TV writer returns to his Missouri roots with timely novel delving into a dairy farmer’s troubled psyche in ‘Still the Night Call’

Named BEST INDIE BOOK OF 2021 by Kirkus Reviews

Los Angeles – Joshua Senter was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks on his family’s farm. After two decades in LA working on Emmy-nominated shows like Desperate Housewives and The L Word, Senter has returned to the setting of his childhood to explore timely topics. In his sophomore novel, Still the Night Call (Jan. 14, 2022, Roubidoux Press) Senter delves into the mind of introverted dairy farmer, Calem Dewayne Honeycutt, and the deep-seeded depression he struggles with. Tackling intense themes such as suicide rates in men (particularily farmers) and political radicalization, this thought-provoking novel will leave readers grappling with the concepts of social and economic divides in America.

Still the Night Call is about Calem Dewayne Honeycutt, a thirty-two-year-old Missouri dairy farmer of few words. But just because he’s quiet doesn’t mean he’s simple. In fact, Calem’s internal voice eloquently leads us through his wondrous yet tortured past, his fears for the future of his beleaguered rural world, and his carefully laid plans to remedy the vicious Night Call that haunts his present. All he has to do is get through one last day on the farm, then he can free himself of being a straight, white, middle-aged man with nothing in his possession but a gun and a prayer.

Through the eyes of Calem, Still the Night Call delves into the quickly diminishing world of Midwestern farmers whose livelihoods have become fodder for politicians and trade wars while their traditional values have become the subject of scorn and culture wars. The result is a struggling working class whose worth has been reduced to mirthless caricatures and economic dust, and who are desperately looking for hope anywhere they might find it.

“Still the Night Call”
Joshua Senter | Jan. 14, 2022 | Roubidoux Press
Hardcover | 978-1-7375856-0-2 | $21.99
eBook | 978-1-7375856-1-9 | $7.99
Audiobook | B09L5765JL | $14.99
Literary Fiction


Joshua Senter was raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri where he was homeschooled along with his four sisters on a five hundred acre cattle farm. Josh moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and three years later, received a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, along with Ninth Term Honors.

In 2002 he began writing for the hit Showtime series The L Word. A year after that, he joined the international phenomenon, Desperate Housewives, where he was nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America award for his episode, “Don’t Look at Me.” In 2013 Joshua began writing and co-producing a new show for ABC Family, Chasing Life. During that time his debut novel, Daisies, was published by Diversion Books. In 2014 Joshua moved over to MTV where he began working as a writer/producer for the hit series Finding Carter.

In 2015 Joshua was placed on the Tracking Board’s Young and Hungry List as one of the top 100 writer’s working in Hollywood. In 2016, 2017, and 2018 Josh wrote pilots for ABC, FOX, and NBC respectively. A Valentine’s Day movie he co-wrote for Freeform, called The Thing About Harry, aired in February of 2020 and was nominated for a 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie. Still the Night Call is his sophomore novel.

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In an interview, Joshua Senter can discuss topics like:

  • His upbringing on a working farm in the Ozarks, and basing his main character off of first hand experiences working in dairy farms
  • Becoming a screenwriter after moving to Los Angeles
  • Setting novels primarily in the Midwest, and telling stories about a people from that area he feels are mostly overlooked
  • The statistic that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women
  • The high suicide rate among farmers, and the increase in the rate of these deaths
  • Citizens choosing radicalization, authoritarian leaders, and fascist governments when they believe there’s no other way out

Praise for Joshua Senter and Still the Night Call

“Senter’s impressive novel is a truthful, honestly told story…A candid tale that triumphantly understands the Midwestern psyche, delivering moments of beauty and tragedy.”

“In this chilling novel, readers follow a young dairy farmer staring down his last day on his family’s southern Missouri farm. This book’s power lies in its relevance and its authenticity…”

“Senter’s story resonates on levels that wouldn’t have been possible even several years ago…In many ways, STILL THE NIGHT CALL is a call to action. The first step is reading this book. The second lies in recommending it for discussions about free will, choice, civil war, and social change.”

With STILL THE NIGHT CALL, Joshua Senter delivers a profound and beautifully written exploration of loneliness and isolation. This book bravely shines a light on the darkness within us, and in doing so it reminds us of the importance of empathy, connection, and of the resilience of the human spirit.”
ABDI NAZEMIAN, author of Stonewall Honor Book LIKE A LOVE STORY

An Interview with Joshua Senter

1. Suicide is a main topic in ‘Still the Night Call’. Why did you think it was important to write a novel based around the mental health of male farmers in rural areas? How did your relationship with depression help inform your writing of Calem’s character?

