Last week, Mount Pleasant’s Joseph Landing Jr. inked the third novel of his young writing career. This novel is incomparable to the last two, but Landing says it’s a sign of his writing’s maturation through the years.
The Wando High School graduate and son of Mount Pleasant Town Councilmember Kathy Landing, is making a name for himself in the fiction section of Lowcountry literature. At just 23 years old, Landing has authored three novels and has no plans on putting the pen down.
Landing’s writing career showed promise from an early onset when he began reading on his own in kindergarten. Landing said his peers even noticed his vocabulary seemed rather precocious for his age while growing up.
Born in Greensboro, N.C. and living for a short time in Michigan, Landing and his family moved to Mount Pleasant in 2003. He attended Pinckney Elementary and Cario Middle School before graduating from Wando. During these formative years he became enamored with reading, writing and the film industry.
At 13, Landing embarked on his first novel and two years later it was published, called “Tamechactee: Arrow Soul.” It was the first in a fantasy fiction series, which was named a finalist in the 2012 USA Best Book Awards in Los Angeles. He later wrote the sequel “Tamechactee: Battle for Humanity” before graduating from Wando.
When he went off to college at the University of Miami, he studied media management and pursued his passion for studying film. At the end of his senior year, Landing won the Bogart Film Festival with a short film he directed called “Project Godhand.”
After graduating in May 2018, Landing spent the summer chasing his dreams of being a director in Los Angeles. While he was out west he wrote a script. He was told it was too “bare bones” to be adopted into a movie. Little did Landing know this script would be the outline for his next novel.
After deciding the fast-pace L.A. lifestyle wasn’t for him, Landing returned home last fall and picked up where he left off. He was eager to expand his body of work, except this time he wanted to dabble in psychological horror fiction writing.
Landing’s latest piece of work “Bobbit Rock” has been called a “Southern Gothic for the video-game age, mixing scares and shootouts, relationships and reprisals in one big, brash package,” according to a review from freelance author Leslie Mizell.
His words take the reader on a witch hunt of a journey as homicide detective Isaac Murphy struggles to solve a string of murders in the fictional town of Callahan, S.C. There are two major themes, grief and forgiveness. One of which will hit the reader right away and the other at the end.
As the plot thickens, Murphy has to decipher whether the killer is a man or monster. Landing says it’s sure to keep the readers guessing behind every page as to who is responsible for the deaths of the townspeople.
Landing’s desire to write such shadowy subject material comes from his fascination with dark movie artists like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Stephen King, Darren Aronofsky, James Wan and others. He also credits the influences and skills he learned in college which helped manifest “Bobbit Rock.”
“This book is very dark, it’s very scary. It’s ‘Silence of the Lambs‘ and ‘The Shining’ together. It’s that kind of stuff,” Landing said.
However, Landing said the trickiest part about writing it was finding the time. When he wrote his first two novels, as a kid he had all the time in the world. Now with a full-time job, he was forced to carve out time during the wee hours on weekdays.
“Writing a book is 90% procrastination, 5% excuses and...” Landing laughed. “The reason it took me six months to write a book that’s 57,000 words is because I had difficulty writing it.”
Landing wrote the script in just two weeks, but says flipping it into a book was so much more time consuming because he had to dive deeper past the simple dialogue and plot. When Landing was writing “Bobbit Rock” he didn’t develop an ending until more than halfway through writing the novel.
“The most important thing with writing a novel is when you sit down write something,” Landing said. “Force yourself to write something even if you have made writer’s block and have got nothing.”
As for the creative process such as coming up with characters and making scare scenes seem so real, it comes second nature to Landing. A lot of the character traits and symbolism is brought into existence from things that Landing has indirectly experienced briefly in his life.
Unlike his first two books, “Bobbit Rock” is written in third person so it’s a much different lens inside the minds of Landing’s characters. Landing says the glimpses are intense and provide the reader a window of time that’s just bearable enough before getting completely spooked out.
Landing says that one of the most thrilling aspects readers can expect to grapple with is the power of the mind and how fragile it is. Also, the concept of mass hysteria plays a role, inspired by real-life events like the Salem Witch Trials and the Dancing Plague of the 1400s.
“Sometimes you’re not going to know what’s real and what’s not. It’s definitely a trippy book.” Landing said. “There’s a lot of twists and turns, a lot of scary moments. I think the ending will really stick with you too.”
As for “Bobbit Rock” potentially becoming a movie in the future, Landing feels indifferent to the possibility. However, if his book did hit the screen, he said he would have to be the director. For right now he’s more than satisfied with it being just a novel and hopes readers enjoy the scare, regardless of what kind of sales or attention the novel garnishes.
“Bobbit Rock” published Oct. 8 and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. The novel is available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover.