Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Conversation with Joseph Spencer, author of 'Wrage'

As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”

Visit his website at

Connect & Socialize with Joe!

About the Book:

Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family's stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus' heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero's name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

Purchase your copy:


Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in central Illinois and have a full-time job as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center. My wife and I both enjoy reading, traveling, watching movies, cooking and exercising. We’ve taken trips to New York, Phoenix, Paris, Chicago and St. Louis. We look forward to a planned trip to Greece in 2014.

When did you start writing?

I worked as a newspaper journalist for ten years in large regional daily newspapers at Peoria, Ill., Burlington, Iowa, Martinsville, Va., and Grand Junction, Colo. Five years ago, I switched careers to join public safety because the outlook of the newspaper industry wasn’t too bright. That’s when I started thinking about a fiction writing career because I missed the creative outlet of writing. I’ve only been writing fiction for about  
2 ½ years.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

During work on Wrage, I had a fatal hardware error on my laptop which cost me about 40-50 pages of work. I thought I’d backed up everything on a flash drive and I hadn’t. For a few weeks, I didn’t know if I’d ever finish. I wanted to give up because I thought it’d be impossible for me to replicate what I’d written how I’d written it. I pouted for a while, but then I forced myself to get back to work. I think I ultimately ended up with a stronger novel.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Since my books are gritty, raw and full of the criminal element, I’d either want to go undercover in some seedy organized crime outfits to try to add an extra layer of authenticity to the writing or to be a fly on the wall in law enforcement or government agencies charged with stopping them.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I would use all of that time to write. I work 50 to 60 hours per week, so I’ve got to keep my daily writing goals attainable so I don’t give up. I usually try to write 3-5 pages per day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you hit that more days than not it adds up and you finish the novel.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

I would set the story in a large city I’ve explored so that I could be accurate with a little more research. I’ve been to New York, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, Paris and Indianapolis. I would probably lean to somewhere which isn’t as commonly written as New York and Chicago, though, because I feel they’ve been done a lot. I would say St. Louis is a sort of prime place because I think it’s a great city and I don’t read a lot of stories set there.

Back to your present book, Wrage, how did you publish it?

Wrage is available as an ebook and trade paperback through Damnation Books. Readers can get 28 percent of cover price of an ebook at with code 289snake. Damnation Books is an independent horror press who published my first book and they have encouraged me to keep going in my series.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

I didn’t have to do much traveling. I created a fictional city based off places I’ve lived in the Midwest. I didn’t want to have the rigidity tied to being factual accurate about a real place. I like that I can mold the setting around my story. However, I may have some action in Chicago and some other cities in future novels in the Sons of Darkness series.

Why was writing Wrage so important to you?

When I decided to expand Grim into the Sons of Darkness series with Wrage, I wanted to incorporate themes which intrigued me from religion and history to tell epic stories. The “War Scroll” from the Dead Sea Scrolls foretells of an apocalyptic fight between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness in which Light will earn eternal peace by destroying Darkness. Each son in the Sons of Darkness series will represent a deadly sin, and each son in my future Sons of Light series will symbolize a cardinal virtue.

Is the book always better than the movie?

I’d say in almost every case it is. The movies that work are often ones which take the source material as only an inspiration and film a different interpretation of the work. Although, I think there are more critics of movies because even non-readers watch the movie.

I will say that two recent TV series have hit home runs in my opinion. I think Showtime’s Dexter and HBO’s Game of Thrones do masterful interpretations of the source material and the spirit of those pages translate to the screen.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I’m used to reading a lot of news stories from my history in the newspaper industry. I believe truth is stranger than fiction in a lot of cases. I take a lot of inspiration in real life news stories and urban myths I’ve read.

Any final words?

I’m an open book. If any readers or other writers have any requests or questions, they can feel free to contact me at


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