Today I have the great pleasure and honor of reintroducing you to a very special guest. He visited my blog back in February of this year and is back as he begins his second tour of his book, When No One Is Watching. There are a couple of differences about today’s visit, however, one being that today I will be interviewing him and the second, is that, this time he is touring with Partners In Crime Tours.
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 love this ride, Dano!” Blair Van Howe yelled exuberantly to his partner, who was passed out cold in the passenger seat. “I’d buy one myself, but the voters might not approve!” He laughed loudly as he leaned forward and accelerated.
Blair had never driven a Porsche before and was relishing every second of it. The power and responsiveness of the 911’s massive engine, the tightness of the steering, and the way the tires gripped the road felt strangely seductive.
He was driving fast, which was not his habit, but it was past midnight, and the neighborhood streets were empty. The events of the past two days had him riding a wave of exhilaration, and rocketing around the deserted streets of North Beverly in Danny’s new Porsche 911 Turbo was a perfect way to conclude a thrilling week.
The north end of Beverly was a well-to-do enclave on Chicago’s far South Side. Danny Moran had grown up there, and Blair was captivated by it from the moment of his first visit, while he and Danny were still in law school. The houses were large, stately old brick structures built during the early and middle part of the twentieth century, on spacious tree-covered lots. The streets were winding and irregular, unlike the grid-like pattern so prevalent throughout the rest of the city. This was because the neighborhood abutted Dan Ryan’s Woods, the only forest preserve within the city limits. The woods served as a buffer between the affluent Beverly residents and the not-so-affluent areas to the north and east, and prevented any through-traffic, giving the area a quiet and secluded ambience. Tonight, those wide, winding streets felt like Blair’s private racetrack, an ideal place to be celebrating life with the assistance of a Porsche 911.
He was just a few blocks from Danny’s house, where he would have to leave the Porsche and walk the short distance to his own home. He would also have to find a way to get Danny inside, which would undoubtedly be a challenge, given Danny’s highly inebriated state. Before tackling that chore, he would treat himself to one more Porsche-delivered thrill to bring the evening to a fitting conclusion. The snake-like roads made it impossible to go for pure drag racing speed, so he’d been delighting in the 911’s maneuverability as he whipped around sharp turns with barely a tap on the brakes. Blair gunned the turbo-charged engine as he approached Hamilton Avenue, Danny’s street, inspired by the sonorous whine emanating from beneath the hood. He felt as if he were one with the vehicle, as if it had nerves and reflexes and were an extension of himself. He jerked the steering wheel hard to the left, leaning into the turn as the Porsche careened around the corner.
Suddenly, he was jolted out of his euphoric state by the harsh glare of high-beam headlights flashing directly into his eyes, blinding him momentarily. Exhilaration turned to panic as he felt the back end of the Porsche swerving and realized that he had lost control. He slammed the brakes hard, and they responded with a deafening screech as the oncoming vehicle veered out of his path, missing the Porsche by inches. Two other sounds simultaneously assaulted his eardrums: the sound of shattering glass as the trophy that had been resting in Danny’s lap was hurled into the dashboard, and the sickening sound of crumpling metal as the other vehicle slammed into some unknown object.
The terrifying cacophony lasted just a couple of seconds, and then everything was still. “Son of a bitch,” Blair whispered in a trembling voice. His entire body was shaking.
“Dano, wake up!” Blair shouted, staring at his partner, who was still tightly strapped into his seat. He hadn’t even stirred. “Wake up, Dano!” Blair yelled louder, gripping Danny’s shoulders and shaking him roughly. Still no response.
Blair reached down to unbuckle his seatbelt and felt a sharp pain shoot through his right hand as it struck a shard of glass, the remnants of their shattered trophy. “Shit!” he cried as blood spurted from a deep gash in his right index finger.
He opened the door and climbed out, gingerly confirming that all of his body parts were intact and that he was unhurt. He surveyed the Porsche. There was not a scratch on it. With a feeling of dread, as if moving in slow motion, he turned around and gazed up the street in the direction from which he had just come. “Oh my God,” he said, hearing the panic in his own voice as he beheld the horrific scene ninety feet away. He felt dizzy and almost vomited. He glanced quickly back at Danny, desperately hoping he’d come to, but Danny remained peacefully oblivious.
The car was an old one. He couldn’t tell what kind in the darkness, but it appeared to be 1960s vintage. That meant no airbags. From where he stood, Blair could see that the vehicle had run head-on into an enormous oak tree. The entire front end was grotesquely contorted and pancaked into the passenger area.
Blair approached the vehicle slowly. His stomach turned again as he stopped several feet from the driver’s door. The windshield looked like it had exploded into thousands of tiny particles, glistening in the pale glow of the streetlight. The driver was slumped over the steering wheel, his face and head a bloody mess, the lower half of his body pinned beneath a mass of twisted wreckage. The man weakly opened his eyes. Blair stared at him, recognition setting in. He couldn’t recall the man’s name, but remembered his face. He and his family were new to the neighborhood, and Blair had met them at a recent block party.
“Help me,” the injured man pleaded in a voice no stronger than a whisper. Then his eyes closed again.
Blair stared at him, feeling paralyzed, unable to think or act. He had always counted on Danny when things went wrong, and Danny always came through. Danny was right there, just ninety feet away, but he was dead drunk and utterly useless.
Blair moved closer to the car, and with a start, noticed a child in the back seat. She was weeping quietly, rocking back and forth, clutching a small stuffed animal.
“Are you okay, kid?” he asked, trying to collect himself.
The child looked at him, then turned away without responding.
Blair looked closer and saw that the child had the distinctive features of a Down Syndrome child. She appeared to be seven or eight years old, but it was hard to tell in the darkness. “Are you okay?” he asked again. He couldn’t help noticing the shakiness in his voice.
“Help my daddy … Help my daddy,” the child repeated, staring straight ahead with unfocused eyes.
“Don’t worry, kid. I’ll call for help. They’ll be here fast. Everything will be okay.”
The child shot a glance in his direction, then looked away again. “Help my daddy,” she whispered through her sobs.
Blair yanked at the driver’s door. It wouldn’t budge. He peered through the open window and looked more closely at the tangled wreckage covering the driver’s legs. He could see that the driver was pinned in tightly, and that there was no way he could extricate the injured man from the vehicle by himself. He had to get help. He raced back to the Porsche. Danny was still out cold. Blair shook him again and slapped him firmly across the face. No response. “Goddammit, Dano, wake up! I need you!” He shook Danny’s shoulders violently. Danny stirred and mumbled, but did not open his eyes.
Blair grabbed Danny’s cell phone and began dialing: 9, then 1–and then he stopped before adding the other 1. He stared at the phone for a long time. The events of the past few days flashed through his mind. He thought about all of the glorious publicity he’d received following the trial. He thought about the campaign. He was on the cusp of fulfilling a life-long dream, and he had never wanted anything so badly. Then he envisioned the police giving him a breathalyzer test and taking him away in handcuffs. This would be an unmitigated disaster.
He paced back and forth in front of the Porsche, gripping Danny’s cell phone and struggling to control his scattered thoughts. He stopped, put his elbows on the Porsche’s driver’s side door, and peered through the open window. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he took a long look at his unconscious friend and partner. “I’m sorry, Dano,” he whispered to himself. He opened the door, knelt on the driver’s seat, reached across, and unfastened Danny’s seatbelt. As Danny slumped forward, Blair grabbed him beneath the armpits and began pulling him out of the passenger’s seat. Danny was dead weight, so it required great exertion, but he finally succeeded in moving him into the driver’s seat. Danny slumped forward, completely limp. Blair pulled the shoulder strap tightly around him and fastened it in place, leaving Danny sitting upright behind the wheel, his head hanging like a ragdoll.
Blair took a few deep breaths, then dialed 911 on Danny’s cell phone. “I’ve been in an accident–89th and Hamilton. I think the other driver is hurt pretty bad. We need an ambulance right away!”
“Of course, sir. We’ll get right on it. May I have your name please?”
Blair pushed the end-call button and dropped the phone into Danny’s lap. “Sorry, pal,” he said softly, tears welling up in his eyes and blurring his vision. He looked around. There was not a soul in sight. He patted Danny on the shoulder, then briskly walked away.
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.