Interview with Joseph Heck

When did you first start writing?
I can't remember not writing. Many of my early stories were of the "cops and robbers" variety, which later turned into mystery. In high school I was also into writing James Bond flavored spy adventures.
What's the story behind your latest book?
SHIAM Conspiracy is the natural evolution of a world I'd created years ago. The planet Amaco Loch started out as the stage for sword and sorcery fantasy. In fact, it's history began as stories I told my kids when they were young. As time went on, the stories became more involved and I began putting them on paper. They were mostly loosely connected short stories.

One day, a question came to mind. What happens when Amaco Loch enters the modern age? SHIAM Conspiracy is the answer to that question and the current book I'm working on, Project Catalyst, is a continuation of that answer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always wanted to be a writer, but for reasons that I won't go into here and now, I've always held back from the attempt. I guess it simply got to the point where I no longer had any choice. I had to give it a shot and becoming an indie author seemed like the best road to take.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think the greatest joy of writing is when I hit save for the final time after the last edit and can say, "it's done."

The telling of the story is enjoyable, but forging that story into some sort of literary form is really a lot of hard work. At least, it is if you want to do it well. My time with SHIAM Conspiracy was a real struggle at times. There are so many elements that go into a novel which you have to manage and mold into a homogenized work that it can be daunting at times. Most of the time I was writing it, I felt like I was on the edge of losing containment and the story was going to melt down. It was really sweet when I got to the end and said, "Done!"
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on the second book of the Amaco Loch series. Project Catalyst picks up the story a year after we leave Zak Harris in the first book. Zak and Megan again find themselves bound together by fate, as they are pulled further into the world events that are taking place around them. I hope that it will be an enjoyable adventure for those who read it.
What is your writing process?
Well, it begins with an idea or a premise. In creating SHIAM Conspiracy, the idea was to take the various races traditionally found in sword and sorcery, and extrapolate what they'd be like in modern times. Rather than going with the typical concept of orcs and goblins are bad and elves and humans are good, I threw in the premise that good and evil are not as clear cut as that.

Once I get the general concept of the story down, I begin writing scenes that may or may not fit into the story. It's at this stage that I meet the characters and get to know them. It's like a meet and greet party, and it's where the story begins to unfold. Once I get the feel of the story, it kind of takes over and tells me what shape it will take. It's as much about discovery as it is about creating. I wouldn't go so far as to say the story writes itself, but the characters do take on a life-force of their own and influence a lot of what happens.

The final stage is the painful task of cutting out all the clever stuff I wrote, but didn't need to and forging the story into its polished final form.
What do you read for pleasure?
I actually enjoy reading a variety of books. Fantasy has been a favorite ever since I read Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". I also read a lot of science fiction, horror and mystery. In the nonfiction categories I enjoy books on psychology, parapsychology, mysticism and philosophy.

I also read in relation to what I am currently writing. For SHIAM Conspiracy I've researched police procedures, forensics, intelligence agencies (such as the CIA and MI6) and world politics. A lot of what I read doesn't actually end up in the book, but I think it allows me to present a more credible backdrop in order to tell the story. And I learn new things along the way. Believe it or not, I find the reading I do for research is as pleasurable as my leisure time reading.
Describe your desk
My desk is an antique oak school teacher's desk from the 1920s - 1930s that my wife found for sale on Craigslist. A wide screen monitor, keyboard and mouse is the central point of the work surface. Desk organizers take up the left corner in the back, with my coffee cup strategically placed in front. My laptop, which I use as a secondary reference source to my PC, is to the right of the work area, along with our cat, Neko - who insists on acting as my story adviser whenever I write. And of course, a dish of cat kibble for her to munch on while we work. When I am working, the desk can also become quite cluttered with reference books, scribbled notes and such.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read was the wonderful adventures of Dick and Jane. ...See Dick. See Dick run. See Jane. See Jane run.... I must admit, it didn't have much of an impact on me at the time.

I read a lot during my youth. In fact, while most kids were outside playing, I was ofter holed up in my room with a book. Everything I read during my childhood made me appreciate the written word and the wonderful stories they could become. But the single most influencing book I've ever read was Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" - yes, I know there are actually three books. A friend gave my the trilogy, along with The Hobbit, for Christmas when I was twenty. I had read all four books by New Years. I've actually lost count of how many times I've re-read Tolkien since then. I find him to be both an inspiration and intimidation. The way he tells a story... I can only hope to write half as good as he could.
How do you approach cover design?
I approach my cover design by going to my wife and saying, "Here, make me a cover."

I've come to have complete trust my wife's creative abilities. She not only developed the book cover for SHIAM Conspiracy, she's also built the website and all the peripheral material for promoting the book. If I ever get to the point where those things are contracted out, my wife will always be involved in that work and will have final approval over it.
Published 2015-01-04.
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Books by This Author

SHIAM Conspiracy- Book 1
Price: Free! Words: 77,260. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Zak Harris never wanted to be a hero. He certainly didn't want to be responsible for saving the entire planet. When he reluctantly accepted a contract to find a missing android prototype, Zak walked blindly into a fate that had already claimed him. Joining forces with Megan, a rebellious Elvish sorceress, the mystery only grows darker. And Zak suspects someone is playing them.
SHIAM Conspiracy- The Complete Story Book 2
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 137,100. Language: American English. Published: January 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Zak Harris never wanted to be a hero. He certainly didn’t want to be responsible for saving the entire planet. But when he reluctantly accepted a contract to find a missing SHIAM android prototype, he walked blindly into a fate that had already claimed him. Time is running out. Zak needs answers. Worse yet, he suspects someone is playing him. This edition contains both Book 1 and 2.