Colin Garrow interviewed me for his website in February 2019
From paranormal and psychological crime thrillers to autobiographies and non-fiction, she’s done it all. So who is the real Joy Mutter?
For the Hostile series you created a rather unusual entity as its villain – where did this idea come from?
I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. My overactive imagination kicked into overdrive when I noticed a strange, alien-looking face looking back at me from the surface of one of my abstract floor tiles in my bathroom. I intended to write only one book in the Hostile series, but there are now four, with the potential to write a fifth. It’s funny to think I’ve written four books all centring around the odd-looking tile in my bathroom. Although it might appear The Hostile series would be suitable for children, it contains mature themes. Saying that, I was reading adult books, such as Hesse’s Steppenwolf, and Kerouac’s On the Road, before I was twelve. I was even summoned for a scolding by my school’s headmistress after Valley of the Dolls was found in my possession. I was eventually expelled from that stuffy school, which worked out better for me.
Your books sometimes include a lot of blood and gore – do you worry that this might put some readers off your books?
I can be squeamish and turn off any television programme where there’s too much violence, especially torture scenes. I’m still traumatised after watching the drawn-out execution scene in Braveheart. My squeamishness hasn’t prevented me from writing violent scenes in my books, as violent as many other authors have written. There’s never anything in my books that I couldn’t handle reading. As I am an extremely sensitive person, I’m my own benchmark as to how far I can push the boundaries. I usually have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek whenever I write my more extreme scenes, such as the Nurse Bell scene in The Trouble With Liam. If readers don’t understand my dark humour then they might be offended, but causing offence is never my intention. Those readers who understand me usually enjoy even my most extreme books, like The Trouble With Liam, and The Hostile series.
I have more problems trying to tame the sex in my books rather than the violence. I’ve always been extremely broad-minded. It’s a constant struggle to keep any sex scenes subdued enough to escape a reader backlash. I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of woman in life or in my writing style. My books’ sex scenes can be explicit, sometimes extreme. One of my two WIPs is a thriller in the Trouble Trilogy. It deals with a sex-addicted police family liaison officer, two blackmailing sexual deviants, and several other deeply immoral characters, so you can tell I’ll have a challenging editing process ahead of me. Wish me luck.
You’ve said elsewhere that living alone allowed you the time to write, so do you think your writing career might not have happened if this had not been the case.
I started writing my first three books in 2007 when I was in a relationship. I was also working full-time, so writing was a lower priority for me than it is now. I developed a chronic back condition in 2011 and was medically discharged from my job. Not wanting to claim disability benefit, I made the bold, some might say foolhardy decision to sell my home in Kent and buy a much cheaper property in the north of England where I knew nobody. To survive, I also cashed in my private pension and have been living solely on that money and the money from buying a cheaper property. Fingers crossed I survive financially until 2020 when I’ll receive the State pension. I’d probably have written a book or two by now if I’d remained in a relationship. Now single and living alone, I’m currently writing my fourteenth and fifteenth books, which I’d never have had the time to do if I’d remained in a relationship. There’s a slim chance I might have been as prolific if I’d been in a relationship with an author as devoted to writing as I am and willing to share the chores.
Thinking back to when you started writing, what advice would you give to someone starting out now as an indie author?
Don’t. Just kidding. In 2015, I made the error of publishing four of my books at once because I was so excited. Knowing what I know now, I should have staggered their release dates, but I was fairly clueless back then. Most of what I’ve learned since 2015 about self-publication has come from trial and error. Talking to other authors in book groups on social media or in real life has helped. Even if a new indie author diligently involves themselves in social media and pays for the occasional book advert, most of the millions of other talented indie authors are doing the same. It’s nigh impossible to be heard above the din of other authors. New authors should expect to be disappointed in the response to their first book. If their debut book flies, that’s a bonus and they’ve been extremely lucky. Nobody will love their book as much as the author does. Some might hate it and let the author and the public know they do. Most worthwhile authors are sensitive creatures, so it’s hard not to be badly hurt by idiots, sorry, one-star reviewers. Every author eventually learns to brush off negative reviews. They learn to comfort themselves by reading a few of their five-star reviews. Never give up. Try to write something every day. Don’t aspire to write. Write, and keep writing because you love it. If you don’t love it, please stop as you’ll probably never produce anything worth reading.
