Joshua Grant is a caring, hardworking chap who has had more than his fair share of adventure. He has survived a flash flood, encountered numerous bears, and sailed the ocean blue. Josh loves to read, write, play video games, and occasionally read up on the crazy science that’s happening in the world, but most of all he loves just getting people together to love, laugh, and grow alongside each other. Currently, Josh makes a living teaching and working with kids in various environments, with the occasional novel always in the works. To learn more about him and his work, go to diabolicshrimp.com
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Well, like my bio says, I’ve had a pretty adventurous life. I’ve had close encounters with bears and sharks, survived several emergency situations including a major flash flood that nearly killed me, and have roughed it in both the rugged mountains and ocean alike. But honestly, I mostly just like to hang out with people and play video games (J). I’m a huge movie buff and love everything from old WWII films to Star Wars. I’m also very passionate about science, the ocean and space in particular. I just recently submitted an engineering proposal to NASA for a system for their future space suits (it’s a long shot but fingers crossed). During the summer I love spending a few weeks at summer camp making a difference for counselors and kids.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
There are times when I’m not writing (J)!? I’m a person who likes to spend my time with other people. I’m typically hanging with friends or family, or at church or school working with kids. I do what I can to corrupt the next generation of human beings. Aside from that, I love to read (mostly sci fi or fantasy), play video games, and I’m a huge movie buff. I also like camping and messing around with science.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
There have been several major writing influences in my life. I love the fantasy genre so games like Final Fantasy or the Lord of the Rings films really inspired me. Summer camp, camping, and spending time with people in nature have always somehow gotten my creative juices going. I’ve also survived a couple of emergency situations that inspired me beyond just my writing. But going back, my 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Munos really changed my writing career. She really believed in me and made me believe that I could actually write something decent. I had the wonderful opportunity recently to go back and honor her in front of the entire school. It was a big surprise for her and was really awesome!
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
It’s funny to see people’s reactions when I tell them I write horror, especially when I’m working in the elementary school and church environments. They get this wide eyed look and go “oh really.” It’s pretty funny. Horror is such a broad category so we can probably classify it better. I generally tell people I write ‘survival horror’ or ‘dark adventure.’ Of course, when I explain those categories to people, they typically give me the same “oh really” anyway. J
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
I think the next few years are still going to see a focus on the zombie and haunted house staples, but with all the science breakthroughs I’m hopeful for the ‘science gone awry’ genre to come back. I recently watched Stranger Things and loved it. I hope horror takes more of that approach.
What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
Resident Evil by S.D. Perry
Dean Koontz (pretty much anything by him)
Star Wars, the New Jedi Order series
Sphere by Michael Crichton
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (Rick Riordan)
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lord of the Rings
Avatar the Last Airbender (the show, not the godawful movie!)
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
To be honest, I’m pretty bad about sticking with established authors. S.D. Perry is an incredible author that not too many people know about.
How would you describe your writing style?
I tend to have a pretty cinematic writing style. I like a lot of tight description and emotion. I like the reader to really see the world and experience it through one character’s thoughts and emotions. I also enjoy writing a lot of frantic action scenes. I’d say my writing is a blend of S.D. Perry and Dean Koontz.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Actually, every review of my work has stayed with me. They’ve all been positive so far (J), but I wouldn’t necessarily mind a negative review. I love to see people’s diverse opinions and it’s honestly just a lot of fun to hear how people felt about my characters that I personally love (or sometimes hate).
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Horror is challenging because it just takes so long to move a character across the room (writing wise). I pour a lot of effort into description and emotion so it’ll take me a week sometimes to write something that takes five minutes to read. The emotional piece is particularly challenging since there’s always this feel of a scene that I’m going for and I can never seem to achieve it (although the scene always ends up okay in the end). Maybe I just need to be less of a perfectionist. Revising and rewriting are always tough because I’m either too in love with my work and don’t want to change it, or I’m hyper critical. I pretty much wrestle with a piece and then eventually publish it because I can’t stand wrestling with it anymore.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I tend to write things that I find cool or interesting and put a moral or spiritual element at their core. In other words, I’d pretty much write anything as long as it was interesting and meaningful. I’m not much for ‘shock value’ horror or overly graphic things though.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I go back and forth on names. Most of my names are designed just to be readable. When names are too tough to read they pretty much kill the book. Usually a third of the names in my books have meaning. In Pandora, my main character Julian is fighting for a better life for his younger brother Ricardo. Julian and Ricardo are two kids from around the world I’ve supported in their struggle against poverty. So a third of my characters generally have hidden meanings like that, mostly just to write a bit of my own soul into the books.
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
Writing is definitely a refining process. I began in 8th grade doing short horror stories for my own amusement. After I saw Lord of the Rings for the first time, I began attempting a fantasy novel. I would write about thirty pages, get bored, scrap it, and then start over using the best ideas from the previous rendition. In college I ended up finally finishing that book. I wrote a trilogy and strived to get it published. Some years later I came back to writing after discovering horror and found my writing niche, finally publishing my novel Pandora. I’ve kept everything I’ve written over the years so it’s fun to see how it has changed over time. As I went along, I got better at description and dialogue, and especially improved on making my action sequences readable. It was funny to see that every time I discovered a new literary tool (like alliteration or personification or something) I’d overuse it to death, stop using it entirely, and eventually blend it into my writing style. My writing gradually shifted into a tight perspective with lots of twists, emotion, and action.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
For me it’s just pencil, paper, some books from your favorite authors, and a belief in yourself that you can write something good.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
Write something you yourself enjoy. Don’t worry about how it’s going to be received.
Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
Mine has been a coupling of a personal approach and these long shot things I’ve done. I know a lot of people in a lot of different circles so I simply messaged each one of them individually asking them to support me. On the other end, I went and did a bunch of these out of the box things like being a guest speaker about writing and accomplishing your goals in general. My book Pandora takes place on a cruise ship so I marketed it through cruise magazines and websites. A grand mixture of genuine conversations and oddball stunts like that. Having endurance is key too. I do one thing each day to promote my book, whether it’s reaching out to a reviewer or just talking to one person. As long as I reach one person each day, I’ve done my book justice.
To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
Oh, that’s a tough question! I love all my characters to some degree. As far as Pandora goes, my favorite is Mac since he gave me an opportunity to have some humor and levity in an otherwise tense actiony book. I really enjoyed writing every character in Pandora, but if I had to choose a least favorite it would have to be Julian since there was this ideal and feeling I was going for with him and it was challenging to achieve.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’ve only published one book so far, but it’s definitely the one I’m most proud of. I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do with Pandora. I have a couple works in the wings that still need some revision but I’m really proud of the different types of emotion I was able to imbue in them.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
I kept all my work I’ve ever done as a reminder of how far I’ve come, but there’s definitely a few of my earlier novels that are cringeworthy and I won’t show to anyone!
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
Pandora is the start of my four part horror series and the only book I currently have published, but it’s a great snapshot of my style. It showcases the elements that I put in each of my novels, the deep emotion, the gritty action and description, different perspective shifts, the central moral undertones, and the big twists. Pandora is definitely some of my best writing.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
That’s another tough question! I love all my work in one way or another. My description and action scenes are strong, but my favorite pieces are the subtle interactions amongst characters. Take this scene from Pandora between my main character Aubrey and a kid they found hiding on a crumbling cruise ship for example:
“Did you find anything?”
Aubrey jumped hard at the small voice and swiveled to find Gabe standing in the stateroom’s thin entry hallway. “Gabe what the hell are—“
She paused when he winced. It was a knee jerk reaction and she instantly regretted it. “—what are you doing out here?” she said more softly. “You should be on the bridge with Mac.”
Gabe shrugged. “Mac doesn’t like me.”
“That’s not true honey.”
“He said, ‘I don’t like you.’” Gabe countered.
That sounds like him. Aubrey stifled a smile. Gabe did a pretty good Mackenzie impression. “Look kiddo, it’s not safe for you to be out here.”
Gabe stared at her hard. “None of us are safe anywhere.” He pointed at the handgun nestled in her belt. “Those don’t help.”
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My last book is the first one I’ve published. Pandora is an actiony horror/thriller that takes place on a derelict cruise ship. After responding to a distress signal, the cruise ship Emerald Rose disappears. It returns a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—thus prompting an investigation by a special forces team. They quickly discover that not everything aboard the Emerald Rose is as it appears to be and find themselves in a fight for their survival against horrible creatures and an impending worldwide apocalypse.
I’m currently working on the next book in the series, Jericho. There’ll be four books in my horror series. The first three are standalone stories with a common thread that are all building towards something. The fourth book ties it all together. Jericho takes place in a small mountain town that seems to have fallen off the map. A father brings his son to spend the summer with his exwife. A young police officer goes in search of her missing brother. But the town of Shadow Pines harbors a dark secret, one it’s not willing to give up kindly.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
I really don’t like the ‘everyone just turns on each other and starts yelling at each other’ cliché. There are some tense moments when everyone gets snippy with each other in a survival situation, but having survived an emergency situation myself, I know that people actually have a tendency to band together more than turn on each other. I can’t stand in horror movies and books where everyone suddenly throws each other under the bus, especially when it’s not really in their character to do so.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last great book I read was Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series. Parts of it were so so, but as a whole I really enjoyed it. Disappointing has to be the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. I love Percy Jackson, but the Kane Chronicles were written so differently that I couldn’t get into them.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Ironically, this was that very question (J)! Kidding of course. I’d say everyone actually asks me pretty much all the good questions, but if I had to put one down it would be ‘what is your zombie apocalypse weapon of choice?’ And the answer has to be sawed off weedwhacker, or a fleet of treadmills since the zombies would get stuck on them and be pushed back.
10% of this product’s profits help fund ocean exploration
Evil is rising. Shortly after retrieving a survivor from the ill-fated research vessel La Magia, cruise ship Emerald Rose mysteriously disappears. But evil isn’t content to stay lost forever. The ship reemerges a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—prompting business tycoon Patrick Carver to send out a team to investigate.
He seeks out Aubrey Pittenger for reasons beyond her. She’s not a soldier or a rescuer, just a doctor who spent the last year suffering from the loss of her little girl. Yet when Carver makes her an offer she can’t refuse, she finds herself hurtling toward the crumbling ship and the dark things that flit through its once elegant hallways.
Mercenary Julian Eduardo receives a similar offer. Having lived most of his life on one battlefield or another, he now fights to ensure his little brother Ricardo won’t have to follow in his blood soaked footsteps.
But all is not as it seems aboard the Emerald Rose, and evil comes in many forms. Carver’s cutthroat team will have to band together if they hope to survive the night and find the essence of hope, the hope they’ve all been searching for, the distant promise at the bottom of Pandora’s Box.