“My name is Joe and I write stories for men. Of course, some of my biggest fans seem to be women who find my writing insightful, even a bit shocking as to how men really think. I assure you no matter how awful an idea I’ve produced for my reader’s entertainment, worse things have been done by your friendly, next-door neighbor.”
Joe Schwartz’s stories happen to people in and from the City of St. Louis. According to Joe, you can walk in any direction for eight blocks in this city and everything will change. ‘It is not the evil men do that I find fascinating,’ he says, ‘but the dire, almost predictable outcomes they suffer through.’ It is common for fans of Joe Schwartz to describe reading his work akin to “a sharp punch in the gut” and “like a sunny day in Hell.”
In the tradition of Bukowski and Pete Dexter, Joe Schwartz’s darkness is as funny as it is chilling. Schwartz puts the thrill back into reading again, making it seem dangerous and decadent as it should be, holding your hand in the dark as you grind your teeth while you read.
All of Joe Schwartz’s work can be found for free on the shelves of the ST. LOUIS PUBLIC LIBRARY and are perpetually for sale on Amazon. For further info, or to make a request for Joe to personally, visit your local book club, bowling alley, barroom, tattoo parlor or maybe just send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’ve had dozens of jobs over the years. To my credit, I have been a construction worker, offshore oil worker, delivery driver, paralegal, and currently I am the booking agent for talent at a public library. I have been in several bands, owned my own business and have an active Real Estate license. Before I dropped out of school at sixteen years old, I had attended no less than thirteen public schools. I have lived in Colorado and Louisiana, but for the majority of my life I’ve been a resident of St. Louis, getting my ass handed to me by friends and family members alike. The muse for all my stories is the City I have equally loved and loathed. I can’t tell you anything about living in NYC or L.A. but I know the people of this place and their genuine dissatisfaction with life like I know the back of my hand.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Not a whole hell of a lot that’s very interesting. I mow the grass; I change the oil in the car. Occasionally, we hold the odd birthday party for the kids. Mostly, I go to work and hope like hell I won’t royally fuck something up.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I wasn’t much of a kid’s book fan even as a kid. However, I had no problem sitting for hours listening to my drunk uncles trying to one-up each other as to whom had done the more stupid thing in order to get laid.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
RUSH Subdivisions always made me wish I could be a better musician which would take a genuine miracle to be even half the dude Geddy Lee is – seriously, the guy is a fucking bass machine. My favorite album is just a bunch of covers recorded by Metallica called Garage Days. I literally have no idea how many times I have listened to it. Since I got sober about seven years ago, not so much.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
I remember getting to see the remake of Psycho by myself starring Anthony Perkins when I was about twelve years old. The movie theater was also showing Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Strangely, this much older girl I’d known from the school bus, she had to be at least sixteen, wanted me to drop acid and come see it with her. I kind of wanted to but she was sincerely as ugly as fuck and the idea of getting to feel her up wasn’t enough to persuade me way back then. In hindsight, I should have taken her up on the offer. Story of my life.
KR: What are you reading now?
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
It was John Steinbeck first and then came Stephen King ala Richard Bachman. Of Mice and Men is the kind of story that either makes you feel something or proves to you that you are a soulless robot. It was the first story I had ever read where one of the main characters dies and I liked that very much. The Bachman books were a wonderful, delirious mind fuck for me at fifteen that I have yet to get over. The Running Man, The Body, Apt Pupil and, my favorite, The Long Walk, were the Shakespeare of my drunken, cigarette smoking, self-abusing teenage years.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I work both ways. Most times I work with an end in mind functioning backwards in essence to where it seems a good place to start the story. Even then, before I can get to what to where I think I’m supposed to be going with the story, I deliberately take a hard left and go the longest fucking way possible. Now that is fun!
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’m a shitty researcher. I generally have a story in mind first. If I need to know about the caliber of a gun or how to make poison out Tylenol, well hello Google. To me the heart of a story is in the details of the characters not in the minutia of their skills.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
I subscribe to advice once given by Hemingway, always stop for the day while you still know what happens next. Generally, I try to proof my pages a few hours, sometimes days, before I go to write again. When I finally have the opportunity to write for a bit uninterrupted, I apply all my edits first and then can usually go to work. Most importantly, though, is that I’ve been thinking for a bit about what I’m about to start writing and then being delightfully surprised by what comes despite all my planning. Sometimes I’m writing at two in the morning, other days it’s four in the afternoon. I have no usual method to speak of, systems per se except to save I do well when I’m surrounded by everyday noises such as traffic, or people talking and phones ringing, just the general distractedness of life I despise anyhow.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I wrote a story called Father’s Day published in my first short story collection Joe’s Black T-Shirt that still stands out for me. My father abandoned my mother when I was about eight years old. Although I would have liked to reconcile, he does not. In lieu of finding some kind of resolve between us, which did not exist, I choose (or was it my subconscious?) to write a story whereby my main character incidentally named Joe attends the funeral of his long-lost father where he meets a whole slew of relatives Joe never even knew existed. In an attempt to clear the books, Joe’s aunt hands him a letter addressed to him from his dad. I cried when I wrote that letter because I wrote it for me. Likewise, something rather amazing happened to me afterwards; I healed, that is the pain my father made finally went away. It is my sincerest, deepest hope that my stories do that in kind for a bunch of other guys who could really use it.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I shouldn’t but I do. I’ll take an accurate, vicious one star over an ass-kisser of a five star any day of the week.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
I met Elmore Leonard once at a book signing. I asked him, what was the best advice he ever got as a writer. He smiled at me and signed my book with the simple inscription, ‘Just keep writing.’
