Interview with Joe Peacock

Is it weird to be doing an interview with yourself?
Yeah, a little. Although I do write in a journal, which is kind of like interviewing myself every day. But hey, this site requires that I do an "interview" and I don't really feel like calling any of my friends to do one with me, so here you go.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee.
Who are your favorite authors?
Neil Gaiman, Neil Stephenson, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Andy Wier, Oscar Wilde, William Poundstone, Stephen Pressfield, Seth Godin, Dave Sim, Alan Moore, Terry Pratchett, Matt Taibbi, Dave Pell, Paul Ford, Cory Doctorow, Milton Glaser, Frank Chimero
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do indeed. It was the very first glint of an idea that started my path to write Marlowe Kana. It was terrible, but I was also in 9th grade, so I think some part of that is forgivable. I'm not sure I've improved much since then, but I've learned how to hide most of my mistakes, which counts for something I think.
What is your writing process?
First, it's A LOT of sitting around and absorbing things. Reading, watching films that I think tell great stories, reading books on how to write stories and edit them, studying the works of people who don't suck. Inspiration building, I guess. Then I just open a file and began slamming ideas into it. No formatting, no real goal aside from "get it out of my head and somewhere where all the buzzing won't keep me up all night" (That doesn't work, by the way. I still stay up all night).

Once everything is out of my head, I hit the whiteboard (really a black glass board with neon chalk markers, cause it's way prettier to look at) and I start mapping things out in "beats" -- what happens and when. The notes that make the book's melody, or something like that. Per the best writing advice I ever got (from a video with Trey Parker and Matt Stone), I look for any place where one beat leads into another beat with an "And then..." and I kill it ("Therefore" or "But" -- No "And Then"). Then I churn out a first draft of a chapter, hate it, delete it, try again, don't hate it as much, save it, and come back to it for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th draft.

When I have enough chapters, I send them to my editor, who is relentlessly honest with how much things suck or don't suck. That goes through at least 2 rounds of edits, usually 3 or 4. Then, I put it up on the site and publish the eBooks.

This is a DRASTICALLY different process than when I wrote articles or autobiographical pieces, wherein I usually just wrote a draft, threw it over the fence, and moved on. The major, major, MAJOR difference is that when you write fiction, you don't have the luxury of leaning back on "Yeah, but this happened" or "this is what i think" -- everything has to make sense, be robust, worth reading, and move forward without the benefit of "reality" as a reason that the material exists. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but I am trying to learn.
How do you approach cover design?
I hire people who are talented and know what they are doing to make the art for my covers. I am a designer for a living, which is to say I have novice illustrative talent, novice photography talent, intermediate design sense, and enough charm to convince people to pay me to tell them what looks good. That's not enough to actually create honest art, and I know enough to know that. So I hire talented artists and I pay them what they're worth, on time.

I cannot stress enough that if there is one key to doing something right, it's realizing when you're not the one capable of doing the job and finding someone who can -- and then, paying them what they're worth, on time. Don't let it stop you from doing what you want to do, just realize your own limitations and the second you can afford it, find help to fix what you're not good at. In fact, going forward without that help is the easiest and best way to convince people who have the talents you don't to come onboard -- it proves to them you're not full of crap or mired in delusion about a "someday" project that you intend to make them the backbone of.
Describe your desk
It's a small fold-out TV tray that I use to hold my laptop when I sit on my back or front porch. Back porch when it's sunny, front porch when it's rainy. It has an ashtray for my cigars and a cup holder for my coffee, and it's where I work 99% of my life. I have a "traditional" desk that is mostly just a holder for some neat toys and pens and other stuff I don't use. It's pretty, mostly because no one ever uses it.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly nonfiction, mostly about technology and society. I have the RSS feeds of hundreds of blogs in my reader and scan them whenever I can. I make a point of reading Seth Godin's blog every single day, and anything Paul Ford, Frank Chimero, Stephen Pressfield, or Glen Greenwald put out the second it hits the feed, because even if I don't 100% agree with them, they have their thumbs on the pulse of just about everything I'm interested in.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Show up every single day and do the job you promised people you'd do. Consistency beats just about every other trick in the book. Always be writing. Always be publishing. Take a break when you need, but understand that every break in consistency leads to a decline in attention.
What are you working on next?
Writing-wise, I'll be working on Marlowe Kana for at least the next several years. As for other projects, I just wrapped up a documentary series called Screenland on Hulu and RedBull.TV, and will be working on a new season of that when/if it comes up. I'm also coordinating a new Art of Akira Exhibit tour for 2019.
Published 2017-05-21.
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Books by This Author

Nothing But Blockchain
You set the price! Words: 86,470. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Finance
Everything you need to know about money grabs, bubble markets, and how hype sells things.
Marlowe Kana (Book 1 Volume 3)
Series: Marlowe Kana. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 37,570. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
While escaping, Marlowe, Jen, Poet & Nines are suddenly confronted by the entire Atlanta MilSec division! Every citizen watches as an epic battle rages on the Feeds, and President Cook's desperation peaks. He openly challenges Marlowe to compete in the Next Top Soldier finale. The prize: freedom for her team & father. The explosive finale to Book 1 changes the United American State forever!
Marlowe Kana (Book 1 Volume 2)
Series: Marlowe Kana, Book 1, Volume 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 25,200. Language: English. Published: June 19, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Jen and Marlowe must find the evidence that exonerates Marlowe to free her father (who has been framed), all while hiding from MilSec and the Next Top Soldier contestants hunting her. President of the United American State Stephen Cook battles Imagen Corporation while the entire nation watches on the Feeds. The Judge makes Marlowe a deal she can't refuse, and she faces her toughest opponent yet!
Marlowe Kana (Book 1 Volume 1)
Series: Marlowe Kana, Book 1, Volume 1. Price: Free! Words: 27,380. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk
Major Marlowe Kana has just been found guilty of treason against the United American State! Every Feed on the Net has been covering the events of her trial, and two questions remain to be answered: What will happen to MK, and what will the nation watch now that the Next Top Soldier Hall-of-Famer and star most-watched Feed in history is locked away? The answer shocks the nation to its core.