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Member Spotlight: Joseph LeValley

author Joseph LeValley and an image of his book Sophocles Rule

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was a reporter for daily newspapers in my first career, and loved it, but I find the true joy of writing in being a fiction author. Each time I sit at the keyboard, I have the opportunity to create something that never existed before. It’s an extraordinary privilege, and I never take it for granted.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? At the risk of having everyone hate me, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced writer’s block. The reasons, as I can best understand them, provide tangential answers to your question. First, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to write when I next sit at my desk. For example, at night, as I wait to fall asleep, I compose sentences in my head, or think about plot twists or character quirks. By the time I sit down to write, I have places to start. Secondly, I often begin by writing the things that interest or excite me the most. Perhaps because I rarely, if ever, begin with the hardest material, it’s easier for me to tackle it later, when I’m “in the flow.”

What is your favorite time to write? I mostly write from late afternoon until late at night. As a former reporter for morning newspapers, and a former musician with years of experience playing late-night shows, my biorhythms are tuned to working late. It’s not uncommon for me to get into a groove and suddenly notice it’s 2 or 3 a.m.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? The late Hilary Masters, who was a writer-in-residence at Drake University when I was a student there, told us to never share our great ideas with anyone before writing them. He pointed out that every time we verbalize an idea – whether a plot, or a character, or whatever – it diminishes our desire to write it. Conversely, if we force ourselves to keep the idea bottled up, it’s like steam in a locomotive; it creates tremendous pressure, and we can’t wait to sit down and get it out on paper.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? The fact the world is so interconnected electronically creates wonderful opportunities for writers. As an example, without any specific efforts on my part, my novels have sold in at least seven different countries. Recently I received a very nice email from a woman saying she loved my first novel, “Burying the Lede.” She was writing from her office in Vienna, Austria. In a second example, a friend traveling in England sent me a photo of a woman carrying the same book in a London hotel lobby. I’m certain that 100 years ago, people such as these would not have found my work. Even more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to write back to the woman in Austria, and create a connection, and perhaps learn something about another culture, that I otherwise would never know.

Joseph LeValley’s The Sophocles Rule is out now with BookPress Publishing.