Do you believe in writer’s block and if so, what do you do about it?
I luckily have never suffered from any serious writer’s block. The Trouble With Liam took me a year to write, which is about three times as long as any of my other books. It took longer because I had some medical problems which made me feel less like writing. Although I have certain chronic ailments, I’m happy to be back to my usual writing pattern. I usually write my way out of any writing blockage. It helps to walk away from my laptop and return to it another day. The problem is often easily solvable when viewed with fresh eyes.
New ideas always seem to pop up as I write, which is why I never plan how my fiction books will turn out. My one non-fiction book, Living with Postcards, had to be planned. My autobiographical Mug Trilogy had already been planned for me because it’s my life’s story. Apart from these four books, I’ve been as interested to discover how the story will progress and end as the reader. A large part of why I continue writing is not knowing what will happen in my books. It sometimes feels as though someone else is writing them with my body acting as the conduit, especially in The Hostile series.
Do you write to please your readers or to please yourself?
I write primarily for my own pleasure. If I didn’t get a buzz from the entire writing process, my books would end up dry and joyless. It’s a wonderful bonus when readers say they’ve enjoyed the finished products. As every author knows, not all readers will appreciate a book, but I no longer allow a negative review from a reader who’s not on my wavelength to stop me writing.
What do you think about the many social media groups (such as Facebook), and do you think it’s important for writers to subscribe to them?
Since publishing my first books in 2015, I’ve belonged to a wide range of book groups on Facebook, Google +, Goodreads. Instagram and Twitter are also important. They’re all useful tools to publicise books for free, for useful information, and for receiving and giving welcome support. My priority is always my current WIP, so I don’t haunt social media as much as I probably should. I usually check in at least once a day to all my social media sites and guess most authors do much the same. I’d probably have sold hardly any books if I’d shunned social media. An author friend of mine has shunned using social media for promotion and her sales are virtually static.
Have you taken any courses to help with the writing process, or to help tackle the many technical aspects of being an indie author?
I’ve attended about half a dozen group and one-to-one writing workshops held by authors since 2015. They didn’t change my life or writing style but were interesting. I enjoy gaining inspiration from talks given by various authors, like Val McDermid, Rachel Abbott, David Mark, for instance when they come to give talks at my local library. I’ve given a couple of author talks myself at the library and at a theatre.
In my first two or three years as a published author, I attended a couple of local writing groups which helped at the time, especially as I made three good friends there. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of my friend, Diane at the first writing group, I might never have had the courage to self-publish. She pointed me in the right direction, and I took it from there. I appreciate these three women authors as they are the only people who I see socially. My family all live hundreds of miles away from me, so it’s wonderful to occasionally meet up with Diane, Helen, and Kath. I stopped attending the writing groups because they became less valuable to me. Fortunately, I kept the three friends. I’d relish meeting more authors socially, maybe in a less formal setting than a writing group, like a restaurant or pub for instance, not that I’m a big drinker.
In terms of your writing, how is the ‘Trouble’ series different from the others?
Only book one, The Trouble with Liam, has been published in this trilogy of thrillers, so I don’t know how the other two books I’m writing will pan out. I have a fairly good idea, though, as I’ve written 32 chapters of The Trouble with Russell, and 35 chapters of The Trouble with Trouble. I can already see there is more sex than in any of my other books because of the subject matter and storylines. It can’t be avoided but I will have to modify The Trouble With Trouble or risk destroying everything I’ve been striving for since 2007 when I started writing my first book.
Do you have many unpublished novels/stories?
