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Joy Mutter Author Interview

by Kathryn Bax

I was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands in 1954. I went by the unpronounceable name of Joy Houiellebecq until my marriage in 1984, when I became Joy Mutter. I gained a graphic design degree at Coventry University before living in Kent for over twenty years where I worked as a graphic designer. I am now amicably divorced with a married daughter who lives in Croydon. She is deputy editor on a magazine.
Since 2007, I've written, designed, published, and marketed ten books single-handed, which makes me an indie author. In 2015, I decided to publish all my books on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. Two are also available as audiobooks on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

After developing a chronic back condition (a permanent, inoperable slipped disc) in 2012, not wishing to claim disability benefits, I took the bold, some might say foolhardy action of selling my terraced house in Kent and moving to the north of England to buy a cheaper house. I did this, plus cashing in my small private pension, to fund my long-held ambition to become a full-time published author. I’ve spent the last five years, including weekends and holidays, writing, designing, and publishing my ten books on Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and some audiobook editions.
My first three books are autobiographical and form the Mug Trilogy. Then followed Potholes and Magic Carpets, a contemporary character-driven novel following the tangled lives of four couples. Random Bullets, my personal favourite, is a contemporary crime thriller with a paranormal twist. Also in 2015, I wrote, designed and published my only non-fiction book, the fully colour-illustrated Living with Postcards.

In February 2016, I published a baker's dozen of my short stories, called Her demonic Angel, written in various genres. There's bound to be something for everyone to enjoy. Her Demonic Angel is available in paperback and Kindle as well as an audiobook that I narrated myself. The audiobook is for sale on Amazon, Audible.co.uk, and also on iTunes.

In 2016, I published Kindle, paperback, and audiobook editions of another contemporary thriller with a paranormal twist, The Hostile.
I also intend making audiobook editions of at least a couple more of my fiction books in the future. In December 2016, I published Holiday for The Hostile, book two in The Hostile. series. Book three, The Hostile Game, was published in April 2017. I'm currently writing book four of The Hostile series, Confronting The Hostile.

Who is the real Joy Mutter?

I’d say I’m a hard-working, creative sociable loner, a single woman happy in my own company, which is useful for an author as it can be an insular, hermit-like existence. However, I also enjoy talking to people if I get the chance. Delivery men and taxi drivers are particularly at risk from my barrage of words. As a southerner living in the north, with family everywhere but here, I don’t see many people. I’m fine with that, as I’m constantly occupied with every aspect of my books. My best friends are authors, either on social media or in real life. My permanent back problem seriously restricts travel, but I’ve visited many countries and fully experienced life before my back played up, so I’m not too upset by being virtually housebound. In 2012, I decided to quit trying to find love and a lifetime partner to devote all my time to what gives me the most consistent pleasure – writing and publishing books.

Tell us about your teenage years on the island of Jersey and how that shaped your writing and who you are today.

I was a troubled, self-conscious teenager throughout the 60s-70s, a poetry writing, experimental, gullible hippie loner, obsessed with books and music. I followed a guru for a few years in my late teens, and was vegetarian for five years as it helped me to meditate.
There was constant war between me and my physically and emotionally abusive, adulterous, crazy father. He disinherited me in 2002 for reasons best known to himself. Book 1 of my honest autobiographical Mug trilogy, A Slice of the Seventies, is based on my teenage years in Jersey, my week at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 where I saw Hendrix, The Who and many other greats. It also covers my time at art college, when I formed a live-in relationship with a fellow art student who had a troublesome ex.
My paranormal crime thriller, Random Bullets, is about a troubled, disinherited Jersey man called Edward. Does that sound like anyone? Yes, it’s based on my own traumatic feelings after being disinherited, although I handled the situation differently to Edward; I’m not a violent person.

The first three books you wrote were largely autobiographical. Although often cathartic for the author, it is often a difficult line to walk when exposing family fragilities and issues. Would you agree with this statement?

The Mug trilogy had to be written before my mind could be free enough to write any of my fictional books. My mother said, ‘Joy, you had to clear the pipes so the fiction can flow freely.’ My wonderful mother is correct. Yes, it’s a difficult line to walk, but I was compelled to walk it. There’s no point in writing a dishonest autobiography, even when my memoirs sometimes show me in a bad light. My father has been dead for over a decade, and I’ve had no backlash from my family (yet), because they know I’ve spoken the frequently painful truth.

