When I initially read his book, I have to be honest, I was a bit skeptical. I was a newbie reviewer, and at the time had only been accepting requests for a couple of months and his book was considered to be a debut novel, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was quite surprised and impressed!! And to this day, that book is still vivid in my memory. I will be reposting my original review, in case you were not a follower of my blog back then and didn't see it, because it is a book not to be missed!!! Please help me welcome back Mr. Joseph Hayes!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Hayes is a native of Chicago. He grew up in a family of eight children in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s Far South Side, where the Irish-Catholic heritage and influence was strong and visible. Joe attended St. Barnabas Elementary School, Brother Rice High School and De Paul University before leaving Chicago to attend law school in California, at UC Berkeley. Since graduating from Berkeley, he has practiced law in Chicago, San Diego and Houston. Joe currently serves as chief ethics officer and assistant general counsel for a large, publicly held company based in Houston, Texas, and is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts in his field. In his professional capacity, he has written extensively about legal and ethical issues and frequently speaks about such issues be! fore employee and industry groups. When No One is Watching is his first work of fiction. His second novel, a legal thriller entitled Consequential Damages, is expected to be published soon.
Joe currently resides in The Woodlands, Texas, with his wife, Susan, and their three children, Amy, Sean and Erin.
You can visit his website here.
Q&A With Joseph Hayes
CM: First, I want to welcome you back to the CMash blog. Just warning you, as my followers know, I tend to ask a lot of questions, so be prepared. Do you mind if we start with who Joseph Hayes is?
JH: By way of background, I was born and raised in Chicago, along with my seven siblings (4 sisters and 3 brothers). Although I left Chicago 25 years ago, I still have plenty of family and friends there, and in many ways, it will always feel like home. I have been living in the Houston area for 20 years now, with my wife, Susan, and our three children, Amy, Sean and Erin. I never expected to wind up in Texas, but we love it here. It can get pretty hot in the summertime, but I don't have to shovel snow anymore!
Professionally, I am an attorney and chief ethics officer for a Fortune 1000 Company and feel extremely fortunate to have a job that a truly enjoy and that provides me with the opportunity to make a difference and do something meaningful. My other passion is writing. I've written two novels now, and definitely been bitten by the writing bug. I hope there will be many more to come
CM: You are a very busy and successful man. A husband, father of 3, family man, successful attorney, speaker of legal and ethical issues, what made you decide at this stage in your life to write your first novel?
JH: I've always enjoyed writing and have done a great deal of it in my professional capacity. However, I had never written fiction, and it is something I've always wanted to do. I remember being in college and considering the possibility of writing fiction as a career, and decided against it for two reasons. First, I didn't know whether I could make a living at it. Second, I just didn't know what to write about. Looking back, I now realize that, as a 20-year-old college student, I didn't have much to draw upon in terms of interesting life experiences. By the time I was in my mid-forties, I had an abundance of great material to draw from based on both my professional and personal life. There was also something of a "bucket list" concept at work as well. I realized that writing a novel was something I always wanted to do and that I wasn't getting any younger, so I just made up my mind to do it. Since my aging knees and back were making my prior pasttimes (basketball, weight-lifting and running) increasingly difficult, I needed a new passion -- and I found it in writing fiction.
CM: When do you find the time to write? Do you allocate a certain time to writing?
JH: Before I began writing my first novel, I spent a month or two researching how to write a novel. For the most part, it was a waste of time; however, I did pick up one piece of advice that really worked for me: write every day. When I am in writing mode, that's what I do. It's easier said than done, because I have a very demanding day job. However, I can make time either very early in the morning or late in the evening. During the week, I may average an hour a day, but sometimes it may be only 20 or 30 minutes. On weekends, it may be five or six hours per day. The important thing for me is to do it every day, regardless of how busy I am with other things, regardless of whether I'm at home or traveling -- even if I'm sick. No excuses. With this approach, each of the two novels I've written took me precisely 90 days to complete ( the first draft).
CM: Who are some of the authors that you read? What are you reading now?
JH: When I was young, my goal was to read all the classics. I read Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Mark Twain, Hemingway, and many others -- most of the great works of literatute that have withstood the test of time. Some of the popular works of fiction I read now include the works of John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Mitch Albom. I've read all the Harry Potter books. I read my first Vince Flynn novel recently and just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As for nonfiction, I've recently read Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, and Outliers. My wife downloaded Decision Points onto her Kindle, and I hope to read that next.
CM: If you have any spare time, what are some of your hobbies?
JH: Right now, my major hobby is writing and marketing my books. Between that and work, I have very little free time, but I do try to make time to exercise and play guitar. I also really enjoy traveling, and now that my kids are getting older, my wife and I have more freedom to do that, and have our own travel-related bucket list we are working on.
CM: Now to When No One Is Watching. I read your book back in February and have to be honest, was skeptical, being a debut book, but it was the type of book that I call a "transport" book whereas I was pulled into the story and had no awareness as to what was going on around me. Kudos!! Was writing a novel something you always wanted to do?
JH: Yes.(See response to Question #2 above for more details.) A few additional thoughts: I've always enjoyed the craft of writing -- choosing the right words and putting them together in a way that is easy to read and conveys exactly the message you are trying to communicate, in a way that really captures the attention of your reader. That's an art. Some part of me also enjoys playing the role of teacher, and writing is the perfect way to communicate thoughts and ideas that will educate the reader. I also believe that the best way to teach is by communicating your messages in a way that is entertaining. People want to be entertained, and if they are, they will pay attention. Therefore, embedding messages into a novel that is engaging and entertaining is a great way to make people think -- as long as you don't come across as too preachy.
CM: You stated that the character Danny was inspired by your father's winning sobriety, was it hard to relive the times before he won the battle of alcoholism? Was that primary premise of the book that you worked around? If not, what was it?