I’ve written a large chunk of a book so extreme it will probably never be published, that’s if I decide to finish it. It’s probably fortunate I’m too busy writing other books but I might finish it one day. It would raise a few eyebrows if it was ever discovered in a folder on my laptop after my ashes have been sprinkled in the sea at Anne Port Bay in Jersey.
How many hours a day do you write, and do you stick to a set schedule?
I usually write or edit my WIP from eleven in the morning until six in the evening, seven days a week. If I’m particularly inspired, I’ll carry on writing through until midnight and beyond. I’ve felt particularly inspired recently while writing The Trouble With Trouble and have produced more words than usual. I’m aware much of what I’ve written will be censored and cut in the editing process, but the first draft has flowed unrestrained.
Enid Blyton used to write 10,000 words per day. Do you think this sort of word-count is a useful target for writers?
Hooray for Enid, but I would become too drained if I wrote 10,000 words a day. I prefer quality over quantity. Two thousand words or so is what I like to achieve. On particularly inspired days, I’ve written about five thousand words. With a body of work behind me, I’ve stopped counting. I don’t beat myself up if I’ve written none. Writing books is my passion, so it’s no hardship to devote most of my waking hours to it. I occasionally take a few days off from writing to let my brain refuel.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
My first three books, The Mug trilogy, were third-person autobiographies which expunged my desire to be subjective in my following books. My wise mother was correct when she said to me, ‘Your three autobiographies have cleaned out the pipes so your fiction can now flow freely.’
As with any author, readers who know me can easily spot where I’ve used many of my experiences in my thrillers or short stories. There’s a scene in one of my books where a man enters a dovecot and kills two fan-tailed pigeons. It’s shocking in the book, but real life can be as bad if not worse. I remember the day in my childhood when my father, now deceased, shot all the fan-tailed pigeons in the large dovecot in our garden. He said they were costing too much to feed. I’m a sixty-four-year-old divorced mother to an adult daughter. I’ve led a full, sometimes unconventional life, so there are countless experiences for me to draw on.
How do you approach creating covers for your books?
I was a professional graphic designer for print for over twenty years before becoming an author. I’ve used these skills to design and lay out all my books after doing the same for many other books for publishers such as Hodder Headline and Pinters. Designing, laying out, and publishing my own books is such a pleasure. I’m not an illustrator or wealthy, so usually use online royalty-free images and adapt them to make them unique. Having designed all my own covers, interiors, and publicity material, I haven’t paid anything to produce all thirteen books, except for the narration of my audiobook editions.
While on the subject of not paying for author services, I’ve edited seven books by other authors and have always edited my own books. I’ve received no complaints about poorly editing and some reviewers have congratulated me on the lack of typos in my books. I know for a fact my books have less typos than many professionally edited books. I have an annoying habit of marking errors on my Kindle whenever I read other authors’ books. I could tell some tales about when I’ve been asked to rescue a couple of authors who’ve paid hundreds of pounds to so-called professional editors for editing their books who’ve missed as many as 450 errors in them. 450 errors was the worst case I came across, but I know of other similar horror stories.
What prompted you to make your books available in audio format, and what issues did this raise?
I love listening to audiobooks while I’m sunbathing, on long journeys, or cooking my evening meal. I thought it would be fun to have audiobook editions of some of my books for listeners to enjoy. Some people prefer audiobooks to other formats, so it made sense to satisfy their need. Visually impaired people also deserve to be entertained. Nine of my thirteen books have audiobook versions, all available on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.
As a devout indie author, I decided to narrate Her demonic Angel, and Book 1 of The Hostile series myself. As the narrator, it meant I paid nothing to produce the audiobook on ACX. It was an exhausting, long-winded process, especially the sound editing. It also prevented me from writing my WIP, so I decided to pay professional narrators to work on the next seven audiobooks. I’m a relatively unknown author, so I’m aware it’s unlikely I’ll ever recover the hundreds of pounds I’ve paid my narrators for each audiobook. I’m perfectly fine with that.
