Exclusive Interview with Author Joshua Marsella
What made you want to become a writer?
After reading a lot, the idea of creating my own worlds and characters became very appealing.
Do you write alone or in public?
Alone at home. I like to have minimal distractions if possible.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
That my book needed more editing. It was a minor criticism, but I took it to heart.
What has been the best compliment?
That readers were creeped out and that they felt something for my characters.
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you as a writer?
Anytime my wife finishes beta reading something I’ve written. She always looks so surprised that I would write something so dark and horrible.
What do you love most about the writing process?
When you get in the groove of writing the story and it starts to live in your head all day.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I currently work as a stay-at-home dad which is a big reason why I started writing. I wanted something to do outside of taking care of the kids all day, so I decided to give writing a shot. I’m with my two sons all day and I write after they go to bed.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It can do both. If I’m having a tough time getting the story to come out it can be exhausting and frustrating but on the other hand when the story just pours out of me it’s very energizing and I can’t wait to sit down for the next writing session.
What are some common traps for aspiring writers?
The idea that you must be traditionally published to be respected. That’s just not true. There are many self-published authors that have large fan bases and sell lots of books.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Well, a big ego can hurt you as a writer but not always. If you are confident in your work and it shows in your sales and reviews, there’s nothing wrong with that. But imposter syndrome is also a tough thing to overcome and quite common among writers.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I have a hard time following certain criteria. I struggle when I am given limitations such as writing for a themed anthology.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes, but it will be that much more difficult. Most of the writers I know are sensitive people that are quite in tune with their emotions.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Read, read, read. There is nothing more valuable to an inspiring writer than to read books. You can learn so much from other writers.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I have always been obsessed with music and lyrics. It was the power in the words mixed with the music that really struck a chord with me.
What does literary success look like to you?
People reading my books and enjoying them. That’s really it. The fact that anyone has bothered to pick up my books, read them and review them blows my mind. That’s all the success I need.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
More therapeutic than spiritual. My first novella Scratches was loosely based on my own childhood and it was a release to get some things off my chest.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I don’t write everyday but when I do, I try to put in 2-3 hours at a time.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often?
Childhood is always fun to write about but my latest book dove into my experience in the service when I was fresh out of high school. Of course, I took liberties but there were many similarities.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read most of the early reviews for my first book to get an idea of how it was being received and what I could do better. I obviously love the positive reviews but often times it’s the negative ones that I find more useful.
What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
How to start a story and how it will end. Once I get that down, the middle seems to come easily.
What are five books you loved? For one of them, why did you love it?
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Widow’s Point by Billy and Richard Chizmar, IT by Stephen King and Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. I loved IT because being from Maine, it hit close to home. I could relate with the “Losers Club” and their struggles relating to the adults of Derry.
What is a book you didn’t like, and why?
The Cellar by Richard Laymon. I felt he used shock and awe for the sake of grossing out the reader as opposed to progressing the narrative which is lazy. I skimmed the ending which is the closest I’ve come to a DNF.
How did you first fall in love with books?
I’ve always loved books, but I became addicted to reading after finishing Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Before reading that I managed to finish 1-2 books per year. After that I read an average of 4-5 books per month.
What book or books are you planning to read soon?
My TBR is a mile high but I have Smolder by Michael Goodwin and Hell, or High Water by Matthew Starr coming up soon for review.
What book do you always recommend?
Although I know the size will turn many people off, I always recommend reading IT by King as the quintessential horror novel. It fires on so many cylinders.
What book/books changed the way you see the world and your place in it?
The Dark Tower series has really changed the way I see the world, fiction, life, and just about everything. It was just so meta and mind-blowing.
What was your favorite childhood book?
I would have to say Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark clearly had the most impact on me. From the dark stories and poems to the original art. It was perfection for a young reader.
Do you have any favorite literary journals?
I’d have to go with Cemetery Dance.
Have you ever read anything that made you think differently about fiction/nonfiction?
Without mentioning The Dark Tower series again, Slaughterhouse-Five was an experience I wasn’t expecting. It was really something special.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Stephen King’s Revival. His character work in that was brilliant. I loved everything about it, especially the Lovecraftian ending.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I can’t think of any, but I feel like Laymon is one that I will probably grow to like even though I didn’t care for The Cellar.
What book have you read that has most influenced your life?
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers was given to me by my English teacher in 12th grade after she noticed I was struggling with my ADHD and focusing on my work. That book hooked me and showed me what books are capable of.
Who are your favorite writers?
There are many. Richard Chizmar, Stephen King, Brian Jacques, Joe Hill, and John Saul to name a few.
End of Interview
Joshua Marsella is a Maine native and self-published indie author who spends his days at home with his two sons and his nights writing horror stories. He is known for his debut novella Scratches and the follow-up prequel Severed plus a few short stories in various anthologies. He is currently working on his first solo anthology and getting ready to start the third and final chapter of the Scratches trilogy.