Today’s exclusive interview is with author and MTW_2017 participant Joynell Schultz, but many know her as ‘Joy’ –the name she says she uses “when I’m not listed as an author or completing legal documents.” Joy hails from Rhinelander, Wisconsin and her most recent novel is Love, Lies & Clones, a book of Speculative Fiction meshed with Mystery and a touch of romance. It’s available in both Kindle and paperback versions via this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXTGIZL
Here’s a sneak peek at the storyline:
June never asked to be cloned from her mother’s DNA. She didn’t ask for the faulty heart that beats in her chest either. She made a life for herself as a college professor, but what she really wants is the same as everyone else: a human connection. But how can she connect to someone when her heart’s next beat could be the last?
When her estranged father shows up on her doorstep, warning her that he’s being forced back into the illegal human cloning world and she’s in danger, she dismisses him as paranoid. That’s until he disappears. The police are not prepared to confront a conspiracy this large, especially with a serial killer on the loose.
When approached by an AWOL soldier, insisting her father’s disappearance is linked to his brother’s odd behavior, she doesn’t trust him. She’s been taught her whole life not to trust anyone.
With time running out, she must avoid abduction attempts, untangle the web of lies, and above all else, hide her taboo origins.
Can June trust someone with her secret… and her heart?
Tell us something(s) about the book that the blurb doesn’t reveal:
My main character, June, believes she has a faulty heart because the woman she was cloned from--her mother who is also her father’s dead wife--died of a heart attack at 32 years old. June’s an avid runner as a way to keep her heart healthy. The heart issue makes her sometimes disregard the danger she faces because she thinks she’ll die in a few years anyway.
Any Upcoming Promotions/Giveaways/Events We Should Know About?
February 12th through the 19th, Love, Lies & Clones will be on sale for 99 cents for Kindle.
What was your favorite or most surprising comment/review about the book?
I keep being told Love, Lies & Clones is a page-turner and they can’t put it down. Then, I get asked when the sequel is coming out. It’s one thing to be told your book was enjoyable or good, but it’s another when your readers can’t put it down and want more. Being my first novel, I was really nervous about reader feedback.
If given a chance, which author (living or dead) would you like to meet (have met) and why?
Michael Crichton. His writing inspired me since childhood. I love the mix of science, especially medicine, integrated with our normal world—the world around us. He was a physician and used his expertise throughout his stories. Another thing I really like is he wrote across multiple genres. In fact, many of his books didn’t fit into one specific category. Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction, Thriller, Action & Adventure, etc.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as which characters?
Hmmm. I have two main characters. June would be Jennifer Lawrence… well, the blond version of her.
Elliot would be Ben Affleck… if only he was 10 years younger.
This is a terribly difficult question since I don’t follow pop culture closely.
What other jobs have you held (even what you’re doing currently)?
Okay: Nerd alert. ;-) I’m a pharmacist. I always try to incorporate a little of this into everything I write. In Love, Lies & Clones, there are tranquilizer darts, medical cloning, and some sedatives. In my current novel I’m writing, one of my main characters is an emergency medicine physician and there are a few medications mentioned.
What gave you the idea to write this book?
The idea formed and stayed in the back of my mind since 2003 when the cloned sheep, Dolly, died. I often wondered, what would happen if they cloned humans, and what ethical issues would the humans face? My argument was always that they’d be as human as you and me. That sparked this story.
What is the main conflict in your book? Secondary conflicts?
The main conflict is June’s father disappears. She tries to get the police to help, but she can’t tell them her dad’s involvement in human cloning—since it’s illegal in her world. Since the police don’t know everything about her dad, and they are occupied hunting down a serial killer, June sets out to find her father herself. Oh, then June becomes the target, with the serial killer on her tail.
The secondary conflict is Elliot, an AWOL military man, is missing his brother. He feels June maybe able to help locate him. June doesn’t want him tagging along, as she doesn’t trust him and can’t tell him her secret. He’s persistent and won’t leave her alone… plus, she’s attracted to him, but has sworn off men since she knows her heart’s faulty. She won’t break anyone’s heart.
What is your favorite quote from the book?
“My father always said to take our secret to my grave… I didn’t realize I may also take it to his.” This is my favorite because it sums up her moral dilemma with staying loyal to her father and doing what is needed to keep him safe.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of publishing today?
My favorite and least favorite aspects of publishing are the same. There are SO many books on the market. Choices are fantastic for a reader. If you want to read about a one-eyed furry red alien that lives in a cave in Canada, there may be a book about that out there. But the problem is that if you wrote this book, you have to wait for this one person to come along and find it. The market is flooded and unless you’re lucky, built a huge fan base, or have written one of the most exceptional novels ever, it’s hard to get noticed.
Are you traditionally published or self-published and why?
