Interview with Joseph Picard

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Who said I grew up? That's a horrible thing to say! But I spent my years all across Canada, though the last decade or two has been on the west end. How has location influenced my writing? Not in any drastic ways...

My fictional continent is part Canada, part UK, park Australia, and a little bit US. Some of my characters take their names from streets near me... but not much in my books scream CANADA!!! or VANCOUVER!!! or even RIDGEMEADOWS!!!!!
When did you first start writing?
Elementary, I suppose. Given the task of writing short stories was fun, so I started doing stories just for myself now and then. The idea of writing a BOOK always seemed like an insurmountable feat, until I wrote a story that demanded a sequel.. and another.. and a prequel. Whoops! A little glue, a little sandpaper, and it started to look a lot like a book!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Echoes of Erebus caps off the life... er.. well, the existence of the villain who made his first appearance in Lifehack. I'd love to give more details, but they'd be considerable spoilers for Lifehack.

The focus is mainly on his 'daughter' who he's constructed to ease his guilt in a way, and put something positing onto the world. Her challenges are built into her- the technology used is highly illegal after the massacres in Lifehack. Finding her place in the world and a semblance of a normal life is tricky enough, even before new monstrosities start showing up, which the government begins to link to her through her ex-genocidal father.

And Sarah even has to dig to find out the truth of her creation. Oh, it's so hard not to babble and spill spoilers!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When Lifehack was nearing completion, I checked out how to submit a book to publishers. After sniffing about, I was left with choosing my 50 best publishers, (by genre, mostly,) and sending it to each. And they all want it in different formats. Double space, 1.5 space, 1.75 space, different margins, different fonts, just chapter 1, the whole book, half the book, just chapters 3, 7, and 10, and on, and on... and not doing it thier way would result in being tossed out.

And no one wanted digital submissions then, so once all the formatting was done, print them, send them in the mail.

Then wait roughly a year to see if any of them even received it in the mail.

Being new and enthusiastic, I has no patience for that. When I found out about self-pub, (and researched wish companies could be trusted, and weren't just milking writers for cash), I was set, and haven't looked back since.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Inspires? Forces. Kids. A 6 year old and a 2 year old. They could go to bed at 6 AM, and still pop up at 7. When they're fed, dressed, and at school or napping, it's my chance to write. For a little while.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Sleeping. Chasing down the kids, housework. If that's all done, and my brain is too fried to write, I'll read, and if I'm too fired to read, I'll pop on a video game. Still fighting my Skyrim addiction...
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Well, in the efforts to get myself out there, I run into others doing the same thing. If they happen to have something in a genre I like, it goes into my 'to read' list. My phone has a pretty long list waiting for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Ooch, no.. but I remember some milestones. In school I wrote a Christmas story about a couple trucker-elves, one of which was in denial of being an elf unless it served him. That was my first published one, in the local newspaper.

Years later... I think I was sixteen, my first story bound into a book was a fifteen page urban-fantasy type story (before I'd ever heard that term) which my dad printed off secretly, and had put into a hardcover for a gift. Hardcover, 15 pages. With an illustration made in windows paint. I still have it, sitting by my other books.
What is your writing process?
I start with a basic concept.. "Wouldn't it be cool if...." then try to create a scenario where that could be plausible. This tends to lead me into sci-fi. Then I need a hero to drop into the situation. Flesh them out in my mind, sometimes draw them, often take them around in my head as an imaginary friend, and talk to them about things to get to know them. Silently... I don't need to go to the loony bin just yet.

Once I have a basic understanding of how it's going to go, I get a point-form event timeline. About a page long list. I attack point one and flesh it out, often ending up with a chapter from it. Sometimes more, sometimes less. By the time I've fleshed out all the points... tada! Of course, that's a very simplified version of how it all goes down.
How do you approach cover design?
I have a bit of a graphic background, so Ideas bubble up during the writing of it. My graphical skills aren't amazing, so I need to work within my limits. Lifehack needs a new cover- it doesn't really represent the character-driven side the story at all, and looks much more horror-based than the story really is. YES, there's large horror elements, but there's humour, romance and personal struggles as well. I'm starting to look closely at revisiting the cover to that first book now, after all this time...
What are you working on next?
Rubberman's Cage. Technically, it isn't sci-fi, but it has a feel of sci-fi to it in many ways.

Lenth, the protagonist starts in an apartment-sized environment. He's lived there all his life with his three 'brothers'. Their ceiling is a metal grate, and above them lives their Rubberman. He doesn't talk, and they've never seen even his skin. He uses lights to encourage them to go from one area to the next for sleep, work and exercise.

When they don't do what they're supposed to, he gives them electrical shocks, either through the floor, of the wrist cuffs they're required to put on at every station. When something goes wrong, the 'sleepy smell' puts them all to sleep, and when they wake up, things are fixed.

This is all normal. This is Lenth's life. Work, sleep, exercise, three brothers and the Rubberman. He's never seen sky, a plant, or even a woman. He doesn't know that anything else exists, until a stranger peeks in from above Rubberman's area. Then begin's Lenth's quest to see what's beyond his universe. A third floor. Up.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm not super picky. I've been using an HTC phone lately.. "HTC Desire". It's not mega fancy, and she screen isn't so big, but it runs Kindle and Aldiko nicely- and once you've engaged yourself in the words, everything else pretty much melts away.
Describe your desk
Ha. My laptop, mostly. Sometimes in my lap, sometimes in bed, but a real DESK desk? Pretty seldom. There's a table behind me that once hosted a desktop computer. Now it's a nexus of paperwork, electronic bits and pieces, art paraphernalia, CDs, and a platoon of various nerdy figurines. It also provides shelter for the gear I take to conventions and such- a small stock of books, signage, my gas mask and spiked shoulder pauldrons... you know.. that kind of thing.
Published 2014-03-20.
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