Interview With The Author: Joe Ide

by John Dwaine McKenna

Hello, to all of you out there in the MBR Nation, and welcome to our author interview with Joe Ide, one of the hottest new authors on the literary scene today, whose newest work is reviewed in MBR number 360.  And thanks Joe for taking time to speak to our audience today and sharing your thoughts with us.  I’ve really looking forward to hearing your insights so let’s go right to it.  Here’s our first question . . .

Why do you write?

I have to, I have no choice.  It’s an obsession.  That, and  I have no other marketable skills.

Where do you write?

My Study.  Windows closed, door shut, semi dark.  It’s pretty sound proof but I wear ear plugs anyway.  I need to be isolated from earthly distractions.

When do you write?

Mornings from 730 to 1 and then back again around 5 and I put in another couple of hours.

Do you plot-outline or wing it?

I write the first  page and that informs page 2 and that informs page 3 and so on.  When I have about fifty pages I’m starting to see what’s possible in terms of plot, characters, twists and turns, etc. A lot of times,  I have to go back and change things so they’re consistent.  It’s not especially an efficient way to write. I end up throwing as many pages as I keep. I’m not recommending it to anyone.

What type of scene is most difficult for you to write?

The one on the blank page.

What method do you use to keep track of plot details?

In my head.

Are you more comfortable writing in the first, or third person POV?

Third person limited.  It feels more intimate to  me and I like looking at a scene from different characters’ points of view. One of the many things I stole  from Elmore Leonard.

Do you use humor in your work?

Yes, as much as I can.  Funny is universal.  Laughing is universal.  Tickling a funny bone is always good.

Do you use long, detailed and in-depth descriptions of your characters and their environs?

I develop characters as I go.  It’s a question of what I need to make the story work and I don’t know what I need until I get there.

Where do you get most, some, or any your story ideas from?

I don’t know.  One day I’ll be doing something random like walking my dog and an idea pops into my head.  I have no idea what the process is.

Does luck play into success?

The point is, be ready for luck.  Have the best possible book you can write.  Your magnum opus, no matter how long it takes.  You will get one chance to put your book in front of a decision maker.  I mean that.  One, maybe two if you live long enough.

And be aware, publishers aren’t looking for anything in particular; not the next Harry Bosch or the next Harry Potter.  How would that work?  They eliminate everything that isn’t the new Bosche or the new Potter?  Publishers  don’t know what the marketplace wants.  Their best chance for success is a book with a unique voice and great writing.

How did your book first get published?

Luck. I gave the manuscript to my cousin, Francis Fukuyama, a world renowned political scientist.  He  consults with governments, is on the board at Rand, has written eight books and has a resume a mile long. He liked the manuscript and passed it on to his agent, who just happened to be Esther Newberg at ICM, one of the three top literary agents in New York. How’s that for luck?

How long did it take?

Three years.

 Do you read your reviews?

Sure.  It’s great to be validated. If there’s a negative one I try to learn from it  unless it’s completely unreasonable.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Make sure you write at a professional level.  If you don’t, then story, characters, idea, or the possibility of a franchise will not save you.  It’s what editors and agents see first, the quality of your writing.   If you don’t know whether you write at that level,  then you probably don’t.  Get help.  Go to school.  Join writers groups.  Write, write and write some more.  Be self critical or you’ll never get better.  Writing a novel involves multiple skill sets learned over a long period of time, just like any other profession, whether it’s engineering or piloting a helicopter or swinging a baseball bat.

How can we, as writers, promote and encourage more people to read?

Write good books.

 Where could you be reached on the World Wide Web?




Thx again for your insights and expertise, and for taking time out to speak with our audience today.  Please keep us in your contacts list and let the MBR know about your next literary project.


            Writing is like music . . . you have to get the rhythm right if you want the reader to dance with you.

                                                                                    –Lee Child