Men are four times as likely as women to commit suicide and farmers in particular have the highest suicide rate of any occupation (even more than that of our vets). Growing up in the midwest on a farm and having dealt with tremendous setbacks throughout my life which have left me at times feeling completely hopeless and wildly alone, I understand the enormous despair that can consume a person’s existence. There have been so many nights in my life where I have lain twisted in my sheets fighting off the “night call,” and when I began reading newspaper articles about small dairy operations all over America struggling to make ends meet and many dairy farmers committing suicide because they could no longer bare the weight of that struggle, I felt an obligation to use my talent to tell their story, to create awareness about a mental health disaster in middle of America that few people are talking about.

2. What made you want to explore the dichotomy of the radical sides to each political party in America?

I’m in the unique position to have lived half my life in the heart of middle America and half of it on the west coast. From my experience in both worlds, I’ve come to believe that the majority of Americans find themselves squarely in the middle of the radical left and right in this country. And many of us over the last few years have begun to seriously question both extremes in order to find the truth of ourselves. We are a great people, and we stand shoulder to shoulder on many of the major issues under the spotlight in our society. However, an opposite narrative has taken hold, that we are a divided country. This is because of the relentless focus on the political extremes. In Still the Night Call, I wanted to take a step back from that portrayal and write about a character who is an everyman, who isn’t polarized yet, but who feels backed into a corner, that he must pick a side in order to survive, which is unfortunately becoming a common theme throughout our nation.

3. What parts of your childhood on a Missouri cattle farm did you weave into Calem’s character and the life he shares with his family?

For a story as dark as Still the Night Call can be, I knew I had to balance that bleakness with beauty and poetry and create a sense of light. In truth, that is the reality of living on a farm. I remember the moments all throughout my childhood where we didn’t know how we were going to pay the bills, but I would go out into the woods and look up at the stars and the devastation I felt would slip away into this awesome state of wonder that only nature can provide. When Calem talks about his dairy cattle and how he has them named and how he knows their well-being by the brightness in their eyes, that was directly taken from my own experience with our cattle. We loved them. They were pets as much as they were working farm animals. When I write about Calem driving his four wheeler up to the back hundred, that was me channeling the very experiences I had growing up on my family’s farm, from sledding down the massive hills in the wintertime to burning brush piles in the summer. As healing as it was to share my inner turmoil with depression, it was equally therapeutic for me to relive some of my fondest memories of farm life as a child.

4. Were there challenges writing a character who is swayed by pillars of toxic masculinity and who have conservative political leanings?

Absolutely! Addressing a white, straight man’s true, inner voice was a major challenge. I think the phrase “toxic masculinity” has become a divisive label that is used to trigger panic and hostility amongst differing political pundits, but the awful reality is that men often don’t feel the freedom to express their emotions in our culture. Though, I believe this is a survival mechanism more than a culture war issue. And as a man who was gay and bottled that up for twenty years of my life, I understand the inhumane pressure especially straight men are under to maintain a sort of rigid, virile persona that fulfills an archetype of strength and power. So, it was indeed one of the most important challenges for me in writing Still the Night Call to get that piece of Calem’s struggle correct. As for Calem’s political leanings, for most of the book, he’s in the middle trying to find his place, and the very difficult challenge in that was to see the political spectrum of America through his eyes in a way that was authentic and would read truthfully to a reader of any political persuasion.

5. There seems to be a parallel with the isolation we all have experienced through the Covid-19 pandemic and the isolation Calem experiences through the educated flight out of rural areas. Did the lockdown at the beginning of 2020 give you inspiration to write this story?

Yes, Covid has exacerbated an isolation we were all feeling. More importantly, that isolation forced a lot of us to reflect on our lives and ask: Who are we? What are we doing? Where are we headed? Why are we living the way we are? I was certainly reflecting over my life in a profound way during that time. And so much of Calem’s journey in Still the Night Call is him reflecting on everything that has brought him to this point in his life. So, for most people reading this book, they will automatically relate to him taking stock and addressing the reality of his situation, because like so many people who flipped their worlds upside down after Covid held a mirror up to their lives, Calem is preparing to do the same.

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