Joshua Scott Edwards lives in Lansdale, PA with his fiancée, Rachel. He received an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rowan University, only afterward discovering that his true passion is for storytelling. Sadly, the topic was not covered in the engineering curriculum. By day, Joshua writes software. By night, he writes fantasy and science fiction stories, dreaming of a future in which he can do that by day as well.
You can find more of his writing at www.joshse.com, where you can sign up to receive monthly updates about ongoing projects, discounts for books and merch, and more.
Here is my interview with the a new Indie/self-pub author Joshua Scott Edwards. Joshua’s debut fantasy novel is one of my favorites of this year and I want everyone to go check it out. It is epic, imaginative and a perfect blend of genres that will appeal to readers across all genres.
I have a review for the book on my website and on YouTube. I will leave the links down below, make sure to check it out.
Let’s get into the interview –
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?
I think people have different modes of communication that they excel at and others they struggle with. For me, I noticed a few years ago that speaking extemporaneously is one that I have trouble with. When I hear myself speak, the words are often misaligned with the thoughts that sparked them. Whereas when I’m writing, the ideas translate so much more easily. So, I looked for more and more ways to inject writing into my life — things like typing detailed notes at every work meeting, writing essays about my ideas to organize my mind, and transcribing the Dungeons and Dragons sessions my friends and I played together. That last one is what really kicked my love of writing into overdrive. Telling a story is so rewarding. The process of taking a complex idea in your head, transmuting it into words on a page, and turning it into a well of emotion that others can tap into, to experience your emotions firsthand… We take the relationship between author and reader for granted, but it’s really quite magical how it happens.
2. What was your inspiration for writing An Ocean Of Others? Did you have a playlist you listened to get you in the mood for the story and could you share it with us?
As I mentioned, I was taking tons and tons of notes while playing DnD with my friends. We had a campaign that more or less told the same story as what’s in An Ocean of Others. It was just handful of us being goofy and having fun, and it went off the rails a few times, but it was the best DnD campaign I’ve ever been in. Of course, I had to “novelify” it — add some drama, tighten up the characters’ arcs, and answer a lot of worldbuilding questions myself because our DM, Jared, was rightfully keeping lots of secrets from the players. It’s a shame, actually. We never got to the end of the campaign, and it’s looking like we never will. So, it’ll be up to me to carry the story we started across the finish line in the sequels to An Ocean of Others.
While writing it, I do listen to music, but as I’ve been a drummer for 18 years, I can’t listen to anything with drums, or my ear focuses on it. So that rules out most music. Instead, I think I listened to the same 5 or so ambient/electronic songs over the entire course of writing the book. They’re on a website called brain.fm, which claims to play music that “contains patterns that shift your brain state with entrainment.” I have no idea if that’s true, but their music is pretty good! And they recently updated the app with a lot more music, so I’m not stuck listening to the same five songs anymore.
3. Can you tell us a little about the other works you are working on?
Yes! At the moment I’m writing a sci-fi horror novel called Grave of the Waiting, and publishing chapters monthly on my website. It’s about a woman named Ada Bryce, who’s got an eidetic memory and is haunted by the traumatic death of her parents in her childhood. The plot is sort of like Alien meets Ready Player One with a heavy dose of The Martian poured in. The first 9 (of 28) chapters are published on my site so far, and I’m almost done writing this one, so this November during NaNoWriMo I’ll be jumping back into the Dance of the Sibling Suns world. I’m so excited to write the continuation of Grim’s story, but first I need to cry a little bit writing Ada’s ending.
4. What part of the story telling journey excites you the most?
I feel like I’m an oddball here, but I actually love doing revisions of my drafts. The first draft is fun in a wild sort of way, like you never know when something surprising is going to come throw your outline to the wind. But while editing, watching the characters really emerge and become real, making their emotional journeys believable, and solidifying the foundation of the story… that stuff fills me with such satisfaction and is really what makes me excited to write and publish.
5. Tell us a little about the world-building and setup you had to do for the series?
Sure! I actually wrote a bunch of blog posts on my website about the different aspects of worldbuilding that went into the Dance of the Sibling Suns. The orbital mechanics of the eponymous Sibling Suns, how that affects the culture’s understanding of time, the sort of yin and yang magic system and the story’s themes. But one of my favorites is a post called Facing Into the Wind, about how the Skardwarves were the basis for many decisions made about the world. They’re the reason there are two suns, the Brightdaughter and the Shadowson, in this world! I hesitate to tell you about these posts, actually. It’s been a while since I wrote them, and they might have too many clues to things I’m keeping secret!
6. What was the research process like and how much time does it take to properly research for an entire series?
I wish I kept records of my time as well back then as I do now! I’m not sure exactly how long I spent on worldbuilding research. As little as I can get away with to keep the world internally consistent, is what I aim for. For An Ocean of Others, I got to learn about some pretty fun things though, such as the orbital mechanics of binary star systems, weather dynamics, and the history of timekeeping. This was my first ever book though, so most things I was learning were about the craft of writing. And I still have a long way to go on that front!
