I was introduced to Joe via mutual writer friends. An accomplished author with a huge personality—he intimidated me somewhat at first, but once I got to know him, I found Joe to be genuine in every way. As my first author interview of 2012, he epitomizes the optimism we all want for the coming year. Here’s something he recently posted on one of the social networks:
Doors close, others open. Don’t pound on the one that’s closed, hoping it will open again. Instead, be ready to step through the next with a fresh, unencumbered heart.
I couldn’t agree more, please welcome the real deal, Joseph Paul Haines.
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Joseph Paul Haines was born in Canton, Ohio in 1966, the fourth son and sixth of seven children of Robert William Haines and Sarah (Sally) Mae Haines. After his father died when Joseph was three, he and six siblings were raised by their mother in a variety of different locations, including Deming, New Mexico, Bradford, PA, Beaufort, SC, Grantsville, WV, and Oxnard/Ventura, CA. The greatest number of his early years were spent in West Virginia, including a few years in a house with no running water, a well, and an outhouse with a splintered, wooden seat.
In high school, English was his worst subject. Having read in limited quantities to this point, a remedial English teacher put Jack London’s THE SEA WOLF into his hands, starting a lifelong passion with literature.
After dubious flirtations with both the military and law enforcement, Joseph started writing fiction in 1993 and attended the Clarion West Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop in Seattle in 1995.
His first story sold to Neverary Magazine, in January of 2003 and started an avalanche of short-story sales throughout the next few years including sales to Interzone, Aeon Magazine and Abyss & Apex.
His stories have been voted into the top echelons of reader’s choice polls and multiple stories have received honorable mentions in Year’s Best anthologies. His story, “Ten With a Flag” was reprinted in Nightshade books anthology, BRAVE NEW WORLDS, a collection of the best dystopian short fiction along with stories by Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonneget, Jr., Harlan Ellison and others. The book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly wherein his story was the first called out for attention. Together with Samantha Henderson, he edited the anthology, From the Trenches, from which a number of stories also received Year’s Best honorable mentions.
He is also the author of young adult fiction, including the book MAROONED, writing under the pen name of P.J. Druce.
In addition to writing, Joseph spends his spare time playing the drums, writing music, and running an infrequent karaoke show.
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Inside Joseph Paul Haines’ Mind
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Wow. You don’t pull any punches with your interview questions do you? Okay, my idea of perfect happiness is constantly being in a state of turmoil. Actually I’m serious. When everything in your life is secure and solid and immovable, you aren’t growing and as painful as it is, life should be about growth. Oh sure you can grow in certain planned areas when your life is secure, but it’s when the unexpected happens that you grow in ways you never imagined or thought would ever be possible. Life is finite. If you stick to the tried and true and comfortable, you’ll experience only part of it.
What turns you on creatively? Finger painting each other as foreplay. Oh, you meant . . . Okay. Well, the obvious answer is books and stories. I’m a writer, which also means I’m a voracious reader (usually two to three novels a week, but life has taken a lot of my spare time lately so I haven’t been able to keep up the pace) but that’s an easy answer. My biggest passion to create comes from my friends. When I sit down with or get a text message from them about something that’s troubling or exciting or frustrating, well, it gives me an insight into a different mindset that I wouldn’t otherwise see. I hear how they respond to the events in their lives, and sometimes their reactions are completely unexpected to me; things and feelings I’d never have were I in the same situation. It sets my mind racing, of course, and a story or snippet usually follows soon after.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Go buy my book.”
I don’t really pay attention to that while I’m writing, and while I’m editing I tend to kill the repetitions without committing them to memory. I do my best to not clutter my mind with worries of that nature during the creative process and see no reason to add another negative voice in my head by memorizing my failures while I’m editing. I edit, I send the manuscript to my editor and she takes care of the rest. I’m at a point with my skill that I trust I will not overindulge in repetitions and can hear the flow of a sentence and paragraph in my head. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch out for these when you’re beginning and learning your craft but after a while you have to let all those things you’ve learned take over and get to work.
