama, and surprises; as the title says, to delight them.  Their reaction and the book’s reviews suggest that the stories do that.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The stories in the collection are murder mysteries.  I think almost every fiction writer plants mysteries of some sort in his/her work to keep the reader turning pages.  Murder, the whodunnit or whydunnit of that drastic act, provides the material for the most engaging mysteries with the highest stakes for the characters–and the reader–which is why book-stores shelves are packed with murder mysteries, All of my novels have a mystery at their core, several indeed murder.  My initial idea for JUDGEMENT DAY, about a judge everyone in town would kill if they could, led me to write it and then the other stories in the murder-mystery genre.  I don’t doubt I’ll be writing more stories in the same vein.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

 If I could sit down to converse with any character in the book, it might be Kyra, the sixteen-year-old high school student who narrates JUDGEMENT DAY.  I would want to know if the outcome of her and her family’s action against the judge, whom she had hated for a year, brought her satisfaction.  I have no doubt that what she ultimately did with that narration in the story’s surprise ending had to leave her “delighted.”

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Although I’m on Facebook [Joseph Amiel Author] and now Instagram [josephamiel9087], I would have to say that being able to communicate so quickly with my many followers on Twitter has been the most effective of the social media formats [@JoeAmiel].  Also I would guess that being able to get out the word, rather than waiting for people to find what I’ve posted, suits my personality.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

We live in an age when a neophyte author without an agent or an established publisher can put his/her work on Amazon and hope to develop a readership.  Crucial to continuing to write is believing that your work can be seen and not deposited in a desk drawer.  My advice about the actual writing is to do it, every day if possible.  One friend said he had a novel in him if he could only come up with the right first line.  I told him to start with the second line and just start writing–he would be rewriting everything anyway, probably even his precious first line.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As long as senility doesn’t set in, I’ll continue to write novels and short stories.  Story tellers have to tell stories.

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About the Author

Joseph Amiel is a novelist and screenwriter, as well as a lawyer. His novels include: HAWKS, BIRTHRIGHT, DEEDS, STAR TIME, and A QUESTION OF PROOF, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His screenplay GAMES has recently been honored at several film festivals, as has his comedy series for the web AIN’T THAT LIFE.

He was graduated from Amherst College, where he studied English and creative writing, and from Yale Law School. He is married and has two children.

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