Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Joseph Helmreich?
I’m a New York-based writer and this is my second book and first novel. I also play in a band called Honeybrick and I’m a ventriloquist, though I never mention that last part except at the start of interviews.
Your debut novel, The Return, will be published by this year by St. Martin’s Press. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
It’s a sci-fi thriller about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship during a live TV broadcast and then turns up years later and claims it never happened. It wasn’t planned to be part of a series, though I’d certainly be open to doing a sequel.
What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I had a few ideas floating around in my head and when I pitched this story to my editor, Brendan Deneen, he really liked the premise. I draw much of my inspiration from pop culture, but I also love to imagine crazy “what if” scenarios inspired by daily life.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
My Dad read me The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when I was about six and, when I got a bit older, I fell in love with A Wrinkle Time as well as the the Bruce Coville’s books about alien teachers. Oh, and Goosebumps. I devoured those.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I absolutely love it and the team at St. Martin’s Press have been a joy to work with.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I tend to take a lot of walks where I can daydream about the plot, especially when I feel stuck. I do a lot of my actual writing at The Writers’ Room, a shared work Space in Greenwich Village, where I can get away from everything and just focus on the work.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I started writing books about Gumby when I was six. My Mom would take my dictation and I’d draw the pictures. If The Return is a success, I fully expect those Gumby books to be re-released with a major publishing house.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I’m happy to see science fiction gaining more and more respect. I’d like to think my work can be enjoyed by sci-fi fans and also fans of thriller-writers like Harlan Coben and Lee Child, two of my heroes.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on adapting The Return as a screenplay. I also have a few ideas for books and short stories, but nothing fully formed.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I’m about halfway through Alden Bell’s terrific post-apocalyptic zombie novel, The Reapers are the Angels. I’ve also been reading short stories by I.B. Singer. He’s truly one of the greatest fantasy authors ever, even though he’s not thought of that way.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
Though my book delves pretty deeply into theoretical physics, I was very unfamiliar with this subject matter before I researched it for the book. I was a C+ phycics student in high school. Thank God I have a few physicist friends.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
I’m excited to get the book out there and to get to know more fans and fellow writers in the sci fi community.