Alexander Doddy narrated books two to four in the Hostile series plus Random Bullets. Tracey Norman narrated Potholes and Magic Carpets, A Slice of the Seventies, and The Trouble with Liam. I thoroughly enjoyed working with such highly talented narrators and hope to work with them again in the future. I earn more from my audiobooks than from my Kindles and paperbacks, but that’s not saying much.
Have you ever written a character or real person with an actor in mind?
I’ve never had any actor of either sex in mind while writing a book because I wouldn’t want any character in the book to become contaminated by the traits of a well-known actor. I’m too busy thinking about the protagonists in my WIP to waste my energy allocating an actor to them. If a producer was ever wise enough to make a film or television series of The Hostile quartet, for instance, I’d want to have some say with the casting. Until that time, it’s not a priority.
Author Robert Crouch interviewed me for his website in April 2017
A Joy to read
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.
You can find out more about Joy on her website, her Amazon Author Page, and social media.
Hola my lovlies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with author Joy Mutter
Joy Mutter was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands and lived there for eighteen years. After gaining a Graphic Design Degree at Coventry University, she lived and worked in Kent as a professional graphic designer for twenty years. She moved to Oldham in 2012 and has been writing and publishing her books full-time since then.
Although Joy has been writing books since 2007, she waited until 2015 to publish six of them on Amazon. Two more books followed in 2016. All eight are now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, two are also available as audiobooks on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
Her first three books are mainly autobiographical and form The Mug Trilogy. Books in this series are A Slice of the Seventies, The Lying Scotsman and Straws. Her fourth book, Potholes and Magic Carpets, is contemporary fiction. Living with Postcards is the author’s first non-fiction book. Random Bullets, is a crime thriller with a paranormal twist and the author’s favourite.
Her demonic Angel was published in early 2016. It is a collection of the author’s short stories, written in various genres. As well as the paperback and Kindle editions, there are also audiobook versions of Her demonic Angel and The Hostile. She is currently working on producing audiobooks of several of her other works. In April 2016, Joy published The Hostile, a paranormal thriller and is currently working on final drafts of its sequel called Holiday for The Hostile. Random Bullets and Potholes and Magic Carpets audiobooks are in production and she intends to make an audiobook edition of Holiday for The Hostile. She is planning to write a third book in series.
Please feel free to read a sample of my 2016 paranormal thriller The Hostile, book one in The Hostile series. http://amzn.to/2blBo12. Book two, Holiday for The Hostile, will be published on Amazon in late 2016 or early 2017.
You may prefer to read a sample of Random Bullets, my paranormal crime thriller, published late 2015. Here is the link http://amzn.to/2btTrAC
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write, edit and design whatever my current WIP happens to be every day of the week including weekends, usually from 11 to 6. The rest of the day I’m marketing the eight books I’ve already published. I live and breathe my books and try to find time to also support other authors in their book launches.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I find it more exciting and enjoyable not to plot out my books. If I’m enjoying exploring what will happen, so will the reader. Even if I did plot rigidly, ideas would start to fire off and the plan would probably change or be scrapped. I usually have a general idea and start writing. Before I know it, my book is written. I love editing my work, so I make 4 drafts at least of each one before I’m satisfied. I’m as interested to see what develops as the reader. My books often feel like they write themselves thanks to the characters.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? As I was a graphic designer for over 20 years, I design my own book covers.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Never give up improving your work and don’t aspire to write, just write every day. Grow a thick skin so you don’t take criticism personally. Not everyone will love what you write, but carry on writing for those that do. Expect disappointment, then the successes are all the sweeter. Build up a social media network. Don’t bank on making money from writing as only a lucky few survive on writing alone. Your reward should come from the writing process itself.
