Monday, October 29, 2018

#GIVEAWAY Review of (Must Read) Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption Interview with author Joe Clifford

I've had the pleasure of welcoming award winning author Joe Clifford (Jay Porter series) to the blog in the past but today we get up close and personal exploring his memoir about his time as an addict.
A big shout out to Joe's Publicist Author/Guide for supplying me with the review copy plus offering an author signed copy for a #Giveaway here. Details below!
The interview and the book is not for the feint hearted but should be a mandatory read for every student from middle school to high school.
Learn and enjoy!

ISBN-13: 978-1946050113
Vagabondage Press LLC; 2nd ed. edition
Release Date: 9-26-2018
Length: 266PP
Source: Publicist/author for review
Buy It: Amazon/Kobo/B&N


Joe Clifford didn't start drinking beer until he was almost twenty years old. By the time he turned twenty-two, he was addicted to methamphetamine; and the heroin wasn't far behind. Soon he'd lose his wife, his job, his home.
Junkie Love follows the roughly ten years Clifford spent wandering the streets of San Francisco and beyond, first as a wannabe rock star, and then as another homeless junkie with his head lost in the stars.
In between are the harrowing events and close calls, the shady characters and the enduring friendships, the redemption and restitution that led Fix Magazine to call Junkie Love "one of top four recovery memoirs" of all time.

Joe and his publicist Author/Guide are sponsoring this giveaway of
One author signed print copy of Junkie Love US ONLY

Please use Rafflecopter form to enter

Good Luck

Interview with Joe:

Joe Hi Welcome back to The Reading Frenzy.
I’ve been enjoying your memoir Junkie Love, it’s no holds barred, raw, real and from your heart.

Thanks for having me. Yes, that was sort of the point.

In your introduction you said you began scripting your recovery memoir while you were still using.
Can you explain please?

Sure. It’s funny I was just speaking to 800 high school students last week and I was explaining this. I was so adamant about cleaning up, so certain I could do it, that I actually began scripting my recovery narrative whole still using at my ex-wife‘s apartment in Los Angeles. On the one hand, yes, that seems pretty hypocritical. But also I think it belies the faith I had I could pull it off. I didn’t want to die that way. I WASN’T going to die that way.

The blurb says you didn’t start drinking beer until you were almost 20 but by 22 you were addicted to methamphetamine.
There is a big debate between addiction being caused by genetics vs environment.
Do you favor one over the other?

Now this is a tough one. Addiction is a complex bio/psycho/social condition.  I am reticent to call it a disease. Not that I disagree with that assessment. I am just not a doctor. I can tell you this. Addiction is pervasive. It also starts long before that first drink, that first hit, that first time you showed up. So many things went into my becoming an addict, I can’t say which came first. It is the ultimate chicken and egg. I was a messed up kid.  Who became a messed up teen. Who became a messed up adult. In my case? It was a little of both.

In chapter 5 you compare you and your misfit friends “The Boys of Belvedere” to the beat generation (Beatniks) of the 50s, you especially mention Jack Kerouac.
Did you see yourself as a nonconformist then?

 I’ve always been an artist. So by definition, yeah, I’ve been a misfit. This world, our economic system, it is not really geared for the artist. There’re very few times, places where you can apply to be a “artist.”  Or if you can it is a fraction of what you want to be. A newspaper reporter, instead of a creative fiction writer, for instance. Not that it’s bad. Just that you have to earn a living. This idea is antithetical to the artist’s beliefs. Which makes it, well, tough to stay within the lines, to stay alive.

Do you still consider yourself a recovering addict? 
This is an AA thing.  I don’t want to bash AA. It works for a lot of people, a lot of the time. It did not work for me. Do I consider myself cured, yes. I can no more imagine returning to that lifestyle that I could growing a third leg. The number one way someone gives up the ghost, they grow out of it. They mature. I am not that man anymore. 

