An Interview with Joel T. McGrath

Joel T. McGrath is a proud member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He is a four-time top 20% choice for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award with four different manuscripts. He has sold foreign rights to his first novel through a literary agent in Turkey. Joel is currently working with a Disney illustrator on a graphic novel and hopes to release portions of the work in summer 2017.

This month, Joel is competing in Amazon’s Kindle Scout Program for a publishing contract with his novel Something Eternal.

About the Novel


Life without love is fire without flame….

In our time, wonder has disappeared. Most believe in what is seen, others in what is heard, yet a few know something eternal guides them.

When Vincent steals his older brother’s girl, Noemi, someone is going to die. Three lives, once ascending to greatness, are pitched into chaos. Jak, after months of searching, finds his younger brother, Vincent, while Noemi faces certain death. On one hand, Vincent can save her, yet others will die for their love.

Hearts prided on rational choices waver. Logic conflicts with reality, and emotion, not reason, decides the future.

An Interview with Joel T. McGrath

Author Joel T. McGrath Follow him on Facebook
Author Joel T. McGrath
Follow him on Facebook

JAD: Let’s start off talking about the book’s origins. I believe you had noted that one of the characters in the novel was actually suggested to you by a reader? Can you explain how that came about a little? How did the conversation come up and how did you incorporate the reader’s suggestion into the book?

McGrath: Well, I have this beta reader for Something Eternal in Greece, and she’s been very insightful and supportive. One day I said to her, “Hey, can I ask you some personal questions.” She: “Sure. Why?” Me: “I have an idea for a new character.” Her: “Cool” There’s a lot more to it than what I just said, but it would take up your entire page.

At any rate, I had several other beta readers since then, one being a Disney illustrator, who absolutely loved this new character. What started as a cameo, turned into a main character soon after these positive responses. I’m always looking for my next great character from among my readers now. *Wink. Wink.*

JAD: Can you give us a little information regarding the main plot of Something Eternal? You have the story classified as a YA fantasy. What can you share about the characters and the setting to entice fantasy readers?

McGrath: The main plot is about love, love lost, love found, and then love lost again. It’s about redemption. It’s about the world we live in, and the unseen control it exerts in our lives. It’s about free will and destiny existing as one and not being separate from each other.

YA fantasy is fun, yet it’s only fun if you don’t focus on abilities, but the real power is giving the keys to my characters and allowing them to drive the story. Too much YA fantasy is all superpowers and no substance. You could say I’ve combined my love of classic literature and pop culture to create Something Eternal.

My characters are genuine. The have motivations and desires like you and me. By the end of the book, you’ll see yourself in at least one of them, and them in you, and you’ll look for them every time you go outside, because they’re organic individuals.

JAD: How does Something Eternal differ from most YA Fantasies on the market today?

McGrath: I know the formulas, I just chose a fresh take on a few underdeveloped ideas the “lists” won’t touch. It’s fun, it can be thought provoking, but not heavy handed. There’s real emotion, crisp dialogue, a linear storyline, and even many dislikable characters in Something Eternal have a certain charm that will draw you in.

JAD: What do you hope a reader takes away from the book after finishing it?

McGrath: I hope they want to read it a second and third time. I hope they don’t read other books while reading Something Eternal. I hope they don’t speed read or jump chapters, because they’ll miss a lot of important clues. But most of all, each reader will come away with a different sense of what Something Eternal is really about, and that’s fulfilling for me. The reason for all of that is, Something Eternal is about you.

JAD: About your decision to enter the book in the Kindle Scout program; why chose to compete in the program instead of publishing directly with KDP? Some folks might assume that if you have enough fans to win Kindle Scout, you may be better off just cutting out the middle man!

McGrath: Good question! I suppose I need the validation of actually winning. Nothing’s wrong with KDP, but winning Kindle Scout looks good on a writing resume.

JAD: Let’s talk a little about your writing background. How long have you been writing and when did you catch the writing bug? Any past publishing credits you want to share?

McGrath: When I was six years old, my teenage sister let me watch a horror movie I should not have seen at such a young age. It was called Trilogy of Terror. I think I had nightmares about the demonic doll in that movie until I was nearly twelve. I wrote a story where I actually killed the doll, and after that, I never had another nightmare about that doll.

Some of my quotes have been used by other authors in their books and shared over a hundred thousand times on sites such as Tumblr. I’ve been a four-time finalist with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and other YA and MG writing competitions. I’ve sold rights to publishing houses overseas, and I’m currently working on a graphic novel with the above mentioned Disney illustrator.

JAD: What new projects are you working on?

McGrath: Right now I’m way too busy answering these questions. Just kidding. I’m always writing short stories, but the truth is, there’s just not enough hours in the day to start what I’d like to finish. Because of that, Something Eternal doesn’t have any cliffhangers, but a great first draft to the second book is ready to go should I win Kindle Scout. Plus there’s that graphic novel thingy.

JAD: Any creative interests or hobbies outside of writing?

McGrath: like doing all kinds of stuff. I love music. If you like a certain song, I bet I have it on my mp3 player. I think my writing reflects diversity of tastes. I’ll go to a theatrical play one day and play sports the next. I love the ocean. We have a rocky coastline here in New Hampshire, which I find romantically enticing. I don’t know, it feels like Wuthering Heights while standing high above the rocky shore and gazing at the Isles of Shoals.

JAD: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

McGrath: Short paragraphs, short chapters, short sentences.

JAD: Be honest, what is the WORST piece of writing advice you ever received?

McGrath: AHH! Everything! There’s just so much contradictory information out there. “No prologues.” Then it’s, “Where’s the prologue?” “No semicolons,” only to find everyone else is using semicolons. Bottom line, you have to pick and choose what works for your writing style. Taste is subjective after all, but the rules change from minute to minute it seems.

JAD: Where can readers stalk you…I mean…learn more about you and your work? (FB, twitter, etc)

McGrath: No, you can say it; I love being “stalked.” I post cool, fresh stuff, and I always answer readers’ questions and look forward to hearing from you at these sites:

Sadly my Twitter page was hacked, so it no longer exists.

Thanks for letting me share a few personal thoughts with you. Please look me up on Kindle Scout starting 7/1/16 and nominate Something Eternal while you’re there. All books selected for publication will have free copies distributed to the readers who nominated them.

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