Author Interview: J.P. Willson

31804912Depression, self-loathing, unemployment, and destroyed relationships: the effects of drug and alcohol addiction run so much deeper than the morning-after hangover. However, awareness alone will not save the struggling addict, as J.P. Willson reveals in his fearless examination of substance dependency; recovery means doing the mental and emotional work to look inside oneself and discover a way to live as a sober, fulfilled individual in an often challenging world.

Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery is a thought-provoking and honest examination of the emotional, psychological, and physical ways someone must enact their own healing. As a recovering alcoholic, Willson courageously shares his own story of addiction, as well the ups and downs he experienced along the road to recovery. Packed with astonishing insights about our culture’s relationship to alcohol, as well as the lies we tell ourselves in order to keep using, this book will change the way you view addiction. Willson has no qualms about telling the reader how difficult recovery is–and how there is no quick cure-all–but his compassionate, candid reflections help foster the knowledge and will to change.

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the author of Through the Mind’s Eye, J.P. Willson!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well quite apparently, my name is Joseph Willson and I am currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. I am a certified Red Seal Chef by trade and have been working in professional kitchens since the age of fifteen. At present I am with the Salvation Army in the downtown east side of Vancouver which I will get into a little bit more later. This is a feeding ministry for the homeless and the less fortunate or people that are simply hungry, it does not matter. The greater portion of my work experience is in restaurants and hotels, yet also in schools and institutional kitchens. The Salvation Army has a sort of soft spot in my mind for personal reasons as this is where I lived for fourteen months of my life- in an addictions treatment facility located at this ministry location.

2. When did you start writing?
This is a hard thing to pinpoint exactly. I have written from a young age but nothing of any substance that I recall. What I do remember is while in school I never enjoyed English class, I did not like to read when I was young-go figure.

3. Why did you start writing?
Originally in the treatment program we were asked to keep a daily journal, as I had always journaled for both work and simply for myself this was a no brainer for me. The idea to put this journaling into the form of a book, a self-help book at that-came later. The further into the treatment I progressed, the further the idea that I could help others through their own “journey” with these writings came into fruition. Initially I was doing this for the therapeutic value to myself, yet I knew this could change others perspectives for the better. My goal had become publishing, and I needed to see this through for my own sense of well-being.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Not specifically no. What I do recall is the need to share the knowledge I was gaining throughout the treatment program. Oddly I could see others around me struggling with their addiction issues and I knew I could help, even though I was dealing with my own issues at the time a large part of my recovery was centered around helping others at the same time.

5. Tell us a little about your book’s title.
Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery was not the original title yet for the life of me I cannot remember what it was…. Perhaps it simply wasn’t important enough for me to stick in my mind. I mean after all I did change it right. As with the cover also this was not the original cover idea, this cover was created by the design team at my publishers. I had no idea they were going to do this. The cover itself was created through/from the author’s photo that is also on the back of the book. I was truly “floored” when I first saw the design. Originally I wanted the cover to be a photograph taken by my daughter, a very serene beach setting etc…you know- a typical self-help book cover, not a scary-faced author cover but I loved it, it grabbed me-pulled me in.

6. Does your story have a moral?
Uh yeah, don’t do drugs kids! Seriously though-being a recovering alcoholic I guess the moral is self-respect if anything. There are so many varied reasons for addiction and some people are just pre-destined to it but it does not have to be that way. There is a better way.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Although there are many people (un-mentioned) in this book they are merely pieces of a puzzle in this journey of mine, the character is me and I have to admit-I really can be quite the character even if I do say so myself.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery.
Committed-Stubborn-Patient-Determined-Unwavering

9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I always write very early in the morning. Once in a blue moon I will write in the evening but rarely. There is just something about the early morning that I find inspiring. It seems to charge me up for the work day somehow. I always write at home, I prefer the isolation for the concentration, the quiet, although I do always have the radio on I keep it quite low, unless of course Alannis Morrissette is playing, (it’s a personal thing). In terms of word count rarely do I set a goal for the day, I simply write what comes to me and stop when I have nothing else to say….

10. What is your favorite book genre?
I think I would have to say memoirs and biographies are my favorites genre. I am also very partial to history but truthfully anything where I can gain knowledge whether useless trivia or actual usable knowledge it does not matter. The knowledge is the key here.

11. What are you currently reading? 
Currently I am reading, “Not Dead Yet” by Phil Collins but I am also a fan of Stephen King, Sue Grafton and Kathy Reichs for fun, a release if you will. I read just about anything-knowledge remember?

12. What is your favorite book?
Easy-The Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Modern English

13. Any project in the works?
Yes, many. There is a follow-up to Through the Mind’s Eye called How to Become a Successful (Recovering) Alcoholic, another called, A Living Hell on Earth, a children’s book titled Mr. Pickle and the Big Move, another called The Suburban Farm and-last but not least, I am also putting together a book of poetry. This of course does not include the cookbooks I have been compiling over the thirty plus years I have worked in professional kitchens.

14. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Since I have only finished one, I guess that would be a long time as I am fifty-one years old?

15. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Easy-the writer.

16. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I think I would have to say both patience and persistence are two very needed attributes to have as a writer, don’t take no for an answer.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The past because I would have the knowledge of the future…

2. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Surprising even to me, losing all my money!

3. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Spider-man, just the whole swinging thing appeals to me.

4. To find the love of your life (only to find out that you’re not the love of their life) or to have someone declare you the love of their life (note, however, that this someone is not a person whom you are romantically interested in)?
What a question, the latter is the lesser of two evils I think.

5. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Holy, I would have to go with Austen.

6. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
Neither, I don’t believe in tempting fate.

7. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animals without question.

8. Being drawn into a tornado or being drawn into a whirlpool?
Tornado would be neat, done the whirlpool thing and it was not a good time.

9. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
The abandoned road, I like the serenity, and being able to figure things out for myself.

10. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
I’m a chef- never speak again would be fine with me.

11. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Being misunderstood, at least that way I could explain myself.

12. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
The worms…

13. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
The coffin- shorter time frame.

14. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Two inches tall, that would be neat.

15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Definitely the Walking Dead.

Thank you for joining us, J.P.!
Readers: want to connect with J.P.? You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and Instagram. Also, be sure to check out his book’s page on Friesen Press’ website.

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