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

Non, je ne regrette rien. Even when I’ve made stupid, often spontaneous decisions, they’ve added richness and depth to my life, and given me something juicy to write about. I regret emotionally hurting a few people, but painful decisions could not be avoided, and turned out for the best for everyone in the long-run. I try to turn every negative into a positive. I could say I wish I’d started writing books earlier than 2007, but I was busy experiencing a strange, challenging life that enriches my books today.

What made you decide that you wanted to write and at what age did you start?

I’ve enjoyed writing from my early schooldays and have always read voraciously. My creative writing always won praise. I won the poetry cup at school and gained a first with distinction for my final degree thesis. Writing fiction and reading countless books was my only refuge from age 10 until 18, my excuse to stay out of my bullying father’s way.
I decided to fulfil my dream to become a self-employed author after I was medically discharged from my last job due to my back problem. I certainly can’t survive on any income from my books at present, but I live in hope. It’s not the end of my world if I don’t become more successful, but it’d make life easier. I won’t fail due to lack of hard work and total dedication.

Tell us about the rest of your writing. You have written across several genres found in your short stories, contemporary fiction, non-fiction and crime fiction.

I’m a tad promiscuous when it comes to genres. I write about subjects that interest me at the time and don’t worry about the label. My downfall is probably not limiting myself to a niche that readers can relate to, but they’ll catch up with my books eventually, probably when I’m dead, ha! Even some of my darkest paranormal crime thrillers have comic moments in them. I write a book and worry about what genre it is afterwards. I’m not a planner because too many new ideas crop up as I write. I enjoy writing spontaneously and allow the characters to have a say in what kind of book it becomes.

What is the most difficult part of the writing/self-publishing process for you and how do you get over that?

I’ve used my graphic design skills to prevent me having to pay for book cover and publicity design and book layout. If I’d been wealthier, I might have paid someone else to design the covers. The only element of the entire process I’ve recently decided to start paying for is audiobook narration and sound editing. I’ve narrated and sound edited audio books for The Hostile and for Her Demonic Angel, but I’m handing over future audiobook production to the professionals.
Marketing effectively with almost no income is the most challenging part of my job. I try not to market so much that it annoys people and interferes with writing books. Bloody-mindedness helps me overcome those times when I feel nobody really gives a damn about my books because there are so many other books out there.

You have been out and about promoting your books at various events. Which has been the most successful and why?

I’ve spoken at two meet-the-author events in Oldham. The first was only a 15-minute talk as there were four other authors speaking. I flew solo for the second event and talked for an hour at the Oldham Coliseum about my ten books, but particularly my only non-fiction book, Living with Postcards. I sold a few books at each fun event. Although I didn’t notice an upsurge in sales, at least it put my work in front of a captive audience. I keep intending to speak about my books on local radio, but have yet to organise it.
My most successful public event was when I was interviewed in early 2016 at my home by two BBC producers for their Radio 4 Analysis programme on Inheritance, a subject I dealt with in my book, Random Bullets. The producers discovered me on Twitter when I used a disinheritance hashtag. I think Random Bullets gained a few sales after the interview aired.

For a long while you had written several books without any reviews. Now, that has all changed. People love and read your books. What do you think has been the key to this change?

I only published the first of my books in July 2015, so it’s still comparatively early for me to expect to become an established author. If I became better known, it would be the icing on the already delicious cake, but I’m not counting on it.
Due to my over-enthusiasm and being new to marketing books, I made the mistake of publishing my first four books, The Mug Trilogy, and my only novel, Potholes and Magic Carpets, within a few days of each other in July 2015. If I’d had the patience, I maybe should have staggered the publication dates, but it’s too late to worry about that. I’ve written better books since. Support from other authors and a few fans of my books has been invaluable. If I can persuade readers to read my books, they usually enjoy them. With so many books being published daily, it’s a constant struggle for most authors, especially indie authors like me, to be heard above the clamour of other authors. Whatever happens, I’ll carry on writing and publishing.

What is on the horizon for Joy Mutter the author?

I’m currently writing book eleven, Confronting The Hostile, book four in The Hostile paranormal crime thriller series. It still amazes me that I’ve written four books solely after spotting a weird-looking floor tile in my Oldham bathroom. There are also more audiobooks on the horizon. Holiday for The Hostile and The Hostile Game are being made into audiobooks right now, narrated by Alexander Doddy.
If health and funds permit, I’ll continue writing, designing and publishing more fiction, probably crime or psychological thrillers. I doubt there’ll be more non-fiction, but who knows? I also hope to continue with my editing and proofreading work but I don’t push for it. Editing usually comes to me by word of mouth. I don’t want editing to interfere with writing my own work too much, so the occasional editing job is perfect. I’m due to edit an author’s new book in few weeks.

