I’m delighted to welcome author, Joy Mutter, who kindly agreed to tell me a little about herself and her writing to coincide with this weekend’s publication of her latest book, The Hostile Game, the third novel in the ‘Hostile’ series.
I first came across Joy about a year ago when I read and enjoyed Holiday for the Hostile, a paranormal thriller and the second novel in the series. It’s original, inventive, entertaining and laced with dark humour. You can find my reviews of both novels on my Views page.
Over to you, Joy …
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands and lived there for eighteen years. I studied for a Graphic design degree in Coventry, then worked as a professional graphic designer in Kent for over 20 years. I was married for many years, but the marriage ended in 2002. As I had no social life as a graphic designer, I changed tack and worked in a butcher’s shop, a fashion department, then served five years inside a call centre. In 2011, a back problem I’ve had since 1996 worsened and management had no option except to medically discharge me. Not wanting to claim disability benefit, although I’d have been entitled to receive it, I resolved to sell my house in Kent and moved north. I bought a cheaper, yet superior, house in a quiet avenue in Oldham, freeing up some money for me to live on while I write books. At the time, my daughter was living and working as a journalist in Rochdale; my illness made me want to live closer to her, despite me not knowing anybody else in the north of England. A year after my move, my daughter had to move south because of a new job. Such is life, ha! As I live alone, and can’t get out much because of my back, it leaves me ample free time to devote to my writing, something I was always meant to do.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
Even as a young child, writing was my greatest pleasure. If I’d not been side-tracked by my long graphic design career, I would probably have written hundreds of books by now, not just ten. I might have burnt myself out if I’d been writing all my life, so I’m glad to have experienced other careers. Working in other fields before full-time writing has given me so much material to write about.
What do you enjoy most, and least, about being a writer?
Nothing makes me happier than writing, editing, designing, and publishing my books. Many authors say they dislike editing, but I enjoy the process. Even marketing is growing on me, although the only marketing I pay for are my Goodreads Giveaways. I only use free advertising on social media and haven’t the time, or the finances, for much else; I’m too busy producing my books. I don’t even have a mailing list, for the same reason. There are so many time-consuming elements involved in my life as an author, including updating my blogs, meet the author events, writing reviews and supporting other writers. My least favourite part is seeing the daunting number of other books being released each year. It’s easy to become lost in the crowd of other authors, but I’ll carry on writing regardless of that fact. I’ve already achieved my life’s ambition, by becoming an author. To become a better-known author would be a bonus, but it’s not essential. I’m already delighted with what I’ve managed to achieve on my own.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place to work?
I write, edit or design my books every day from 11am until 6pm, seven days a week. Today is Easter Sunday, yet I’ve been uploading my latest book, The Hostile Game, onto CreateSpace. I’ll continue writing Confronting The Hostile, book four of The Hostile series, for the rest of the day. Living alone, with family members scattered all over the world, it doesn’t matter to me if it is a public holiday or not. Not much prevents me from writing. My chronic back problem means that the only chair comfortable enough for me to sit in while writing is my old leather lounger, with my laptop balanced on a cushion on my thighs to prevent the heat building up. Any other type of chair is too painful for long periods of time.
Who or what inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
Even as a graphic designer, I’ve always been an ideas person, so I’m never short of something to write about. My paranormal crime thriller, Random Bullets, sprang from my sister’s chance remark after our father disinherited me for no obvious reason. The Hostile paranormal thriller series came about after I spotted a weird-looking domestic object inside my bathroom.
How do you create your characters?
They spring out of nowhere, demanding to be heard. There’s usually a part of me in each character, particularly Edward, the disinherited killer in Random Bullets, apart from the killing people bit, naturally. Like Edward, I too was disinherited by a crazy parent when the other siblings weren’t, but I handled the hurt slightly differently. I feel Edward’s pain, which is why Random Bullets is close to my heart and my favourite book of the ten.
How would you describe your books/stories?
Eclectic, unusual, honest, involving, thought-provoking. I’ve written and published books in several different genres, including crime thrillers, short stories, memoirs, contemporary novels, horror, paranormal, fantasy, and one non-fiction book about my love of old postcards. I write about whatever subject takes my fancy. If I’m enthusiastically enjoying writing a book, there’s a good chance the reader will also enjoy it.
Talking specifically about the Hostile series, can you tell me how you got the idea and developed the stories?
It’s hard to believe I’m currently writing book four in The Hostile series, considering that the initial idea came from noticing how eerie something looked on my bathroom floor. As with all my books, the starting point is an initial idea. I never plan a book as it would be a pointless exercise. New ideas fire off as I write, which often change the entire direction of a book. My stories play out in my head, as though I’m sitting inside a cinema. I merely write down what I see as effectively as possible.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
In 2013, I met and befriended Diane at an Oldham writing group. She gave me the confidence to self-publish on Kindle Direct and CreateSpace rather than go down the traditional publishing route. Without her initial advice about self-publishing, and her encouragement while I taught myself how to do it, there wouldn’t now be ten of my books on Amazon in Kindle, paperback, plus a couple of audiobook editions on Audible, iTunes and Amazon.
What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
If I had a choice, I would still be involved in a creative career, possibly something artistic, as I was a professional graphic designer for 20 years. I don’t plan to be anything other than an author, although I might seek out more editing and proofreading work.
What are your plans/ambitions for the future?
I plan to carry on writing, designing and publishing my books until I die. I’m 62 and my hope is to make it to 66, when I’ll be entitled to claim my state pension, without having to claim any disability benefits before that date. If I run out of money before then, I’d have no qualms about claiming disability allowance, as I’ve worked hard and paid taxes all my long life, and have never claimed unemployment or disability benefit. I have a permanent inoperable slipped disc and can’t walk far, or do what most people would consider normal activities. I tend to find positives in negatives; without my back issues, I might not have become a self-employed writer, an occupation which gives me, and hopefully my readers, endless pleasure.
Describe a typical day.
Although I started writing my first books in 2007, The Mug Trilogy, I’ve been writing full-time since 2011 when I fell ill. My daily routine starts with getting up around 9am. I settle into my lounger, deal with my emails, then market my ten books on social media. At about 11am, I start writing, editing, designing the covers of whichever book I’m working on. I stop creative work about 6pm, take my warfarin to prevent me getting a fifth DVT, eat, then watch television while marketing my books on social media. Bedtime is usually after midnight, when I always read books for an hour or two. Before sleep, I think about what I’ll be writing the next day, writing ideas in the notebook I keep by my bed.
Describe yourself in three words.
Imaginative, disciplined, author.
Thank you, Joy, and good luck with The Hostile Game and all your books.