Back in March I was very lucky to review an amazing novel that pushed the boundaries of truth, putting the spotlight on a subject that is very prevalent today but not talk about: the use of steroids in sports and their affects.
Today I am lucky to have Joshua C. Cohen, the author of Leverage, with us today.  He has graciously agreed to answer a few questions regarding his debut novel and what it is like to be a new author.
 Without Further Ado!!

Leverage is a very raw and intense novel.  There were a few times where I had to put it down for a days to let it all sink in, especially one scene in particular…  While writing did you come across moments when you had to step back as well because of how the rawness and intensity?  
Yes, definitely.  The main assault scene was very difficult to write.  I needed to convey an attack that was awful enough that the reader would believe that a boy witnessing it would be completely intimidated into silence.  I needed to capture the horror of the assault without making it too graphic or too gratuitous.  That balance took many drafts to write and, of course, to rewrite the draft, you really have to re-immerse yourself in the scene.  To help me get through it as a writer I needed to remind myself of the comeuppance that comes later.    
 
I was completely intimidated as a reader during the assult scene.  While I was screaming for Danny to help I completely understood why he did what he did.  The scene really makes you ask the question: “What would I do if I was in Danny’s situation?”
 

Was there anything in particular that gave you this inspiration, something that made you feel you “had to” write this story down?   
For years I’d wanted to do an odd-couple buddy story but I couldn’t come up with an incident that would tie two boys from really different backgrounds together.  Then I’d read a news account of this horrible attack that took place during a sleep-away football training camp.  I kept wondering what the poor victims were going through and thinking as they tried to pretend nothing was happening to them in the daytime while at night they would have to endure what basically amounted to torture.  My horror/fascination with the news account kept marinating in my brain and it slowly worked itself into the story–how fear could shut down two kids’ ability to simply speak up with the truth and save themselves.  As a reader, you want to shake the book and scream at them to simply speak up but they don’t.  And in the real story offered in the new accounts, the kids didn’t speak up, either, until one of them had to go to the hospital for injuries he had suffered but wouldn’t tell because of deep fear and humiliation.   As I researched further, I soon realized this type of assault was occurring across the country way more often than people realize and it needs to be exposed.
 
Well Danny and Kurt are deffinitley an Odd Couple!
 

Now a bit off topic… As an author, are you a book addict?  If so, what types of books do you read? Are they opposite from the genre Leverage falls into?   
I am a reading addict in all its forms.  I read compulsively, ranging from cereal boxes to magazines, to books, to online news sites.  Of all my reading experiences, though, reading short stories or a good book while laying around in afternoon sunlight and slowly drifting off into a nap is one of life’s great pleasures. The types of books I read fall all over the place.  As long as it’s well written I will read any genre.  After reading a few books in any one genre, I need to bounce over to something else and change it up.  So, yes, I read books like Leverage but then I’ll want to jump over to sci-fi dystopian and then a humor book and then the latest designated “work of great literature” and then a crime novel.  The last three books I’ve read, I’ve really enjoyed for really different reasons: “Nothing” by Janne Teller; “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi; and “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen.
 
 
As a new author I am sure you have experienced some wonderful moments, and some not-so-wonderful moments.  What were some of your most found memories of the Leverage’s process? And what were some of the not-so-memorable moments? 
Best moment has to be the day Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Managemet sent me an email asking if we could talk on the phone–which I knew meant she was interested in representing me.  That moment was followed closely by news that Julie Strauss-Gabel of Dutton wanted to acquire my manuscript.  I’ve got a smile on my face as I type this just recalling both those times.  The not so memorable moments were the years–yes, that’s correct, YEARS–of rejection letters and me wondering why I insisted on torturing myself with the idea of becoming a published author.  There was the first manuscript that I spent so long working on only to recognize it really was a monstrosity and would never sell.  Finally putting that failed manuscript away and beginning all over again on a new manuscript felt like having someone beat you within an inch of your life and leaving you for dead and you having to make a conscious decision to will yourself to take the next breath and the next breath and then sit up and then drag yourself home to slowly start the whole process again.  But that really low, low moment made the book deal that much sweeter.  Ever since Catherine took me on, the book moments have all been on the good-to-thrilling side of the scale.   
 
For any author to put themselves out there, whether seasoned or new (but especially new), I could imagine has to be one of the most nerve racking experiences.  I honestly don’t know how so many authors handle the ups and downs – it sounds like a roller costar.
 
 If you had to choose one piece of advice for aspiring authors, what would it be?
Be tenacious!  Be tenacious!  Be tenacious!  Shut out all the bad news about the publishing industry going under.  Shut out all the negative thoughts that you’re not good enough to get published.  Shut out all the bad vibes and just keep writing and then submitting.  My manuscript was the veritable Cinderella “slush pile” find and I am so proud of that fact and proud to tell others to help inspire them.  My inability to schmooze didn’t matter.  Keep hammering away at your project.  Get feedback from people you trust.  Be realistic with your work and recognize when it’s not working BUT NEVER STOP WRITING IF YOU WANT TO GET PUBLISHED!!!!
 
The dictionary definition of “talent” is “special natural ability or aptitude” and I think this is only half of it.  I think people that are talented in their chosen field also are dogged in wanting something badly enough to keep working and working to get it.  I choose to think I’m talented in that tenacity part more than having any special ability.    
 
I loved Leverage!!  Can you give any hints about your next novel? I know I am dying to know!  
 It was such a long process to get anyone to even look at the manuscript, that hearing people actually like it, let alone love it, is a total thrill!   So thank you for letting me know that you loved it!   I am working on a number of stories and they are all wildly divergent in plot concept and voice.  I’m running them by my agent to see which one has the best chance of getting a green light.  When I start moving forward with one of them and–hopefully–get it acquired and published, I will definitely let you know about it!  Trust me, I’ll be shouting about it to anyone that will listen.  
 
Well I know I will listen and I am sure many others will! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with your novel and publishing – I know many Book Bloggers are aspiring authors, myself included. 

Click here for more information about Leverage and Joshua C. Cohen or head on over to the book’s Facebook Page

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