Interview with Joe Van Rhyn

So, tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Little Chute, Wisconsin, spent my early childhood in Kaukauna, and moved to Green Lake at twelve. My time in Green Lake formed the moral compass that has guided me my whole life. I'm a small town guy with small town values. My time there provided me the best growing up any young boy could have. It was like being on a lake vacation for the whole summer, but more so, I've made friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
What got you interested in writing?
In high school and college, I had the opportunity to act in a number of plays. If I said Hollywood was not in my thoughts, I would be lying. I chickened out on "Tinseltown," but thought I would one day write a play. I've dabble in some writing projects over the course of my life but never invested the time or energy to become serious about writing. Once I was looking at retiring and looking at what I would do to occupy my time, I came up with this brilliant idea. "I'll write a book."
Funny right? Well, the funny thing was, I took it serious. Not only did I write but it be came a passion.
What is your writing process?
They call it "by the seat of your pants." A lot of writers will make an outline, create a profile for each of their characters and do a lot of planning with notes and things before beginning to put words on paper. I basically have the story line worked out in my head, know my characters, and will plop in front of the computer and begin writing. I like the freedom of having my characters take the story in an unexpected direction. Sometimes I'm learning new things about a person in my book right along with the reader. That's what make writing fun.
How do you approach cover design?
I have an advantage here. I've been a commercial artist and owned a promotional products company for over forty years. We created company logos and put them on things like t-shirts, calendars, coffee mugs, pens, pencils and thousands of other products. A book cover is just another advertising item. It has to catch your attention and convey your message.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In marketing you want to identify your target market and hit it strongly from all directions. Since my book is set in a small resort town much like the one I grew up in. We're targeting people who live in Wisconsin, live in resort towns, enjoy boating and water sports as well as a romantic mystery. We're doing a book launch and signing at the Green Lake library. in early July. I should still have fairly good name recognition there. We've got a bunch of t-shirts, buttons and bookmarks to give away and hopefully will have a nice crowd. The library has been promoting the event for a few weeks now. I'm also going to contact the local gifts shops about carrying the book. It should draw interest from tourist as well.
Describe your desk
What's the story behind your latest book?
In book two of this Pine Lake series, We go back twenty years to 1945. It's Nora Jensen's story beginning when she musters out as an army nurse, at the end of world War II. Nora is the crusty manager of the nursing home in "Born Yesterday." Her rocky story is filled with danger, dragging her from the depths of despair, to unbridled joy and how circumstances beyond her control, eventually lands her back in that small resort town of Pine Lake. "Battle Born" is scheduled for release around Thanksgiving time.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Time. If I were twenty, hell, even fifty, I'd pursue going the traditional route, but at my age, I'm on a fast-track to get things done now. Actually, this whole journey, the writing, editing, publishing, marketing, even doing this interview has been such a rewarding experience, I'm totally happy with publishing on my own. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I learn something new everyday.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fan base is pretty small at this time, but as an actor my reward was applause. Now each time someone says to me, "I really enjoyed your book or I liked it or loved it, that to me, is a standing ovation. That's the only reward I need.
What inspired you to write
To me writing and acting are one and the same. I sometimes feel life is just one big stage and we are all acting in our own life story. When I acted in plays, I became the character I played. I started tending bar at eighteen. Every night I would put on my costume, white shirt, black slacks and bow tie and step behind the bar. It was my stage and I would not only serve drinks but would entertain my patrons with a non-ending string of jokes and stories. I was always challenged to come up with new material. When I write I'm living the story, in the moment, as the words flow across my computer screen. To me, each writing session is like opening night and I'm playing to an audience of one, me. I can hardly sit still in my seat waiting to see what happens in the next chapter
Published 2017-05-20.
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