I met Josh Pantalleresco about three years ago at a writing festival in B. C. . Josh and I have had some great chats about the writing industry, read Dr. Seuss with Russian accents, and tried to line up a date for me to be on his podcast.
Time gets away so fast and now Josh is hosting his 450+ podcast! Yay Josh.
He’s the kind of guy you want in your corner as his energy is constantly sparking a new and fresh idea. This interview with Josh, though presented here, is in his own words and voice.
He’s not only a Writer, Author, and Podcaster…he’s also a freelance writer, a columnist, and now an audio book reader/producer.
Everyone, I introduce to you Joshua Pantalleresco.
Tell me about Josh.
I am the man from everywhere.
I was born in Oshawa Ontario, currently live in Windsor, Ontario and have lived pretty much everywhere in North America.
I write science in the form of novel, short story and poetry. I also write non-fiction. I do interviews, papers, and a column at First Comic News.
I’m a man who wants to live as a creative and think my words are worth something. So I’m going for it because hell, life’s too short not to.
If I were to sum myself up, I am a storyteller who loves stories, both in telling them and listening to them.
My podcast Just Joshing is a 2018 Aurora winner and three-time finalist for said category for best fan related work.
(The Aurora is a Canadian science fiction or fantasy award for best literary fiction achievements from the previous year… See Full description here.
Did you go to school for creative writing or Fine Arts?
I have some college. When I went to college initially it was for journalism.
I was a flake back then. It wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing at the time and my grades showed it. I didn’t show up.
That’s on me.
I just wasn’t happy with it. Beyond that, I’ve taken courses since part time throughout my adult life. I love to learn.
I took Scott McLeod’s drawing comics course even though I couldn’t draw simply because I wanted to learn the craft.
I took a magazine design course in which I did video editing as well and learned all I could about Adobe and putting documents together. I really have no interest in a piece of paper saying I’m awesome and made of cheese. It doesn’t mean anything to me. Never has. Now, I may up and take a full broadcasting program next year.
I love to learn, but really, that piece of paper is only important if you’re a doctor or engineer. I’m not either.
How did you learn the craft of writing?
I decided during my high school time to write a novel. It took me four years but I finished it. It’s my trunk novel, and I learned a ton about telling a story. Later I got the opportunity to work with one of my heroes. And when you get the opportunity to work for publishers like Benbella, you learn very quickly what your strengths and weaknesses are. They published my first major essay, “The Modern Day Percival” for a collection of Dragon Rider essays called “Secrets of the Dragon Riders”.
Sidebar: Benbella Publishing “is a marketing-focused, author-friendly publishing house…”
I’ve also grown a lot over the years. I’ve matured and am a lot more comfortable feeling vulnerable and sharing it on the page.
I realized that writing is about the heart, and not so much the head. If I can evoke an emotion response from you, I’ve done something right.
What challenges did you face in those early days of wanting to write?
The biggest challenge I found early on was to be taken seriously.
One of my favorite stories goes back to the first book I self published when I lived in Calgary in 2005.
I worked at a grocery store, and one of my co-workers heard about me working on the book. I’ll never forget how I shook her.
The first thing she said to me about my book was…
“You’ll never get published”
“I did already,” I replied to her.
“Well, you’ll never get it into Chapters.”
“Ah, yeah, just did.”
I literally got my book in the Indigo in Signal Hill that very weekend. So yeah, victory for me but that sort of negative response was typical.
It’s easy for other to dismiss your writing. They don’t really get it. Even my own family I had to prove some things.
Getting respect initially is hard.
How many books in all have you written?
5 officially. 4 poetry, 1 novel. Soon to add another novel to this list.
How did you find ad secure your first agent? publisher? Was it a lengthy process? explain.ORif you self published—why did you chose to do this? What was your thought process and what did you learn in doing this? Any tips for those who want to self pub?
I’ll answer both these questions.
So, The Watcher was accidentally written and accidentally published by a traditional publisher. I had come back from Arizona and was going to take this writing thing seriously again. So I did a book of poetry (unofficially) back in 2005. Check it out on Smashwords Chapters or Barnes and Noble.
This time, I’d start there and do it right in my eyes.
