1. Tell me about your book Up in the Treehouse and where you got your inspiration for it?
Up in the Treehouse is a novel that follows two boys, Charlie and Johnny, from about the age of six to the age of sixteen. As they mature and their friendship deepens, they find themselves on the receiving end of a bullying campaign that ends in tragedy. The inspiration for the novel has some basis in reality, sadly, but it was an ugly memory that had to be addressed.
2. Why did you want to write this book?
Most of my work is not explicitly autobiographical, and it doesn’t usually deal with teenagers. Nor is most of my output naturalistic. I usually write crime novels, science fiction, and horror. This was a chance to stretch myself and go in a different direction.
3. Do you find your social life hampered by your writing life?
I am pretty much a hermit, content to stay home with my dog, drinking coffee, listening to music, and reading. So not only does my writing not hamper my social life, it gives me a pretext to avoid social situations I don’t want to be involved in.
4. How do you feel about public appearances? Do you do them often?
I’ve done a couple of readings with the author Scott Phillips, who wrote The Ice Harvest (later adapted into a film starring John Cusack, directed by Harold Ramis). I enjoyed meeting Scott and Jed Ayres (another great crime writer), but I don’t like to publicly read from my work. I was nervous and rather than standing in front of the crowd, I sat among them and read at a table.
5. How do you motivate yourself to keep writing?
One of my favorite writers of all time, Richard Price, once said words to the effect that you don’t judge an artist by how good or bad they are at something. You judge them by, if you were to take away their ability to do what they do, whether or not they would lose their mind. For me it usually isn’t a question of motivation. I feel like an addict who can’t control himself.
6. Is there one area of your writing that you’ve always wanted to improve upon?
Some of my favorite writers are minimalists, like James M. Brown or William Wharton. I have a pretty baroque style, which leads to some beautiful passages, but can also be distracting. I would like to learn to be more disciplined, understated.
7. Do you have anyone you go to for advice? In person or Online?
John Sheppard was the first professional writer I approached requesting a blurb for one of my early novels. He was, and continues to be, a very gracious mentor. He did his MFA under the brilliant writer Harry Crews. All of our correspondence (over the course of about three years now) has taken place online, although we may meet sometime in the future, for a reading in the Noir at the Bar series.
8. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, what would it be?
When I was twelve or thirteen I wanted to be trapped in either Roseanne or Twin Peaks, because of the crushes I had on Sara Gilbert, Madchen Amick, and Sherilyn Fenn, respectively. The only show I watch with any consistency at this point is The Simpsons, but I’m not sure I’d like to be trapped in a cartoon (maybe too hallucinogenic!).
9. What does love feel like to you?
The comedian Chris Rock once said when you first meet someone, you’re not really meeting them; you’re meeting their representative. Love, then, for me, is that moment where you and your girl-/boyfriend husband/partner drop the charade and expose the worst or weirdest parts of yourself to the other person, and that other person stays with you. Love is when she farts in front of you and you’re still attracted to her.
10. What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?
I just finished Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes. He’s a great writer, known primarily as a poet, which makes this foray into action all-the-more impressive. It’s short and sweet and gives one a lot of verisimilitude in describing postmodern Appalachia.
Joseph Hirsch is the author of several published books, novellas, articles, and short stories. He previously served as a correspondent for Fight Hype, covering boxing matches around the globe. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in German Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He served four years in the U.S. Army, wherein his travels took him to Iraq, Texas, and Germany. His novel Up in the Treehouse is coming soon from Caliburn Press.
Author Website: www.joeyhirsch.com
Book Website: www.upinthetreehouse.net