How My Life Influences My Writing

Recently, I wrote a guest post for another blog and blogger, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, and in it, I wrote about how my life influences- either intentionally or unintentionally- my writing. Intentional, in that I use bits and pieces from the counseling office, my work with kids in various capacities, and bits and pieces from my own life and background. Unintentionally, in that who knows what my subconscious brings to the table, or the laptop, as I sit down to write.

Recently, I was interviewed on The Author’s Spot Podcast and you can find it at:

The interview touched on my life and my writing, and of course, my newest book, Fan Mail. I hope you take a listen. The interviewer, K. E. Robinson, was prepared beyond belief. He knew my books and my writing, and it made speaking with him not only easy but also enjoyable.

As we talked about my life and how it led to and influenced my writing, I discovered some themes that occur over and over in my stories. Themes of family, of friendship and love, and of death.

Some background first: I am the second youngest of a family of ten- four boys, six girls. There is a twenty-year difference between my oldest sister and my younger brother. A funny story is that my mom was pregnant with my little brother, Jeff, at my sister Donna’s wedding. One year after Jeff was born, Donna gave birth to her son, Michael. My nephew is one year younger than my little brother.

As you might imagine, we weren’t wealthy in terms of money. One income from my father, who worked as a designing engineer, while my mom stayed home to take care of us, didn’t allow for many frills. Yet we were rich in other, more valuable ways. A house in the country on a river with only one bathroom that had to accommodate all of us, or should I say, we had to accommodate one bathroom. Forced closeness that resulted in my brothers and sisters becoming my best friends. And you can see this closeness, this love and friendship in my writing as it applies to my patchwork family of adopted brothers in the Evans family, especially in my newest book, Fan Mail.

The seven brothers who make up the Evans family are adopted. Two of them are biological, two of them are twins, and two of them are step-brothers. Only one is a singlet. As with many adoptions, there is a struggle to find a place and acceptance in the family.

In November 1993, my wife gave birth to our daughter, Hannah. One month and one day later, I was on a plane to Guatemala to pick up our adopted son, Wil. Two for the price of one and neither speaking English. For quite a while, we were trilingual: English, Spanish, and charades. A lot of charades. You can see where adoption comes from in my writing.

Flash forward to 2014. Kim and I celebrate our anniversary on July 11. Wil called us to wish us a happy anniversary and to give us some wonderful news. Wil got a job as a fashion photographer for a well-known company, and he was to begin on Monday. However, on Saturday, July 12, Wil was shot and killed as he walked home from lunch and after some shopping. He was caught between two gangs, and the intended victim used our son as a shield so he could get away. Bullets don’t care about collateral damage. Ten shots were fired, one bullet struck someone, and that someone was our son, Wil.

I didn’t realize how death permeates my writing until the interview for the podcast. Brian, one of the Evans brothers, nearly dies while on a hunting trip that became a test of survival, in my book, Betrayed. Without giving away any spoilers, death and survival play an integral part of my newest book, Fan Mail.

The thing is, I don’t write with a theme in mind. I write to tell a story based upon an idea that occurs to me. Themes in writing come from my subconscious, I suppose, but they don’t show themselves until after the book is finished, after the edits, and then after publication. Yet, good writing, impactful writing, will always have a theme or two for the reader (and the author) to ponder. You will find them in each of my books, and especially in Fan Mail.

I hope you check out my books. I think you’ll find them interesting from a story perspective, and I honestly think you’ll enjoy the characters. I’ve listed each of them below along with their links.

As always, thanks for following me on this journey. I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. Use the form below. Thanks!

Fan Mail: New Release! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?

Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die.

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else.  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death?  

4 thoughts on “How My Life Influences My Writing

  1. Joe,
    I listened to your podcast with Robinson and could tell he was really causing you to reflect about what you were doing with your writing. Great post above about how a writer’s personal life wends its way into their writing–whether they intended it or not!


    1. Thank you, Cam. I appreciate you taking the time to read it and comment. Knowing my own experience of my life in my writing, and after reading James Patterson’s autobiography, it is amazing just how much gets put into our own fiction. I think it happens to all writers- realized or not. Thanks again.


  2. Great post! It’s always interesting to hear about how different aspects of life can influence writing, both intentionally and unintentionally. And congrats on the podcast interview – sounds like it was a great experience! Will definitely check it out. Keep up the good work!


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