So I started writing poems (the first book was a poetry collection of short poems.) I wanted to do a longer poem.
And so, I had this vision in my head of a slave boy in the tower looking out in the horizon, wondering what was out there, while him and his family were slaves to the dragons running the compound. I really liked that first chapter, so I wondered what would happen next.
He kills his dragon master and flees.
I had to know what happened next.
His first night alone, out in the wilderness on his own, grabbed me.
I understood the vulnerability to be in a strange and new place.
The StormDancer Click here to purchase from Amazon
I keep experiencing that. So I wrote the next chapter after and the one after. When I got to chapter 6 I knew this was the book.
Screw the poetry collection, this was the real story. And it came from a real place.
I looked for a cover artist and illustrator and was really fortunate to reconnect with Florence Chan who I’d worked with in Calgary.
Anyway, Florence is amazing. I cannot recommend her enough to anyone. Super professional and crazy talented.
So my plan was to publish the book via smashwords and sell physical copies at shows. I put it on Smashwords, and next thing I know someone I interviewed for my blog bought it. She goes to me “I like this. What are you going to do with it?” I told her my plan and she says:
“Well, I just got a deal with Ingram. I’m opening a publishing house. I’ll publish your book.”
Side Bar: Ingram is a book distributor. My friend made a deal for distribution and became a publisher.
That’s how you write a story and get it published by accident ladies and gentlemen.
I am self publishing too.
My books The Cloud Diver and Alice Zero are self published.
Business wise, I have no issue being published, but the question I have now is reach.
Because of my success on my podcast, I have a platform.
So if I’m going to get published by you, I need access to something I wouldn’t otherwise have on my own. But also, it’s leverage for me too. If my name has bigger value, I’m going to command more money. If I come with an audience, a publisher is going to pay for that. I’m not just an artist, I’m a business and I got to think about this from a business standpoint.
Are you familiar with Imposter Syndrome? Have you ever felt this doubt within you? does it affect you at all? Any tricks to get past it?
SIDE BAR: The imposter syndrome is a persistent inability to believe one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s efforts and skills.
It happened when I got nominated for the Aurora Award.
My podcast had expanded its audience and I was being praised for the work I was doing. And then, I won the Aurora.
Wow. How did I do that?
I ask myself that question because in one real sense nothing had changed. I just went about my business.
But the thing is, we’re all used to failure.
We all have failed to ride the bicycle when the training wheels come off, our butts have tasted the ice trying to learn how to skate.
Success creates expectations.
So what I did was ask myself three questions.
- How did I get here?
- What do I do well?
- And, what don’t I do well?
I make a conscious effort to get out of my own way and let things happen. Most of the time, they do.
Do you ever compare yourself to other writers? What are your thoughts on this?
I can learn from any writer, but compare?
What are we selling when we get down to it is how we tell our stories. We all have heard stories before.
But what separates you and me is how we tell it, what details are important to us and the voice we have in which we do tell it.
There’s no other writer to compare to me. There is only one Joshua Pantalleresco. The world is sighing with relief I know. But it’s true.
What is your advice to writers who’re just starting out? how about the ones who are still at it after lots of rejection etc?
It takes just one yes.
When you break it all down, it’s that simple. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask.
Do you have a tricks that keep you centered on your writing work and to keep going?
Just write, and when I’m in the groove, I just breathe and let it flow.
Let’s tell our story bit by bit. I got three sentences, a chapter in my current novel. What happens, Corie’s perspective, and the image I’m trying to make you experience. That’s it. I keep it simple.
Any tips you’d like to offer up to writers of all levels.
Get out of your head and write with your heart.
It’s the hardest lesson to learn, but once you got that, you can make anyone feel.
What are you working on now and when does it hit the shelves?
I am working on my first novel in a series currently just titled Corie, and it will hopefully be out before the year is out. Maybe early next year. This year I released Alice Zero, which just came out this month, and The Cloud Diver was my first novel, which came out in May. All of Josh’s work is here.
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Here are some other links for you.
Follow Josh on Twitter and Instagram: Jpantalleresco
Thank you to Josh Pantalleresco for such a great interview. Make sure you don’t miss Part Two.