An Interview with Andrew Joyce
Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
Not really. I like them all equally. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into each of them. They’re like your children—they all have their different traits, their own personalities.
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?
The endings in each of my three novels can be construed in any way the reader wishes. Is there an opening for the story to go on? Perhaps. But if it doesn’t continue in a future book, all the loose ends are tied up nice and neat. If my readers clamor for more, then I’ll write another story. Not necessarily a sequel, but I’ll use some of the same characters and allude to others. So far, the demand has been there for me to continue with the story in some form. But I want to make it clear that I do not write sequels. All three of my published books are standalones.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
It’s entitled Yellow Hair. And it’s already written. It is a 144,000 word historical novel. This one took a year to research before I even set pen to paper, so to speak. I’ll publish it after I’ve finished with this marketing tour for Resolution.
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
My first novel was Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. It went on to win the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013 and it attained #1 status in its category twice on Amazon. I banged it out, secured the services of one of the biggest agents in the country, edited it, and had it published in less than a year. The editing and finding an agent took three times as long as the writing did. And yes, I do have a copy of it.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
I live on a boat. Consequently, space is at a premium. I sit at the table in the salon and hack away at the computer. It meets my needs just fine. I live alone except for my dog. I have the quiet I want and need unless my dog, Danny, wants to play or go out. Then he lets his wishes be known in a vocal manner. A very vocal manner.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
When I have an idea for a novel, I know the first sentence and the last paragraph (more or less). Then I sit down and start to tell the story I had in the back of my head by filling in the space between. But the finished novel is always different from what I set out to write. Sometimes I will take my characters to a place and they will rebel and take off on their own. Then I have no choice but to follow where they lead. During the writing process, I’ll have to stop (sometimes for weeks at a time) to do research. All my books are set in the past, so I have to know the mores, nomenclature, historical facts, etcetera . . . that come into play in my stories. For Yellow Hair, I had to learn the Dakota and Lakota languages.
I started out writing on paper. But now it’s all digital except for my research notes, they go into spiral notebooks.
How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?
As I said above, I start with the last paragraph already written. So when I get there, I know the writing is at an end.
Do you have a preference for eBook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
For my own reading, hardcover or paperback. I publish in both formats, and the vast majority of my sales come from eBooks.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
I’m not good with social media. When I worried about it, my agent told me to go with what was comfortable for me. Hence, that is why I’m here today. That and the fact that you were kind enough to invite me.
You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?
Not really—either way. I will say this, though: Your questions have made me think. I usually give glib answers in my interviews, but I had to really think before answering yours. Thank you for having me over. It’s been a pleasure.
It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.
By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.
Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”
When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.
On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.
It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.
They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.