7. The idea of Benefactors was fantastic. What was it that sparked your interest about their creation?
Thank you! Benefactors were an element that our DM, Jared, included in the original DnD campaign, but as a player I only knew what Grim knew about them while playing. So their ability to Deluges of memories and Auras come from Jared. I had to imagine the mechanism behind them, and I liked the idea of them being these little brain parasites taking over peoples’ minds. I think it fit well with the structure of the Agency having a Head at the top.
8. If you were part of a Hand sent to take down a Benefactor, which authors would you love to be part of the Hand and why?
Haha, I love this question! To be honest though, if I were in a Hand and came across a Benefactor, I would probably be like Chaf, the guy who ran away in the third act. I wouldn’t stand a chance against these monsters! It’s the smart thing to do! He survived, by the way. I’d like to think any authors I choose would be wise enough to run away with me.
9. What is the best thing and the worst thing about your main character Grim?
The best thing is that he really cares for those who are close to him and wants to do the right thing. The worst thing is probably that he’s done a lot of killing in his past as a bounty hunter. It was sanctioned and legal, but still. He should probably be more bothered by it than he is.
10. If Grim was to write an autobiography/memoir, what would be the title of the book?
Titles are hard — which is why the sequels to An Ocean of Others still don’t have them. I think he’d go with something like, ‘One of Many’.
11. If Hand 64 had to write their new year’s resolutions what would they be?
Grim: No more nights sleeping on the street
Inac: I will do for others what is right
Dunnax: Keep Lorelay out of trouble
Sentyx: Will continue to face into the wind
Lorelay: Ten new songs written this year
Garret: Doesn’t believe in resolutions, only in adapting to what comes
12. If An Ocean Of Others was made into a movie / TV show which actors do you want to play the characters?
Oh goodness, this is a really tough one! In truth, I’d hope for some talented up-and-coming actors that aren’t yet well known for most characters, especially the Hand. I would like to see First Eye Reed played by Michael Fassbender, though. Maybe Kit Harrington for Grim? And for Sentyx, I’m not saying Danny Devito would be the best choice, but he’d be far from the worst.
13. You have written a Fantasy and Sci-Fi Horror now. Which Genre do you prefer more?
Sci-fi is definitely harder than fantasy, for me at least. And horror is even harder for me, as I haven’t read as many horror books as I would like. So from that perspective, I’d prefer to write more fantasy. Since I have an easier time with it, I can deliver books to readers more quickly, which is always the goal!
14. Do you have any writing rituals?
Oh yes. Having a structured day is the only reason I get any writing done. My ritual so far has been to brew a cup of a coffee right after work, then turn on brain.fm, drink my coffee and eat a snack while reading over yesterday’s writing. I’ll make edits as I go, then continue right into the next part that’s unwritten. That’s been working really well for me. Things will probably change soon though, as I’m starting a new job with a commute on the train. I’m hoping I can get some writing done in the morning each day before work, and then more on the way home.
15. If you couldn’t write in the genres you write in, which genre would you prefer to write in?
I’d probably want to write mystery stories. I got a taste of that while writing An Ocean of Others, and it was really fun trying to keep track of what everyone knows at what time, and how the mystery unfolds.
16. Which genre would be the most challenging for you to write in and why?
Historical fiction for sure. I admire the hell out of any historical fiction writer. There’s just so much research that has to go into it, I don’t think I could pull it off.
17. Tell us about a funny/weird/cool / most shocking thing you discovered while researching for your book/ books.
All right, this is pretty gross, but while researching for the Peekers’ society, I learned that there’s an ant species called honeypot ants that have specialized workers that engorge themselves with food, to the point that they swell up and become immobile. Other ants stick them to the walls to use as food storage, living larders. When food is scarce, they stroke the swollen ant’s antenna to cause it to regurgitate some of the stored food. Just a hint of what you have to look forward to in the sequel haha.
18. Tell us about the most fun and favorite thing you got to write in the book.
The scene that was most fun to write was when the Hand first met Tak in the mortuary. He was such a clear character in my mind, and he’s so quirky. I think that helped keep that scene interesting when it could have easily gotten too infodumpy. My favorite thing to write, however, was the Emergence scene. I loved playing with perspective in this book, and I think I really hit the mark in that sequence for what I was going for. I’m proud of that one.
19. What do you love the most to write and hate to write in your stories?
I love writing quirky characters. Neil Gaiman gives the advice that characters should have “funny hats”, not in the literal sense, but something that helps them stand out and immediately be recognizable. That advice really resonated with me, and I find it quite fun trying to make each character distinct in that way. I’m not sure what I hate writing, though. Most things, if I hate it, I wouldn’t put into the story in the first place! I guess character deaths are the worst. They’re always hard. The last one I wrote gave me a really unpleasant visceral reaction. If it does the same for the readers, then mission accomplished I guess haha.
20. Your favorite underhyped books you want more people to read.
Oh, I could just pick any indie author here, and they’d deserve to be more widely read! I’ll call out my friend, Liz Leiby, though. She’s got a romance book coming out soon called Love Again, about an artist overcoming the grief that prevents her from painting. It’s a beautiful story, and that’s coming from someone who almost never reads romance or contemporary fiction.