Where do your ideas come from? My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve never yet experienced writer’s block. My current series, The Hostile, was solely inspired by me spotting a strange object in my house. Random Bullets came about following a chance remark made by my sister regarding our father’s will.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Marketing and trying not to become despondent when nobody buys a single book for weeks but only download my free Kindles. I give away more Goodreads Giveaways of my paperbacks and more free kindles than I’ve sold in my first year, but it has generated reviews, so I’m fine with that.
What is the current book you are promoting? My WIP is Holiday for The Hostile, book two in my paranormal thriller series, The Hostile. I am working on the second draft and have started a Launch Team group on Facebook, the first time I’ve ever done that.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Let me simply say that Holiday for The Hostile is even stranger than The Hostile, which a few reviewers said was the strangest book they’ve ever read. Fortunately, they went on to say they loved it.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Edward in Random Bullets is by far my favourite character. I can empathise with him as we were both born in Jersey and disinherited by a parent, but I would never do what he did in the book. Promise.
If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? I would cast James Nesbitt as Keith in The Hostile because not only is James a brilliant actor, Keith has Irish roots although lives in Manchester. He is father to teenage Serena, the main character in The Hostile and plays an important role throughout the series, both alive and dead.
What is your next project? I will probably write the third book in The Hostile series. I had originally only intended to write one book, The Hostile, but it has unexpectedly grown into a series.
Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? I narrate my own audiobooks and have thoroughly enjoyed reading my own books aloud. I often can’t wait to see what happens as I have a terrible memory, ha!
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Write what I’d want to read.
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? My problem is that I’m not self-conscious in the slightest about writing sex scenes, but I have ensured that they do not detract from the story my republished, less sexually explicit second editions of my fiction books as they did in the first editions of those books.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? The stigma is thankfully dwindling, but not fast enough.
What do your fans mean to you? It’s wonderful to have readers like John, who I don’t know personally. I don’t even know what he looks like. He has bought every book as he loves them and is champing at the bit for me to publish book nine, Holiday for The Hostile.
Tell us something unique about you. I was interviewed in my house in Oldham in February 2016 by two BBC Radio 4 producers from London as part of their Analysis programme on Inheritance. They’d heard that Random Bullets deals with the divisive subject of disinheritance and its aftermath, something I’ve experienced personally.
Many thanks! For more about Joy and her work, follow the links below:
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / BookTrailer / Instagram / YouTube / Google
The Writing Life of: Joy Mutter
Joy Mutter grew up in Jersey in the Channel Islands. After gaining a graphic design degree, she moved to Kent, married and worked as a professional graphic designer for over twenty years until her divorce in 2002. She moved to Oldham in 2012 and has been writing full-time ever since.
Over the past few years, Joy has written, designed and published eight books; seven are fiction and one is non-fiction. All of her books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.
The Hostile and Her demonic Angel and other short stories are also audiobooks, narrated by Joy. Actor Toby Van de Peer is currently working on narrating her favourite book, Random bullets so that it can also be released as an audiobook.
1) Do you remember the moment you decided that you would like to become a writer?
Young Joy yearned to be an author and wrote copious stories and poems. I read books way beyond my age and won the poetry cup at school. I have always had the desire to give readers as much pleasure as so many authors of different genres have given to me. I would dream of writing books full-time, yet never thought it would become a reality. I am still in shock at having achieved my ambition at the age of sixty.
2) How did you go about following your dream?
For decades I had no spare time to write, being too busy looking after my husband and daughter on a smallholding in Kent whilst running a graphic design business. I gave up graphic design in 2002 following my divorce. After a few crazy years reinventing myself, I knuckled down to write seriously in 2007. I have never stopped since and have no intention of doing so.
In my fifties, I worked in a call centre in Tunbridge Wells for five years, writing in my spare time. None of my books had as yet been published. In 2011, my back gave out. I was medically discharged from work after being told that my back condition was incurable. Never having claimed any benefits, I was not about to start. I opted to try to turn a negative into a positive. My daughter was working in Stockport, so I boldly decided to sell my terraced house in Kent and move north to Oldham to write, despite never having visited the area.