KR: What scares you?
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
I’m currently have a novel under consideration with ABC Group Documentation. It would be a dream come true to be published by them. However, that is all it is until you get an offer in your email, a dream right? While I wait to be whisked away by a publisher in shining armor I’ll just keep writing fairly sure no one really gives a shit but I anyway.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m writing a novel about a man who has regrettably outlived almost everyone he has ever loved, who yearns to finally die himself but only if he can finally figure out what the meaning of his life has been first. Don’t worry, lots of people still die, say fuck far too often and have weird sex aplenty.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
How’s about I take a bit of a, b and c? I’ll take Who is Jesus Christ for $500, Alex – and the answer is: he has his own book, his name is strewn about in author Joe Schwartz’s work like graffiti over a bridge trestle and despite any verifiable proof, is thought to have actually existed by millions of white people who have never read his book but once saw a movie that was fairly intense directed by Mel Gibson which sort of got them to stop looking at porn for about a month.
Seriously, if all we had is one fish and two slices of bread, Dude would for sure keep us from going hungry.
KR: Thank you very much Joe.
Joe Schwartz, June 20, 2018 – Life is short, stories are forever.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoesBlackTShirt
Visit Joe’s Author page here
St. Louis is an amazing city where elitists, idealists, and pacifists co-exist with the disenfranchised, the amoral, and the secretly racist. Ignored, except by the brave who decide to live here or the damned with no other choice, come thirteen stories that prove there is nowhere in the world like it.
Jacob Miller is angry with himself, the world, and God. Life seems so unfair, so cruel, that he can’t imagine why anyone even tries. After having a nervous breakdown, selling his business, filing for bankruptcy, having a baby, and finding out he owes over twenty grand in taxes, he is hardly happy to be alive.
In the span of a year, Jacob will discover three very important things about life. Things can always be worse. There really is a God. And if you wait long enough anything can change.
A Season Without Rain explores that gray area between poverty and middle class life, the struggling underclass for whom there are no advocates. A powerful story told in a modern, everyday voice that will entrench readers in Jacob Miller’s black world of anger, hate, resentment, lies, and violence.
A Season Without Rain is Joe Schwartz’s first novel. His previous short story collections Joe’s Black T-Shirt, The Games Men Play, and The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis have been acclaimed vulgar as Bukowski and visceral as Carver. Joe lives and works in St. Louis happily writing stories exclusively about the Gateway City.
Jesus Christ, Jim Jones, and Joseph Smith all had one thing in common – they all believed they were God… at least for a moment.
Randy and Raymond have discovered a “new” God in The Supreme Master – the singular and irrefutable leader of STABCO.
Without knowing it, He has chosen them ― Without trying, They have served him
A cult and a corporation Hell bent on making BIG profits, STABCO has found its new cash cow in Randy and Raymond. But like Momma always says, nothing good comes easy and likely nothing worth having is ever free.
This is their story.
Randy and Raymond.
Two loser brothers hoping to find salvation and redemption through the sale of knives door-to-door.
It will be a miracle if they survive.
Ever dreamed of joining a rock band, getting rich, getting famous, and seeing the world through a private jet plane’s window?
Ladies and Gentleman: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll is your personal invitation to tune in, turn on, and drop out as you ride the tour bus through the night and into the next town with Paul, Ronnie, Adam and Mark.
Paul is old school rock ‘n’ roll but he knows a hit song when he hears one. When he gets a demo from a St. Louis metal band, he is not impressed until he hears a track unlike all the others. He may have to make a deal with the devil to find the kid for his last chance ticket to rock glory.
Ronnie is a brutal, delusional alcoholic and prescription fiend. In spite of his amazing technical guitar style, he has no talent. He can never be an original like Adam. For vengeance, Ronnie will follow a dark path of violence and destruction to the bitter end.
Adam is a musical prodigy. He simply hears music in his mind while the notes naturally come through his guitar. Young and utterly naïve, music will change his life but his regret is a wound that will never heal. Mark couldn’t play a piano if it had only one key, but he doesn’t need to. Unlike Ronnie and Adam, Mark is hoping he can find the balance between his brothers though a musical bridge connecting them all forever. Paul, Ronnie, Adam, and Mark all have one thing in common – they would rather die than give up on their rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Walking down this wicked, twisted road each man will realize one important thing – this music can save them all.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll will leave your ears ringing long after you’ve read it for the first time!