Welcome to Starting Fresh - we're fortunate to have with us today, Joshua Graham, author of Beyond Justice. I heard Joshua speak at ThrillerFest 2013 and immediately grabbed the chance to chat with him today. A warm welcome for Joshua Graham!
Q: (1) Your webpage mentions that you have a PhD and that you'd been a professor - what is your field of expertise? Could you share the story of how you first began writing fiction?
JG: That's right. I received my doctorate in music performance from Johns Hopkins University, after my Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Juilliard. I've performed as a cello soloist and principle cellist internationally and domestically. I've also taught in several colleges on the East coast.
However, after getting married, selling down and starting a family, I began a career in the IT field. During that time, I made my first fiction sales (short stories) to Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. But it wasn't until my company laid off my entire department and outsourced it to India that I seriously took a shot at becoming a full time writer.
Q: (2) You self-published your first novel which went on to hit three bestseller lists on Amazon. The strength of your writing and success resulted in a publishing contract with Simon and Schuster. Can you tell us what this experience was like? Do you have any advice for new writers?
JG: All I know is that I was passionate about writing and just wrote from my heart and convictions. I was still looking for an IT job while writing my next book, just before my book DARKROOM sold. During the time time leading up to that, I did a few things:
1. Read a lot, 2. Wrote a lot, 3. Prayed a lot, and 4. Studied about writing through books and seminars.
Everyone has their own path, but my general advice to new writers is to follow the four things I listed above.
Q: (3) In Beyond Justice, your main character starts out suspicious and wary of the members of his wife's church group. Throughout the first half of the book, the only people that are open to the accused's innocence are the self same members of this group. Spirituality and religion plays a big role in the lead character's transformation. It struck me that your novel did give religion a larger role than it usually plays in mysteries and thrillers. Would you like to comment on this or on the characters and their transformations in Beyond Justice?
JG: It wasn't my plan to write a religious book or a Christian fiction novel, but it was only natural that my views on life and death, faith, justice, family, loss, and hope would find their way into my writing.
I wasn't writing to "convert" or preach, despite what some might think, but rather, to present topics of forgiveness, justice, vengeance, mercy, and grace, in an allegorical manner, framed in one of my favorite genres, the legal thriller.
I've always believed that the human heart can only truly change when touched by grace. We learn about grace when we experience either favor or forgiveness where we don't deserve it at all. This is the essence of forgiveness and inner peace. That which goes "beyond justice," namely, grace.
Q: (4) Are there specific writers that influenced you or that are particular favorites of yours?
JG: The greatest influences in my life have been the Bible, C S. Lewis, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and Sol Stein.
Q: (5) What are you working on at the moment? What can we look forward to?
JG: I'm writing a new series featuring my protagonist from DARKROOM, Xandra Carrick. She's back and in for an even bigger, much more perilous journey. Stay tuned!
If you'd like exclusive previews, updates, and be entered for giveaways, you'll want to sign up for my official newsletter here: www.Joshua-Graham.com/newsletter
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. It takes a great deal of talent and determination to make those changes from Music to IT to writing and to do them so well. Hard work, determination, faith, and talent, hard work. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I wish you all the best. I'll certainly keep an eye out for the next adventure with Xandra Carrick. I