Sunday, October 4, 2020

Joe Clifford

Joe Clifford is the author of several books, including The One That Got Away, Junkie Love, and the Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as editor of the anthologies Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen; Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, and Hard Sentences, which he co-edited.

Clifford's new novel is The Lakehouse.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Lakehouse, while I can admit is somewhat generic as a title, actually says a lot. On the surface, it’s simple: a man is finishing construction on the dream house by a tiny town’s lake, the fulfillment of a promise he made to his dead wife. But nothing is ever that simple, since the man, Todd Norman, may be the one responsible for her death! The title also takes into account what it means to have a home, a place to belong, which is a central theme in all my work.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I think my teenage self would be surprised I wasn’t dead.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Can I opt for option C? The middle! Or as my writer friend David Corbett refers to it “the muddle.” I think, for most writers, beginnings and endings are picnics compared to the middle/muddle. We know how it starts, and soon know how it ends. Trying to make those ends meet, organically, is tougher. Too often writers want to skip over that middle to get to the end, but if we don’t arrive at the end naturally, if the requite tension isn’t layered throughout, readers will feel disappointed. That is if they don’t abandon the book first.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters?

My screenwriter friend, Reed, used to say all characters are composites of their creator. I don’t think he’s wrong.

Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

The parts of this life that interest me—trying to fit in and be true to yourself—are paramount in my characters’ personalities. We get one life, and most of our hours are sold to the highest bidder. In those few precious hours we get to ourselves, that’s where we are free to dream and pursue those dreams. That, to me, is what this life is about: to thine own self be true. And it’s a lot harder than it sounds!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I’m a rock and roll guy, so certainly music. I’ve often said Bruce Springsteen is my single biggest literary influence. And he’s a musician! Albeit one of the highest lyrical order.
Visit Joe Clifford's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lakehouse.

My Book, The Movie: The Lakehouse.

--Marshal Zeringue