If his name sounds familiar, dear reader of this blog, it's because I owe him a debt of gratitude not only for taking the time to read some of my poems and tell me he liked them (thus restoring my faith in those particular pieces and encouraging me to submit them again and again) but also for commissioning a poem from me for his World's End series back in the spring.
Why I like Josh: he's unpredictable and hilarious; he engages with people on Twitter instead of just putting forth an endless stream of self-promotion; I like his stories; he supports other writers. And despite the fact that he insults my taste in literature by insisting that his own work - as he puts it - "sucks," I highly encourage you to follow him on Twitter and check out his writing on his website and elsewhere. After you've read the interview, that is.
Let the games begin!
You write contemporary fiction about heterosexual men navigating romantic love and family relationships, right? What are your reasons for writing what you write?
Yeah, pretty much. Mostly because I don't think there's enough of that out there.
Which I love, because what I see you doing in your stories is challenging the social norms. Your protagonists are struggling for connection. They really want to make relationships work, but they're not quite sure how to do that. They're pulled in several different directions emotionally: what society says men should want/be like, what they think their (potential) partners want or think they should be like, and what they want deep down but don't dare ask themselves. Am I reading too much into it, do you think?
Well, I think you're right on the money. As a husband and a father, I often find myself in situations close to what my main characters are going through. A lot of times, writing is a way for me to examine my life and try to figure out what the hell is expected of me.
Some of it comes from not fitting in--as if this comes as much of a shock. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't popular. I wasn't cool enough, or smart enough, or funny enough to be part of the group. Or, probably more accurate, to let myself FEEL like I was part of the group. In hindsight (close to twenty years of it), I probably fit in better than what I felt like I did at the time. Those feelings followed me into adulthood. Even now, I'm oftentimes plagued with fear of failure as a parent and/or a spouse. And a lot of that comes from ideals of what a "real" man is. So writing oftentimes gives me an outlet to express those fears, those ideas I have.
Where can we read your writing?
I keep a bunch on my blog, at http://www.hewittwcc.
Tell us about your current writing project(s). Are you still working on Lessons in Life and Love?
Yes, which is basically a book on happiness. And the search for it. It's the story of three men, both at different ages and stages in life, trying to figure out what makes them happy and why. (You can read the first chapter for free here.) Also, I've started work on my second novel, right now tentatively titled Tonight You're Mine, Completely, which is about marriage and sex.
So, I classify both of them as horror.
Do you intend to self-publish your novel or go the traditional route? Why?
Haven't thought too much about it. I would, I guess, go the traditional route because I'm not much of an internet social media presence, and self publishing requires a bit of that.
What do you like to read? Who's your favorite author? What's your favorite story?
I'm a big Hemingway fan--my favorite short story of all time is "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." I'm also, surprisingly enough, a HUGE Neil Gaiman fan--mostly his comic book work (Sandman, Mr Punch, 1602). I don't write fantasy, and never will, but I do think his work is amazing.
My favorite book? The Lord of the Rings. Huge Tolkien man.
What do you do when you're not writing?
Parenting. My son, 7, plays flag football (which I'm a big supporter of) and guitar. And is in Cub Scouts. My daughter, 4, is in ballet. Both sing in choir. Needless to say, most nights are filled with going here and there and yon, with copious amounts of homework.
I also drink. It helps the emptiness inside.
How do you balance family and the writing life? What kind of support do you get from your wife and kids?
My wife is wonderful--she usually has no issue taking the kids so I can sit at a computer and put words down. As far as balance goes--I don't think you can have it. In my world, my family comes first. I've oftentimes stopped writing to go throw a football with my son, or cuddle with my daughter. They won't be young all the time. Words will always be there.
I know, here in the middle of NaNoWriMo, that's an odd thought, but it's true to me. My dad was a workaholic, and he provided a good life for me and my siblings. He is a great dad. But sometimes I wanted a dad who'd shoot basketball with me. So I try to be that for my children.
To what extent is your writing influenced by your personal life? Do you draw your characters more from the pieces of yourself or from the men around you?
To be honest--most of it is a part of me. In one of my stories, "Do You Remember When We Used To Sing," that kind of happened to me. And it didn't at the same time. I was at a festival, I saw a girl I liked, but we didn't dance. And part of me regretted it. So, that story was born from that.
Another, maybe better example, is the story "Just Had No Intention Of Living This Way." I've never been in that situation--where someone wanted me and I wanted them and we couldn't be together. However, I've been in a situation similar (wanting someone who was unavailable). I just tried to imagine what it was like from both sides.
My novel, Lessons In Life and Love, is based mostly on people I know (or knew) in certain ways. Parts of them all tossed together like a Frankenstien's monster. I think most writers (and I could be way wrong about this) are like this--they take pieces of other people and create something new.
I've noticed on Twitter and in your interview with Darci Cole that when you talk about your writing you often say it sucks. Why is that? Honesty, now. Dig deep.
Because it sucks. Mostly because I know where I want to be, and when I fail to hit that mark, it upsets me. I'm a horrible critic of myself. Probably the hardest.
An example--a while back, I had a crazy idea to get some writers I knew from Twitter to come together and work on a literary event I called World's End. I wrote my entry for it, called "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and sent it to a couple of Critique partners. Their comments confirmed my worse fears.
"More descriptions." "More story."
I read The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. I read the first three chapters and knew the main character, Jake, was impotent. Hemingway NEVER ONCE wrote "I'm impotent" for that character in those chapters. But you knew. Just by the way he used phrases, just because of the actions (or lack of) of the characters. Like Brett's touch, which recoils him instantly. That's what I've always tried to accomplish with my writing. And when multiple CP's tell you to add more, that's when you know you've failed.
Truthfully, I can't read that story any more. To me it's just an abject reminder of the talent I don't have.
This is why your publishing question was moot--I'll probably never publish. Because I'm never gonna be as good as what I want to be. And that probably fuels my writing even more.
What else do you want to share with readers of this blog about your writing or writing process?
Well, I don't have a process. I just write. So, I'll share a joke instead.
[Sione's note: I am not in the censoring business. Proceed at your own risk.]
Man walks into a bar and sees a sign that says Complete the two impossible tasks, win $100,000.00. So he asks the bartender about it.
Bartender says "We've got a mean old alligator out back with a bad tooth. You got to go out there, fight that blood thirsty half ton gator and pull it out. Then, upstairs, there's an old prostitute that's done everything under the sun. You got to go up there and give her an orgasm."
Guy says no thanks and starts drinking. And drinking. And drinking.
Before you know it, he's three sheets to the wind, booger-eating, snot-flinging, ten-feet-tall-and-bulletproof drunk. And he stands up and slurs "Alright...I'll do it."
He goes out back, and the patrons of the bar hear the gator snarl. They then hear a fight like none before--they hear screams and snaps and yells and yelps. Suddenly they hear what seems to be the most horrible and horrific scream ever. Then silence.
In a flash, the door springs wide open and there stands the man, shirt torn and tattered, body broken, bleeding, and bruised. He pushes his now soaked hair out of his eyes, and rubs the blood running from his nose off of his face. He looks at the bartender with the wildest look.
"Alright, bring on the whore with the bad tooth."