AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Joseph Sale

We have a second interview today, from those good folks at Blood Bound Books and their Burnt Fur anthology, author Joseph Sale. This interview is, in all honesty, in my top five favorite interviews of the year. He was so thorough and engaging, and I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I did.

Meghan: Hi, Joseph. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Joseph Sale: I’m an author based in the UK, south of England. I grew up in a Lovecraftian seaside town that truly is the British Innsmouth! Full of existential dread, fish people, and drug trafficking. I’ve published probably over 30 books now, including books written under different names or ghost-written. I love fantasy, science fiction, and of course horror. I edit and write full time, but it has been an uphill battle to get to that stage! I’m also part of The Writing Collective, along with my partner in crime Ross Jeffery, so I also publish indie-fiction. Like yourself, I’m also really big on promoting writers. I feel there are so many real talents out there who’ve been neglected and I feel a duty to bring attention to them. I’m a gamer at heart, drunk on Warhammer, Dungeons & Dragons, and Dark Souls.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Joseph Sale: This is a deliciously challenging question!

(1) I spent thirteen years in a tang shao tao temple learning a grueling form of Kung Fu that has left an indelible mark on me. This is 100% real. And of course I’ve written a book about it! I’d like to thank the neo-noir master and insanely good editor Richard Thomas for helping me get that book onto paper.

(2) I also spent sixteen or more years competing in fencing – or swordfighting. That was also a life-changing experience. I got to train with Hungarian masters and ex-army coaches; it was pretty wild, and, as someone who writes the odd sword and sorcery story, very useful for the combat scenes!

(3) To move away from physical stuff, not many people know I’m a hard anime and manga fan. I am obsessed with Attack on Titan, which I think I admit on my website, but it doesn’t stop there. Seven Deadly Sins, or Nanatsu no taizai, is another brilliant anime I watch religiously. The storytelling is just incredible. Most TV shows can barely do one character arc, and Seven Deadly Sins is out doing seven – more if you count the B-characters and villains. And each one hits with resonance and depth. DeathNote is another brilliant story, of course (I own the complete special edition black-manga collection). And anything by Junji Ito, Uzumaki probably being my favourite. A few years ago I took up learning Japanese and it’s been incredibly challenging, but I hope one day to read a Kobo Abe or Haruki Murakami novel in the original language.

(4) I write music and play piano and guitar. There are some truly terrible early tracks I did that are still lurking on YouTube somewhere. They are unbelievably bad. But, more recently, I’ve been scoring short films and musicals, and that has been an awesome and rewarding experience. I think it marks a transition from trying to be a rockstar as a teenager and not having even an ounce of the star quality needed, to, well, writing. Writing the music and being more in the background but still playing that key role (pardon the pun). My wife is a huge inspiration to me musically.

(5) I am a really big heavy metal fan. Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, Slipknot, and on a rainy day, Ankor, Breaking Benjamin, Starset. I do listen to other styles and genres. I’m a sucker for a really good ballad or a killer rap track. But I keep coming back to metal. Most people view it as “depressing” but I think the reverse: there’s something joyous and uplifting about that music. And metal artists never get enough credit for the complexity of their sound.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Joseph Sale: Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m a bit peculiar because I kind of largely skipped children’s books and went straight into heavy duty literature; the perks of having an awesome dad, who used to be an English teacher and who writes poetry. So, he got me reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Macbeth when I was about eight years old! We’d read them together, and I’d stop him every five seconds to ask what a word meant, but together we’d work through these epics and, of course, there was such a sense of achievement and understanding when we reached the end together. My mother contributed huge amounts to my reading as well, and is responsible for introducing me to 2000AD, David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, David Eddings, the kind of “fantasy OG” if I may be permitted such a phrase. And the book my mother and father overlapped on was, of course, The Lord of the Rings. That’s probably the first book I remember reading. I’ve read it three or four times now. Once as a very young kid, I mean five or six. I barely understood it, but was just awed by the majesty, the heroism, and remember my hair standing up on end so many times, not even sure why. I think it changed me forever. The book became a part of who I was. Then I read it again, a little older, more twelve or thirteen. And the third time, at university, eighteen or nineteen. I think I read it one time after that as well. But the third time was actually the charm, the best reading of it. I was finally ready for it, if that makes sense. And the metaphor for addiction was so powerful.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Joseph Sale: I used to be a “read one book at a time” kind of guy, but now I haven’t got time for the luxury of that, so I tend to have several books on the go at once. I’m currently reading and as yet unreleased book by Christa Wojciechowski. She is one of my favourite authors, and an absolute genius at creating psychologically rich and compelling characters. I’m in awe of her writing. If you haven’t heard of her, definitely check out her Sick trilogy.

