Friday, November 22, 2019

#GIVEAWAY Interview Unorthodoxy by Joshua Harris

Today I'm interviewing author Joshua Harris about his new novel Unorthodoxy, plus Joshua's publicist Author/Guide is sponsoring a #Giveaway. Details below

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Release Date: 11-12-2019



The surviving son of a germophobic mother, Cecil Reitmeister embraces all forms of bacteria and formulates an elaborate plan to lead humanity out of the Anthropocene and into a new era of interspecies harmony. His idiosyncratic plan requires years of experimentation and precise manipulation of his microbiome, the totality of microorganisms present in or on the human body. His mad-scientist mission leads to extreme social isolation, with the memory of his dead mother becoming his most frequent visitor. Cecil's quest to save the world comes to a screeching halt when his social worker and the police show up to condemn the only home he has ever known. Thrown in jail for assaulting the police, Cecil soon finds himself homeless and struggles to adjust to life on the streets. When he meets a group of Freegans (people who reject consumerism and seek to reduce waste by collecting discarded food) led by a magnetic red-headed woman, Cecil is forced to confront demons from his past and to reassess his self-imposed alienation, the rigidity of his worldview, and, ultimately, his plan to save humanity.

Giveaway is for one print copy of
Unorthodoxy US ONLY

Please Use Rafflecopter form below to enter

Good Luck!

Interview with Joshua:

Joshua hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy. Your new novel, Unorthodoxy sounds rather unorthodox (pun intended) J.
What genre would you place this book into?
Literary fiction, leaning toward satire with a sprinkling of the modern day picaresque.

So I know some authors get their book ideas from the news, some from life experiences, in fact one author friend I know got an idea while sitting in the dentist chair. I’ve got to know where you got the idea for your novel.
The first spark came from, as you guessed, an article about the human microbiome and beneficial bacteria in the New York Times, published about six years ago. That was when everyone was using some type of antibacterial lotion or spray on everything, all the time. Obsessive sterilization, you couldn’t get away from it. Most of us back then didn’t quite realize that we were also killing legions of beneficial microbes and thereby causing real and significant problems for bodies. The conflict between the emerging science and our society’s accepted practices fascinated me. 
Soon after I read the story, I was assigned a character sketch for a writing class, two pages at most. A compressed version of Cecil and his “dirty” lifestyle popped out. When I read my short piece aloud, my classmates groaned, yelped, and squealed. One of them came up to me later in the semester and said she had thought, after that class session, that I might be a serial killer. It was a joke, of course, but what a reaction, right? I knew then that I was onto something, so I kept developing Cecil and his adventure.

Joshua reading your bio I see you have worn many hats in your life so far.
Is there something you haven’t done that you want to?
Funny you should ask, I was just thinking about that earlier today on the toilet. In no particular order: attend medical school; spend at least five years in French Guiana; run for public office; teach writing to underserved kids in Berkeley/Oakland (or inmates in San Quinton); write at least ten more novels; befriend a monkey; paint a truly breathtaking landscape; and there’s more, many more things I’d like to do, always more, until I am no more.    
In all seriousness, I’ve been very fortunate to have had so many rich experiences in my life. In truth, the roles I cherish the most are the unheralded ones: father, husband, son, brother, friend . . . cheesy, but true.

Staying with your bio I see you served in the Peace Corps. I have a friend serving right now in Rwanda, Africa (where he also met his wife) he’s been serving for over 10 years first as a volunteer and now serves in an Administrative roll.
What made you join the Peace Corps?
Unbridled idealism. I wanted to make the world a better place, still do. But in Mali, I learned that effecting change is not always as easy as one would hope. Being a Peace Corps volunteer is truly the “toughest job you’ll ever love.”  I worked hard and accomplished some things, but I’m not sure how much lasting good I managed to do. Other volunteers were definitely more successful than I. That said, Peace Corps taught me so much about myself and the world. I believe that every young person should consider applying for the Peace Corps or doing something similar. Two years in a foreign country in your early twenties truly changes the trajectory of the rest of your life.

Your other writing includes non-fiction, poetry and speculative fiction (one of my favorites), and you mentioned that after 20+ years of “practice novels” Unorthodoxy is your first published work of fiction. Did the practice help, how was the real road to publishing?
The practice helped immensely. I honed my skills with each sentence, paragraph, and chapter I wrote. But I realized more recently that reading and analyzing great writing is also extremely important to producing interesting prose. In my late twenties and thirties, I read fiction mostly for entertainment—easy, bedside reading—or, at times, not much at all (babies and lawyering take up a lot of time). When I started attending San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing Program, my reading list changed dramatically. I began to find my own voice through reading some of the more interesting and challenging writers, past and present, like Kenzaburō Ōe, Jamaica Kincaid, Knut Hamsun, Bohumil Hrabal, and Virginia Woolf, to name a few. They gave me permission and the courage to take chances in my writing and see where the story goes.
As for my path to publication, it likely reads a lot like other writers’ stories. I’ve been rejected more times than I’d like to admit. I started submitting manuscripts when authors still had to print out the first three (or so) chapters and send them to agents or publishers via snail mail. I almost overcame through the slush pile a couple times, with agents expressing real interest in a couple of my projects, only to find in the end that I was back at square one. Perseverance is the name of the game. Selling Unorthodoxy too was an uphill battle. Too much scatological material! That’s the point, I wanted to write back. I’m just thankful to Atmosphere Press for seeing Cecil as a relatable character despite his eccentricities.  

Any plans on book 2?
I am informally participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time this year. Time travel, baby! Speaking of which, I better dip my pen and get some fiction flowing.

Joshua thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck with your new novel. Will you be involved in any author/signing events?
I am hoping to do some readings in North Berkeley, where Unorthodoxy is set.

About the author:
Joshua A.H. Harris is a writer, father, and recovering environmental attorney. He grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, served in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, and currently lives in the Bay Area. Joshua holds degrees from Brown University, UC Davis, and San Francisco State University. His writings have appeared in the East Bay Times, Gravitas (Pub House Books), Berkeley Times, and Ars Poetica. In 2014, he wrote Out of the Fog, a serialized novel released one chapter per week over the course of a calendar year (available at In 2017, Joshua became an associate editor for La Vil: Stories from the Streets of Port-au-Prince, Voice of Witness (San Francisco). More recently, he wrote and published Common Sense 2019: A Bipartisan Call to Take Back Our Government, a political pamphlet that addresses the fundamental problem of money in politics. Joshua is also an associate producer of the following movies: Night Comes On (2018) starring Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall; House of Tomorrow (2017), starring Asa Butterfield; Lucky (2017), starring Harry Dean Stanton; and Columbus (2017), starring John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey.

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  1. While this book isn't the type that I usually read it does sound like an interesting story.

  2. The book sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing the interview.

  3. Great interview Debbie! I remember reading about how body antibacterial soap is for the body and stopped using it several years ago, but I notice it's used everywhere still; from the classroom to new mom's with babies. Fascinating answer to all of the things the author still wants to do. What a bucket list! Thank for sharing :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    1. I thought about the same thing when this book crossed my desk. Thanks LIndy

  4. Replies
    1. I absolutely love the finished cover the arc cover was not my cuppa but this is exceptional.

  5. What a story and that was just the blurb. :) I enjoyed getting to know a little of the author, too.

  6. Good luck with Nanowrimo too! Even for a author that is hard

  7. This story sounds truly thought provoking, and interesting and I really like the cover a lot! Hugs, RO

    1. I love the cover the cover to the arc was hideous I'm glad they picked this one

  8. I enjoy when I read an excerpt or summary of a book and I leave excited to read more. This is def one of them!