Posted on May 7, 2020 at 2:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Today we’re interviewing Joseph Flynn, author of three hit series: the Jim McGill thrillers, the John Tall Wolf mysteries, and the Ron Ketchum mysteries.

Flynn has been published both traditionally and through his own imprint, Stray Dog Press, Inc., earning praise from major media reviews and reader reviews all the while. 

Booklist said, "Flynn is an excellent storyteller." The Chicago Tribune said, "Flynn [is] a master of high-octane plotting." The most repeated reader comment is: Write faster, we want more.

We spoke with him recently as he works on a prequel to the Jim McGill series.

SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?

JOSEPH: I was on the way to my first day of college — riding the Chicago “L” as a commuter student — thinking I would do my four years as an undergrad and then go on to law school.

En route, my muse spoke to me for the first time, gave me a full-blown short story, all details included. I knew I had no choice but to write it.

Later that same day in a psychology class, the prof said we students should do what love in life.

Then he added, “If you want to be a lawyer it should be because you love to read the law.”

I didn’t. I was just looking for a decent profession that paid a nice amount of money. So I went with writing instead of lawyering.

If I’d known back then how well John Grisham was going to do, I’d have combined the two.  

SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.

JOSEPH: I used to outline my stories before I wrote them.

Then I skipped the outline and just wrote what I called “the raw story,” which I went back and polished.

Now, I write scenes and afterward compile a list of what I call scene breaks which detail the action of the scene, the characters who are in it, and the page numbers that the scene occupies

SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?

JOSEPH: Every new success is a surprise to some degree.

My first paid writing job was at a Chicago ad agency. I’d been knocking on doors up and down Michigan Avenue, showing creative directors my sample book.

After six months of trying, I finally got a job. I was overjoyed to the point where I had to restrain myself from kissing the woman who hired me.

I was similarly delighted when I got my first publishing contract — a paperback original — with Signet Books. I was over the moon when my agent told me I had a two-book hardcover deal with Bantam Books.

Perhaps the most surprising of all my writing experiences was when I first heard I could independently publish with Amazon.

This was a whole new world, and it required my wife and me to become publishers as well as creative people.

That was a challenge but also a way to be truly independent artists.

SADYE: What period of history would you most like to travel back to, and why?

JOSEPH: I’m currently writing a historical novel my father inspired.

My dad was a natural storyteller. He put us kids to bed with stories he spun out of thin air. He never said so, but he must have had a muse, too.

Both of my parents served in the military during World War II: my dad in the Army; my mom in the Women’s Army Corps.

I wouldn’t care to actually visit that life-or-death time, but it would be really interesting if there were videos of what my parents went through back then, at home and abroad.

SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?

JOSEPH: Fortunately for me, there have been many glowing and touching reviews, but taking recency into account, I was moved by a reader who took advantage of downloading two of my temporarily free humor-oriented novels.

He said that having been laid off due to the coronavirus he couldn’t afford to buy a novel, but he’d liked those of my books that he’d read. Now, he could enjoy my two free books and take his mind off his troubles for a little while.

It’s always great to learn that your work has made someone happy, and this case was especially so.

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Learn more about Joseph Flynn on his website, where his books can also be purchased; like him on Facebook; and follow him on Twitter

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Categories: Author Interview

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