I’m also reading another unreleased horror novel by Dan Soule (the perks of being an editor). He is another great indie-author, and his first book, Neolithica, I edited. It’s a really strong horror title that is more than it appears and kind of revives old-school King-style horror but also puts a new spin on it.

Lastly, I’ve just started re-reading Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I know with The Lord of the Rings example it sounds like I re-read books all the time, but it’s actually super rare. For me, only the very best books justify the time to read them twice or more. And my God, is My Best Friend’s Exorcism one of the best books I’ve ever read. Hendrix’s prose is unbelievable. The two principle characters, Abby and Gretchen, are so well fleshed out, and you care so much about them. Hendrix is at that level where you feel magic in the writing. So, I can’t wait to re-read it. I feel it’s an important benchmark for me as a horror writer.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Joseph Sale: Good question. I think because I kind of purport to be quite a stylist, and talk a lot about beauty in prose, most people don’t expect me to be a fan of, for example, bizarro novels. But I really am! I love Carlton Mellick III’s work, particularly Biomelt. That novel is batshit insane but totally full of heart. The way he shifts perspective in it is genius. And, it has one of the greatest names for a serial killer of all time: Porn Eyes. The character is called that because he’s watched so much holographic pornography that flickering lewd images have been scored onto his irises. I mean… what more do you need to hear? Buy the book now!

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Joseph Sale: This is always a tough question to answer, in some respects. Life doesn’t always throw you the epiphany moments that fiction deals with! The revelation can be more gradual. However, I used to want to be an actor. I did a lot of theatre and drama, and my Sixth Form studies (High School to my American friends) almost entirely consisted of drama-related studies. I did really enjoy being on stage, playing characters, the drama and life and vitality of it, but something felt like it was missing. I began to realise that I was more interested in the words being said than how I was saying them, if that makes sense. And this eventually led me to realise I wanted to tell stories, write the scripts, rather than necessarily be the mechanism by which the stories were interpreted or passed on. It was a subtle shift. Both are creative, but the acting in the end wasn’t for me long term. Although, having said that, a few things have come up, projects that have not yet seen the light of day, in which I may be “treading the boards” again (or in this case getting in front of a camera). You may have noticed I like to do lots of different things. I think the diversity is what’s kept me alive these last few years!

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Joseph Sale: I recently moved out of a tiny, one-room flat with my wife and we’re now finally enjoying a bit more space; I even have my own office! So, that office is now where I love to write. But I’m easy. Once I get into the flow, it’s hard to get me out; like I’m plugged into The Matrix.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Joseph Sale: Good question! Two things I often do. I start the session by re-reading and editing the last couple of paragraphs I wrote the session before. This eases me into the writing process so I’m not staring at a blank screen. Then, at the end of the session, I always write the first sentence of a new chapter. This means that when you come to sit down next time, you have the first line to kick you off! Apart from that, I have no unusual rituals. Lots of tea, sometimes music!

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Joseph Sale: Slowing it down. I have a tendency to write in a frenzy when I’m full of ideas, and sometimes this means I rattle through scenes and they don’t get the development they need, which I then have to laboriously fix in editing! But, if I’m able to “centre myself” a little bit, and slow down, it often produces better results. It’s hard, because riding the wave of excitement is good and means productivity, but I definitely have a tendency for economy rather than depth and whilst concision is important sometimes the reader needs that richness to fully feel a scene. I recently read China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station for the first time and it totally blew me away. I learned a lot about slowing down to take in the scenery and senses from that book. Of course, scenery is not just scenery, it can itself be a character or a way to reveal character!

