Interview with L. Joseph Shosty

In honor of your new book, My Conscience Sleeps in the Doghouse, what say we do this whole interview like a police interrogation in a hardboiled detective story?
I got nothin' to say you, bo. Beat it.
Wow, you get into character quick.
Okay. Ahem. Your new book is pretty far from kosher. On the level, kid, what's the big idea? You got something against playing us square?
Who wants to know?
What is it, a gas to a hard boy like you, being such a cold fish?
It's nothing but salmon for dinner around here. I'd get used to it, if I were you. Tell your boss I'll consider talking once I know why I'm here, and it sure as God Almighty won't be to you, coffee sergeant. Scram, I says to you.
Okay, this isn't working. Let's switch back. Tell us about your new book and why what's been published is different than what we were originally promised.
Well, if you've been following what I do, you'll know that I published the first Johnny Hardwood story, a novella called "Herbie's Diner", back in 2014. It was supposed to be the beginning of a series, but there hasn't been another book since. There are more reasons for that than I care to list here, but the crux of it all is that whatever momentum i built up four years ago with its release is long gone.

Originally, "Herbie's Diner" was supposed to be followed up by two other novellas, "The Koreatown Job" and "The Nice Guy in the Chalk Outline". These three novellas were to be released as ebooks and then collected for print under the title released, My Conscience Sleeps in the Doghouse. "The Koreatown Job" got axed after about a year because I realized it wasn't the real sequel to Herbie. I tried my hand at another, "Hermanos sin Dias", but, likewise, this wasn't a good fit, either. Both are good stories, but I wanted to write these yarns in a progression so we can see where Johnny's starting and where he's headed. "Hermanos" was too much like a prequel as it was originally written, and doesn't tell us what happened after "Herbie" very well.

The real follow-up turned out to be "The Nice Guy in the Chalk Outline". It starts off with Johnny about three or four months after "Herbie" with him about to face reprisals for some things he did while in the clutches of the psychopathic villains who were out to get him. It was originally intended to be about 20,000 words, which is in the neighborhood of "Herbie's Diner", length-wise. However, 20,000 words suddenly became 40,000, with no end in sight. By the time I wrote The End on the rough draft, we were up to nearly 130,000 words. The original series concept, of in media res storytelling, fast plots, and dime store length adventures went straight out the window. Nice Guy was easily a book unto itself, but I still wanted to pair it with "Herbie's Diner" in the print edition, so I kept holding off releasing "Herbie" in print.

Fast forward to June of 2018. I was at the American Library Association conference with fellow writer, Gail McAbee, and we were talking about testing the waters of Ingram Spark's self-publishing engine. She asked me if I had anything, and I told her I was getting back Herbie's ebook rights soon [Untreed Reads, LLC owned electronic rights to "Herbie's Diner" until mid-2018 -- ed.], so I was thinking of doing something with that. Only, I didn't want to just publish a sixty- to seventy-page novella by itself, and Nice Guy's edits were taking so long, I was sure I was never going to get it finished. She suggested I pair "Herbie" with something else and publish it like that. It made a lot of sense, so I went straight home after the conference and started putting the whole thing together. Within a week, it was ready to go.
So, what exactly is in the new book, and is it all Johnny Hardwood material?
I'll answer the second question first: no.

