Writing since he was 12, Joe completed four novels once he left university.
“They went to agents but were all turned down.”
Meanwhile, he was working as a sub titler, for news and sports.
“You repeat what is being said into a microphone, adding punctuation, and the computer translates it.”
He got the idea for his debut when he read an article about a man, blinded in a chemical accident who, recovering his sight, found that his new ‘ability’ interrupted his old life.
“And when my son was six months old, I watched him looking at the world, taking things in. When an aeroplane disappeared behind a cloud, he frowned.”
It came together, when he combined that story with a novel he had begun about a woman in an abusive relationship.
“I wrote it in a year, worked on it with an agent, and then it was taken on in a six-figure auction.”
Who is Joe Heap.
Date of birth: 1986 in London.
Education: St Bede’s Grammar School in Bedford; Stirling University, BA English; Glasgow University; MA, Creative Writing.
Home: Twickenham, London.
Family: Girlfriend, Alice. Sam, 16 months.
The Day Job: Writer. “And I look after Sam in the afternoons.”
In Another Life: “I would love to be a really good stand-up comedian.”
Favourite Writers: Russell Hoban, and poet Jo Shapcott. “Growing up I loved Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Iain M Banks.”
Second Novel: “I submitted a synopsis when I signed my two-book contract. I’ve written the book and am working on the edits.”
Top Tip: “Read as widely as possible. Find lots of inspirations from high literature to crime and romance. Everything has something to teach you. If it’s not good, it can show what you could have done better.”
The Debut: The Rules of Seeing. Harper Collins: € 15.99 Kindle: €8.98
Nova, blind from birth, has surgery to restore her sight. But its not easy viewing the world when you’re not sure quite what it is that you’re seeing. Meanwhile, Kate’s husband is showing his dark side. The women meet in a hospital outpatients, but can their burgeoning friendship help them overcome the odds?
The Verdict: Compulsive and thought provoking. Makes you see disability in a new light.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 11th August
© Sue Leonard. 2018.