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Joseph Sale: That is an interestingly worded question. I like it. This might sound a bit promotional, but it is genuinely my latest book, Return to the Black Gate. The reason being it’s the final entry in a trilogy, but not only that, it also draws together a kind of hidden (not-so-hidden anymore) inter-connected multiverse that spans throughout many of my books. I call it “The Sevenverse Saga”. This book ends that, as well, and says goodbye to some characters that have been with me for seven years or more and have cropped up in numerous books. It was immensely satisfying as well as sad. It’s the first time I’ve finished a novel and not immediately needed to start writing something else. I was actually at peace with myself for a long time afterward. It was eerie and strange, but kind of welcome.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Joseph Sale: Actually Christa Wojciechowski’s books inspired me a great deal. I bought the first Sick novel thinking it would be one type of story, a kind of sleazy body-horror, and it blew my away with its psychological depth, insight, and with how compelling the narrative was. I couldn’t stop reading. And I realised I had to up my game in terms of character development. She showed me the way with that really.

Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja and Black Heart are two really important books in terms of informing my writing stye. What I love about Lustbader’s work is he is so counter-cultural in terms of the trend towards “stark”, “stripped” prose. The kind of Cormac McCarthy / Lee Child effect of this hard-boiled narrative without any ornamentation. Lustbader is a poet, however. And he fearlessly writes about horror, sex, and taboos in a way I’ve never seen anyone else tackle. The Ninja and Black Heart will both haunt me forever, I think. There are some passages in there that are transcendental in their beauty but also terror. It’s a shame that people view him as pulp, or know him as the successor to Robert Ludlum (he continued the Bourne series), he’s so much more.

I won’t bore you with more gushing praise, as I mentioned them before, but The Lord of the Rings and My Best Friend’s Exorcism are both big influences too.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Joseph Sale: I think that’s an interesting question, because there is no definitive answer. For me, however, a good story is something that moves me emotionally. It has to land the final “catharsis” or emotional punch. If I don’t weep or feel my heart swell with joy, there was no purpose. For me, there’s nothing worse than a film that leaves me cold. Boring is worse than bad, in my view, because sometimes bad books or bad films have something underneath they’re trying to express that still gets you in some way.

And I think this draws out another point: the ending is so important. In a way, the ending is the story. Otherwise, why did we come all this way? There’s a shocking trend of botched endings right now (not to mention any particular TV series… cough cough) but I’m actually seeing it in a lot of books, too. People just don’t seem to know how to end their stories. It’s weird. There’s probably some sociopolitical or cultural psychological factor that is influencing this. Someone with more brains than me could do a study!

So, I would urge authors to really sweat the emotional resonance of their ending. Go for bittersweet, go for heartbreak, go for redemption, don’t be afraid of these big emotions. It’s better to try and fail, in my view. There’s nothing worse than the clever-dick “Character looks directly at the audience / camera and says, ‘Oh, you thought this story had meaning? Well, tough shit.’”

In the same way it’s harder to be emotionally real and sincere with people in real life without sounding corny (we Brits are terrible at sincerity, we’re too stuffy), it’s harder to be sincere in your writing, but the harder path is better in the long run.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Joseph Sale: I think the truthful answer to this is sin. I need them to be sinful in some way, or I don’t believe them. There’s also a trend at the moment for squeaky clean characters. We need characters with flaws! Only then can we be engaged in the journey to them perhaps overcoming their flaw, which is what character arcs are all about.

In terms of creating my own characters, a “tragic flaw” – or “hamartia” to use the ancient Greek term – is definitely up there as possibly the most important thing to consider. You might also want to consider the inverse: what are their strengths? And things get really interesting when you start to make the character’s weakness also the source of their strength.