JH: My father's life was the inspiration for When No One is Watching. As a recovering alcoholic, he made it his mission in life to help others who were battling alcohol addiction. I witnessed firsthand the many lives he touched and changed through those efforts, and came to realize that there are countless others within the recovery community doing the same thing every day. In my mind, those people are quiet heroes who make a real difference in our world every day, and I dedicated the book to them. I wanted to make the story gripping and engaging so that people would read it and enjoy it, so a tried to weave this story about alcoholism into a page-turning suspense novel and political thriller. In my view, the most rewarding aspect of writing this book was the feedback I have received from people in the recovery community who have told me that the story really resonanted with them, and came across as both a realistic novel about alcoholism, with all of its heartaches and tragedies, but also as a story of hope and inspiration. In fact one person contacted me and told me that he hadn't had a drink in over six months after reading the book. That made it all worthwhile!
As for my father's experience, writing the book for me brought back far more positive memories than negative ones. He stopped drinking when I was fairly young, so most of my memories involve his sober lifestyle and the efforts he made to help others who had not yet attained sobriety.
CM: There are also moral and ethical issues in When No One Is Watching, did you draw from your years of being a lawyer?
JH: Yes. One of my primary goals as an attorney is keep my clients out of legal trouble. With that goal in mind, I do a great deal of training, and one of my primary messages is that the best way to stay out of trouble is to do the right thing. If you conduct yourself in accordance with the right standards of ethics, you’re not likely to find yourself in legal trouble. In addition to my role as attorney, I am also chief ethics officer for my company and, in that capacity, do a great deal of training with a goal of developing a culture where everyone in our organizatiuon understands, and is committed to, the concept of doing the right thing in every situation, no matter how difficult, and regardless of whether the whole world is watching or no one is watching.
CM: You have another book that will be out soon, Consequential Damages, can you tell us a little bit of what we have to look forward to.
JH: Consequential Damages is a legal thriller. As with my first novel, I have tried to weave some thought-provoking issues into the storyline. Among other issues, it explores some of the weaknesses in our legal system in general and with our jury system in particular. It also explores various ethical issues as well as the far-reaching consequences of our particular decisions and actions.
CM: Thank you for visiting and taking the time to talk with us. I hope you come back when Consequential Damages is published. I am looking forward to reading your next novel.
JH: It has been my pleasure. Thank you for taking an interest in my work.
ABOUT THE BOOK
On the eve of announcing his run for Congress, rising political star Blair Van Howe causes a deadly car wreck. Passed out drunk in the passenger seat is his alcoholic best friend, Danny Moran. Panicked at the thought of seeing his promising future explode into scandal, Blair moves his comatose friend into the driver’s seat, dials 911, and flees the scene.
When the police arrive and Danny comes to, it appears to him and everyone else that he was the cause of the fatal wreck, and he is left to face life-altering consequences: criminal prosecution, financial ruin, public disgrace and overpowering guilt. As Danny struggles to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, Blair embarks on a meteoric rise to political stardom. But when a dogged detective digs deeper into the case, the political superstar must ask himself just how far he is willing to go to protect his dark secret.
Longtime lawyer and chief ethics officer Joseph Hayes spins a tale involving ambition, corruption and scandal within Chicago political circles. Within the framework of this page-turning thriller is a compelling contemporary morality play dealing with ethics, personal responsibility and making a difference. It explores the rationalizations our political leaders often make -- justifying their self-serving personal agendas in the name of promoting the “greater good.” It examines the notion that character and integrity are defined by how we behave when no one is watching and the far-reaching consequences of the decisions we make when facing ethical dilemmas. It explores the impact of guilt on the human mind and heart and searches for inspiration and heroism in unexpected places.
When No One is Watching also explores the volatile and tragic world of alcoholism through the story of Danny Moran, who despite losing nearly everything due to his drinking, somehow manages to hold onto his moral compass and his sense of hope. Danny’s character was inspired by Hayes’s own father, an alcoholic who found lasting sobriety through AA and devoted his life to helping others do the same.
My Review posted 02/03/11
WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING by Joseph Hayes
Published by Synergy Books
At the request of Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): On the eve of announcing his run for Congress, a charismatic Chicago politician causes a deadly accident. Panicked, he frames his best friend, a good-hearted alcoholic, and flees the scene. As one man tries to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, the other embarks on a meteoric rise to political stardom. But when a dogged detective digs deeper into the case, the political superstar must decide just how far he is willing to go to keep his dark secret. Author Joseph combines page-turning suspense with a poignant tale of inspiration and redemption as he asks, is "the greater good" just a lie we tell ourselves to justify the sins we commit when no one is watching?
My Thoughts and Opinion: Wow!! Where do I start without including any spoilers? This book pulled me in as fast as the Porsche was going the night of the accident. A page turning, suspenseful book full of real life characters, some you instantly feel for, cry with, despise, empathize with, some you want to hate but can't, and those that you cheer on. A can't put down book that at times has you holding your breath. This would be a great pick for a book club selection as it includes some very profound discussion questions. Full of lies, secrets, integrity, forgiveness, love, and friendship. Outstanding!!
AWARDS FOR WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING
LOCAL AUTHOR HAYES HONORED BY NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARDS AND 2011 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS
Contests recognize outstanding independently published books
THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS. Joseph Hayes, author of the highly acclaimed When No One is Watching, has been named as a finalist in the category of Inspirational Fiction by the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Aspiring to be the “Sundance” for indie books, this is the nation’s largest nonprofit awards program for small presses, larger independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers and self-published authors.
Hayes was also recognized as a finalist in the category of New Fiction (First Book) by the National Indie Excellence Awards, which celebrates the “best of the best” in independent press.
Read an excerpt:
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold...they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.