Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you into writing?
J: I grew up in a small town off the coast of southern Maine. Surrounded by nature as a child, I used to love going camping, fishing and hiking. Having access to the woods and the ocean was also godsend, as it sparked creativity and I often found myself writing while being immersed in these natural surroundings. Several works from local authors on the topics of New England history and folklore also inspired me to read/write more about the subject matter.
Q: Tell us about the premise of The Barrens.
J: It takes place in the Pinelands of New Jersey and is loosely based on the folklore surrounding the Jersey Devil and the Leeds Family. It follows Jacob, a Princeton University PhD student who has an insatiable hunger for fame and fortune. Jacob convinces his best friend, Caleb, to shoot a documentary on the Jersey Devil for their DeBunkers YouTube Channel and the boys persuade their girlfriends, Hannah and Blake, to join them on a weekend getaway. Little do they know what the Barrens has in store for them.visited a small village in the middle of the Barrens known as Whitesbog. There we learned about the tale of Mama Leeds and the disturbing folklore surrounding the Jersey Devil.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
J: I had visited the Pinelands several times while enrolled as a student at Princeton. I found myself returning to this vast area of land to explore the abundant trails and view wildlife. I never knew about the Jersey Devil until my fiancé and I visited a small village in the middle of the Barrens known as Whitesbog. There we learned about the tale of Mama Leeds and the disturbing folklore surrounding the Jersey Devil.
Q: Did you do any research for your book? If you did, what did it consist of?
J: Once learning about the Jersey Devil, I spoke to a number of Whitesbog locals to confirm the long-standing rumors about the Leeds Family and the various versions of the tale surrounding JD. I found each and every native had their own take on the lore, adding bits of conflicting information here and there. This complicated the story in a good way and made it even more compelling to write.
Q: How do you plan your writing session?
J: I start my sessions just before midnight and stop around 1 or 2 AM; however, sometimes the sessions go on a little longer into the morning as I often suffer from insomnia.
Q: Do you have any certain rituals while you write?
J: I often listen to ambient electronic music when I write. I also like to listen to the sound of nature, i.e. crickets and frogs in the spring/summer.
Q: Why do you write?
J: To escape reality.
Q: Do you think creative writing classes are beneficial? Why or why not?
J: Not for me. I find writing to be very subjective and something that can’t be forced. Only you can find your voice through practice. I have, however, belonged to creative writing groups in the past where I have shared some of my work. Receiving feedback can be useful on the technical aspects, however good story-telling must come from within.
Q: Do you enjoy editing?
J: Sometimes – when I restructure a sentence or paragraph and it reads more clearly/concisely after edits are made; this can be very satisfying.
Q: Do you write in other genres? Have you ever written in different mediums?
J: I have written in most genres and mediums, excluding romance and journalism.
Q: If you could invite a fictional character for lunch (from your own book(s) or another writer’s), who would you invite and why?
J: I would invite Howard Roark from the Fountainhead. I have never been a huge fan of Ayn Rand’s work, but I find Roark to be one of the most inspiring characters in fictionjust due to his sheer fortitude and unwavering position in life.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
J: Don’t listen to the critics. Just write for yourself.
Q: What are your future plans as an author? Are you working on another project?
J: I have 3 WiPs which I rotate through each week.
Thanks for stopping by Joe!
You can follow his writing journey by visiting his website or social media accounts on Instagram or Twitter.