So, for example, Craig Smiley is one of the key antagonists and sometimes protagonist of my Black Gate series. He is a killer and it’s his zealous belief that makes him so unstoppable. Truly, his belief creates the reality he wants and means he can overcome almost any obstacle. But it’s also his belief which blinds him to the true horror of who he is and what he’s done. And, at a plot level, blinds him to what the gods he’s serving are really doing. So, here we have an interesting conundrum. What happens when that weakness is “lanced” and he loses faith – therefore also losing his greatest strength? There is a lot more narrative room to play here.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Joseph Sale: This is a positively naughty question! I feel compelled to answer it honestly. Craig Smiley is almost certainly the character most like me. The serial killer… My dad has this brilliant phrase “monomaniac with a mission” and it’s so true. I am that monomaniac who never takes his eyes off the future. Often when people ask me what I’m doing, I quote the Blues Brothers “I’m on a mission from God”.

I’m very aware there’s a thin line that stops someone like me becoming someone like him. Smiley was an expression of my own madness and despair when I was trapped working at a call centre, answering 150 phone calls a day. I started to experience auditory hallucinations (waking up hearing a phone ringing where there was none, for example), and a general deterioration in my health and psyche. We start with Smiley in Gods of the Black Gate imprisoned in a high-security facility on Mars. Smiley then enacts an escape (this is on the back cover, so no spoilers). I think Smiley’s journey was a bit of a way for me to explore how angry and trapped and insane I was feeling. I wanted to escape that call centre, and eventually I did. The thing about Smiley is as evil as he certainly is, he genuinely believes what he’d doing is right, and as a result is strong and he is a survivor. And those qualities were what I needed. He taught me how to endure, in a way.

When I came to writing the final book about him, Return to the Black Gate, I had to end his story, and that was the hardest part, because in a way it felt like making a prophecy about myself.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Joseph Sale: I’ve created probably 90% of my own covers. That’s generally the way it goes in indie-publishing these days. Even in bigger publishing, actually. I know people with deals with the big five who have had a partner or friend create the cover for their book. Sounds insane, but publishers are cost-cutting wherever they can to survive.

I have created some really, really bad covers… But I’ve learned a lot from graphic designer friends and other professionals in this industry and now I’m quite proud of some of my efforts. I definitely get turned off by a bad cover. But worse, I get turned of by a bland cover. So many thrillers with bloody open windows on the front! I much prefer illustrative rather than photographic covers (I was in heaven reading Grady Hendrix’s non-fiction book Paperbacks From Hell, which showcased all the classic 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s horror covers!).

Meghan: What have you learned throughout the process of creating your books?

Joseph Sale: Wow, this question is almost too big to answer fully. I’ve learned so much. The learning is also far more universal than simply craft-related. It’s taught me how to be a better person. It’s taught me how to see things from other people’s point of view. You know, when you’re writing a character, and you’re really trying to inhabit their shoes (a little bit of the actor in me that hasn’t worn off I guess) you find yourself writing lines that then surprise you: Jesus, I never realised they would see it like this. I confess that when I was at university, that kind of age, I was not a very tolerant person. But writing has changed that. It’s helped me to see weakness and vulnerability and how it can be healed. Most of all, in myself.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Joseph Sale: The hardest scene I’ve ever had to write is in a book that I will probably never release called Against Such Reckless Hate. The whole thing is a metaphor for my journey out of depression in 2017. I am a character in the story who is kidnapped and taken to a warped world in which I’m being tortured by a Satanic doppelganger of myself. The fictional characters I’ve created and friends and family have to come to my rescue and daringly enter this world. Man, some of the scenes in that felt like neurolinguistic programming, like I was actually re-wiring my brain, but that’s what I intended, I guess. I had to shake myself out of these false narratives: that I was alone, that nothing I did meant anything, etc. There is a scene where a psychologist, who is a key “grey” character in the book, is finally the one to heal my broken mind by entering a labyrinth. That was unbelievably hard, every word like drawing blood, and still makes me tear up thinking about it, but it’s also probably some of the best writing I’ve ever done. Maybe one day I’ll share the book. But not this day!!

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Joseph Sale: Ahh, a challenging question. Writers are always the worst authority on their own work! I will give it a go, however.

