Joy York grew up in Alabama but has spent much of her adult life in the Midwest, currently living with her husband, Terry, in Indiana with their goldendoodle, Bailey. Inspired by a family legacy of oral storytelling, she began creating stories and adventures for her son when he was growing up. With encouragement from family and friends, she began to write them down. Her first book, The Bloody Shoe Affair: A daring and thrilling adventure with the jailer’s daughter, a YA mystery, was published in 2015. The sequel, The Jailer’s Daughter is currently being edited. Genuine Deceit: A Suspense Novel, her second novel, was published on Amazon in May 2021. Protective Instincts, a mystery suspense, is coming soon.

Time to chat with Joy!

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Genuine Deceit: A Suspense Novel. When a young woman finds herself unknowingly accountable for the past sins of her family, she must unravel her decades old secrets to stay alive.

This is a standalone mystery/suspense/thriller with a bit of romance.

You say you’ve been inspired by a family legacy of oral storytelling. That sounds fascinating. Can you tell us more?

My inspiration for storytelling came from listening to my Mama Leavie tell fascinating stories to me and my cousins in the evenings while sitting on her porch in rural Alabama. She sat in a swing telling tales to her wide-eyed audience of grandchildren gathered at her feet, all of which hung on every word. The scarier the story, the better. Years later, I carried on that same tradition for my young son as we sat in his favorite place, the center landing of the staircase, and I spun my own tales of princes, flying houses, ogres, and gargoyles, always making my son the conquering hero.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

My main genre is mystery/suspense/thriller with the addition of a little romance to make the characters more relatable. I have always loved mysteries. Agatha Christie novels were my favorite growing up. I loved putting the clues together to try to solve the puzzle. The more surprises and twists and turns, the better. As an adult, I was inspired by John Sandford, Sue Grafton, Clive Cussler, James Lee Burke, Jonathan Kellerman, and many others.

What else have you written?

My first book was The Bloody Shoe Affair, a young adult southern mystery set in 1968. They say to write what you know and that is what I did. This young adult novel was inspired by my visits to north Alabama to spend time with my cousin who was the jailer’s daughter. My uncle was a deputy sheriff and managed the jail in a rural county. They lived in a big brownstone house that was connected to the 2-story jail by a check-in hall. My cousin, who was the same age as me, was a fearless prankster, and I was her shy, fearful opposite. My cousin would sneak into the jail to play checkers with the prisoners and take them candy and cigarettes. When I was visiting, she would drag me along with her. She insisted we play jailer in the empty cells. I was always stuck being the prisoner. My biggest fear was getting accidentally locked in. One day when she was taking me into the dark basement of the jail to see a woman trustee who lived down there, she pointed out the evidence room. She told me that inside the room was a pair of bloody shoes from a woman who was murdered. Apparently, the voice of the dead owner would call for her bloody shoes in the middle of the night. I was terrified. Years later, The Bloody Shoe Affair was born with a fictional location, story, and characters, all inspired by childhood visits.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think many people believe indie authors are all amateur writers who self-publish because they can’t find a publisher. Or that the self-published books are poor quality. Some of the best books I have read have been written by independent authors who chose, as I did, to publish independently. Most indie authors take their writing seriously and are just as professional and talented as traditionally published authors. I have my books professionally edited and my covers designed by graphic designers, as many independent authors do as well. There are also many professional graphic websites available that give indie authors the ability to learn to develop their own covers and marketing banners. Some writers simply don’t want to wait months to receive a response from a traditional publisher. They can set their own pace.

There are also many national and international writer and illustrator organizations that provide conferences, workshops, critique groups, networking, and resources for all authors, (traditional and indie) to learn, get feedback, and hone their craft.












Joy’s writing buddy, Bailey


What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love the creative process of writing. I am a pantser as opposed to a plotter. I don’t use an outline like a plotter. I sit down and write with a general idea and let the characters take me where they want to go. Not always where I expect. Editing is my least favorite.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

This happened with my sequel to my young adult mystery. I worked on it for two years. It was too long for a young adult novel. I knew parts were dragging, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I reread and edited it so many times I totally lost perspective. I put it aside to work on other projects. After three years, I recently took a crack at it because I really love the story. I decided to throw away the first five chapters, and it was like a weight was lifted. Sometimes you need to step away.

