Best-selling, award-winning author Joseph Badal uses his experience as an officer in the U.S. military to craft believable and compelling stories. His publishing credits include dozens of articles and short stories, as well as twelve mystery/suspense/thrillers (soon to be thirteen) split between three series and three standalone novels. The six-book Danforth Saga takes readers (and the Danforth family) through the wringer of international intrigue. His Lassiter/Martinez Case Files pits a pair of female detectives against relentless criminals, and The Cycle of Violence series deals with the timely topic of human trafficking. You’ll find Joe on his website JosephBadalBooks.com, his Everyday Heroes blog, and his Amazon author page.
Sins of the Fathers (Suspense Publishing, 2017) is the sixth novel in the Danforth Saga thriller series. How do you keep the Danforth stories fresh, for you as well as readers?
I’ve thought a lot about this issue and came to the conclusion that building the series brand on the backs of Bob and Liz Danforth alone would be a mistake. In order to refresh the series, I now have Bob and Liz’s son, Michael, and grandson, Robbie, playing more active roles. Bob and Liz are still integral to the plot lines, but they now share the spotlight with the next two generations.
What was the inspiration for this book? How did you go about weaving a complex plot that spans the globe?
As with most of my novels, my story in Sins of the Fathers is topical and timely. The conflicts in the Middle East and continued terrorist events in the West and in the Middle East continue to be front and center in the news, so I centered the plot around that theme. I also wanted to introduce Robbie as a bigger player than he was in the previous two Danforth Saga novels, and Sins of the Fathers provided the perfect platform.
You describe the main characters in your books as everyday people. What “everyday” characteristics do your protagonists possess that readers will relate to?
Readers are everyday people. Even those readers who may have performed heroic acts are still everyday people, not superheroes. Protagonists who leap tall buildings in a single bound and dodge bullets are literary superheroes who have no relationship to real people. My protagonists tend to be loyal, have character, and—most of the time—do the right thing. I believe the everyday reader can relate to that type of character.
What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Dark Angel (Suspense Publishing, 2017), the second book in your Lassiter/Martinez detective series?
I received so much positive feedback about Borderline, in which I introduced Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez as detective partners, that I was anxious to bring them back. Dark Angel gave me the opportunity to convert Borderline from a standalone mystery to the first in a series. The most rewarding aspects of writing Dark Angel are the challenge of writing from a female perspective and the wonderful reviews and feedback I’ve received.
For the Lassiter/Martinez series, why did you choose two female detectives as your main characters versus the alternatives (one main character/different gender choices)?
I try to avoid consecutively writing books in a series. Stepping away from a series, moving to something new, and taking on a challenge are ways to clean my creative palette. Writing a mystery not only offered a challenge, but it caused me to think about doing something different, if not unique, from what’s out there today. Creating a detective team versus a single protagonist seemed like a way to differentiate my story from 99 percent of all the other books out there. And moving from male protagonists to female offered intrinsic challenges that gave me a great amount of satisfaction.
Has your writing style changed since you wrote your first novel?
I think the biggest change in style is that my writing has become less wordy and flowery and more economical. I attempt to write in a way that will avoid the reader stopping to question why I wrote something the way I did. Causing a reader to pause in his consumption of a book can lead to losing that reader.
Of all the books you’ve written, which one was the most challenging, and which one was the easiest (or most enjoyable) to write?
My first novel, The Pythagorean Solution (Suspense Publishing, 2015), was definitely the most challenging because I was learning to write on the fly, with almost no formal training and, obviously, no experience. As far as the most challenging novel I’ve written, I would say it’s always the most recent one I wrote. This is because I know more about writing with each new book, which creates new challenges. I also feel that my most recent book is also the one I enjoy writing the most.
You’ve taught several writing classes over the years. What do many beginning writers misunderstand about telling a story?
The biggest failing I see among beginning writers is that they believe all that is necessary to be published and to be successful is to tell a good story. A good story is the minimum requirement for success. But beyond that, the writer must learn that writing is a craft and that honing that craft is a continual process. I had to learn this the hard way. Today, after I finish the first draft of a manuscript, I spend months editing that manuscript (usually 6-8 edits). In the editing process, I challenge the necessity and appropriateness of every word and make adjustments accordingly. This is a time-consuming, arduous process, but once finished, it adds to the satisfaction of writing.
Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
My list of favorites is too long to publish here. But, just to name a few, they include Robert Ludlum, Bernard Cornwell, David Morrell, Tony Hillerman, Carl Hiasson, James Lee Burke, Steve Brewer, Elmore Leonard, Steven Pressfield, and James Clavell. What I admire most about all of these writers is that they have developed their unique voice that differentiates them.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I just completed the eighth edit of Obsessed, the second book in my Cycle of Violence series. It will be released in May of this year. I also just finished the seventh edit of a standalone thriller titled Second Chances and am in a rewrite of the third book (Retribution) in my Lassiter/Martinez series.
Find out more about Joe and his writing in his 2016 interview for SouthWest Writers.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. She has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.