Interview with Joshua Winters

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in San Antonio, I've become very familiar with the surrounding environment, city, and structures and it's often intolerable weather patterns. My first book, Unsuspected, takes place within the city. Other places i frequent, such as Mustang Island, Dallas, Houston, and Colorado, and allot of their areas to many of my written works. The fictional city of West Creek which I've introduced in Dead Ends and will continue to make appearances is based of both San Antonio and Colorado Springs and is named after a neighborhood in which i made my home for a long time.
When did you first start writing?
After I became interested in writing as a very young man I'd doodle things, ideas, subjects, dreams. Most often I kept a diary which I wrote in prolifically, discovering that I enjoyed writing very much. I became interested after picking up my Aunt's copy of Cujo at a young age, but I'm not sure what age that was, and would have to estimate around nine. I really started writing stories though in high school when i started two different collections of fan fictions.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Over the years I've written and written, like many writers I've collected my share of completed short stories I'm satisfied with. In an effort to promote myself and give my fans, or fans of horror, something I decided to bind together my favorite shorts.

Strangely while I write all forms of genre my shorts normally occupy the genre of horror.

The collection is not only something I enjoyed buidling but I hope an testament to how I've grown as a writer as Dead Ends is better self edited than Unsuspected, my first book.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Lack of response from writing agents. In the field of writing these days if you don't have an agent publishers will most likely not acknowledge your existence, yet agents seem to think if you have nothing under your belt you're not worth their time. I've come to realize with nothing published and nothing to my name i would get nowhere in my dream job of writing. I write because i enjoy it, I want to share it because I want other people to enjoy them. If publishers and agents don't wish to make money off my hard work, then that's their loss.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It is the same as reading, when I read I delve into that world, I become disconnected from this world and enter a special portal right into the world of that story, a world i am so into it takes allot to bring me out of it. When I write I enter that same special portal into a story I help craft. When I write I sometimes craft the skeleton of the story but often the story seems to lead itself, with it's own life an intent in often ways I didn't see coming. So for me I'm just the tool and another reader, and I very much enjoy reading my own works, even if that does seem a bit conceded.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans will be my life, and my lively hood, my inspiration, and often a lead to where I want to go next with a story. Without fans a writer does not have a career, no matter how much I love writing without fans I will forever be stuck in hell that is retail, a hell that only fans can rescue me from.
What are you working on next?
I'm looking forward to pushing my full length novel, which some publishers have shown interest in. If within a year form now it's nowhere to be seen I'll have to decide if my big project will have to be self published, and if I become a full fledged published author with a spot on the shelf in Barn's and Noble's, i will never forget where I published first.
Who are your favorite authors?
Many authors have crafted my interest in reading and writing. Dean Koontz of Phantoms and the Frankenstein series has given me nightmarish dreams I often thought I was too old to have. Micheal Crichtons attention to detail while keeping the adventure and thrillers on it's toes kept readers coming back to him, and he is sorely missed. James Rollins taught me that sometimes the best mystery and horrors are about the unknown. The duo of Preston and Child have given me a taste of action with Special Agent Penderghast. R.L. Stein shoved me down the path of horror. And Stephen King himself opened me up to dark and brilliant worlds of what is possibly when you put no restrictions upon your writing. There are many other authors I have read and loved, from Simple sci-fi series to single books, most of them I do not remember, and the rest are too many to name, they all deserve a tip of the brim of my black hat, which i just inherited from my brother, as those who helped get me where i am today.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My son, there is no bigger inspiration in my life than my son. Without him one would wonder if I would have the will or inspiration to do anything with myself other than become a homeless man. It is for him and him alone that I toll my hours at my retail location, it is for him that I write every book hoping to make our lives better. It has been and will always be for him.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