Please, tell us your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least favorite parts?

Social media is critical to marketing. When I self-published my first book, I only had a Facebook account. I used a professional marketing company to launch. I learned a lot, but most of my sales were from my own marketing. Mostly trial and error. Twitter allows you to connect with people all over the world. I soon learned that most authors are very supportive. I set up public accounts on Facebook and Instagram. I also use Facebook Boost to advertise my posts. You can set your budget and it is easy to use. It has been very successful for me. You can also target specific geographical regions, interests, and demographics. I also use my LinkedIn account. I joined Canva Pro and learned to make banners. I am also a Pro member of Allauthor. Online book clubs are also very helpful in marketing. I am still just scratching the surface of the marketing opportunities. Although I have a blog set up, I have not used it yet. I am taking my time to figure out how to make it unique.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I like books that grab my attention in the first chapter. If I’m reading a mystery and can figure out who the killer is within the first few chapters, it’s hard for me to finish the book unless they have some good subplots or a stellar writing style. I love strong female characters. Unfortunately, some writers feel an independent, successful woman must be abrasive, bossy, and condescending. Like they have something to prove. I believe that is a convenient stereotype. Most strong, independent women are not only driven, but supportive, nurturing, and encouraging to their partners.

Having your work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling reviews?

It can be hurtful to receive a bad review. Not everyone enjoys the same styles and genres. Even best-selling authors do not always get 5’s. Some reviewers will say it’s their best book, while others say it’s their worst. If a review offers suggestions, I read them and see what I can learn from their comments. If other reviewers offer the same comments or suggestions, I need to take it seriously and try to improve on my next book. If not, I let it go. Sometimes people trash the review because the book isn’t what they expected. Those are things I ignore. It’s a balance, but you can never let it stop you from writing. We all become better authors as we grow.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I have gotten a lot of feedback about my main characters, Reagan and Aiden, in Genuine Deceit. Many readers really love the characters and are suggesting a series. I hadn’t considered it until now. Maybe they have more adventures to share.

What was the best gift you ever received?

The birth of my beautiful twin grandsons. They were born two months premature a few months before the pandemic shutdown. They are now three years old and thriving. My daughter-in-law’s mother and I have bonded while helping with the boys over the years. She is now like a sister friend. I am blessed on all accounts.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

Paid quality education, meals, and childcare for pre-k through grade 12 for underprivileged children in inner cities and rural areas so they will have a strong and encouraging foundation to be successful in their adult lives. Preferable Montessori.

What makes you angry?

Prejudice. Intolerance. Any form of abuse or harassment. Broken trust.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Dark chocolate and fried okra. Not necessarily together! The second comes from my southern heritage. Maybe throw in a little country fried steak with homemade gravy.

What are three things you think we can all do to make this world a better place?

Be kind. Be generous. Listen.


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Brenda is well travelled and has led a colourful life, providing her with a rich source of material for her novels. They are in the suspense genre and Brenda feels she has mastered the ability to surprise. Now happily retired, she lives with her husband, Derek, in a South Yorkshire town in England.

What is your latest book?

Suspicion: A cold-case mystery & suspense, is set in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I always write the scenes in order. They appear in my mind’s eye like a reel of film.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I edit each chapter as I go along (some might say excessively), but I have to feel reasonably satisfied with what I’ve written before moving on to the next chapter. Despite this, I still edit ruthlessly once the draft is finished. It’s the way I’ve always worked and, unlike many authors, I don’t find the editing process a bind. I enjoy restructuring sentences and refining my work to make it the best that it can be.

How much of your own personality goes into your characters?

It’s hard to be the judge of that; not too much, I hope, since some of my characters possess very unenviable traits! I have a strong personality; I’m tenacious, outspoken, and can be a tad too opinionated at times. As all of my books contain strong female characters, it’s fair to say that this will be reflected in my writing.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Yes and no. I have to know the fate of my main characters, even though the details haven’t been fully thought out. In other words, if one of them were to kill someone, the method isn’t always clear, but invariably comes to me as the story progresses. As for the title; I never worry about that until the book is finished.