What quality do I most admire in a man? Balance. Always balance. A man should be both strong and weak. He should be both demanding and accepting. He should be able to physically defend himself and also never find reason to raise a fist. Being a man is the act of standing in the middle of a teeter-totter while keeping both sides equally raised above the ground. You must give equal attention to both male and female sides of your personality and life and understand that your path should not be an easy one. If you are a capable and strong man, it’s your duty and obligation to find the more difficult path to walk because the world is full of men who can’t handle the job.
What quality do I most admire in a woman? Really? Just one? Hmm. Well, I think it would be the ability to meet and hold someone’s gaze while speaking to them. It shows not only a confidence in themselves but also a certain level of honesty and self-awareness. They understand who they are and where they fit in the world and are willing to be a part of it without compromise. It may sound like a simple thing, but I’ve found that women who are actually willing to meet your gaze while speaking are few and far between.
What is my greatest regret? I wish I’d had a better relationship with my daughter while she was a teenager. We’re working on healing those wounds now, but it will take time. Anything worth doing often does.
If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? Actually, I wish I had more of a temper, funny as that sounds. I used to have a terrible temper. It was never violent mind you, I’d just get upset far quicker than I do now. Realizing that I didn’t like the fact that others could have that much control over me, I spent years of constant self-actualization in order to beat it down. The problem is, of course, that I went too far. Being a writer, it’s my job to understand and appreciate the motives of even the most nefarious villain because no one ever sees themselves as the villain. Even Hitler thought he was doing the right thing. So when someone wrongs me, I tend to look at it through their eyes and imagine better motives than may actually exist. I could use to get a little angrier when someone wrongs me, I think. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish.
What is my greatest fear? Being buried alive. Seriously. I understand on an intellectual level that it’s impossible these days. I also understand that if I’m cremated, I’ll never have to worry about one day discovering that it is, indeed, very possible.
Which living person do I most admire? Harlan Ellison. His stories are the reason I write and his life of honesty and integrity and not allowing the idiots of the world to take advantage of him is one I’d be proud to have lived. He combines talent, fortitude, compassion, anger, fairness and uncompromising belief in the best that humanity can be.
What profession other my own would I like to attempt? Were I not a writer, I’d want to be a criminal defense attorney. No, I don’t think of the criminal as a victim or think it’s cool to try to find ways to set free the guilty but I do believe that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves someone to stand up for them when they’re at the lowest point of their lives. I used to be in law enforcement and have seen how the system can abuse the innocent as well as punish the guilty. There has to be someone there to help the system see the difference between the two.
If I could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Me, only thinner.
What do I consider my greatest achievement? Surviving. My life has unfolded in such a way to where that wasn’t always a certainty. I’ve been shot at, stabbed, been loved and loathed and still somehow managed to keep my life together. I’m just happy to be alive at this point. Whatever else happens, as they say in New Orleans, is lagniappe.
What is the trait I most deplore in others? Uncompromising judgment of others. Life is full of hard choices and unless you’d had to face them, do everyone a favor and shut your pie-hole, okay?
What is my greatest extravagance? Coffee. Seriously. I only buy high quality beans, am about to purchase my own coffee bean roaster and I use a french press. It is, as they say, the one and only true nectar of the gods. Offer me a cup of instant and we’ll no longer be on speaking terms.
What is the one thing I want to do before I die? Be the kind of father my daughter deserves. Other than that, I’m good.
What is my present state of mind? Interesting question. This last year has been full of emotional turmoil. I’ve had to re-evaluate my life and my faults and strengths and find a way to grow in ways I didn’t think possible. My current state of mind? Optimistic. I’ve made it through with only a few scars and can see great things on the horizon, even if their exact shape is still somewhat diaphanous. I know that happiness is just ahead and I’m willing to let it take its time arriving.
What are some of my favorite curse words? Oh shit, this is gonna be a long answer. Let’s see, in no specific order of preference:
Fuck. (Because it is, after all, the perfect word.)
Syphilitic afterbirth of a Mongolian Gang Rape (although that’s more an insult than a specific curse.)
What is my motto? “Happiness too is inevitable.”
Thanks Joe for being my first guest author this year. I learned a lot about you AND from you. Why is it that YA authors have the best swear words?
Readers, please leave a comment for this brilliant writer and say “hi.”
Connect with Joe
For P.J. Druce