Joe Delisle wrote a fantastical fantasy one paragraph at a time as he found a way to live with his brain injury

Local author writes himself a dream job fantasizing his injury away

Joe Delisle knows how to write his way out of a pickle, on the page and in real life

  • Fri Apr 19th, 2013 12:00pm
  • Life

Slaying dragons would hardly be be an arduous task for those cast among the characters of Joe Delisle’s world, considering the stakes of each day.

Every time the author hits a rough patch with a therapist or feels an inferno spark in the endless roll of headaches marring his world, death and destruction ensue for the yearling dragons and young riders in The Bondlings: Betrayal of Destiny.

“If I have a bad day, I just go home and kill everybody off,” said Delisle. “And then I get up the next day, erase a bit back to where I was the day before, and keep going.”

Writing is a secondary vocation for the one-time locksmith. Back in 2000, he was in this newspaper fighting WorkSafe BC to see his compensation claim dealt with fairly.

On shift at his second job as a night club bouncer, trying to earn money to finance entertainment with his daughter, he was sucker-punched while busing tables.

The punch is still visible on his face. His left side is just slightly askew from the right. One can only see the issue if he points it out, but the head injury manifesting itself in the general lack of concentration and confusion he battles is abundantly clear—and frustrating.

A bout of H1N1, which in turn became viral encephalitis, eventually killed his ability to work a nine-to-five job altogether.

This is when Delisle became a writer and a salesman.

“I sold 19 books in four hours,” he says of his first signing, an event held earlier this month at Chapters. Most people only sell a handful.

“You have five seconds for the front cover, five seconds for the back and one second inside,” he notes. He has been talking with other writers, pushing himself to find the information he needs to get this new career off the ground.

He’s got the first rule down: Delisle writes constantly.

“I commit, everyday, to write at least one paragraph,” he said.

Sometimes the one paragraph is as much as he can generate and other times he can concentrate for up to 45 minutes at a time.

And he has plenty of business smarts to back this motived approach. Everyone, from his editor. Marlise Toth. to his cover artist, Eric Blais, is based in the Okanagan and this little factoid is part of the pitch he uses when he sells his books.

A quick test-market in Orchard Plaza helped him sell a dozen.

The fantasy tale has now sold out of the first run of 150 books and he’s ordered 500 more, self-publishing en route to the book deal he hopes to find himself with all of this persistence.

The Bondlings is a straight-forward read designed for the teenagers he was targeting when he initially got started.

“My teenage daughter was being a very teenage daughter at the time and I was looking for something for us to do together,” he explained.

She is now a 26-year-old mother of two and very proud of her father.

“It’s a well-told story and I stuck to my guns and got a real good cover,” said Delisle.

And for those who like to hunt, as he and his daughter are prone to do as well, there’s a fantastical twist on the pastime.

“Gathering up his Thorn bow and quiver of arrows, he had only walked a few steps when something just at the edge of his consciousness, and a low grow from Jewel, gave him a warning.

“An almost imperceptible change in position sent an arrow glancing off the hardwood bow shaft slung low over his shoulder, grazing his chin instead of slicing through his neck. He cursed at his carelessness,” it reads.

Any way one slices it, there is a tale to tell in Delisle. Just how his writing career unfolds is the ending we’ve yet to see. Then again, Delisle is one of those writers who never knows where the story will go when he sits down to write.

He just comes up with the concept and sets his mind to go.

Such is the world of the novice novel writer and the industry known as self publishing.