What else have you written?

I have written a good few poems, but never had any of them published. This is mainly because I was inspired to write them after I lost my father. He was very special to me, so the poems are heartfelt and never intended for publication. A fellow author has read some of them and urged me to consider publication as she feels a lot of people would be able to relate to the sentiments.

I have also written several short plays, three of which were performed at the former Bradford Playhouse. These were page-to-stage productions with the minimum of props, but, nonetheless, for a paying public and all were well attended. As a newcomer to script writing, I was quite proud of this achievement.

Before retiring, I spent seven years as Administrator for an independent library where I produced a quarterly magazine. As editor, I had the freedom to write book reviews and articles which was a rich experience and helped to hone my writing skills.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I like writing dialogue, which I feel is my strong point. I particularly enjoy this when it involves a humorous character where I’m able to bring some wit or sarcasm into the conversation. I also enjoy writing the dramatic scenes after I’ve racked up the tension.

The thing I dislike the most is writing the synopsis and blurb. Perhaps because I have a tendency to overwrite, I struggle to condense a complex storyline into a few short sentences and never feel entirely satisfied with the results.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

I love writing characters I truly despise. It’s one of the joys of being a writer – the freedom to say and do as we please. How powerful is that?! In the same way that actors love playing the part of villains, I find bad characters great fun to write.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I love the interaction with members of the writing community, some of whom have become good friends. I enjoy seeing the success stories, reading the many interesting articles and hearing about the books that fellow authors are currently working on. It’s wonderful to receive such great support by way of retweets, but I it does concern me a little that people might tire of seeing the cover. Maybe I’m not alone in that?

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I do a fair bit of research for my books, mostly on the Internet. As far as the setting goes, where possible, I try to visit the places I’m writing about. My debut novel Taking Chances alternates between the Yorkshire Dales and Cyprus, both being familiar to me. Suspicion is also set in the Dales, but I still revisited Bolton Abbey and its surrounding area as part of my research.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I wish!! All I will say is that I try not to put myself under too much pressure by setting strict deadlines. I write as often as I possibly can, so there’s no point in beating myself up if the word count hasn’t gone according to plan on a particular day.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

I am proud of all my books, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be my second novel At the End of the Sentence.’ I labored long and hard over that one, which is fast-paced and has a complex plot with lots of unexpected turns. Despite being suspenseful, I was able to bring some humour to it; the character who made this possible an ex-con (nickname RT). I loved writing RT and he still remains one of my favourite characters.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in a South Yorkshire town in England. If I had to move, it would be to somewhere warm. I hate the miserable British weather!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger? Five years ago?

That everything can change in the blink of an eye, particularly as we get older; the reason we should embrace every day.

Care to brag about your family?

I consider myself extremely lucky. I have a lovely son, a husband who supports and encourages me in everything I do, and two wonderful brothers – the youngest being only four days older than my son. We call him the golden child as he was a late arrival and helped to keep my parents young at heart. They shared 62 happy years together, which is an amazing feat, considering they met and married within two weeks of meeting (a book waiting to be written). With our support, despite her disabilities, Mum manages to live independently at the ripe old age of 94! She is still as bright as a button, so if her genes are anything to go by, I hope to have a good few years writing left in me.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument. My dad played the piano and accordion, which gave us so much pleasure as children, especially at Christmas time.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m an armchair mountaineer and devour books on the subject. I have a shelf full of fascinating stories, written by some of the world’s most famous climbers. I’ve read so much about Everest that, in my dreams, I could find my way to the summit – amazing if you realised how much I hate the cold. Although the stories hold me in thrall, my fascination is more to do with the mindset of the climbers – what drives them to attempt such formidable challenges.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Be kinder to one another.

Educate our children to be less materialistic.

Do everything within our power to help those in need, especially the homeless.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

The sound of birdsong.



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