The Pen of Joel

Thepenofjoel. Succinct. Short. Meaningful. It combines the ideas of “pen name” and “writing” and “written by” into a single, easy-to-remember nickname. It is the pen-name of a writer buddy of mine. (Oh, but don’t let anyone know that I suggested that name to him, k? That would be telling.)

Personal achievements aside, Joel is a great writer with a keen eye for story. He does structural editing for Legends of Eisenwald (otherwise the game would be doomed), writes Daniel Roth mystery books (starting off with A Final Portrait), hosts The Morning Bell‘s podcast for emerging writers, and publishes intelligent, thought-out video criticisms of well-known computer game stories on his YouTube channel, thepenofjoel.

Seriously, check him out. Or, better yet, send him a question on his page – he monitors it regularly, so go ahead!

If you want someone completely fluent in writing gobbledygook with a keen eye for the little things about stories that truly matter, Joel is your man. And he’s approachable, too. Let me demonstrate: Joel, what started you out on your writing career?

12 thoughts on “The Pen of Joel

  1. What started it? From a young age I was a reader, had books shoved down my throat by my parents, and I’m eternally grateful to them for that. One book in particular, read during a long journey from Melbourne and Canberra, kicked me in the writing direction. That would be The Count of Monte Cristo. I realized somebody had done that, put pen to paper and whisked me away to the port of Marseille (unintentional rhyme). I wanted that, wanted to do that for others. There’s something amazing about breathing life into characters, worlds and situations. Something immensely fulfilling. And there you have it, the start of the climb up the mountain.

    p.s. You shouldn’t believe a word Luke has said by the way. (Thanks for the kind words anyway, Luke.)


      • Oh I see, this is a pseudo interview? Well fair enough!
        I certainly do. I believe the morality of my world(s) resembles that of the Count of Monte Cristo to some extent. The heroic side has been nurtured by the works of such authors like David Gemmell and Robert E. Howard. The more I write, the further I hone in on my style, and though my work has influences, it is nowhere as clear as it was when I first started.


        • Ah, so something more like absorption then. Do you think it’s important to keep some elements (such as characters or settings, or even just a tavern name) that plainly come from your influences as some form of tribute? Or do you think it is more important to let go of everything you don’t specifically need for your own writing?


  2. You are what you read I suppose. I don’t think it’s completely possible to remain distant with your influences. It will come out subconsciously. Your own personal beliefs, biases, influences, it will all be there. Often when you start off writing, you are writing in someone else’s voice. Eventually that voice breaks, if you persist long enough.
    Tributes? I suppose I do, by the very subject matter that I tackle, and the genres which I write in.


      • Well as I said, one would be in the genre. So in Inquisitor, that would be Sword and Sorcery and a particular style of it, which impacted me greatly from authors such as Robert E. Howard and Karl Edward Wagner. The darkness of the world and that light and that torch-bearer which is your protagonist. But it’s a muddy, messy light. There’s a big one in my upcoming S&S series, but that would be telling a bit too much! I’ll let the readers figure that one out. But I suppose tribute might not be quite the word for all that. Maybe just similar tastes. Nothing obvious.


        • Being in the sword and sorcery genre, when it comes to protagonists, do you see any (or many) similarities between all of your main characters? Or do you try to vary things up a lot? If you do see differences, is this your conscious choice or accidental?


  3. I think there are some qualities which stay the same. The protagonists are usually loners, often in the harsh world that they inhabit, they can only trust in themselves. Generally speaking, once past the first draft, I might go back and tweak, but I don’t consciously try to make my characters different or similar. I try and make them fit the world and storyline.


    • So you keep your writing unique in terms of character names, character, city names and such then. Understandable. There’s good and bad sides of referencing other works in fiction, so I’d say that’s a good choice.

      Do you ever find yourself affected by your own writing? For instance, do you sometimes see the real world through your characters’ eyes instead of your own?


      • I’d be worried if I did, actually! I don’t write about well-adjusted human beings for the most part.
        Usually it’s the other way, that the characters may have views similar to my own, a turn of speech or a quirk that I possess.
        Most times though I use my characters to explore themes I am interested in, and sometimes hold completely different views to my own. I’m all for strong convictions, but what I love to do is constantly put them up to a mirror and examine them closely. I can do that through my writing and my characters.


        • In that regard, then, does that mean you are taking elements and characteristics about yourself that you find not so, as you said, “well-adjusted” and sticking them in characters?

          Not that it necessarily applies to you, but I wonder if it’s common for authors to try and sort out conundrums they are facing through characters they are writing. What do you think?


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