I had two other mystery stories written in a hardboiled, first-person POV that were doing nothing. I'm writing more mystery/crime fiction these days, true, but little of it is short fiction, and so there was nothing else to pair with it. So, I took those two stories, "Gomes" and "A Murder of Confessions", and put them together with "Herbie's Diner". I also added the first three chapters of Nice Guy to tease interest in Johnny's next outing. I've since gone back and looked at Nice Guy and believe it should be finished and ready to go by early 2019. Of course, I've said that before with this book and nothing wound up happening. But this time, we're actually close to the end. I'm getting so sick of the book now, I can barely stand to open the file. That's usually a good indication I'm getting close to done.
And after The Nice Guy in the Chalk Outline hits? What's next for Johnny after that? We're not going to have to wait four more years, right? Some of us are getting long in the tooth.
I have three novellas more or less done already for the third book. There's "Weenie Royale", "Breezy Ain't Easy", and the aforementioned "Hermanos sin Dias". These three stories detail the aftermath of the first two adventures pretty well. Johnny's not in a good place at the start of this book, which is exactly where I want him. The rest of the series, however long that will be, will detail the peaks and valleys of his career after hitting what amounts to rock bottom. I'd expect the third book, which I'm calling Marrow, Marrow, to be out in 2019, as well, but don't quote me on that.
My Conscience Sleeps in the Doghouse is not coming out in ebook format. That's particularly notable since this interview is being conducted on Smashwords, which is an ebook retailer. Why is that?
I'm taking a break from ebooks. They're not selling for me as well as I'd like, and IP theft is becoming a big deal. The last book I released in ebook format, Trouble My Bones, was available in a few foreign countries -- in its entirety -- two months before I released it here in America. Things like that don't motivate me to keep publishing in electronic format.

My focus at the moment is getting more books out in print to continue building on a business model I've been developing for the past three years. Print is where the money is at, anyway, and so that's where I'm going to live for the time being. After I'm feeling a little more comfortable, sales-wise, I'll re-evaluate the idea of e-publshing again.
You've got another mystery/crime book, Row A, in the works, as well. And there are rumors you're looking at co-authoring another series of mysteries. Are you really moving away from science fiction, fantasy, and horror?
Not at all. In fact, I'm back to writing short fiction again, and I've been doing nothing but sf and fantasy lately. I'm also working on a kind of steampunk series, as well as two far future sf series, as well. There's also several half-finished science fiction novels (standalones, in this case) on my hard drive that I'm going to be diving into soon enough. A fantasy novel, or two, as well. One of them, called Minute Particulars, is set in the 1980s with an alternate universe version of me as its main character. But yeah, I'm on a mystery kick at the moment. It's been a crazy amount of fun. But you've got to remember that I'm serious about this neo-pulp thing. Those old writers wrote across several genres, and that's what I do, too. When I first started writing, I placed too much focus on a certain kind of story, a certain kind of literary artsiness to my stuff. I'm not doing that any longer. I want to have fun with it, and I am.
I thought you hated series fiction.
I do, mostly. But I also know that other people love it, and I actually enjoy writing it, even if I'd rather swan dive into a pool full of broken glass than read 90% of what's out there, right now. Anyway, I've spent more time talking to me than I'd like, and so I'll bid me, and anyone reading this, a fond farewell. Until next time...
Published 2018-08-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Trouble My Bones
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 61,450. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Ten exciting journeys into the future, fantastic worlds, and to the very limits of terror.
Wizards for the Immediate Cheddar
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 47,860. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Eighteen tales of science fiction, fantasy, and horror from the author of Herbie's Diner and Abattoir in the Aether.
Operational Costs
Series: Achilles & Swiss. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 18,880. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » General
An off-worlder mercenary and a robotic "company store" join forces to steal an idol from an alien holy land. Succeed, and it's a long, luxurious vacation. Fail, and it's interstellar war. First in a series.
Gomes & A Murder of Confessions
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,530. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
A dying detective takes what might be his last case… A man surrounded in mystery investigates the murder of a prominent doctor's wife... Two hardboiled short mysteries from the author of Herbie's Diner!
Swallow the Evil
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 21,900. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
In a series of nine short, brutal shocks to the system, Swallow the Evil shows us the variety of forms horror can assume. Whether it's a somber fairy tale, an Aesop-like fable gone horribly wrong, or a metafictional play where the cast and crew become a mad director's victims, author L. Joseph Shosty takes traditional tales of vampires, zombies, and ghosts and turns them on their heads.