I’ve a new Spotlight Interview to share with you from the author Andrew Joyce and his novel Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Andrew Joyce, and I live on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with my dog, Danny. I left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico for a number of years. I’ve written four books, including my latest, Resolution, and a collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of my hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups (as yet unpublished).
2. What inspired you to write Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure?
I was not inspired to write Resolution . . . I was cajoled into writing it.
This is the backstory to Resolution:
My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.
“So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!
I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months, then sent out query letters to agents.
Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon—twice. And it won the Editors’ Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.
But not quite.
My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.
So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a feisty female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.
Now I was finished with Huck Finn for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.
But not quite.
It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging—so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure.
The three books are standalones and are not part of a series. They can be read in any order. RESOLUTION is available as an eBook and in print
There you have it. Perhaps now Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.
3. What is the genre of Resolution?
Historical Fiction/Action Adventure.
4. What draws you to this genre?
I love history. But I write in all genres. My short stories range from detective to children’s stories and everything in between. I don’t write romance because I don’t like all that mushy stuff and I don’t write erotica because I’m easily embarrassed.
5. How did you develop your plot and your characters?
I usually sit down to write a book with no idea where my characters will lead me. I start out with (I hope) a killer first sentence and the last paragraph of the book. Then I set out to fill the in-between space with 100,000 words. I find that the easy part. Sometimes I will bring my characters to a certain place, only to have them rebel when we get there. They tell me they want to go somewhere else and take off on their own. I have no choice but to follow.
6. What inspired your protagonist?
Not what, but whom. Mark Twain.
7. How did you get in touch with your inner villain?
Although there are human villains in my story, the biggest villain is the extreme cold of a Yukon winter. To get in touch with that, I read a lot of Jack London.
8. What was the hardest part to write in the book?
There was no hard part. My muse was working overtime to keep the story going.
9. What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The part where the wolves attack my heroes.
10. Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
11. What are you currently reading?
To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck.
12. Who would you say are your favourite authors?
13. How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
- Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Jacket (Star Rover) by Jack London
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
- West With the Night by Beryl Markham
- Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
14. What are your future projects, if any?
Publishing my first novel alluded to above. The title is Yellow Hair. It takes my protagonist on a forty-five year journey from Concord, Massachusetts to Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. From a twenty-year old white boy to a feared war chief of the Dakota and Lakota. The research alone took a year and along the way, I had to learn the Lakota and Dakota languages.
15. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Any way they can. I’ll even come to their house and wash their car if they’ll buy my book. On a more serious note, they can go to my web site (http://andrewjoyce76.com) and click on the contact button.
16. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. When one reads stuff like the passage below, one cannot help but become a better writer.
“The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide.”—John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
AND: Never, ever, ever, ever respond to a negative review!!!
Thank you to Andrew Joyce for allowing me the chance to interview him and thank you for providing such a wonderful interview as well! – Leticia, Shh I am Reading