Saturday, February 7, 2015

Author Interview - IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS - Author Joe Starr

My guest today is Author Joe Starr. Joe is a writer, editor and author of the recently released novel Bum Rush the Commons, Enter the Era of the Water Wars. He is from Michigan, has lived in New Mexico and Oklahoma, and currently calls Wisconsin home. Now let’s hear why Joe can’t choose just one favorite beverage, his take on why bees like to sting his toes and the view he has from his great green writing space.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would my writing space look like?
(Joe) Sitting on a metal chair at a table thoughtfully placed in the shade of a giant Himalayan White Pine Tree, I peer into the pine’s reflection on the laptop screen in front of me and take my time to find the right words to describe characters roaming in my head as they make their way through the adventures that life delivers to them without warning or invitation.

A sparrow comes into the reflection. I watch as it flies from branch to branch before finding its way to the bird feeder for a snack. I stop to watch Oliver lying in the grass in front of me. The chocolate brown Labrador Retriever mix appears to be sleeping. But a casual observation can deceive as he suddenly lurches up and catapults his seventy pound frame toward the road that runs in front of our ranch home. He has caught sight of another dog out for a walk with my neighbor. But just as quickly as Oliver starts his stampede it abruptly stops short of the chain-linked fence right in time for him to begin a frantic barking campaign as he starts a new sprint along the 20-foot length of fence, all in an effort to say hello. I wave to my neighbor as the two continue down the road, and I complete typing a paragraph before hitting the return key.

Seconds later, a brood of chickens waddles up pecking near and occasionally at my feet exposed through sandals. I pay little attention to this, their pecking hardly noticeable as I reread the last page and continue with my story writing. But this is also that time of year when the honeybees are active, a dangerous time for exposed toes. More than once I have been peaceful typing away when I feel a great pain. For whatever reason—maybe it’s my sweet smelling foot powder—the bees like to crawl in between the toes and once there they sometimes feel the need to sting. Needless to say I have since resorted to wearing shoes while writing outdoors.

But the pain is a small price to pay for having such a beautifully peaceful office. It’s a fortunate circumstance that I ended up living in such gorgeous country. My only hope is that even a portion of that beauty that I take in while writing ends up reflected in my words and shared with others.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would most characterize my writing?

(Joe) I am curious about people, particularly those people who do not fit neatly into what we know as “normal society.” I have had the fortune to work a variety of jobs in my life so far, and have lived in and visited many different places. As a result I have met plenty of interesting people. It is these people who have removed the filters that society has imposed on us who bring the most color to life. These are the people I like to write about. I think a well-defined overreaching theme is essential to a good story, but my stories also require tough-to-define characters. They bring flavor to the writing with their complexity. I always wonder how outliers I have met reached where they were in their lives. I love imagining how it is they arrived there. Those are the stories that I relish telling.

(Lynda) I like to scan a crowd or room full of people for that one person who hovers on the fringe of the activity and doesn't seem to fit. I can't help but wonder why. So I share and understand your curiosity about people. I look forward to reading some of your work and meeting some of your 'outliers'.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have a favorite color, movie, ice cream flavor, and drink?

(Joe) Curiously enough I only recently decided on a favorite color. I love revival and light green is the color we see as spring starts to awaken.

Cool Hand Luke is my all-time favorite movie. I am drawn to the defiant rebel outsider who is unwilling to conform. As a great high school government teacher of mine once said, question authority.

Ice cream selection is easy—chocolate cookies and cream.

Favorite drink is a tough one because I like different ones at different times. I like water because of its pure state, and I get thirsty from time to time and like to live. Milk is a favorite from way back. I enjoy its ability to fill you up as it quenches your thirst. And then there is Mexican Coke. I don’t know if it is really true but I think Coke tastes best in a glass bottle, but we will let the scientists make the final decision.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have a website or blog? If so, where can they be found? Do I offer promo features for other writers on my blog?

(Joe) My website is at This is primarily a site for my freelance and book writing business, but I do have plans for a blog here where I intend to feature works from fellow writers.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?

(Joe) I am an endurance runner who is turning more and more toward trail running. I have completed several half and full marathons as well as a number of 50K and one 50 miler. Next on my list is the Kettle 100, a 100-mile trail run in the beautiful Kettle Moraine State Forest of southeast Wisconsin.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I tell a beginning writer to never do/always do?

 (Joe) Never stop dreaming because that is where ideas are born, and always be reading because that is what fuels dreams.

(Lynda) Someone told me many years ago to never stop asking questions or proposing a 'what if'. Adding those to your dreaming and reading and any beginning writer would never experience a lack of story ideas.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I often visit book stores and why?

(Joe) Yes. I have been attracted to book stores since I was young. I grew up within walking distance of the Lansing Mall in Lansing, Michigan, and my first stop on my many trips here each week was to the mall’s Borders book store. Back then Borders was just another small store in the mall; not the huge anchor store that we’ve known in more recent years before going out of business in 2011. I still love my book store trips. I enjoy the potential for imagination, creativity and new ideas that books hold. I also love that new book smell. At the same time book store visits can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and read that I often struggle with where to start. If I start to read this book am I missing out on something better in the book right next to it? Decisions, decisions.

 (Lynda Asks)IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would be my favorite restaurant and why?

(Joe) This is tough question. I love so many different foods, thus so many different restaurants. Fortunately I live near Madison, Wisconsin where there are many great restaurants to choose from. So if you are ever in Madison, here are a couple of places I recommend. Taqueria Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant on S. Park has the best Mexican I have ever tasted anywhere in the country (yes, even Texas). Journey on the east side is an Asian buffet that I love particularly for its BD’s Mongolian Barbeque build-your-own stir fry option. With that said, BD’s Mongolian Barbeque is my all-time favorite restaurant. Unfortunately the Madison location closed a few years ago and the only time I ever get to go is after my annual trip to the Grand Rapids Marathon in Michigan. I love experimenting with different spice options and BD’s is chockfull of spice and oil choices.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I consider writing a job, a vocation, a hobby, or a passion?

(Joe) It is a passion. I hope it will someday become a vocation.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?

(Joe) I write for myself in hopes that others will share in the joy I have found.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What are the top five items on my priority list?

(Joe) Family, pets, friends, exercise and writing.


Starrwriter website

Bum Rush the Commons on Amazon

Bum Rush the Commons book reviews

Bum Rush the Commons press release


  1. Coke in glass bottles is definitely better. Nice meeting you, Joe!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Sandra. Nice meeting you as well.

  2. what do you know. another guy in the fold. good luck. enjoyed interview.