Rad-Reader:  Did you come up with this entire story at once or was it over time?

Joseph: Payback is one of those stories that germinated over several years. The story is based on actual events that occurred during the capital markets meltdown of 2007-2009. I wanted to feature a protagonist who personally transitions from a professional victim to one who finally stands up for himself and against evil. And I wanted to partner him with a courageous female character who assists him in making that transition. Payback was in the works for four years.  

Rad-Reader:  How was it that you decided to make the Janet Jenkins character so stand out?

Joseph: I got tired of reading books with weak female characters. Janet Jenkins has had a very difficult life, yet she forges ahead with courage and a commitment to doing "right." In a sense, she's a counterpoint to Bruno who has always let someone else do his fighting. Janet is not a macho figure trying to be man-like. She is all woman, with a steel backbone and a strong character. That's how I would describe the women in my life who I admire. 

Rad-Reader:  The bantering between the two detectives Rosales and Andrews, was that easy to write once you had the characters down?

Joseph: Having grown up in a large family where the banter was how I would describe our conversations, I find banter and confrontation relatively easy to write. There is both friendly banter and conflict between Rosales and Andrews. Rosales is the more mature and sensitive of the duo, while Andrews has a lot of growing up to do. This creates natural conflict between the two, which, I believe, rounds out the characters and benefits the story. 

Rad-Reader:  Do you have the characters already done or the idea for them when you begin a story or do you find yourself adding any once you begin?

Joseph: I typically have in mind who my top two or three characters will be. In the case of Payback, I pictured Bruno and Janet, as well as Sy Rosen, right from the start. But the other characters are created out of whole cloth as the main characters move the story along. For instance, when I started writing Payback, I had no thoughts about a Vietnamese female assassin. But events pushed me in the direction of creating Victoria Nguyen, who became more than an incidental figure.

Rad-Reader:  Was it challenging at all switching from L.A., NY, back and forth?

Joseph: On the contrary. The bi-coastal settings in Payback added to the enjoyment I derived from writing this story. Of course, there were some aspects of writing about events that occurred at the same time that required discipline. For example, I paid more attention to the weather than I usually do in my thrillers. Winters in LA and NYC is dramatically different. The way the characters dress has to be accounted for. 

Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with the Asian female hit person?

Joseph: Assassins in thrillers tend to be of a type. I wanted to introduce a character who was so unexpectedly different from the typical killer that the reader would be pleasantly surprised. And I wanted to assign personality traits to my female assassin that were out of the ordinary when compared to the usual female characters in suspense novels. Victoria Nguyen is a complex character who, I hope, enthralls the reader.

Rad-Reader:  When you began the story did you already know it would end up in Vietnam?

Joseph: I had no idea that Vietnam would feature in Payback in any way, shape, or form. Victoria Nguyen sort of pushed me in that direction. Sy Rosen flees the United States and settles in a country that has no extradition treaty with the U.S. Vietnam fit that bill. Having already introduced Nguyen to the story, the payback that the Mafia capo wanted to exact against Sy Rosen had to be executed in Vietnam. The only obstacle I had was moving Nguyen from the U.S. to Vietnam. That was accomplished through corruption and influence.

Rad-Reader:  It is never explained at the beginning unless I missed it, why did he cash the bond?

Joseph: Bruno had been on the run for nine years. When Janet Jenkins comes to his assistance, he wants to reward her. But he doesn't have enough cash to do so. His only source of cash was through redeeming one of the bonds. 

Rad-Reader:  Did he know or expecting someone to look into the bond being cashed?

Joseph: After nearly a decade on the run, Bruno hoped that his former partners had lost interest in him. He knew that a redeemed bond would leave a trail, but he hoped that his brokerage a friend in L.A. would not divulge information to anyone should the bond redemption raise a red flag. 

Rad-Reader:  Do you decide before writing a story like this on which character or characters will make it to the end?

Joseph: I never know where my stories will lead me or where my characters will be at the end. I don't outline my novels, but rather let the plots develop as the characters develop. Even with the "bad guys", I have no bias about how they will end up. Sometimes, an antagonist is so bad that he/she deserves killing, but, at the same time, are so interesting that I prefer to shelve them away for future use.

Rad-Reader:  Do you ever not use a character for a book that you thought you were or planned on but somehow didn’t fit?

Joseph: That's an interesting question. There was one instance where I created a character who was incredibly dynamic. I spent many hours developing him and weaving him into the plot, only to decide that he had no business being in the story. I had to do a massive delete job in that case. But, generally, I seem to know which characters fit in a book and don't spend time on one who doesn't belong.

Rad-Reader:  In your first drafts of this story do you always have Janet Jenkins as a social worker?

Joseph: Because of Janet's experience with her father and husband, she had a jaded attitude about men. It seemed only natural to place her in a battered women's shelter where she would easily empathize with her clients.

Rad-Reader:  Rosen, Rice & Stone, the company that Bruno used to work for reminded me a little of Lehman Bros. Am I looking much too closely into it?

Joseph: There was no attempt on my part to have Rosen, Rice & Stone resemble any actual investment firm. But the bad behavior of RR & S's partners was inspired by actions of a number of investment bankers before and during the Capital Markets Meltdown. 

Rad-Reader:  I really liked the dialogue between Casale and Forsythe besides the other characters is it difficult to go back and forth between each one or has it become easier?

Joseph: Thank you. One of the biggest pleasures I get out of writing is constructing dialogue. Conversations between characters put on display their personalities, likes, dislikes, and beliefs. It's those conversations that help the reader relate to the characters. Without dialogue, all you have is narration. 

When I first began writing novels, my stories tended to be plot-driven. But the longer I've written, the more that my books have become character-driven. I love writing dialogue.

Rad-Reader:  Do you just start writing first then begin to make changes to your story or do you have a direction or storyboard that you follow?

Joseph: I am what is called a "seat-of-the-pants" writer. If I had to outline a book before starting to write it, I would probably go crazy. Of course, I have some idea about the direction in which I want to go, but I have never written a book where the ending resembled what I contemplated when I started writing the book.

Rad-Reader:  When did you publish your first book?  How many do you have out now?

Joseph: My first book, The Pythagorean Solution, was published in 2003. Payback is my 16th suspense novel. 

Rad-Reader:  What’s the longest one book has taken you and what is the shortest one has taken you to write?

Joseph: Evil Deeds, which is the first in my Danforth saga series, and is based on the actual kidnapping of our son when he was 2-1/2 years old, took me four years to finish. I wrote my standalone thriller, Shell Game, in 60 days.

Rad-Reader:  Have you always wanted to be an author?

Joseph: I've wanted to be an author since I was in high school. Writing is not just a passion, it’s something I can't, not do.

Rad-Reader:  Are you the only author in the family?

Joseph: I have a younger sister who just had her first novel published.
Rad-Reader: Congrats!

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Joseph: The Carnevale Conspiracy, the 7th book in my Danforth Saga series, will be released in 2021. It is placed in Venice, Italy. I just completed the first draft of the 4th book in my Lassiter/Martinez Case Files series and am in the editing process. This book is tentatively titled Everything to Lose.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links

Joseph: All my books can be ordered at any books store. They are also available in eBook and print formats on Amazon.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?  Links


     This was the first time I read any of your books and I was glad I did.  It had me from the beginning and I was still wanting it to go on even though I knew it must end.
     Thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer my questions.  I look forward to reading another one of your books very soon.
Pat & Char

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