Growing up, Joe Stephens had three career options. He was going to be a slugger in the major leagues, but he wasn’t able to hit a curve ball by 13. He was going to be an actor, but jobs in the industry are slim. Then, he decided he would be a writer. Later on, Joe would pair his love for writing with teaching high school English.

Joe Stephens is a local independent author who has published three popular detective novels. His novels follow the witty and charismatic Harry Shalan as he solves murders, handles crime and enjoys life with his wife and detective friends. The novels also feature well-known local locations.

Joe originally created Harry in a college creative writing class where Harry appeared as a hard-boiled parody detective. However, as Joe continued refining Harry over three decades, he slowly became the beloved character he is today. “I wrote the first part of “Harsh Prey” over various parts of three decades, but the next two happened within a year,” Joe said.

Harry is a character who transcends the page to make friends with the reader. He’s fun, witty and good at his job. “Harry is basically me if I were younger, smarter, faster and could shoot straight,” Joe said. Harry is a character that Joe describes as born out of time – chivalrous and funny – who doesn’t take himself too seriously. This description could easily be pawned off as a description of Joe, as well.

However, Joe wasn’t always set on publishing his beloved characters. It wasn’t until one of his English students, who he considers an excellent writer, pushed him into getting the book ready for publication. It was finished by the end of the Summer in 2014.

Choosing to self-publish was a difficult decision for Joe. Writing is a field steeped in tradition, and learning to accept himself as an author was a difficult task without agency representation. However, the rave reviews for his books are strong indicators that he is, in fact, a true author.

As a self-published author, Joe faces a unique set of challenges. Not only does he serve as the author and editor, he is in charge of his own marketing as well. “The interesting thing about agents is that a lot of them want you to already have a following – they want someone who is well-rounded and marketable,” he said.

Although Joe continues to seek agency representation, he has other small goals to focus on. He is currently putting the finishing touches on the fourth book which is set to release this summer. His greatest hope is to create a group of people who truly appreciate his work. “I just love to write, and I love for people to enjoy my writing. I want to continue gathering that tribe,” he said.

Joe’s thrilling and entertaining novels are available on Amazon.