I am surviving solely on the financial difference between my old home in Kent and this cheaper, yet superior, house in Oldham. A change of job took my daughter back south a year later, so I am alone. Living alone in an unfamiliar place can be viewed as an advantage, because writing is an insular occupation.
I met Diane at a local writing group. She gave me the encouragement and confidence to self-publish. I enjoyed the Createspace and KDP process so much that to date I have self-published eight books on Amazon, all under my own name. Book nine is progressing well.
3) Is there a particular author that inspires you?
I have my own voice but that voice must have been subconsciously influenced by the multitude of other authors of most genres that I have enjoyed over the decades.
I have developed my own style through reading widely. I have never consciously tried to emulate any of them, nor would I ever wish to.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any strange writing habits?
I like to write, edit, design, publish and market my books between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day, including weekends and Bank Holidays. My evenings are often used for marketing. I have nothing to distract me from devoting my life to writing, which is how I have managed to publish eight books in a comparatively short space of time.
Marketing my books sucks up too much of the day, but it is a necessary evil due to the market being awash with authors. Making myself heard above the roar of so many authors trying to market their books is a gargantuan, frustrating task, as I have scant spare money or any outside help. The difference between book marketing and mowing the lawn is that I see results after mowing the grass and it’s less tiring.
I aim to write 2,000 words a day on the first draft, but have been known to occasionally write up to 5,000. I have recently redesigned the covers of each book in all formats and republished all eight. Designing my book covers and interiors has been an enjoyable opportunity to utilise my twenty years working as a graphic designer.
As a comparatively unknown author, I currently give away more free Kindles, paperbacks in Goodreads Giveaways, free promo codes for my audiobooks, than I sell. It is early days as my first books were published in July 2015. Come what may, I am determined to carry on writing. It is in my blood.
5) Do you write Longhand, Type writer, Computer?
I prefer using a laptop because I often like to reorganise chunks of my books during edits. I edit each book at least four times and it is much easier to use a laptop. I made eight drafts of The Lying Scotsman.
I always carry a notebook to jot down ideas and there’s one by my bed. I recently had to buy a new laptop, not before time. I was fed up with having to repeatedly hammer the ‘p’ key before it cooperated.
6) From all your books, do you have a favourite character?
It would have to be Edward in Random Bullets because I too know what it feels like to be disinherited by a parent. I hasten to add that I would never act the way he did in the book.
In February, I was interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Analysis’ programme on the subject of ‘Inheritance’. Two BBC producers travelled from London to Oldham to record the interview after hearing about why I had written Random Bullets. I think my #disinheritance tag on Twitter brought me to their attention. I was honoured to share the radio programme with our ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Toby Young amongst several other celebrities.
7) Do you plot your books completely before hand or do you let your imagination flow whilst in the writing process?
My fiction work is often triggered by one central idea. The Hostile came about solely because of a strange object in my house. The prompt to write Random Bullets was a chance remark from my sister concerning our father’s will.
I allow the characters to mostly dictate the ebb and flow of a book. I am usually as eager to know what will happen as the reader. So many of the most successful elements in my books come about by chance, through allowing the characters speak to me. I have a general, central idea but often the characters dictate the direction of the story as they develop during the writing. At times it has felt as though the characters are writing the book, not me. I am merely their portal and mouthpiece.
My memoirs in The Mug trilogy were different; I had to stick to facts and there was a predetermined plan. Living with Postcards is structured because it is non-fiction. If I ever decided to construct a hard and fast plan for a fiction book, I know that ideas would start firing off and take me into unexplored territory; the plan would end up in the bin.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages – 196
Release Date – 27th April 2016
In a rundown area of Manchester, inside a bathroom in a small terraced house overflowing with children and dysfunctional parents, an unfathomable, powerful entity befriends young Serena with disastrous effect.
