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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