Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Josh Winning?
A goblin babe masquerading as an author! You’ll usually find me either reading, writing, or fending off attacks by my very needy cat Penny.
Your new novel, The Shadow Glass, will be published by Titan on March 22nd. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Thank you! The Shadow Glass is my love letter to 80s fantasy films like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The NeverEnding Story. It’s about the son of a movie director, who goes on a real-world quest with the puppets from his father’s fantasy film. Expect bloodthirsty puppets, found families and a big dollop of The Feels!
What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I grew up watching all those gorgeously dark and weird 1980s fantasy films we all loved as kids, and they are the reason this book exists – I wanted to write another puppet fantasy story for fans who, like me, wish there were more of those movies to discover. In terms of inspiration, I find it comes from all over the place – sometimes an idea for a story is set off by a line of dialogue in a movie, or a feeling I get from another book, or a conversation I’m having with friends. My “story radar” is always looking for blips!
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
My earliest memories of reading are lapping up the stories of Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis and Robin Jarvis. They introduced me to obsessions that have continued into adulthood, such as witches, mystical lands and terrifying villains. They were a great gateway into the genre.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I love it! There’s nothing like seeing your story turned into a beautiful book, and then hopefully finding its audience. It’s a privilege to see my words in print, but I fully believe that anybody can do it – I’ve never been “trained” to write books, I simply learned through trial and error, and with a lot of help and support from my friends and peers. It is a tough industry because the competition is fierce, but if you’re determined, you can make it.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I really try to outline, but I often find it’s easier to just start writing. An outline gives you a roadmap to follow, but it can feel restrictive, so I usually write a brief guide, work on character profiles so I know their overall arcs, and then just dive in! That being said, The Shadow Glass required six months of planning first because the world and characters were so complex. I think each project demands something different and challenging that is entirely unique.
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?
As a kid, I wanted to be a gymnast! That dream was killed pretty quickly when I realized I was too afraid to swing on the bars. I’ve been writing since I was very little, and my love/obsession for it grew and grew. I just love telling stories. My earliest stories were essentially fan fiction and retellings of stories I already loved, and I definitely look back on them fondly – they’re all stepping stones in the path that has led me to where I am today.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
The genre is so exciting today! It’s great to see diversity really coming to the fore, particularly with authors like T.J. Klune, William Hussey and Charlie Jane Anders. I’m an Own Voices author and I believe that representation is so important. I’m so proud to have written a fantasy book that contains positive LGBTQ+ rep, something that was sorely missing from the media when I was growing up.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
Oh, roughly a thousand! I have a horror book that will be my next adult book after The Shadow Glass, and delves into the world of horror movies. Then I have a dozen other ideas that are in various stages of development. I just love writing. In the words of Jim Carrey in The Mask, “Somebody stop me!”
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
At the moment I’m beta reading a couple of books written by my author friends (this is a very exciting perk to being an author – getting to reads books years before they come out). I also have a couple of TBR shelves that include books I’m itching to read, such as Falling by T.J. Newman, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Wild & Wicked Things by Francesca May.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
On Writing by Stephen King. Not only is it a fascinating autobiography, it’s also packed with excellent writing advice from a master of our craft.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m fluent in Swedish! I started learning a decade ago and even though I don’t get to speak it anywhere near as much as I’d like to, I still understand Swedish TV. (If you haven’t watched Young Royals on Netflix yet, add it your watchlist pronto!)
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
I’m so excited to potentially go along to some SFF and literary festivals. I had a stall at YALC a few years ago and I’ve been desperate to get back to meeting readers and other authors. Bring it on!