The talented Gregory Josephs shares his secrets about writing, dreaming big, and of course his new speculative fiction book, The Confluence.
My kind and delightful friend Gregory Josephs has a book coming out tomorrow–speculative fiction with mystery! suspense! LGBT characters!–and he shared all his deepest, darkest secrets about publishing and being a published author with me.
Maybe not deepest, darkest secrets.
Things he hasn’t told anyone.
Okay, he probably told some other people, but I came up with the questions all on my own, so you won’t find these answers anywhere else.
Here we go! (All in his own words, with just a few extra paragraph breaks.)
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your new book?
My name is Gregory Josephs, and I’m an author living and writing in Arlington, Massachusetts, in the United States.
I like to say that “procrastination is the product of an intensely creative mind.” I use this is my credo because, mostly, it makes me feel better. But apart from biographical details, it’s probably one of the best ways to understand who I am as a person, and a writer.
In this case, procrastination applies to the have-to-dos, rather than the want-to-dos. I’m constantly involving myself so deeply into projects (writing and otherwise) that other stuff gets pushed off to the side. It’s a way of saying I go all-in on things. It’s the way I prefer to live and create.
My new book, THE CONFLUENCE, is a work of speculative fiction (parallel timelines) with a dash of mystery, suspense, and even some literary fiction vibes. It’s also LGBT fiction. As a member of the community, it’s important to me to include LGBT characters in my stories.
When 20-year-old Elliot discovers a mysterious coin at an abandoned farmhouse outside Haverford, Massachusetts, he is accosted by the ghost of eight-year-old Sofia Calisti, the face of the town’s greatest tragedy. After the murder of her parents and a once-in-a-century flood in 1959, Sofia vanished without a trace.
Elliot soon realizes Sofia is not a ghost, but is in fact alive in 1959, and he is seeing and interacting with the past in real time. Presented with an impossible opportunity—for Sofia the flood and murders are six days away—Elliot resolves to do anything he can to change the past and save her future.
But when a mysterious woman arrives in town, determined to take back Elliot’s coin at any cost, it becomes clear: there is more at stake here than the life of one little girl.
When did you start working on THE CONFLUENCE, and what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I think I started brainstorming the idea for this book in the late fall of 2017. That involved a lot of pacing around my condo and wearing a pattern into the rugs. And lots of coffee and feeling like I was being horrible unproductive.
But then in February of 2018 I wrote the first lines of the book (long since replaced), and miraculously it was about ten weeks from “once upon a time” to a complete first draft. I’ve never written that fast before, and I wouldn’t hold my breath that I could do so again.
On this side of things, I know now that the best thing I can do for myself, creatively, is to dream as big as possible, consequences be damned. The thing that held me back from starting THE CONFLUENCE was a fear that I wouldn’t be able to pull off such an (in my opinion) ambitious story with so many interlocking pieces.
What I learned is that if I can dream a framework, and trust in my characters and their motivations, I can pull it off. I’ve started to dip my toe into my next project, and I think if I hadn’t learned what I could do by writing THE CONFLUENCE, I might not have had the courage to start this next book.
THE CONFLUENCE is being published by an independent press. Can you walk me through why you decided to go this route rather than self-publishing?
I self-published my first book in 2017, and it was an incredible experience. I learned so much about what it takes to move a manuscript from being a completed document to being a book people hold in their hands, or read on their devices.
I loved the creative control, and though I’ve outgrown that book in some ways, I will always be deeply proud of what I accomplished.
But I also learned about what I’m not good at. I’m not good at marketing alone. I work better when I have other people, invested in my project, to bounce ideas off of.
I knew I could self-publish THE CONFLUENCE, and do an even better job this time around, but like so many others out there, I want to see if I can make writing into a full-time career someday. For myself, at this point, that means working with (hopefully progressively larger) publishers, making connections, growing my audience, and collaborating.
There are wildly successful self-published authors out there who have the chops to call all the shots with their projects and absolutely soar. I just don’t feel like I have all those tools in my toolbox at this point.
And I’m happy with my decision this time around. I was able to connect and work with an amazing editor, the publisher turned out a truly stellar product, and I’ve gained new insights into this industry which I hope will help me keep advancing once the next book is ready to go.
Let’s talk about you! What is the most Gregory Josephs thing ever? Yes, that’s deliberately vague. Is it a hat, an elephant safari, a sitcom, falling down the stairs?
There are lots of ways I could answer this question that might be an awful lot more interesting, but having thought about it for a solid seven or eight minutes, I think the answer has to be:
It might be more fun to say “vegetables,” because I’m super-passionate about local food, and I work on a farm one day a week. Or maybe “lactobacillus” because I’m always fermenting something delicious in my kitchen, and those little bacteria are my fermentation buddies.
But in the end, it’s gotta be shorts. There’s a very small window of time during the year when I wear pants that go below the knee. My day job takes place on a warm pool deck, the farm job requires lots of moving, so I get hot, and just, in general, I run warm.
I get an awful lot of comments in the cooler months about what I wear out into the world, so, while it might not be glamorous, I’d have to say the most Gregory Josephs thing ever is shorts.
What’s been the biggest surprise about being a published author for Gregory Josephs, the shorts guy?
Honestly? Two things. One personal and one external.
On a personal level, I’ve been surprised at how difficult it is for me to talk about my books. When people ask in real life, my default is to be sort of dismissive, like it’s not that big of a deal that I have books floating out there in the world.
I’ve been working really hard to address this and be able to talk somewhat coherently about what I’ve written. Because it is kind of a big deal, and I’m proud of it. I think lots of authors are this way, and I’m working on being that guy that can shout my books to the rooftops. Not quite there yet, but working on it.
The other surprise—the external one—has to do with managing other peoples’ expectations. Especially for people on the fringe or just outside the writing/reading community, there’s this assumption that when you publish a book it’s wildly successful and sells thousands and thousands of copies, and there’s probably a movie deal around the corner.
Obviously that would be amazing if it were true for all of us, all the time. But we know it isn’t.
So I actually spend a lot of time talking to people about how the publishing industry works, and how I define success in this industry for myself. I think people are surprised by how difficult it can be, and just how much work goes into moving books.
Thanks so much for visiting my little hut in the internet wilds and sharing your secrets, Gregory. I hope your book launch exceeds your wildest dreams.