Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with author Joe Trent

Today, my guest is Joe Trent, author of the upcoming MuseItUp Publishing book, The King of Silk.  Joe has agreed to answer some questions about his book and his writing life.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

A twenty-first century finance hot-shot, who's chosen career over love, is yanked back to fifteenth-century Italy. He rebuilds his life there, starting in humble circumstances, and follows what he knows--business. As he faces challenges, alien as they are familiar, he is forced again to make hard choices. And before it's over, he will have to confront his own demons.

Michael reaches for the light switch and chides himself, again. There’s no electricity in the 15th century. But there could be.

A midnight attack on a Manhattan street transports rising corporate finance star, Michael Patriate, to the backwoods of Renaissance Italy. Fearing the brand "witch," he conceals his identity and his understanding of 21st century business and technology. But he can’t check his ambition, the drive which cost him love in the past and threatens to do it again.

He goes from laborer to successful provincial merchant, even moves down the coast to military and trade powerhouse Venice. And the knowledge in his head keeps nagging him.

When he takes shortcuts by introducing new concepts into the silk industry, he hits opposition from powerful elements of a culture which ruthlessly guards the status quo. And when he faces the ultimate adversary, he just may see himself.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wondered what I would do if placed in a similar situation--how I could use the information I carried in my head to survive. I had an idea pop up where this guy goes back and catches the attention of a king or some other powerful guy and having to make choices about how much change to introduce--whether the knowledge he brought from the future would have good or bad effects.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
No, I have a day job. If you're serious about writing and working, some things have to take priority and somethings have to go. TV is an obvious chopping block choice. But it's hard when you have demands on your time from good things like family or keeping the lawn mowed. Early mornings are good if you can discipline yourself to get enough sleep.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Creative urges have popped up here or there most of my life. I've written songs and designed computer software. A few years ago, I began to have these ideas for books and tell them to my wife. Finally she said I should get off my rear (metaphorically, since seat time is so important) and start writing. 

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Besides entertaining them, I'd like to plant a seed here or there for future germination.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I used to read a lot of science fiction. In recent years, I've tended toward paranormal--authors like King and Koontz. Mainly I like a story where the character struggles as much with his own demons as with external forces. I'm afraid I may be one of those writers publishers dislike--genre hoppers.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Feeling inadequate, I think. It's something I just have to do anyway.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
There are lots of little experiences I've drawn on for situations through the book. A look from a boss, or a comment someone made in passing, things like that. Since this book is a historical novel, several of the characters are drawn from real figures, and some of the events did happen. For example, Charles XIII, King of France invaded Italy at the time this story is set, and kicked off the Italian Wars. Of course, all the action of the characters in the book is strictly fiction.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I suppose there's a little of me in each of my characters. I hope it's the good parts. He's different, I guess, in that he's willing to sacrifice relationships to get what he wants. I give him a hard time for it, though. (ha)

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. It holds tons of information, and many paths of distraction. I've found Wikipedia to be a valuable starting place if you don't put your undying trust in it.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I'm writing grandchildren-friendly prose. My stories deal with adult themes of sex, violence, etc., but the gory details are off-camera.

12) What about your book makes it special?
I feel inadequate, remember? I hope it's the struggle for meaning people remember.

13) What is your marketing plan?
The plan is evolving. Lea Shizas and the bunch at MuseItUp Publishing are participating in a group effort instead of an “every dog for himself” strategy.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My web site is and my blog is I would be remiss to leave out the MuseItUp Publishing site at: And one can get to know my protagonist at

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Research, research, research. Go visit the places you want to write about if you can. Learn your craft. And write a good story.

Joe thank you for being my guest today.  It's been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing.


  1. Interesting interview. Nice learning about Joe and his book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Susanne, Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  3. Joe,
    It was very nice to get to know you better through the great questions that Penny asked. I think we all feel inadequate when first we step foot into the writing arena. You do learn to grow a tough skin though, when reviews start coming in. It's a tough, competitive world, and we all have to remind ourselves from time to time that we can't be everyone's cup of tea. I'm sure you'll fare well. Your book sounds very interesting, but if you ever need to know my email addy. :)

  4. I am one of the many who is enchanted by Joe and his lost in the 15th Century buddy, Michael. I have always been intrigued by the Time Travel concept and have employed it in many of my own writings...although usually in the reverse...ancient soul crash lands in 21st Century insanity and must figure out that is happening without letting anyone know they are not from today. I love how Joe, through his face book page for Michael, interacts with the world and gives us insights into his typical day away from what is waiting for us when his book releases. Lovely Job Joe.

  5. Ginger, thank you for your thoughtful comments. You are right on.

  6. Joe, it was my pleasure. Thanks for being my guest today.

  7. Lin, thanks for commenting. Joe's Facebook page on Michael is an intriguing marketing technique.

  8. Great interview Joe. King of Silk will be a huge success. How can it help but be when you and Michael are at the helm!


  9. Nancy, what a fine compliment to Joe's talents. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Joe, great interview, and Penny great questions! Joe I'm a big fan of Koontz and King too. I'm looking forward to reading your story.


  11. Sara, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  12. Thanks again, Penny. And thanks to all for the nice notes!


  13. Sounds like an interesting book and that is definitely one of my fav covers :)

  14. Gotta love another genre hopper.
    Great interview. I enjoyed reading it.

  15. Great interview, Penny. Joe's book sounds very interesting. It's always nice to learn about authors, and their processes.

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Erika, glad you could stop by. The cover is wonderful. I've been impressed with all the MuseItUp covers.

  17. Lorrie, glad you enjoyed the interview. It is fun to genre hop -- makes life more interesting.

  18. Karen, thanks for commenting. I, too, enjoy learning about other authors and how they work.