Joe Field is an attorney in Anoka who overcame great odds to become a lawyer. He has been principal owner of Field Law, P.A., in downtown Anoka for over 25 years
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Finding Joe Adams: Overcoming Great Odds a Son Searches for His Father is a memoir that was precipitated by me finding my father for the first time when I was 60 (6 years ago). I had never known him, not even his name. I wasn’t adopted either. My mother, who had died 25 years prior, had only told me that he was in the Air Force or a fireman. That’s not a lot to go on. Well, needless to say, despite years of searching, I was not able to locate him. But one Father’s Day I cried out to God in an audacious prayer that should have sent lightning bolts my way. But God, in His grace, answered. I found my dad, and seven new siblings! My dad (age 87 at the time) and I were interviewed side by side on national television. (Google “87 year-old Air Force Vet reunites with Son” on Fox News to view the 5 minute interview). I have visited him in Texas five times since.
Finding Joe Adams is more than a story of me finding my dad though. The memoir title actually carries three meanings.
First, finding my dad. His name is Joe Adams.
Second, finding myself. I discovered that “Joe Adams” is actually my real name as well. My book chronicles my very quirky, overcoming-life without a dad, being the eldest of six children of a struggling Hispanic mother. I liken my book to The Pursuit of Happyness meets Forrest Gump. When I look at my life now it seems that I am reporting on someone else’s life. The events I go through are rather peculiar and spectacular.
Third, God finding me. I would discover in writing Finding Joe Adams connections points throughout my life where God had my back despite me being oblivious to it. I have heard in one worship song that God will “chase you down” to get your attention. To some degree that was me. This perhaps explains the Silver Medal Finding Joe Adams received from the Readers’ Favorite Book Award contest in 2021 in the category of “Christian Non-fiction."
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I wrote my book in 30-60 days (can’t remember exactly, in that range), the words pouring out as fast as I could write. After finding my father I was in adrenaline mode. I was so excited (and complete) that getting the words out came easy.
But did I mention that was for the first draft?
I then rewrote the book using various time sequences and points of view. One sequence started with me searching for my dad later in life and then finding him after that audacious prayer. But to provide context for my life I used a series of flashbacks at different junctions of the book. This resulted in a very choppy read so I abandoned that style. I then went purely chronological but since I didn’t find my dad until age 60 readers would be forced to wait a long time before getting to that part.
After two years of several re-writes I eventually settled on the latter sequence of events with one exception: a significant ‘flashback’ occurs almost immediately in my book. I begin my book with a staggering event that occurs when I am in high school. I then flashback to my early years, bringing the story forward from that point. Finding my dad does come towards the end of the book but the story builds on itself. It helps that I have encountered a number of significant challenges that I was somehow able to overcome. That would be a satisfactory standalone story in itself but that combined with me finding my father makes for an exciting crescendo ending.
I did hire a couple of editors in writing my memoir. One for grammar, typos, and point of view, and another as to form, style and rhythm. I credit both of them in my book. The latter editor persuaded me to attempt to write in a Hemmingway fashion setting up the scenes first and the former editor persuaded me to present the story in the first person. This plan works. I have heard from a number of readers that they can’t put the book down once they start. That’s what a writer loves to hear!
As to research I really didn’t do much of that. I inquired of relatives as to what they knew of my childhood (or dad) but mostly I relied on memory. On a few occasions in the book I take actual memories but merge them with another event that occurs at a different time or place. For example, in one scene I am laying perfectly still on the top of a small hill, at night, looking up at the stars, being mesmerized by them. Suddenly I begin to experience weightlessness, as if I am being pulled into space and am floating among the stars (to be sure I was free on mind altering substances at the time :). In the book this scene occurs after a full day of deer hunting out in the wild. In reality this event occurred on our undeveloped “side lot” next to our home.
I do mention a number of people in my book and obtained signed releases from them in order to include them in my book. Some of those people had corrections or clarifications on the content when it came to their part in my story.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Well, I mentioned one above though I wouldn’t call myself a Hemmingway groupie. I only started reading him after my editor suggested it. Who really made an impact on my writing, and this might sound strange given my book contains Christian elements, is Stephen King. His clever, easy flowing style, with elements of surprises thrown in (ok, let’s just call it ‘horror’), certainly prompted me to flip the pages. I know his writing is fiction but his style I like. You will see subtle brief elements of his style in my writing. As far as other authors I would say Jeff Shaara has made an impact. While his writing is historical fiction, he makes his characters so real. And he uncomplicates the complicated.
Has a library or librarian impacted your life?
Definitely. Yes. I refer to a hunger for books in my memoir. I tell of going to the St. Paul Public Library during the summer months while in high school, reading all day there in the Young Adult section, then checking out the maximum number of books allowed (10), and returning six weeks later to return the books & get 10 more! I loved the library! It was my second home.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, while indoors, I read. This year I set a goal to read 50 books. I read a mix of fiction & non-fiction, probably a 40/60 ratio. I also love to write. I have a novel about 80% complete and a professional book dealing with my area of practice (probate & estate planning) in draft form. I also write Christian devotions but have not published them (yet). When outdoors, I fish primarily (crappies/walleyes). When I found my dad, my profile picture was of me holding a 15 inch crappie. My dad’s profile picture? He’s holding up a 9 pound largemouth bass!
Favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
Lakes. Ok, in a boat. Oh, and with a fishing rod in hand. There is something about a bobber doing its bobbing on the ebbs and flows of silky lake waves that take me away.
But for a change this past year or so, my wife and I decided to get out of the house by creating and undertaking a “random Minnesota alphabetical city tour.” Every other week we would draw the name of one Minnesota city out of a hat, starting with the letter “A,” and then go visit that town for a day trip (so long as it was not more than 2 hours away and had a population of at least 2,000). Oh was that fun! We just finished that “tour” a few months ago. Now we’re looking to see what we might do for next year.
Where can readers find you online?