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What initially got you interested in writing?

            I guess you could say I’ve always been into reading and making the leap to writer was something I found natural. My first real push was as a teenager when I spent a summer inventing a role-playing game to play with my friends. It gave me a taste of how good it felt to tell an original story. I also found out that my imagination could run wild and by the end of the summer I was as curious as to how the story ended as my buddies.

How did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?

            I had sold a screenplay to a local production company. The money I made from it was some of the best I had ever known because writing had put it in my pocket. Shortly after the script, I met the person who would not only encourage me to novelize the screenplay, but who would go on to edit my work, effectively teaching me the mechanics I so desperately lacked.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

            That everybody has an interesting, complex story to tell. Of course, nobody thinks they’re life or job is interesting but that is because they cannot escape it. Usually when you meet a writer you have loved they almost always fail to meet the expectations you’ve built up in your mind for them. I remember meeting Elmore Leonard. He was probably the most humble guy in the world, the complete opposite of his tough talking underworld characters. The only thing I want when someone finishes something I’ve written is to think, now that was one hell of a story.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

            Meeting the people at book signings or getting e-mails from readers. The first rule of writing for me is to entertain the people. I don’t care if you’ve won a Pulitzer or a Noble Prize, if you’re a boring writer, only the critics are going to love you. I rather I was reviled by the snotty literati and a champion of the people than have a bunch of worthless trophies sitting on my mantle gathering dust.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

            Finding the time to do it. You make time for the things you love but some days it is like having another full-time job. Writing, of course, in hindsight seems magical. In reality, it is hard work and not for the undisciplined. I have been known to get up at 4a.m. just to write. Worse than writing is when the real blood is being spilled and you are going over your 7th or 12th draft of a novel you once adored and now can’t stand the fact you dared to think you could write it. I suppose it’s all worth it but it is a damn long road every time to ‘The End.’

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

            Believe what you are doing is important. If you have any doubt in yourself as a writer it will come through in your work. There should be no more harsh a critic of you than yourself. Like my editor once told me, it says written by on the cover-not edited. Once your little baby enters the world there is no taking it back. Do your best, always. If it is anything less, toss it in a drawer and start again.

Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting

about you?

            I love to laugh, I love to make other people laugh, and I love a good joke, the dirtier the better. My favorite comedian of all time is George Carlin, but I was once kicked out of Social Studies class for listening to Sam Kinison on my buddy’s Walkman and uncontrollably laughing my ass off.

What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

            Connect with me on Twitter @JoesBlackTShirt and on Facebook @ Author-Joe-Schwartz. Probably the easiest way to find my work is on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/k3bjyk2 My favorite way to be discovered and read, though, is from the shelves of local libraries. I encourage you if I’m not shelved at your favorite branch ask your local librarian to add my work to the collection. For this, I will thank you when we all get to heaven.

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