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His Father’s Pervasive Shadow

Joe Pace Author Interview

Moss follows the son of a famous writer as he tries to live up to his father’s reputation, and discovers all is not as it appeared. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The original manuscript began with the character of Isaiah Moss, an aging literary legend trying to create one more masterpiece. As much as I enjoyed writing that character, I felt it needed a more unique lens to tell his story. I thought about my relationship with my own father (a much, much, better father than Isaiah!) and how he was (and is) such a big man. People I met would tell me stories about him and his outsized persona. From there, Oscar’s sense of his father’s pervasive shadow began to develop as a frame for Isaiah’s story.

Oscar goes through a lot of changes in this novel. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Oscar is an arrested adolescent in many ways. It’s not uncommon among my generational cohort. With Boomers refusing to yield up their political or cultural or economic authority, men of my age have been relegated to this extended childhood. In some ways, it’s great – superhero movies, right? But I think many of us feel this sense that we’re not living up to our own potential, that our scribbled notebooks are in the basement. This novel isn’t an allegorical treatment of generational conflict, at least not expressly. But Oscar needs to both embrace and escape his father’s legacy, and the only way for him to do that is to grow up and start accepting responsibility for who he is and what he can bring to the world. Moss is, among other things, a coming-of-age tale for a mid-life man.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The tale grew in the telling, as they say. The overt themes include the lasting price of war, the cost of art and celebrity, and the inherent tension of fathers and sons. But it’s also about the courage required to chase our dreams. Another theme that is a little more subtle has to do with Oscar’s treatment of women. From his students, lovers, and mother to all the other women he encounters. One conceit of the novel is that virtually all of Oscar’s encounters in the book are with women. The only men that appear are in the form of written artifacts. Part of what Oscar realizes through his relationship with May is that his father’s approach to intimacy and male-female relationships is just one flaw in the man’s dated world view.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a novel that will explore the mid-life death of a spouse, the impact on the family, and how moving on from the love of your life can even be possible. I’m hoping to have it available before the end of 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Isaiah Moss was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His illegitimate son Oscar Kendall wasn’t. Living in Isaiah’s inescapable shadow, Oscar has become an inveterate quitter who hides his own literary work from the world rather than suffer the pain of failure or rejection.When Isaiah suddenly dies, Oscar inherits the old man’s lakefront writing cabin in New Hampshire. There he finds his father’s typewriter, a full liquor cabinet, and an unpublished manuscript of such genius that it could launch Oscar’s career if he claims it as his own.
But as Oscar wrestles with his own twisted inspirations, he meets the women in Isaiah’s life and begins to learn the depths of his father’s secrets…and the costs that come with unresolved trauma and romantic delusion.


Joe Pace’s Moss is a literary work that portrays the life of Oscar Kendall after the death of his father. For a long time, his greatest shadow was his father, Isaiah Moss.

Oscar’s feelings for his father show the reality of someone who feels so small and incapable in front of his father’s personification and achievements. Isaiah, a renowned writer, experienced several achievements and received top awards throughout his career. On the other side was his son, who wanted the same for himself. However, the fear of failure was greater than his will to succeed in what he did. Isaiah’s influence follows Oscar causing him to lose his identity and almost always question whether he was good enough.

During the course of the book, the main character goes through several experiences after inheriting his father’s cabin in New Hampshire. The author writes in first person from the perspective of Oscar. This allows readers to empathize with Oscar as he describes his feelings about his father and his influence. Then, the war veteran, May, enters the story, which causes Oscar’s love life to take a significant turn.

Being in front of his father’s things and coming to understand him when he had passed away changed Oscar’s perception of many things that, for him, were static. At certain moments, I felt sad for Oscar’s loss and the turn of things in his life. However, with the engaging narration, Oscar’s particular sense of humor, perceptive worldview along with the author’s clear writing, the story is very enjoyable and carries the reader swiftly to the end.

Moss is an impassioned novel about love and loss and how complex they are depending on your perspective. A work of literary fiction and self-discovery, readers will follow Oscar as he discovers the truth about his father and himself.

Pages: 242 | ASIN : B09PJCL9JZ

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