Author Interview: Joy Mutter

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I started writing stories and poetry in my free time when I was at school. Reading books has always been part of my life. My main ambition was to be a librarian and never believed I could ever become an author. I remember reading endless Agatha Christie books when I was about ten and wishing I could be her. It seemed an unachievable ambition. Almost sixty years later, here I sit with twenty books under my belt.

How long have you been writing or when did you start?

I started writing seriously in 2007 but didn’t publish my first books until 2015 when I was sixty. A Slice of the Seventies, The Lying Scotsman, and Straws make up The Mug Trilogy of standalone third-person memoirs. That year, I also published Random Bullets, a psychological thriller, Living with Postcards, a non-fiction book, and Potholes and Magic Carpets, a story about four couples linked by blood, friendship, or lust. My twenty books include psychological thrillers, paranormal thrillers, erotic thrillers, memoirs, short stories, novels, and one non-fiction book.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I began writing my first book in 2007 when I was fifty-three, but it took me seven years to publish it. I intended it to be a Christmas gift for a man I was besotted with. I call him Michael in the book. The third-person memoir is called The Lying Scotsman and became book two in The Mug Trilogy. As the title suggests, ours wasn’t a straightforward, joyous affair. Michael’s huge lies were so convoluted, part of the reason for me writing the book was to work out what was going on. I didn’t intend to write books forever, but enjoyed the process so much, I decided to write my life story. After reading them, my mother rightly said, ‘Through writing your memoirs, you’ve flushed out the pipes. The fiction can now flow freely.’ As usual, she was spot on.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Eight years after publishing my first book on Amazon, book twenty is almost ready to be launched. It’s called The Storms of Padstow, book two in the “outrageous” Nuru and his Crows series of dark erotic thrillers. I’m proud of all my books, but my favourites are the four paranormal thrillers in The Hostile Series, particularly Holiday For The Hostile. They’ve received the most five-star reviews and I’ve always felt they’d make a terrific Netflix series and could gain a cult following. According to one reader, The Hostile Series is “compelling, strange, and wonderful”.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

I considered writing under a pseudonym after deciding to write sexually explicit thrillers after publishing The Trouble with Liam, a psychological thriller. I nearly deleted two chapters in The Trouble with Liam as they’re outrageously explicit. When I published it, including the two chapters, I waited for the backlash from readers. None came, and it received mainly five-star reviews. Emboldened, I published several erotic thrillers, including The Trouble with Trouble, Trouble in Cornwall, Troubled, and Nuru and his Crows. I’m still waiting for the backlash. Despite the erotic books being controversial and not for the fainthearted, I opted not to use a pseudonym because I’m proud of every book I’ve written and didn’t want to hide behind a false name.

How long did it take you to write this book?

Each four book in The Hostile series of paranormal thrillers took roughly six months to write. The whole series was over eight hundred pages long and took roughly two years to write. It’s the series I’m the proudest of as it is the most unusual. My books tend to feel like they’ve written themselves. This is particularly true of The Hostile Series seemed to write itself. I aim to publish two or three books a year despite having no publisher to crack a whip. I write primarily for my own pleasure and writing books is what I choose to do with my days. My books have received enough five-star reviews for me to know I’ve given pleasure to readers, too. If weeks go by without any book sales which happens, I read some reviews, smile, and carry on writing.

How many hours a day do you write?

I write on most days, including weekends. I’m either writing, marketing, making my book covers, laying out my books, publishing them on Amazon, or editing books by other authors. I’ve edited more than twenty books but don’t advertise my services as I prefer writing. I usually market my books before 11 am then write or edit my WIP until 6 pm. If I’m on a roll I write until bedtime. I retired two years ago and live alone, so I’m lucky to have my days free to write. Nothing makes me happier.

What inspired the idea for your book?

The four books in The Hostile Series were inspired by a weird face on a floor tile in my shower. I see the tile several times a day and we eye each other suspiciously. Most of the action in the series takes place in my house, though in the thrillers, Serena and her family live here, not me. I took great pleasure in killing off several people, including my builder, who’d irritated me while I was writing the book. I also used several incidents that happened during that time to inspire me, like the young parents up the road who allowed their toddler, complete with droopy nappy, to investigate a full skip outside my neighbour’s house.

What is the best money you’ve ever spent concerning your writing?

As an indie author on a pension, I try to do everything myself when it comes to books. I was a professional graphic designer for twenty years, so I don’t pay for book covers, book design, or publicity material. I enjoy making my marketing videos for Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ve mostly avoided paying for services – except for audiobook narration. Nine of my twenty books also have audiobook editions on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I narrated The Hostile, plus Her Demonic Angel and other Short Stories. The best money I ever spent was paying two narrators to voice the remaining seven audiobooks. I discovered that sound editing a book is even more arduous than narrating one, which is saying something. Alexander Doddy narrated the three remaining books in The Hostile Series, plus my psychological thriller, Random Bullets. Tracey Norman narrated The Trouble with Liam, A Slice of the Seventies, plus Potholes and Magic Carpets. Both narrators did such a wonderfully professional job, I vowed never to narrate another book.

When did you first call yourself a writer?

I still remember the euphoria of holding the first paperback edition of my first book in my hands. I don’t recall which book it was as I published five or six in various genres on Amazon during the summer of 2015. I’d written them during the previous four years but only knew about the traditional publishing route back then. An author friend at a writing group told me about self-publishing. I taught myself how to use Kindle Direct, made my book covers, and began publishing my books. With hindsight, it would have been better to stagger the publication dates, but I was too excited by the publication process to hold any back.

During the pandemic, I phoned the tax office. The man on the line asked, ‘What’s your profession?’

‘I’m an author,’ I said.

‘I thought I recognised your name,’ he said. ‘Your Potholes and Magic Carpets novel is on my girlfriend’s bookshelf. She loved it.’

My heart almost burst with joy. It was at that moment I knew I’d arrived as an author, though I believe I’ll achieve my wish to never be famous. Infamous, perhaps.

Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?

Though we’ve never met except online, author Colin Garrow and I respect each other’s opinions when it comes to our books. Well, I respect his, anyway. We have a reciprocal arrangement when it comes to editing each other’s books. No money ever changes hands which suits us both. We are equally prolific, so the arrangement works well. Long may it continue.

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