I think ultimately what’s different about my work is what I’d call the “mythical dimension”. Lots of writers use fantasy, and blend genres really well. But that fantasy is purely conscious effort and not resonating from somewhere deeper. Lots of writers write stylish prose like I do. Lots of writers write dark pull-no-punches fiction, like I do. There are a few writers who use mythical tropes (Norse gods show up, or dragons, or demigods). But they don’t use mythic storytelling itself. They don’t pull from that deeper well of the unconscious, that kind of inchoate place where the raw stuff of creation resides. You have to go into that abyss to create myth. I can always tell when a writer hasn’t, when they’ve written the book from their head, with thinking, with conscious effort. Real stories don’t come from there (they can be refined from that place), they issue from a darker realm.

Myths are the archetypes imbedded in us. Narrative is at the core of who we are. Myths and theology define us and help us understand ourselves. The real myths tell us something about human nature. I try as hard as I can to tap into these myths. I don’t always get there, but when I do succeed, I think it’s what gives my work a slightly differently feeling. When you’re reading Gods of the Black Gate, you’re not just reading about a killer and a detective, you’re reading about something altogether more primeval and Jungian. I think the readers who so kindly reviewed it sensed that. Beneath one story is another older and more potent one that partly explains why we kill, why we hate, why we destroy. When you venture into the virtual reality escapism of Save Game, again, there’s a myth there beneath the surface. It’s not just about video-games. It’s about a journey into hell to save a loved one. It’s Orpheus, in some ways. So, I’m just not just trying to tell stories, I’m trying to create myths. Whether that is hubris doomed to fail remains to be seen!

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours?

Joseph Sale: Book titles are like opening lines: they’re so, so important! However, I think for me an opening line is slightly more important. I can forgive a generic title, and I appreciate how hard it is to sum up a book from my own efforts. But a bad opening line is unforgiveable to me!

I think a book title is so difficult because it’s not only summing up your story for a reader, but also engaging with all those tricky and increasingly complex issues around what genre it is, how violent / graphic it might be, what audience it’s for. Stephen King famously said the original title for The Stand was The Second Coming, but his Tabitha King told him it sounded like a sex book so he changed it!

I must say, that unlike many writers, normally a title is one of the first things that comes to me, before or simultaneously with the story itself. Not always, but frequently. The title is then almost like a focal point for me, a kind of thematic lynchpin, that I can return to to stay grounded in what the story is really about.

I think the best way to come up with a title, and this is a big vague so I’m sorry, but is to consider what feels right. It can be super hard. But sometimes all the distractions of genre, audience, etc can make making a decision hell, and you can overanalyse it and end up with something that isn’t right at all. There’s something to be said for sticking to your gut.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Joseph Sale: Novels, all the way! I actually really struggle with short stories. They’re not as natural to me. I think I much prefer having the space to play with the characters and take them on these journeys. I’m obsessed by journeys in narrative, actually. People who have to go into some abyss to achieve something. It’s very difficult to do that in a short story.

The sense of achievement when finishing a novel is so much greater as well. It’s harder to do, of course, but there’s nothing like putting the final full-stop on a long novel and realising it’s done. It’s often an emotional experience for me. I’m a bit addicted to it if I’m honest.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Joseph Sale: I’ll try! So, my books are a mix of genres, what unites them is the feeling and mood and aesthetic, I guess. They’re very dark, but never without a ray of light, however small. I’ve experienced some disturbing and wonderful things, so there is always a supernatural dimension to my stories, because I have experienced the supernatural in a very real way, so I think ironically I am being truer to life’s weirdness. I write science fiction, fantasy, horror primarily. I am a sucker for a good redemption arc. My target audience are people who are open to exploring new genres, or genre crossovers, and perhaps fiction that is a little more on the literary and symbolic side of things. But having said that, I think story really is king, and I hope to deliver exciting tales regardless of whether you want to go deeper. You know, just because a book has symbolic metaphors and allegories, doesn’t mean it can’t also have massive robots destroying each other…

I think you’ll like my work if you’re into Philip K. Dick, China Mieville, Max Booth III, or Clive Barker. Barker I think is the most apt comparison in some ways because of the way he blends horror and fantasy (though I’m nowhere near as good as him, of course, not even on the same plane of existence!!!).