Books

The Hostile: Book One of The Hostile series

Joy Mutter

£0.99

The Hostile is book one in this unusual contemporary paranormal series of crime thrillers. In a rundown area of Manchester inside a decrepit bathroom in a terraced house overflowing with children and dysfunctional parents, an unfathomable, powerful entity infiltrates loner Serena's life, with disastrous results. The enigmatic force not only dramatically affects Serena's life but threatens the well-being of everyone she knows, especially those who earn her displeasure. It soon becomes clear that people should never upset Serena if they know what's good for them. After reading The Hostile, you'll never look at D.I.Y. in the same way. Book 2 is Holiday for The Hostile. The Hostile Game is book 3, and book four is Confronting The Hostile. All books in the series are available in paperback and audiobook editions. The Hostile Series Box Set is also available.

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Holiday for The Hostile: Book two of The Hostile series

Joy Mutter

£0.99

Holiday for The Hostile, second book of The Hostile series, is probably even stranger than the first. Serena, plus her unusual friend and partner in crime, Tile X, reluctantly find themselves suffering a family holiday inside her eccentric grandfather's hovel in Ireland. Who will escape intact from their dramatic holiday from Hell? A paranormal thriller with a splash of horror.

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The Hostile Game: Book Three in The Hostile series

Joy Mutter

£0.99

Manchester-based Serena, now eighteen and pregnant, discovers the shocking reason why Tile X has befriended her. She doesn't like what she hears. Mayhem ensues, with a retired Irish police superintendent becoming more involved than perhaps he should have. The Hostile Game is the third book in The Hostile series of gripping paranormal thrillers. Each book in this unusual series can be read as a standalone.

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Confronting The Hostile: Book Four of The Hostile series

Joy Mutter

$0.99

A retired Irish superintendent and his former colleague, a handsome DCI from Liverpool, attempt to rid themselves and the world of their lethal tile masters. Will they succeed in reclaiming their freedom, or will the bizarre killing games continue? Set in Manchester, Liverpool, and Ireland. Confronting The Hostile is book 4 in The Hostile series of unusual paranormal crime thrillers.

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Random Bullets

Joy Mutter

£0.99

After shooting and killing his nephew, a gunman runs wild in a London park. What drives Edward to commit such heinous acts? Who will survive yet another of his moments of madness? The action takes place in Jersey, Cornwall, Manchester, London and other places not of this world. Set in 2015, Random Bullets is a thriller with a paranormal twist.

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Potholes and Magic Carpets

Joy Mutter

£0.99

Potholes and Magic Carpets
The main action in this character-led contemporary novel mostly takes place in rural Kent and London. Potholes and Magic Carpets looks at the dramatic incidents, challenges and temptations in the past and present lives of four couples of varying ages, professions and sexual persuasions, all linked by either blood or friendship. The negative, selfish, sometimes violent natures of some of the characters in Potholes and Magic Carpets wreak havoc on the innocent. A tale of not so simple folk.

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Her demonic Angel: and other short stories

Joy Mutter

£0.99

Her demonic Angel is a collection of all my short stories written thus far. I wrote these fourteen short stories in a variety of genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Some tales are stranger than others, but all could be said to be different shades of dark.

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The Hostile Series Box Set: Books 1-4 of The Hostile Series

Joy Mutter

$2.99

The Hostile Series Box Set is a collection of every book in The Hostile series of unusual contemporary British paranormal crime thrillers. Book 1 is The Hostile, Book 2 is Holiday for The Hostile, Book 3 is The Hostile Game, and Book 4 is Confronting The Hostile. This 'refreshingly original' series is set mainly in Manchester, Liverpool, and Ireland. Get it before it gets you.

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The Trouble With Liam

Joy Mutter

£0.99

The Trouble With Liam is a powerful psychological thriller set in Ireland and Sheffield. It tells the story of the life of Liam O'Sullivan, in all its twisted glory. It begins with tales of his challenging childhood in Dublin, and follows him through the sometimes tragic events which change him into a misogynistic, controlling, ultimately lethal bully living in Sheffield. Liam thought he could do as he pleased … until he was taught otherwise. Prepare to be shocked in different ways throughout the book. If you're not a fan of thrillers, or hate books containing violence, sex and swearing, please, avoid The Trouble With Liam. If you enjoy lashings of dark humour, situations to make your eyes pop out of your head, thrills of every kind, all wrapped up in a gripping, dramatic storyline, please, read on.

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