Today I’m proud to bring you an interview with Joseph John Lee, author of The Bleeding Stone. This interview is part of my stop on the blog tour organized by Escapist Book Co. Thank you for allowing me to participate, and thank you to Joseph John Lee for answering my questions.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, how do you handle bad or good reviews?
I do, both good and bad reviews. For one, I don’t get many reviews just yet as it is, so I am always appreciative of those who will leave even a couple sentences, regardless of their feelings on the book – they took the time to read it, so I always like to give it right back and read what they had to say. I think with more negative reviews particularly, they may still offer something constructive for me to think about in future books, and that may not necessarily be something I may pick up on if I only read the positive reviews. I always appreciate the honesty and I’m always trying to write each book better than the one immediately preceding it, so reading all my reviews is both great and helpful in that regard.
What is the best way you’ve found to market your books?
Having friends in the community has ultimately been the most effective for me personally. I don’t
quite have the clout for Amazon ads or social media ads to have any notable impact for me, and the
return of investment has really not been there.
But between Twitter and Discord, there are so many people in the same position as myself who may not necessarily read my books, but they will still engage with and support anything I try to promote with my books. Having that kind of support and camaraderie is something that makes the indie book community so wonderful overall.
What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence you to become a writer?
In all honesty, I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to reading. I never read much as a kid (and have felt like one of the few millennials who never got into Harry Potter), and it wasn’t really until high school that I actually sat down and started reading when I went through the four volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire that were out at the time. It was unlike anything I had thought was possible in the genre because most of what I associated fantasy with was The Lord of the Rings and stories thematically similar to it.
It wasn’t until about 2018 that I got back into fiction reading (after focusing on academia and non-fiction history books for about eight years) with The Witcher series and The Faithful and the Fallen series. The latter series – and the body of John Gwynne’s work as a whole – have since become a major literary influence for me in a number of ways, but one thing that immediately stood out to me about Gwynne’s work is how immediately accessible it is. I was always under this impression that fantasy writing had to be florid and poetic because that was all I was familiar with between Tolkien and Martin. But it was Gwynne’s simple prose to describe big, dynamic action that really opened my eyes.
I’ve always had a bit of a creative streak and I had been writing stories since I was a kid, to limited success and worse quality. But around that time in 2018 when I read Gwynne and Sapkowski was when I began to write again, and for the first time, I felt as though I had some wind beneath my wings and actual direction and guidance to propel me forward. They didn’t necessarily influence me to become a writer per se, but I suddenly didn’t feel as lost in doing so anymore.
Do you think it helps authors to have a big ego or hurts them?
I think there’s a fine line. It’s not necessarily bad to have a big ego, and to have a strong enough ego to be confident in what you write and what you do is one thing. That’s always helpful, to have that confidence to say, “Okay, my book is worth someone’s time, there is an audience for my book, someone will like it.” That kind of confidence is ultimately rewarded, both to yourself and to those with whom you share your book.
But then there are those whose egos are inflated yet fragile enough that they’ll fall to pieces if
they’re faced with any criticism of their work – even if it’s entirely valid criticism – or if they receive anything less than 5 stars on any given review. Even if you personally feel your book is incredible, you also need to be able to recognize that no work has appeal to absolutely everyone in the world, and you should still leave yourself open to acknowledge things that may be legitimate flaws in your book. There have been a few viral examples of this “bad” kind of big ego in recent months, and those should be cautionary tales of what not to do.
Do you read the genre of books you write? Do you read your own books after they’re
I read almost exclusively fantasy these days. I like to have a good working knowledge of who my peers in the genre are and the different ideas people are coming up with. There occasionally ends up being an author new to me who may be doing something that I might want to incorporate into my own work – not lifting it verbatim, but considering certain themes or topics that I may wish to explore further down the line.
I don’t so much as read my books once they’re done, dusted, and sent out into the world, as much as I flip through them and skim through certain scenes. Part of it, especially with writing a series, is to remind myself of certain plot details and make sure I have my continuity sorted. But it’s also because physically holding something that I wrote, and it’s now in book form, it’ll never stop being cool. Go back a couple years, when I was wallowing in rejected agent query letters, I wouldn’t have thought this possible. But now, I can hold up a few paperbacks, see my name on the covers, and flip through them with the knowledge that all those words are things I wrote. And that just never stops being rad as hell.
Series: The Spellbinders and the Gunslingers #1
Published by Eclipseborn Publishing on 05/09/2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Epic, Fiction / Fantasy / Historical
Amazon US // Universal
The island nation of Ferranda is the jewel of the Acrarian Kingdom, and its Founder, Aritz a Mata, is revered as a god amongst men. But twenty-five years ago, Aritz was merely a man, a colonizer, an Invader seeking glory and fame in the name of his King and Queen, and Ferranda was a nameless union of indigenous Tribes, reverent of the heightened powers and aptitudes granted to them by their Animal Deities, but sundered by the foreigners claiming their lands to the south.
In the unconquered north, the Stone Tribe has for fifteen years offered a safe haven for the southern Tribes displaced by Aritz's Invaders, whose occupying march north has been ostensibly halted by a dense forest barrier dividing north and south. Among the Stone people lives Sen, an outcast for the circumstances of her birth, preserved in society only by her status as daughter of her Tribe's Chief. Forever relegated to the fringes of society, she is forced to watch as countless of her kin, including her sister and brother, complete their rites of passage into adulthood and accordingly earn their aptitudes by the Deity to whom they share an affinity - the Bear, the Wolf, or the Owl.
Despite this, Sen finds comfort in her life of forced solitude with her close inner circle, but hers is a comfort in days of waning tenuous peace. When Aritz's technologically-advanced forces push north, Sen is thrust into a singular quest to rescue one of her precious few captured in the ensuing struggle. While her goal is earnest - save someone dear to her and prove her worth to her Tribe - her people's goal is far more dire: survival in the face of uncertainty.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence (including gun violence), war, blood/gore, racism, child harm/murder, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, PTSD, vomiting, death/murder (including parental death), hallucinations, slavery, profanity, religion, bullying, emotional/verbal abuse, kidnapping, gaslighting, genocide, invasion, colonization, censorship