Self-published. Writing is my hobby. I really enjoy doing it, but don’t want the pressures of it being my bread and butter. Writing is hard enough without adding financial stress to the process.
Self-publishing cuts the wait time and not being at the mercy of literary gate-keepers.
I also wanted the experience of managing every aspect of the novel writing process. I wrote the story, designed the cover, created a publishing company, published it, and now am discovering marketing and promotion. All of which, I’ve learned so much and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well…except for a chance to take a few years off of work and travel the world. Nah, not even that.
If you were going to dabble in a different genre, what would it be and why?
I dabble in so many genres already that I end up struggling to define what genre each of my novels fall into.
Love, Lies & Clones, my only published book so far, falls into science fiction / mystery even a little thriller near the end. I have another near publication that’s fantasy / mystery. I then have more of a chick-lit / superhero one in first draft format. All of them have some underlying “clean” romance laced throughout. So, I don’t stick to one genre… Other than being under the speculative fiction umbrella.
Oh, I also grew up living at a zoo (okay, bring on the jokes), so I consider writing a non-fiction memoir about some of the crazy stories of my childhood.
Joy was kind enough to share an excerpt from Love, Lies and Clones below:
Six in the morning wasn’t the time for visitors, but Thursday disagreed with me. Before my intercom chirped, he sprang off my bed and rushed to the front door with his tail wagging.
“What is it?” I snatched my uniTab from my nightstand while trying to keep up with my furry companion. The way his entire hind end swayed in rhythm to his tail made me smile. His ears were at full attention, which for a Vizsla-lab mix was saying something.
The man’s image on the uniTab’s screen made me stop. With a shaky hand, I rubbed my eyes. It couldn’t be.
My father had found me. Despite a new pair of glasses, his chocolate brown eyes and round face gave him away. My heart thumped, and I forgot to breathe as memories of our last encounter flooded my thoughts. Was it too late to crawl back into bed and burrow beneath the covers?
Thursday barked and bounded around me, while I took a deep breath. Tou can do this, June.
I touched ‘speak’ on the display. “What do you want? It’s been three years.”
“May I come in?” His words were polite, yet his voice was edgier than I remembered.
“This isn’t a good time.” It would never be a good time, especially not today. “I have to go to work in an hour, and I need to get ready.”
My father looked at me like only a father could—one eyebrow raised and head cocked. It reminded me of how he used to wait for me to spill whatever mischief I had been hiding from him when I was a kid. It appeared the look still worked on me as an adult. With a heavy sigh, I clicked ‘unlock’ as I walked to greet him. As I opened my door, Thursday pushed his way through to sniff the guest.
My father rubbed my dog’s head and strolled across my living room into the kitchen, sitting down at the round pine table. I fought the urge to cross my arms over my chest. Nothing like making yourself at home.
He seemed younger. Sure, he sported a few more gray hairs and a couple of extra crow’s feet wrinkles, but he looked good. The last time I saw him, though, he was downing a bottle of cheap whisky.
I scrutinized the sixty-some-year-old man, examining him for bloodshot eyes, glazed expression, or a flushed face. Nothing. Was he sober? I focused on the scents in the room, picking up the faint odor of lemon from my recently scrubbed floors, but no alcohol. His clothes appeared clean. Wrinkles ran deep in his plaid shirt, but he hadn’t been this put together since I was a child.
Keeping the table between us, I leaned against the kitchen countertop and realized how small my duplex truly was. My finger rubbed a worn spot on the laminate while I waited for him to talk.
“Who’s this?” He ruffled the light reddish brown fur behind Thursday’s ears.
My fingertip heated from rubbing the counter, and I pulled away. “How’d you find me?”
“I have my ways,” he said.
My jaw tightened. “Forget it then. Let’s get to the point. Why are you here?”
“There’s no easy way to say this.” He exhaled and ran a hand through his short hair. “You need to get out of town.”
I laughed. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t think so.”
“Sit down.” He eyed the kitchen chair across from him.
“I don’t have time for this.”
“Too bad. Sit down.”
“Can’t you call me later?”
“This is too important.” His voice was firm and, like always, his eyes avoided my face. “Sit down.”
I felt like a child again, even though I hadn’t lived with him in twelve years. I plopped down and folded my arms across my chest.
He still didn’t look at me. “I’ve been asked to help with another cloning project.”
“So? Why should I leave town because of that?”
“I’m going to say no.” His words were calm and firm.
“I still don’t understand.”
“I’m afraid of what they’ll do to make me help them.”
“What who’ll do?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“You’re paranoid.” Images from my childhood surfaced.
“I’m not paranoid.”
I stood up and pushed my chair in harder than intended. “You’ve always been paranoid.” I glanced at the time on my universal oven. “I need to shower and get to work. I’m not leaving town. I have a career, bills to pay, and a life. I can’t just pick up and leave.”
Copyright 2016 Joynell Schultz. Reprinted with permission.