You can often catch my nose in a book, or my Nook. I Facebook political stuff on my private page a little too often. I can be caught glued to a video game or a T.V. show that I love. However this is all stuff I do when my child isn't home. When my child is home he takes one hundred percent of my time and dedication, unless I have to work I do nothing but play with him, which includes outside time, toys, building his imagination, arts (he loves to paint), and of course video games (I've created a monster).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Often through friends, Joe Hill's Horns was introduced to me through my best friend Ellie when she picked up an audio book of it. Until then i had no idea King's son wrote so wonderfully. She also introduced me to the "Prince of Thorns" series, a wonderful tale of bloody fantasy. I also become introduced to books through my Nook's "suggestion" selection. And of course I always follow my favorite authors, having just recently purchased King's latest novel.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do, it was a fan fiction. Young I was obsessed with Silent Hill and Dragon Ball z. In high school i created a Silent Hill fan fiction following a widowed resident of the city who wakes up one day to the deserted misty streets every fan of the series knows. She attempts contact with anyone that is left until she begins to meet horrors right out of her nightmares, upon which she, and a vacationing FBI agent, attempt to escape the town and have a long horrific limb losing adventure. After that I wrote a fan fiction based on the Dragon Ball series where Goku was intercepted and never made it to earth, instead another Sayan did. It was a very mature series, and followed the story of a half human half Sayan son of this man who had hid on earth after the destruction of his home world. The kid, not knowing he's part alien, his mother having been taken by the Sayan against her will one night, finds out about his powers in high school as another alien is in search of a special ingredient for the fuel used that can be found in only a number of species, but is concentrated in a Sayan's tail.
Lastly I created a Lion King fan fiction on the web, it gained many followers despite being unedited and horribly written. It spanned three stories, and followed the story of a young lion who became king through his love of Kovu and Kiara's daughter, and his descendants.
What is your writing process?
I have different processes depending on how I feel like writing that day. Most often i will turn everything off in my room except a dim light and write in silence to lose myself. Other times i might listen to symphonic orchestral or soundtrack music to give me some kind of background to the scene I'm writing, often a change in music will affect the scene itself. Sometimes I go sit in Starbucks and write with the comfortable chatter of people ignoring me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, not as a kid, i do remember reading R.L. steins and my love of horror and my Star Trek novels and my love for detail and adventure in them. However i remember my first adult book. My Aunt had left a copy of Cujo either in her trailer or my grandfathers R.V. as we where camping at the time. I sat down and began to read it, despite that i was about nine at the time and not quite old enough to read mature stories as such. Nobody stopped me, the rule was if I wanted to read it and as long as it wasn't smut, there where no rules. After seeing how far Stephen King could go with his writing, that there where basically no boundaries other than your own imagination, no basic laws that said "no you can't write about that" and seeing how much joy he took from writing, I realized that writing is what I wanted to do one day. I owe both my obsessions of reading and writing to Stephen King to whom this day is still my favorite author.
How do you approach cover design?
I've had two experiences with cover design, limited due to the fact that I work for a slave wage. My first experience, with Unsuspected, was a gif created in the program Microsoft Paint, edited by my dear friend Jack Winters (no relation(?)). It was simple and satisfied me though not perfect, and when I put the book to paperback I had to use a generic create space one because it's quality was not up to par.

My second book, Dead Ends, had a cover created by Calvin Dunlap, it was a dark and well done yet simple creation i was looking for in such a book. Again I was down on money so I paid him, eventually, with a copy of the book.

My third book is going to be the book, the novel, my first full length thousand word monstrosity. It's mixture of fantasy and science fiction and historical fiction almost requires a cover to match it, and if I can't find a publisher to help, I'll actually have to dig myself into a hole and hire someone.
What do you read for pleasure?
Horror mostly though i often also read science fiction, fantasy, adventure, thrillers, and crime mystery.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I've only had experience with the NOOK however I find it easy to use and decent enough.
Describe your desk
It's a short white shelving unit I've attached to my wall, it barely fits my laptop however i also have my nook up here for reference when needed. My nightstand to my right which is sort of an extension of this "desk" is cluttered with empty soda cups, a radio, and an old reading light.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed me to reach a larger audience easier and requires greater quality than most self publishers allowing my readers an easier, cleaner read throughout the retailers we sell through.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That Ones a hard one, but I'll try.

