Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: Joe DeRouen (joederouen.com) is an Amazon best-selling author of contemporary fantasy and horror novels. His most recent novel, Leap Year, has enjoyed strong reviews and currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon. His other works include the first two books of the Small Things trilogy (Small Thing, Threads, and A Pattern of Shadows) stand-alone novel Memories of a Ghost, and Odds and Endings, his collection of short stories and novellas.
Joe was born in Carthage, Illinois, and currently lives in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife Andee, their son Fletcher, and their cats Archer and Biscuit. Joe is a freelance writer, web designer, and substitute teacher. In addition to writing, he enjoys purchasing (and occasionally watching) copious amounts of Blu-Ray discs, listening to music, playing video games, and collecting Mego action figures from the 1970s.
Thanks so much, Joe, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
Joe DeRouen: I’d sit down with Ken Grimwood, author of my favorite novel Replay, and I’d ask him for the sequel I’m sure he planned to write but never did.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
JD: That’s always a hard question for me. Modern fantasy? Paranormal fantasy? Horror? Science fiction? All of those, and more.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JD: Small Things was my first published novel. It was released in 2012. It’s about a fifteen-year-old kid who must deal not only with the tragic death of his best friend, but the monster who killed him. While the protagonist is a teenager, this is definitely not a novel for kids. My impetus for the novel was this thought: people always say they remember where they were when they first heard JFK was shot, that the Challenger exploded, or when the towers fell, but something personal—like a teenager’s best friend being murdered—would stick with him even more. The novel explores grief, redemption, and more than a little magic.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
JD: I went to Moss Ridge Cemetery in Carthage, Illinois, where Small Things is set and where I grew up. I currently live in Arkansas, however, so that was a long drive! (I might really have been there for my sister’s wedding and the cemetery was just a side trip, but I’ll admit to nothing.)
JSC: Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?
JD: Not only do I occasionally base my characters on real people, but I’ve outright included real people in my novels. My grandmother, who passed away while I was writing Small Things, is in that novel. She gives Shawn, the main character, some helpful advice. I still miss Grandma Tillie, so it always makes me happy when someone remarks that they enjoyed the character.
JSC: How long have you been writing?
JD: Pretty much all my life, but professionally for almost thirty years. I started writing for various computer magazines in the mid-90s, though my true passion was always fiction. I finally published my first novel, Small Things, in 2012.
JSC: Name the book you like most among all you’ve written and tell us why.
JD: That’s a very difficult question for me, because my latest book if almost always my favorite. That said, I’ll choose Leap Year, a novel about a man who was born on leap year and ages only one year for every year that passes. Ask me tomorrow and I might choose Memories of a Ghost, Small Things, Threads, A Pattern of Shadows, or Odds and Endings!
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JD: A professional wrestler. But I’m probably a much better writer than I ever would have been a wrestler.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
JD: I like photographing 8” Mego-style action figures for my site, ourshelflife.com. Yes, I’m a nerd, and proud of it.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
JD: I’m working on about a million different things, including a novel set in the world of professional wrestling as well as a second book of short stories. Stay tuned!
And now for Joe’s new book: Small Things Omnibus Box Set :
The Small Things trilogy omnibus contains all three books in the Small Things trilogy (Small Things, Threads, A Pattern of Shadows,) a previously-published short story (Smoke), a brand new story (Redemption) and a never-before-published Small Things novella, Sundown Rising. The stories are presented in the order in which they are meant to be read. The Small Things trilogy omnibus totals 1,450 pages/370,000 words and includes all covers, artwork, and a few surprises as well!
Small Things: It’s a hot June morning in a small Midwestern town when fifteen-year-old Shawn Spencer arrives at the church for his best friend Tanner’s funeral. Though his drowning was officially ruled an accident, Tanner’s sister Jenny swears she saw something rise up from the Carthage Lake to pull the struggling teenager beneath the surface.
Shawn doesn’t believe in monsters… but he will…The real threat, however, lies in the man behind the monster, a mysterious old man who has vowed to settle an old grudge and regain something that was stolen from him decades earlier. To survive the dark days and nights ahead, Shawn must not only decipher what the man is after, he must move past his own grief, fears, and insecurities, and learn to trust in Jenny, the disgraced town sheriff, and, most importantly, in himself.
A small town horror, fantasy, paranormal, and coming of age romance. The Small Things trilogy spans forty years and three generations in a tale of murder, betrayal, corruption, sacrifice, love, redemption, faith and magic that culminates in a showdown that will pit the very forces of heaven and hell against Shawn and his family in a battle for the future of mankind and the world itself.
Sundown Rising: When Shawn and Jenny decide to visit a traveling carnival, will they find more than they bargained for? And why are Mr. Kingfisher and Mr. Quarry in town?
Threads: History is changing around nineteen-year-old Ben Spencer, and he’s powerless to stop it. His sister has disappeared, his family thinks he’s schizophrenic, and, worse yet, the girl he’s madly in love with won’t give him the time of day. Enter the mysterious Michael, who, years earlier, helped Ben’s parents defeat a powerful sorcerer bent on destroying them and reclaiming a relic stolen from him years before. With Michael’s help, Ben will travel back in time, to 1977, and attempt to set the past straight. But will he undo himself and the woman he loves in the process?
Threads is a coming of age time travel adventure complete with murder and magic, and also a magical realism love story. The Small Things trilogy spans forty years and three generations in a tale of murder, betrayal, corruption, sacrifice, love, redemption, faith and magic that culminates in a showdown that will pit the very forces of heaven and hell against Ben and his family in a battle for the future of mankind and the world itself.
Smoke: Can humans and ghosts work together to figure out what’s behind deadly and destructive fires…when they can’t even communicate?
A Pattern of Shadows: Five years ago, the demon Azazel tricked Ben Spencer into giving him possession of his body. After countless frustrating and heartbreaking dead ends, Ben’s family and his girlfriend Katy Ruskin have finally located him. Will their daring rescue attempt work, and will they be able to free Ben from the demon? And with Ben free, is everything truly over…or is it only just beginning?
A Pattern of Shadows brings the Small Things trilogy to a stunning conclusion that pits Ben and Katy and their families against the very forces of heaven and hell itself in a battle that will decide the fate of humanity. Who will survive?
Redemption: Can a former villain truly change his ways?