Meghan: I am always excited to get my hands on anthologies, especially ones from publishers that I have grown to trust. Tell us about Burnt Fur and your story in it.

Joseph Sale: I’m glad you like anthologies! I think they’re awesome. They’re a bit of a niche in terms of readership, or it can feel like that sometimes, but I think they’re necessary and vital to the craft. For Burnt Fur, I saw the open call, and knew immediately I wanted to participate! I really like the books Blood Bound put out, particularly Alistair Rennie’s BleakWarrior, a surreal masterpiece that reinvents sword & sorcery in my view. I also loved The City by S.C. Mendes.

The theme of the anthology was furries and anthropomorphism, which is a subject that deeply fascinates me and tends to crop up quite frequently in my fiction without much prompting. I knew, however, that I wanted to pick a very unusual animal, not the standard furry-fare of bunnies, dogs, and the like.

At the same time that I was contemplating Blood Bound’s open call for submissions, I was playing a video-game called Nightripper by the one and only indie-developer Puppet Combo which featured a duck-masked serial killer. I found this game particularly disturbing, not just because of its excellent design and shock-factor, but also because, as a child, I used to own a duck teddybear. The rest, as they say, is history! The story wrote itself from there.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Joseph Sale: This is such a cool question, because I was actually a part of an anthology called Lost Voices, which also features Ross Jeffery, Christa Wojciechowski, and Emily Harrison. We basically banded together to create it because we all had these stories that’d been considered “too dark” or disturbing for wider release. So, we thought, let’s make a thing of these forbidden tales. It’s an anthology of deleted scenes material, in some sense, a director’s cut!

I don’t have many deleted scenes, but I do have lots of alternate endings. I’m sometimes smacked in the face with a memory of how a story originally ended. The most dramatic example is Save Game, for sure. Ross Jeffery, who is a fantastic writer everyone should definitely check out, read an earlier draft of the book and he loved it all, except the ending. And he was bang on. I changed it, and the ending is one of the most talked about aspects because it’s a little ambiguous. I shudder to think what would have happened had the original ending seen the light of day! I’m very grateful to him for that feedback.

There are also “deleted novels”, haha. I have a lot of unreleased material that I am probably never going to release. A lot of people think that when you self publish (I do a mix of indie-publishing and self-publishing), there’s “no quality control”. But on the contrary, I am very selective. I’ve published over 30 books, but I’ve probably written more like 50 or 60. Some books are save-able in editing. Some aren’t. You have to let them go. I’ll give you a roll call of some of my favourite titles from these deleted works: Emerald Night, Way of Black, Crowbag Bastards, Killer in Asphodel, The Last Great-Walker, and most auspiciously: Dr Cocktopus and the Mutilator Man. Yep. You did not mishear that.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Joseph Sale: There are a few things in the trunk. The main thing is two screenplays. One for a TV pilot, one for a feature film. I don’t work on them as much as the novels, because the film industry is such a different path and I barely understand it, hence why they’re in the trunk. But there is a sense that one day they might be useful. I have a friend, a director and collaborator on a few projects, who really wants to get the TV series off the ground. At least to produce episode one to show people the vision we had for it. I really hope one day it’ll happen! He’s a brilliant filmmaker and almost scarily spellbinding actor.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Joseph Sale: That is a kind question. Thank you! I have three big projects in the pipeline. Two are new novels yet to be announced, and one is an Omnibus of the Black Gate trilogy. The Omnibus is going to be a really special book, beautifully designed and of course full of 250,000 words plus of story! Stay tuned, as there’s a competition centered around the book that people can participate in.

You can expect other novels and collections that we’re publishing via The Writing Collective too. We have some awesome releases from new authors that we really think people are going to love. It’s a joy to bring new writers to readers. And some of these stories are so unique and different from what mainstream publishing is always churning out. Already, our releases like Lost Voices, Juniper (by Ross Jeffery), and most recently The Fabric of Tombstones (B. F. Jones) are really causing a splash because they’re not like everything else, so we want to continue that momentum and go deeper into that weirdness and uniqueness.

