Chatting with Joanna Penn

When I published Inside the Outside in 2011, I was full of energy and ambition. I wanted to bum rush the publishing world and make my presence known. The only problem was I didn’t quite know how to do it.

 The first thing I did was start this website, which, at the time of it's inception in 2011, was called Inside Martin (no sexual innuendo intended). Traffic, I was finding, was hard to come by. I hadn’t yet started a Twitter account and my Facebook author page had about 20 likes or soif that.

I spent hours and hours scouring the Internet, attempting to network with authors and bloggers, hoping to gain some traction for my debut novel. Somewhere along the way I discovered The Creative Penn, which is a website for authors and publishers run by bestselling author Joanna Penn.

The Creative Penn was voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers three years running and one of the Top 10 Blogs for Self-Publishers. Like me, Joanna is an independent publisher, so you can only imagine how inspiring it was to see how successful she’d been with her books and website.

Her website alone has been recognized by various mainstream media outlets, such as Forbes, The Guardian, BBC News, The Huffington Post, Writer’s Digest, The Independent, and Wired. But, as a novelist, Joanna has also enjoyed significant success. She’s sold over 100,000 books and has been on both the New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers list.

So, back in 2011, when I was still toiling away at getting my own publishing career off the ground, I wrote a blog post called “5 Blogs Every Indie Writer Should Bookmark.” I included Joanna’s website, The Creative Penn, in the article (and I also mentioned something about her adorable “About Me” video).

Soon thereafter, Joanna sent me a short message, offering her appreciation. I most certainly didn’t expect to hear from her, so it was a pleasant surprise. About seven months later, I received an email from Joanna telling me she’d read Inside the Outside and how much she loved it. She then asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest blog for The Creative Penn. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. She wanted me to write an article that gave my perspective on writing dark fiction. The article I wrote was called “Violence, Brutality, and Death: Dark Fiction and Why I love It.”

Over the years, Joanna has championed Inside the Outside and, while there’s no way to quantify such generosity, I have no doubt that the success I’ve enjoyed in my writing and publishing career is due in large part to her kindness and generosity.

A few months ago, upon discovering my podcast, The Martin Lastrapes Show Podcast Hour, Joanna reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in having her on as a guest. Are you kidding me?! Of course I wanted her as a guest! In turn, she offered to have me on as a guest on her YouTube channel.

And so, I couldn’t be more thrilled that my guest this week on the podcast is Joanna Penn. Joanna and I had a wonderful conversation where we talked about her diverse international background, the effect religion has had on her life and her writing, and how important NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was when she began writing her first novel. I hope you carve out some time to check it out, as I'm certain you'll enjoy it.