Joel's stories are engaging and dynamic. We are thrilled to be able to publish not one, but five of his drabbles in our upcoming anthology "Forgotten Ones", not to mention his winning story which is featured on our Patreon account named "Unconsumables". His talent and words never disappoint.
Joel is a writer, proofreader, ex-teacher and part-time human currently residing in the UK. Among his other hobbies of eating, breathing and crouching in dark corners, Joel constantly plans stories and screenplays - a very small number of which actually get written. Most simply languish in his ever-growing ‘Unfinished’ folder, which is now approaching a mass capable of generating gravitational pull.
Joel’s genres of choice are horror and sci-fi, although the odd bit of sentiment does manage to sneak in between the freakishness and disturbing twists. He hopes in time that he might earn a living from putting words on a dead tree in a particular order, or at least earn enough for the occasional cup of tea and vegetarian full English breakfast.
If you are so inclined, you can follow Joel’s latest exploits on Twitter, where he also posts daily micro stories. But it might be simpler to cut out the middle-man and seek psychiatric help.
Have you always written, or was there a catalyst that prompted you to begin this journey?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I feel very strongly that my love of books, reading and writing all stem from my parents’ dedication to bedtime stories. I was read stories until I was old enough to read them myself, and I’ve always been encouraged to do so. I think that is one of the most important gifts a parent can give to their child.
In terms of my writing journey, though, it transitioned into an active attempt to be “a writer” when I was around twelve. That was the age I started choosing my own books and exploring what the young adult spectrum of science fiction and fantasy had to offer. Inspired by some of my favourite books at the time, I started writing a painfully generic fantasy novel (in that it had a first chapter and plans for numerous sequels) which I spent a long time planning before realising a few years later that it was… well… painfully generic. From there I have tried to always make sure my writing tries something a little different. I’m not foolish enough to aim for “unique” or “original”, both of which are essentially impossible these days, but I try to write stories that at least I’ve never read before.
What is your favourite genre to read?
I guess you’d refer to it as ‘speculative urban fantasy’; fiction that asks “What if?”. I love anything set between the Victorian era and modern day which adds a decidedly bizarre element to an otherwise normal human society. Maybe everyone’s soul lives outside of their body as a shapeshifting animal. Maybe the British Empire is run by politician-magicians who force caustically-sarcastic demons to do their bidding. Anything that follows the format of “It’s like Earth except everyone has/is…” captures my attention, and the more commitment the author shows to their chosen gimmick, the more I’ll buy into it.
Plus, most of the examples I can think of right now include talking animals in some variety, so if you really want me to read something, throw in a penguin in a bulletproof vest.
(Bonus points to anyone who knows the three books referenced above!)
Do you remember the first piece of writing shared publicly? What were people’s reactions, but more importantly how did you react getting it out there?
Thinking back, I suppose my first public piece of writing was when a poem of mine won a school competition. One student from each year group got their poem displayed at a nearby conference centre and I got to shake hands with a celebrity I’d never heard of. It was an exciting event for me, especially when a kind old lady came up to us to congratulate us on our poems, which she had thoroughly enjoyed.
“Which was your favourite?” I asked her.
“Oh, I liked all of them,” she said, “But if I had to choose, I think I liked the one with the soldier best.”
“That’s mine!” I bragged.
I was a rather intolerable little twerp. How times change.
What is your workspace like? What kind of atmosphere do you need to write?
I think ‘organised chaos’ sums it up best. I work best with at least some clear desk space, but I’m usually surrounded by various piles of notebooks and scrap paper, which at some point in history were put in a specific order for a specific reason (presumably). If I need to dredge up anything in particular, I can narrow it down to a specific pile quite easily, but it may take some searching to find the one page I’m after!
That said, I can write most places if I have my thoughts to myself. I do a lot of smaller pieces while I’m walking (in my head or on my phone) and I usually take a notepad to places like the doctor’s/dentist’s for the waiting room.
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