Jurassic Park is one of my favorites, it holds a special place in my heart because I fell in love with the movie, read the much darker and mature novels, Park and The Lost World collection, and then became a rabid Crichton fan. When I learned he had passed I felt like a major piece of the writing community was lost, and one who was such a smart writer. The book itself is much more visceral than the movies, the themes darker, the humans more cruel, hell Hammonds nothing like the cheery confused grandpa in the movie.

Dark River of the Hearts: you'll find allot of these are my first time out with an author, as is the case. Some time along time ago I came across this sizable novel by Dean Koontz, which threw me into the mix of two people thrown into chaos including government conspiracies and a space bound super weapon with a bit of romance in the middle and was enthralled by his simple yet smart writing style. I consider Koontz now to be one of my two most prolifically read authors. But despite how many excellent novels he's written, from the funhouse to Phantoms, this fellow dog lover's first for me is still one of my favorites.

Cujo: Once again a first, I was quite young when I picked up my aunt's copy of Cujo and was thrown into a dark, gruesome, and often sexually, and always disturbing worlds of Stephen King. Between the monster in the closet, questionable child abuse, very real danger of rabies, side story of poisonous food color (that was in this book right? I've read too many books) and one hella dark ending, which you know I love, there's nothing about Cujo not to love, unless you don't love all the stuff I just mentioned. The movie was okay, but the happy ending isn't what King fans came for!

Still Life With Crows: not only my intro to Preston and Child, but my first Agent Pendergast novel, I don't normally follow a series due to a single character, but Pendergast is one of the two I will at all times. He also introduced me to the best pair of writers I've ever read.

Horns: if there's a story I like, it's one that is disturbing, strange, dark, humorous, and from beginning to end has me asking "what the f" not because I'm confused but because I'm just blown away. Not surprisingly it was my first dive into Joe Hill, King's son, before I even knew he was King's son. The story still remains one of the most entertaining stories I've ever read, period.
Where do your goals lead?
A comfortable job as a full time writer which I enjoy unlike any other job I've had, with enough money not to worry about bills and give my son a life. With enough time on my hands to spend my life with my son.
He's nine as I write this, split from his mother I only get to see him half his life, so I've seen him for a collected four and a half years, and if you count how much of that time I've spent at work it's much less. So in such a short time I've seen him sprout from a tiny curly haired toddler that loves trains to a kid so tall he can ride any rollercoaster. He's my life and as his years slip through my fingers I feel it too slip through, and I feel in my dead end jobs I can't do much about that.
Maybe one day when he's older my end goals will be a beach house, but for now I just want time with my kid, as much time as possible.
Published 2018-06-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Dead Ends2
Price: Free! Words: 52,410. Language: American English. Published: February 22, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
Winters is back with a collection of horror shorts full of dead ends. In a world as dark and decrepit as our own there are rarely and good endings. From a Halloween party that breaks reality, to a fight against nature gone mad, a plague of hate that washes through the south and feeds a killer, to a horror rumor that kills those who picture it. Includes ten new stories! Mature Audiences.
Dead Ends
Price: Free! Words: 34,140. Language: American English. Published: November 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Some stories end happily ever after, yet in places where reality thins, insanity thrives, and darkness lurks, there are no happily ever afters, just Dead Ends.
Unsuspected
Price: Free! Words: 20,460. Language: American English. Published: August 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Political
The city of San Antonio, it's the second most populated metropolis in Texas, ranked as the seventh in the whole United States. With its outstanding record in criminal law, fire fighting, and search and rescue, you'd think the city was ready for everything. However one stormy night the unpreparedness of an entire city, as the majority of it sleeps unsuspecting, may send hundreds to their graves.