The enigmatic force not only dramatically affects introverted Serena’s life, but threatens the well-being of everyone she knows, especially those people who for some reason have earned the strange girl’s displeasure. It soon becomes clear that nobody should ever upset Serena if they know what’s good for them.
After reading The Hostile, you will never look at D.I.Y. in the same way again. The Hostile is an offbeat contemporary thriller with a sprinkling of paranormal.
8) How long did it take to get from the ideas stage, to the date of publication?
On average, it takes about six months for me to write and publish a book. I am usually thinking up ideas for the next book whilst finalising the WIP.
9) Did you suffer from writer’s block at any stage? How did you overcome it?
I fortunately have never suffered from that problem. If I ever did, I would question whether the book I was writing was worth writing. If I found it too difficult to write, there’s a chance the reader might not enjoy it. One of the main reasons for me writing is to transfer the thrill and enjoyment I experience through writing to the reader.
10) How did you come up with the name(s)for your lead character(s)?
The names seem to spring up in my brain to fit the character but I also research names on the internet if they are foreign.
11) If your book was made in to a film, who would you love to play the lead character(s)?
I think that James Nesbitt would make an excellent Keith in The Hostile, especially as Keith has Irish roots.
12) Did you get anyone in particular to read your work before sending it to the publisher i.e family member, friend etc?
My mother is my harshest critic and has been invaluable. I have taken many of her criticisms on board. My style has improved because of changes she has suggested.
My daughter is a deputy editor on a magazine and has been a journalist for years and has also been very useful throughout. Diane from my old writing group has been a huge help as she gave me the confidence to self-publish in the first place.
Other books by Joy Mutter
My first three books were memoirs, consisting of A Slice of the Seventies, The Lying Scotsman and Straws. I switched from what I named The Mug Trilogy and wrote a character-led novel. Potholes and Magic Carpets is about the lives of four fictitious couples of varying ages, professions and sexual persuasions, all linked by either blood or friendship.
Living with Postcards is my only non-fiction, fully colour-illustrated book, using postcards from my own collection of over 2,000 cards that I have collected since writing my main thesis at Art college in the seventies on Fantasy in Postcards. I am proud to have gained a First with Distinction for that thesis. I was asked back then to lecture on the subject, but I felt that I was too young. I wrote a book instead.
Random Bullets is my favourite book of the eight and has been the most successful with readers. It is a thriller with a sprinkling of paranormal that deals with disinheritance, something I have experienced. My childhood in Jersey was far from ideal, thanks to my father. I was surprised to learn that he had disinherited me for no apparent reason, which happens to Edward, the main character in Random Bullets.
Her demonic Angel is a baker’s dozen of short stories, written in different genres. These tales, all different shades of dark, are available as an audiobook as well as in paperback and Kindle editions.
I published The Hostile on Amazon in April 2016. It is an unusual contemporary thriller with a paranormal twist. I am currently writing its sequel after having narrated and published an audiobook edition of my book a couple of months ago. I had already ventured into narrating and sound-editing when I published an audiobook of Her demonic Angel earlier this year. They are both available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. An audiobook of Random Bullets will soon be available.
Amazon Author Page
Interview with Author – Joy Mutter
About Joy Mutter:
I was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands too many decades ago to mention. I went by the almost impossible to pronounce name of Joy Houiellebecq until my marriage in 1984. My profession was graphic designer for twenty years after gaining a Graphic Design Degree in Coventry. I then lived briefly in London before becoming a wife, mother and divorcee in Kent.
After developing a chronic back condition in 2012, not wishing to claim benefits I took the bold, some might say foolhardy action of selling my house in Kent and moving to the North of England in order to help fund my long-held ambition of becoming a full-time, published author. I now spend most of my days, including weekends writing books.
I have written six books since 2007 and decided to publish them all on Amazon in Kindle editions in July 2015. By November 2015 I had also published them all in paperback editions. The first three of my books are mainly autobiographical and form the Mug Trilogy. Potholes and Magic Carpets and Random Bullets are contemporary fiction. I have also published a non-fiction book, Living with Postcards which can also be found on Amazon. Random Bullets is a contemporary thriller with a fantasy twist.