Does one ever become cured from addiction do you think?
For most, really? No. I think a lot of people have a tough time leaving the addiction behind. The numbers back that up. We are going on almost 20 years now since I was in active heroin addiction. I will consider that cured.

You’ve come a long way from being homeless on the streets of San Francisco to your current life as an author, teacher and acquisitions editor.
What or who do you credit the most for your recovery?

In a word? Education. I dedicated my life to learning. It was my guiding light.

You mention that your friend Tom Pitts from your junkie days also writes crime fiction. (I’m actually interviewing him for his new novel 101 in early November)
Who started their writing career first?

Ha! Tom and I joke we have it in our contract to always mention the other.  Who started first? That’s tough. I have written all my life. But I think Tom was the first to begin writing stories as a serious creative endeavor.

Your fiction is often dark and your protagonists are flawed, like Jay Porter from your series staring him.
Do you find those characters are more interesting then say the Canadian Mounty type hero?

 I find the Jack Reachers of the world to be less interesting. This is not a knock on Lee Child. I would kill for his career. The man is obviously a genius. But I think back to Norman Mailer’s quote about how heroes have to be “more than.” I’ve always preferred “less than.” The guys who can’t quite get it right. The guys you despite their best efforts still fail. The Rockys of the world. Seems to me this place is populated with way more Rocky’s, or Spider  Ricos for that matter, than there are superheroes.

Joe thank you so much for answering my questions. What do you have releasing next?
My pleasure! Next up for me is what I consider my best thriller to date, The One That Got Away (Down & Out, December 2018)

My Review:

Junkie Love
Joe Clifford

Note: If you have the chance read the second edition published in September of 2018.

Clifford’s memoir Junkie Love is a gritty raw no holds barred look at his journey through addiction. Beginning in his early twenties where following his dreams of art and music led him to San Francisco where began his junket to addiction and ended when at his lowest point after being a homeless junkie he attempted suicide before reaching to find what he needed to make a new start.

The dialogue is as raw as the story as he unapologetically recounts the highs and lows the madness, the people the places and the thieving and scamming that identified more than ten years of his life. He also gives readers a look at his dysfunctional home life, how his younger brother suffered his own demons, how his mother even through a debilitating disease came to his rescue time after time and, how he suffers survivor’s guilt about the one’s who didn’t make it and how it was education that gave him the power he needed to overcome.

The read is not for the faint hearted it’s not for someone who doesn’t want the nitty gritty version but wants the TV reality show kinder gentler rendering of an addict’s tale. It should be mandatory reading for every high school freshman.

Joe Clifford is the author of several books both non-fiction and fiction, the first book in his Jay Porter series, Lamentation won an Anthony nomination for best novel of 2015 (Oceanview Publishing) it’s a series about two estranged brothers and is based on the complicated relationship between he and his brother. His upcoming release, The One That Got Away (Down and Out Books) will release December 3rd.


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  1. Thanks for sharing the giveaway and interview Debbie!

  2. Thanks for this fascinating interview and feature.

  3. Wonderful interview Debbie. This sounds like a powerful story and I thank Joe for sharing.

  4. Addiction is so hard. So many people in my family are or were addicted to either alcohol or pain pills. Thankfully I've stayed away from both.

    This sounds like a book that I would like to read. Thanks for the great interview.

    1. I have the same problem in my family Mary. Thanks :)

  5. The interview was interesting and his thoughts on addiction. The memoir sounds great but dark and difficult. Like your idea being mandatory reading for every high school freshman.

  6. I was glad to read more since the first time you interviewed Joe, Debbie. This is incredibly brave to put a memoir out there. I look forward to reading my first Jay Porter series book in a few weeks actually. :)

  7. Great interview. I really get frustrated with people who treat addicts as evil. I feel like at some point they made a bad choice that just snowballed out of control. I know that some people recover easier than others and I don't feel like the people who fall off the wagon are any worse than the people who don't. The situations are always different. Some people have more support than others. And as the author mentions in the interview, some recovery techniques work for some, but not others.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart