M. J. Joseph was born in the Old Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, costing his parents $27. The fact that the building, designed by the Hungarian architect, Albert Olszewski von Herbulis, was the first Catholic hospital built in Florida, was completely lost upon Joseph, whose religious interests, if any, have never been detected. Now a musty, declining stone pile listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places, the hospital, later abandoned by the Daughters of Charity, currently houses a pizza joint and a Montessori school. As a matter of curiosity, Joseph’s children attended the Montessori school.
Joseph grew up along Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Island, and found himself torn away from the waterfront to attend grammar school, junior high school and high school, which he found to be hideously cruel and flagitiously boring. He loved his university years, however.
Joseph eventually was allowed to enter his family’s industrial firm, where he ultimately became CEO and managed the company’s merger with a multinational corporation. Throughout the years, Joseph has written travel accounts and fiction for his own amusement, but, at the insistence of numerous friends, allowed the publication of his novel, The Lübecker, now available wherever fine literature is sold.
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Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
Thank you for allowing me to be interrogated by you! The simple answer as to why I wanted to be an author is because I could afford the time, and the expense, to choose my own path to publication. I had never had the least interest in exposing my work to anyone, but, at my wife’s urging, agreed to share the manuscript of The Lübecker with friends and with their encouragement, decided to offer the book to the public.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
Writing, in any genre, for any reason, has always been worthwhile to me. Frankly, I don’t find writing demanding, only finding the time to do so. I am always grateful for opportunities to write and cherish the time afforded by my family and circumstances that allow me to tap-out a few sentences.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I found traditional publishing a colossal waste of my time. Waiting for an agent or editor to sanctify my work is absolutely demeaning and I have absolutely no interest in pursuing that route to publication. They can pursue me. I pitched a small publisher to review my novel and determine if it met the standards of their list and simply agreed to underwrite the cost to edit and publish the book. I would not, however, encourage anyone to use a vanity press.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
My wife is patient with my absences, to a point. I do not depend upon writing for income and am sensitive to the effect of its indulgence, so usually, I am able to pace the process responsibly.
Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
I would never neglect a pet, and currently my wife and I have two cats, which she dotes upon, leaving me quite free of the care and feeding of the beasts.
Are your plants actually still alive?
I love trees, particularly magnolias, hickories and river birches. I need a new hickory.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
I wrote The Lübecker away from my home, while my wife was still involved in her career and my children were in college and law school, so family demands usually could be addressed in the evening, after my sessions with the book.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
I really don’t wish to answer this question, but will say that every serious author should involve an attorney with every phase of the process and not be afraid to loose them upon any party violating an agreement.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I take guidance from the web studio handling my online presence and, of course, my amazing publicist, and would increase social media exposure only upon their recommendation. I can’t, in any event, imagine tapping-out tweets all day to attract readers, but I certainly respect, and suspect, the power of social media.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
Book sales are a gauge of readership and mostly dependent upon the efforts of my publicist to get the book before reviewers and others influential in promoting books. As personal commitment, I am willing to go to extraordinary lengths to help The Lübecker perform well for independent bookstores and welcome the opportunity, particularly on my website and with personal appearances, to promote independent booksellers.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Well, now, ma’am, you all must appreciate that the heritage of good manners coating, or even perhaps, infusing, my personality like sugar over one my aunt Allie Mae’s special dewberry cobblers would prevent me from screaming about anything from a rooftop. Why, it just wouldn’t be done, ma’am, lest the soul of my long-departed great-great-great grandmother Sally should arise from nearby New Hope Cemetery and declare that such ostentation would bring pure, unmixed, shame upon her legacy. With the greatest respect, are you, perchance, a Yankee lady, ma’am?
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
I’m very happy that the publication of The Lübecker has allowed me the opportunity to share my thoughts about the little old thing with you. I do, so hope, that our little dialog will inspire such homologation that you’ll include it in your blog and that, perhaps, one fine day we’ll have a real, live, tête-à-tête, over some of that Chamomile tea you mentioned!