I am now working on a collection of short stories in different genres, plus another erotic thriller with a fantasy twist. My intention is to publish both books in 2016. I also intend making audiobook editions of at least a couple of my fiction books in 2016. It appears that 2016 will be a busy year for me. However it is a profession that I am passionate about and so it won’t feel at all like work.
I would love to hear what you think of all of my books.
What inspires you to write?
Random Bullets was inspired by a chance remark made by my sister regarding inheritance. The Mug Trilogy consists of three autobiographical books. I decided to write the entire story of my life after first writing the second book of the series, The Lying Scotsman. I then wrote the first book of the series second, then wrote the third book, Straws in its rightful third place. Echoing my life, not even writing my autobiography was straightforward. Even as a professional graphic designer, I have always been an ideas person. I seem to be blessed to be fairly easily inspired. I already have ideas backing up for future books. My non-fiction book, called Living with Postcards sprung from my love of collecting postcards. I now own over two thousand of them and all of the colour illustrations in my book are postcards in my own collection. It is my best selling book and is based on my Art College final Degree thesis, for which I received a First with Distinction.
Tell us about your writing process.
Once I have a strong main idea, rough outline and main characters, then I am away. I am usually as keen to know what will happen in my books as the reader. Ideas pop up on the hoof and the characters end up living in my head. The action plays out in my mind. I think that this keeps the writing fresh. I always make four drafts, sometimes as many as eight drafts of each book which is a vital process to ensure each book is precisely as I would want to read it. I use Word to produce the work as I do not enjoy writing in longhand. It makes it so much easier to move chunks of text around and my handwriting has deteriorated over time. However, I do keep several notebooks around the house in case I need to scribble down an idea, and have often used Notes on my iPhone whenever ideas come to me when I am out and about.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I can clearly see each character in my book as I write and briefly become that character and the setting whilst I write about them. I have been known to change what I had planned to happen to certain characters because I had become fond of them. If I dislike a character, they had better watch out!
What advice would you give other writers?
Life is short, so if you want to write and you are self-disciplined, self-reliant, resilient and talented, do it. If you want others to read your work and it is taking forever for an agent to represent you, publish it yourself once your book is as perfect as it can be. If you cannot stomach a feeling of despondency if your book is slow to sell then don’t publish your work. A real author is one who continues to write even when nobody seems to care if you write another word. Writers sadly have to be marketing experts too, even if they are traditionally published and not an indie author like I am. Very little in life has given me so much pleasure as the process of writing and publishing six of my books on Amazon.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After sending my first four books to agents, although I received positive feedback I became impatient and decided to self-publish. At my age, I could not wait around for agents to squeeze me onto their overcrowded lists. In July 2015, I published all six of my books as Kindle editions using Kindle Direct Publishing. I then used Createspace to turn all six books into paperback versions in November 2015. As I worked as a professional graphic designer for twenty years, I also produced all of my book covers myself. I plan to self-publish all of my future books in this way as I have experienced no problems and enjoyed the process from initial book idea through to publication. My books are printed on demand through Amazon, so I don’t have to worry about storing thousands of books somewhere.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that self-publishing will increase for both Kindle and paperback formats. The reader will have to be vigilant to ensure they are not purchasing substandard work, although I do not subscribe to the view that all self-published work is trash as some people maintain. As an indie author who has received encouraging reviews for most of my recently published books, I believe self-published authors have a strong, valid place within a crowded market. I am immensely surprised, gratified and proud to have achieved my life-long ambition of becoming a self-published author.
What do you use?: Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: fiction, non-fiction, thriller, romance, fiction, science fiction, short stories, memoir, autobiography
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
Joy Mutter Home Page Link
Link To Joy Mutter Page On Amazon
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