Every year it’s been a tradition for me to interview Josh Lanyon since I started my old blog in 2008. This year I will be talking to Josh for the 7th time (some years I managed to grab him more than once). It’s been a long time since we last saw Josh. He left a year ago on sabbatical but I think it was just an excuse to laze by the pool, drinking Irish coffees all day long and eyeing the pool boy. Now he’s back and I wonder what he learned on his version of a summer vacation. Let’s check in with the man himself.
Hey Josh, welcome back. You’re looking all tanned and fit. Are those 8 packs I see peeking out from under that mesh shirt?
Those are goose bumps, Wave! It’s COLD here this time of year. I must say, you’re looking rather fetching, yourself. I’m not sure I approve of the way you’ve thrived in my absence! Do you have to look quite so glowing and happy?
I’m not going to ask you what it’s like to be back until I find out what you learned about yourself while you were away from this rat race. So pretend you’re on my couch and tell us the good, the bad and the really great things you found out.
There’s no place like home and if you can’t find happiness in your own backya—wait. Wrong interview.
So…good things that came out of sabbatical? Best thing of all is that I realized – quite early on – how much I love writing and that writing has to be a part of my life. I accept that I created my own problems with unrealistic deadlines and too many projects. The other really wonderful thing that came out of sabbatical is that, as of just about two months ago, I’m almost completely pain free. My wrists are just about healed – but I’m not missing the fact that it took nearly a year to get to this point, and I’m determined not to jeopardize my gains by going back to my old lousy habits.
Bad things? I don’t know if there was any bad part to sabbatical. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do (my office still looks like it was ransacked) but I did accomplish a lot. I saw my sales start to fall pretty drastically in the fourth quarter of the year, and I think this confirms my long held belief that the number one thing a writer can do to promote him or herself is continue to regularly write and publish quality work.
And as for the really great discoveries of sabbatical – I was finally able to spend serious time with family and friends. I’m ending my time off with a commitment to never again sacrifice time with people I love for building my career. Especially when the whole idea behind going to work for myself was the notion that I’d be living a more creative, healthy, and emotionally satisfying life!
I make fun of your time spent having cocktails by the pool but seriously, were there times where you did absolutely nothing? What did you enjoy best about being away for almost a year?
You know, because of the timing of this sabbatical, I had surprisingly little actual time off. I wasn’t writing, true, but I regained control of three quarters of my backlist, and that resulted in an enormous amount of time spent republishing that work. That meant commissioning new cover art, editing, and formatting – and then getting everything redistributed. I arranged for audio books and for foreign language translations. I spent a lot of time laying what I hope will be the foundations of a financially sound future.
But it wasn’t all work! I started getting regular massage. I gardened. I did a lot of reading, a lot of watching movies and documentaries, a lot of cooking and swimming and walking. A lot of just thinking. That probably sounds crazy, but I spent so much time working over the past few years that I had very little time to dream or plan or reflect. So just having time to think was amazing.
Your last signoff from this site was December 27, 2011. Was the sacrifice of taking a year off from writing worth it? Was it difficult to stop writing cold turkey, except for a few shorts?
It got financially costly at the end, no question. But to me that was money well spent. Cheaper than a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. But, yes, it was hard to stop writing cold turkey. It was hard to let go.
So what did you do the first few months? (I understand you didn’t start writing again until the second half of your sabbatical).
The first couple of months I did some outlining and jotting down story ideas. I missed the writing, and the stories continued to come to me, but the minute I would seriously consider getting back to work, I would feel instant anxiety. And for once in my life, I listened to what my body was telling me.
I believe you’re self publishing some of your books. Are you planning to do a lot of that now that a number of your titles have reverted to you?
There are publishers I would like to continue working with, and I probably will continue working with them, assuming they’re agreeable! But the majority of my work will be self-published now. I know my stuff, I know what’s entailed, and I know there are no shortcuts. The industry has changed so much, so rapidly – and will continue to do so – that I’ve become very leery of handing over rights to my work for any length of time. But I still think there’s value in working with publishers. Even for someone who’s been around a while.
Now that you’re back what are the projects that you didn’t finish which you will be re-starting? Are you writing any new books about my three favourite series?
Of course me being me, I’ve already overbooked next year. BUT if I start to feel the pressure, I’ll rein in. In fact, I’ve already passed on a couple of projects I would have liked to do because I’ve built so much into 2013’s schedule.
The Boy With the Painful Tattoo, the third Holmes & Moriarity story, will be first up next year. And Kick Start, the fifth Dangerous Ground novella will be one of the last projects. And in between there will be appearances from other old friends.
What new projects do you have planned?
Ah. I do have some new stuff up my sleeve. Winter Kill is going to be a standalone thriller about an FBI agent who teams up with a small town sheriff to catch a serial killer. Stranger on the Shore is classic romantic suspense about a reporter investigating a long ago kidnapping.
So what are you going to do differently now? Do you have a plan for how your life and your writing schedules will change? In other words, will there be less new releases from you now? Your fans may have a problem with a change because I’m sure they missed having new book releases from you every two months and want you to make up for it.
I hope I’ve learned my lesson. I might be a slow learner though. I see I have eight projects tentatively scheduled for next year, including the revised version of Man Oh Man. Yikes! How did that happen?
I’m hoping to persuade you to come back to the site in your former capacity as Grand Poobah. Randy, our randomizer, is quite prepared to offer a bribe because he’s sick of my complaints and moaning, so what’ll it take?
If you and your faithful readers can stand to listen to me blabbing on about the topics du jour, I’m more than happy to place that paper party hat on my head once more, Wave.
It’s great to have you back in the fold Josh.
Thank you, Wave. It’s good to be home.
Josh’s Contact Information