I recently had the opportunity to review Joel Peterson’s book The Journey. The book really touched me and I contacted Joel to see if he wanted to talk about the book some more. I was hoping that getting the word out would allow more people to read this really candid and touching book. What follows is a interview with Joel where he is really open about the book, his experience with depression, and how the process of writing the book changed him. I am sure that we will see more of this talented young man here on my blog, and I certainly look forward to reading more of his work. Enjoy the interview. If you have any questions for Joel, feel free to leave them in the comments. You can find Joel’s book here: www.amazon.com/thejourney
What inspired you to write The Journey?
Joel: Truthfully, I have no idea what lapse of judgment led to my participation in a challenge to write a novel in a month. It was probably the most insane thing I ever ventured to accomplish. Jokes about my sanity aside, the plot for The Journey arose from dreams I had experienced myself over the course of my young life.
How much of you personally is in the character of Peter?
Joel: It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say too much. In fact, my personal connection to my fictional character inspired me to try and forget about the book for about six months. Even after I finished the first round of revisions, I was leery about publishing it because I was sure people would find too much of me in the story. Since some have expressed positive thoughts about the book, I am pleased with my decision to continue with the project, but that doesn't mean a part of me still wishes the story would still be locked away in my own mind. Now, this isn't to say that the entire plot of the book was inspired by my own life, but as Thomas Foster said in his book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, all stories are part of one grand story of human existence. So, going back to the question, much of my personality can be found in the character of Peter, but the story itself is one designed to speak to all of humanity.
I had read in another interview that you have suffered from depression. As someone who has also struggled with depression, I was wondering if this book was a vehicle for you to overcome these struggles.
Joel: Truly wish that was the case. I wish I could say that writing this book helped me to rise from my inner struggles. Unfortunately, the inverse is true. I was actually diagnosed with Major Depression two weeks after I had finished the manuscript. Coming out of that struggle has taken a lot of time and there has been a lot of pain in the years since. I probably would have run into the brick wall of depression sooner or later anyway, so I'm not saying that writing the novel caused my condition. I am hopeful, however, that this project was not in vain and this hope comes from the individuals who have supported me and appreciated my story. There aren't an abundance of them, but I suspect that is a problem all authors face. I have come to find joy in the idea that my book has changed even one life.
Well hopefully Joel these blog tours and interviews will get the word out to more people, because the book has a great message. I was really touched by the main character's, Peter, struggle to work his faith in to his daily life. Do you have any advise for other young adults struggling with being true to their faith?
Joel: Keep the river of intellectual and spiritual growth flowing. If you ever stop asking questions and stop pursuing the answers, the river stops. Fast rivers support life; stagnant waters are a petri dish for bad things. It is often said that idle time is the devil's workshop, but I firmly believe that the idle mind is as well. Unfortunately, much of Christianity finds no problem with an idle mind, but I could (and just might) fill an entire book on that issue.
Would you recommend writing a book in one month?
Joel: Well, assuming the question is speaking specifically to fiction, I would say go for it. Just keep in mind that results are not typical. Just because Sara Gruen can top the NY Times Bestseller List with the product of a month of writing doesn't mean you will. Inversely, just because writing a novel in a month contributed to my depression doesn't mean it will for anyone else. I wish everyone who tries it better success than I.
How has the process of writing The Journey changed you? Has it changed you?
Joel: Well, I think I already addressed a lot of this query in my previous answers, but I appreciate the chance to point out that amidst all the struggles, writing The Journey has made me a better person. Granted, there are still many faults with the Joel Peterson of today, but I wouldn't have had certain opportunities if I had not written The Journey. Sure, there are certain opportunities I have messed up, but perhaps the next book holds the key to the next door in my development as a person. I just hope for a second chance on the past as well.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Joel: I think I just admitted to having more books in the works, but I guess I'll leave everyone in suspense as to the details surrounding my two works in progress. Right now though, I am working on promoting The Journey as much as I can. I will be displaying the book next month at a fairly large conference, and I'll have details on my blog soon (http://rbflabs.wordpress.com). Around the time of the conference, I'll also be running some special promotions and perhaps even give readers a sneak peek into the next book.
Thanks again for this opportunity.
Your welcome Joel. Please visit Joel’s web site to find out more about The Journey and his work. You can find my review of The Journey here on my blog.
Coming up on may 27th I will be participating in the blog tour for In Leah's Wake, hosted by Novel Publicity. I also have a chance to interview Terri Giuliano Long, the Author of In Leah's Wake, and that interview will be posted in conjunction with the blog tour. Exciting things coming up so keep checking back!