Meghan: Hi, Joe. It’s a pleasure having you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joe Hart: I’m thirty-six, married with two kids. I live in northern Minnesota in the middle of nowhere. I’ve been a full time author for seven years. Reading and writing has always been a big part of my life and I’m so fortunate to be able to do what I love every day.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Joe Hart: Most people don’t know I love to cook and definitely would have ended up being a chef if I hadn’t become a writer. I’m left handed. My favorite food is sushi. I love the ocean but it absolutely scares the daylights out of me. I’m terrible at pool.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Joe Hart: A book of poetry my mother had with a poem in it by Robert Louis Stevenson called The Swing. The language he used captured the feeling of being on a swing so well it never failed to thrill me as a child.
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t have expected you to like?
Joe Hart: Watership Down. You wouldn’t think a book about talking rabbits would be up a horror writer’s alley, but the story has such emotional depth it just sweeps you away.
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Joe Hart: I always loved being scared. I loved scary movies and horror stories and wanted to be able to create something that would frighten other people in the same way. I started around the age of nine plinking away on my mother’s electronic typewriter and just never stopped.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Joe Hart: Usually anywhere quiet, although sometimes writing at a café or bar has its own appeal. Normally the office at my house is where most of the words get put down.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Joe Hart: I have a small routine, but it’s important and seems to work. Normally I get up fairly early and make coffee, catch up on social media for a half hour or so, then read something- anything to get the creative juices flowing, then I’m ready to write.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Joe Hart: Transitions between especially large plot points can sometimes be challenging as well as beginning chapters in the right way.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Joe Hart: Wow, not sure I can point at any one thing and say it’s the most satisfying. I guess I’d have to say the progression of my career and skill set overall is something I’m proud of. I definitely abide by the idea of always learning and never being fully satisfied with your own work.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Joe Hart: So many, but to name a few – IT, The Road, Dark Matter, Occultation, Swan Song. As far as authors go – Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Blake Crouch, R.L. Stine, and Laird Barron.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Joe Hart: Living breathing characters. If the characters aren’t there in a book there isn’t much of a story as far as I’m concerned. You can have the coolest plot idea but without characters to make it whole, the story’s going to fall flat.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Joe Hart: I feel like a character needs to interesting even before they’re relatable. They have to have great motivations for what they’re doing and have real human reactions to situations. They need to be quirky and have depth to their emotional responses. If all those things come together and drive the plot forward I feel like I’ve done my job.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Joe Hart: Oh boy, now that’s a dangerous question. I’d have to say Liam Dempsey from my mystery thriller series. He’s a realist and at times frustrated with the lack of justice in the world. I definitely can relate.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your characters?
Joe Hart: At times, yes. If a cover isn’t at least interesting it’s not going to draw me in enough to read the synopsis. For most of them I’ve been very involved and had a lot of creative sway, which I’ve been extremely grateful for.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Joe Hart: That nothing is static. Everything is always changing and you have to adapt.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Joe Hart: Probably the death of a character by cancer which was modeled after experiencing a family member go through the same scenario. It was almost something I needed to write to deal with on a personal level.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Joe Hart: I actually write in several different genres so I guess it’s my style that sets me apart from other authors. The specific way I access a scene or characters’ thoughts and emotions along with keeping up a fairly brisk pace.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Joe Hart: I think a title is right up there in importance beside a cover. Extremely hard. Most times a title changes at least once while writing the book, sometimes more than that. On very few occasions a strong title arrives along with the idea and that’s wonderful. Usually I choose my titles through a phrase or a single word that encompasses the general feeling of the work, but it’s very difficult to find something punchy and interesting that connects certain ideas within the book. Titles are very tricky things…
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Joe Hart: Definitely a novel since it’s such an undertaking. When you’ve completed a novel it’s like swimming across a large expanse of open water. The moment you feel solid ground under your feet again you sigh with relief. There’s an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that is there in a short story as well, but less so for me.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your book, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Joe Hart: My books are pieces of me in so many ways. I’ve poured parts of my life into them and learned things about myself as they were created. My hope is to create something frightening and thrilling while always hopeful in its own way. My audience would be anyone who enjoys realistic characters dealing with incredible circumstances. I’d like readers to feel like they’ve gone on a journey when they’ve finished one of my books. Like they’re saying goodbye to friends in the characters I’ve created, but friends they can always visit again on a reread.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Joe Hart: Most of my “deleted scenes” are typically extraneous character development that isn’t necessary or that bogs down the plot. I try to be very careful about the major plot points and scenes of spectacle so when it comes time for editing the bulk of them stay put.
Meghan: What is in your trunk?
Joe Hart: I wrote about half of a post-apocalyptic novel that I set aside when I first got serious about writing. Not sure I’ll ever go back to it. I also have several short stories that are waiting for my brain to catch up to them so they can be finished. There’s also a screenplay I’ve been working on for the better part of a year that’s half done. That one will get finished since it’s my “downtime” project when I have gaps in other work.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Joe Hart: I’ve co-written a YA novel that should be out near the end of the year and I’ve written a crossover thriller that has elements of horror and sci-fi that should be out sometime in early 2020.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Joe Hart: I just want to say thank you to all the readers who have made my continued career possible. And thank you so much for the great in-depth interview! Answering the questions was a blast.
Joe Hartis the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eleven novels that include The River Is Dark, Lineage, Obscura, and the highly acclaimed Dominion Trilogy. When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family.
She’s felt it before…the fear of losing control. And it’s happening again.
In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.
Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.
Merging thrilling science-fiction adventure with mind-bending psychological suspense, Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart explores both the vast mysteries of outer space and the even darker unknown that lies within ourselves.
Evan Tormer is haunted.
His life has been shattered by events beyond his control and regret is his constant companion. His wife is gone, lost to an unbeatable cancer. His son has been mentally and physically handicapped by a tragic accident. He’s been fired for using company funds in a failed attempt to save his wife’s life.
On a whim, Evan accepts an invitation to housesit on a picturesque island in northern Minnesota. At first it seems like the perfect second chance for he and his son to recover and rebuild their life together.
But there is something very, very wrong with the house and all that occupies it. And worst of all, Evan doesn’t know if the house is haunted…
…Or if it’s all in his mind.
A LIFE FILLED WITH ANGUISH
Pain, horror, fear- These are the things that bestselling novelist Lance Metzger’s life have been comprised of. His childhood remains a riddled wasteland of abuse by a sadistic father and the abandonment of an apathetic mother. In turn, his only refuge became his writing.
A SANCTUARY, BROKEN
When Lance loses his ability to write and becomes haunted by a nightmare that he’d thought was buried, he is drawn inexplicably to a house on the shores of Lake Superior where he finds his muse once again, but something is waiting for him when he arrives.
AN EVIL WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
Now he must unlock the devastating secrets that the house holds and uncover the mystery of his own broken past before he loses his sanity, and perhaps his soul.