Finally, you can expect one or two left-field projects. I’ve been involved with a really cool board-game that I’m hoping can come to light soon (can’t say more than that right now I’m afraid). And, as I mentioned, perhaps a TV pilot, if we’re lucky!

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Joseph Sale: You can find me on social media at Twitter.

You can also check out my website, and there is a mailing list on there you can sign up to in order to get a free eBook from me, plus you get goodies every month in my newsletter (which I promise is not an annoying one and contains some actual content).

I am also co-host of a podcast, Monaghan & The Mindflayer, which is a nerdy place where we discuss everything from Warhammer lore to conspiracy theories. Don’t be shy about messaging us. We love questions about our show.

If you want to connect with The Writing Collective, you can check out our website.

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?

Joseph Sale: I’d just like to say thanks. We live in a world where gratitude seems to be at a premium. I am so grateful to all my readers, to all the people that take the time to type out long and thorough and beautiful reviews of my work that are pieces of art in their own right. Dan Stubbings, Steve Stred, Matt Brandenburg, Ross Jeffery, Dan Soule, Christa Wojciechowski, Iseult Murphy, the list goes on and on. I’m so grateful to all the epic writers I’m friends with, in person and online, who give me the time of day and help me develop as a writer. I’m grateful to people like yourself, who take the time to ask thoughtful questions and spread the word about indie writers. Sincerely, and genuinely, thank you so much. I made a promise to myself that however far I go in this crazy world of publishing, writing, storytelling, I would never lose touch with the people that have gotten me here, and the community that makes it happen. I hope to remain grateful and in awe and to recognise that without readers, we writers are just talking to ourselves! Cheers.

About the Author: Joseph Sale is an editor, novelist, writing coach and co-host of Monaghan & The Mindflayer. His first novel, The Darkest Touch, was published by Dark Hall Press in 2014. He currently writes and is published with The Writing Collective. He has authored more than ten novels, including his Black Gate trilogy, and his love-letter to fantasy: Save Game. He grew up in the Lovecraftian seaside town of Bournemouth.

He edits non-fiction and fiction, helping fledgling authors to realise their potential. He has edited some of the best new voices in speculative fiction including Ross Jeffery, Emily Harrison, Christa Wojciechowski, and more. His short fiction has appeared in Tales from the Shadow Booth, edited by Dan Coxon, as well as in Idle Ink, Silver Blade, Fiction Vortex, Nonbinary Review, Edgar Allan Poet, and Storgy Magazine. His stories have also appeared in anthologies such as Lost Voices (The Writing Collective), Technological Horror (Dark Hall Press), Burnt Fur (Blood Bound Books) and Exit Earth (Storgy). In 2017, he was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ prize.

He is obsessed with Attack on Titan and Community.

Gods of the Black Gate – Amazon UK / Amazon US
Save Game – Amazon UK / Amazon US
Lost Voices – Amazon UK / Amazon US

About the Book:
Sit. Roll over. Who’s a Good Boy?

There are no good boys in in this anthology, only twisted, deviant, and burnt encounters with pets, people in costume, animals who behave like humans, and creatures who blur the line between the three. Violent pigs, killer ducks, horny bees, a naughty rabbit, and many more fill these pages with tale after tail of hair-raising horror.

Don your Fursuit, slip into your Fursona, and ride the dark wave of horror that is Burnt Fur. You may never go back to wearing your normal skin again.

The Moon in Her Eyes by Sarah Hans
Mallard’s Maze by Joseph Sale
Salivation by Theodore Deadrat
The Hamford Pigs by N. Rose
The Willingness of Prey by Paul Allih
6 Dicks by Rachel Lee Weist
The Others by C.M. Saunders
Randall Rabbit by Elliot Arthur Cross
A Concubine for the Hive by Rue K. Poe
Five Nights with Teddy by Thurston Howl
Oh Piggy, My Piggy by Matt Scott
Ware the Deep by Stephanie Park
The Molt of a Diminishing Light by Michelle F. Goddard
The Victims by James L. Steele


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