I am delighted to share an interview today with one of my favourite Tweeps, Justin Bog. Justin has been a wonderful support to me with my book and my writing in general, and I wish to thank him from the bottom of my heart. He is Daddy to many pets, but probably the best known are his gorgeous German Shepherds’, Zippy and Kipling. (There is a picture of them together at the end of the interview.)
Justin is author of the wonderful collection, ‘Sandcastle and Other Stories’, which I reviewed a few months back. (Read my review here.) His debut novel is due for release early next year. Over to you, Justin:
Without giving too much away, tell us about your new collection?
Sandcastle and Other Stories is a collection of ten short stories in the literary, psychological, and suspense realms. I published it in May and within three days it had climbed onto the Amazon best seller List for short fiction in eBooks and then all books overall further in the week. My low expectations were blown away. People connected to the characters and the secrets that ate away at them. Two weeks later, I was approached by Green Darner Press, and they were so taken by the book that they are going to publish the collection in trade paperback sometime this fall . . . and I am thrilled by this turn of events. I had planned on publishing my first novel, Wake Me Up, then, but that has now been pushed to early in the coming year.
Where do your ideas come from?
I usually stumble across ideas. When I overhear people speaking in public, or observe a scene when I’m out and wonder “what if?” Most of the story ideas from this collection came from moments I observed: an escaping balloon floating above a distraught child on a beach became Sandcastle. I met an actor, not a leading man type, while visiting a friend in L.A. at his apartment complex, and this meeting became the kernel of truth in Typecast (all the cats are real, but their names have been changed to protect their identities) – then I went back home and sketched out my own actor’s life at the moment, filled in his thoughts, feelings, and the people who he interacted with, made him come to an epiphany of sorts. A lot of my tales are observational, psychological; someone is watching the action and trying to figure out what to do.
Who is your most fascinating character, and why?
I love Melanie Fortaine, the main character in Poseidon Eyes, because there is a sliver of doubt that is there for the reader to ponder: is she really seeing a covetous god, dueling with him across time, or is it all made up, part of a hidden psychosis?
Are any of your characters based on people you know or have met?
Well, I did meet the actor (and almost exactly like the house guest meets the actor) in Typecast, and in On the Back Staircase and Cats In Trees, I did use the home I grew up in, the same town of Granville, Ohio, as the setting, but these siblings, and the parents, were not based on my own family even though there are two sets of twins in my family.
Which is your favourite story, and why?
Ha — may I say all of them? They are so closely knit together by tone, mood, hidden motivations. I’ve mentioned them here, Sandcastle, which is the story that is the most shocking for readers. Poseidon Eyes and Typecast . . . each of the other stories has a certain moment that I truly love. Under the Third Story Window has a rawness to it that drives the group of characters. Train Crash is the final story that, in tone, harkens back to the old man in the first tale about murder and regret, The Virtue of Minding Your Own Business. Mothers of Twins begins with an off-kilter meeting and blossoms as the relationship, the secret, is revealed to the reader. When the Ship Sinks is almost theatrical, working on two different levels, and was a hoot to imagine into being.
How do you plan to promote your book?
Hopefully word of mouth and I’ve been visiting a lot of writing and book blogs. I finished a virtual book tour and keep speaking about the collection when people ask me what I do. I’m fairly isolated where I live but I’ve been venturing out to libraries and bookstores to introduce myself and set up possible future book signings. That moment ahead will be a dream come true for me.
What can readers expect from you next, and when can they expect it?
I have a suspense novella, The Conversationalist, set on my island here in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, coming out sometime in an eBook original anthology, Encounters, and I’m very happy with the way the story turned out. It has the usual unease I go for. All the stories had to center around a stalker. Wake Me Up is a psychological family drama about the son of distant parents who ends up the victim of a brutal crime and the fallout in the town. The opening chapter is a Bonus at the end of Sandcastle and Other Stories. I’ve also completed my first psychological/contagion horror novel, The Shut-Ins, but it needs the most editing work right now to shape up the first draft. It is what I’m most happy with at the moment.
Describe your current work in progress in less than 15 words?
The Volunteer deals with supernatural fascism in a high school tennis team and their coach.
What is your writing routine and how do you balance your writing with your other commitments?
It is very hard of late to find a good balance. Mine is off-kilter. Morning for catching up on business — afternoon for writing.
Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Not really. When I’m not writing, I don’t label it. I tend to be a lazy writer and procrastinate a lot, but I’m to blame for it, not a nebulous writers block.
Name one of your favourite books and how it has influenced your life.
I loved The Shining and the way Stephen King dug deep into the psychology of the family taking care of The Overlook. I learned that each character has a story to tell, as in real life too.
What’s been the most memorable event in your life to date, and why?
Finally publishing a book was the best moment besides being in a longtime relationship for almost 24 years. Love that too.
Where would you choose as an ideal holiday destination, and why?
The small beach town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. It is a bit rainy there, but its beach is magnificent, and I can walk for miles with the dogs, Zippy and Kipling (off leash) and never see many people. It’s one of the top ten beaches in the states and only a five hour drive from my home down the Oregon coast.
What secret will your readers be surprised to hear about you?
I’m not a hugger.
First and last line of a novel you would love to write?
oooo, good question:
First line: I could only watch, mesmerized, as Bethenny took the head off, clean; her father said, “That’s a sharp knife.”
Last line: I can’t help you.
Quick Fire Questions:
5 star hotel or backpack? backpack
Espresso or latte? Espresso
Plotter or pantser? pantser
Drummer or lead singer? lead singer
Favourite real person? Mae West, who said, among other gems: Brains are an asset, if you hide them.
Favourite fictional character? Edmond Dantès, the protagonist in The Count of Monte Cristo
Burger and chips or Michelin star? Burger and chips
Theatre or cinema? cinema
Sports car or campervan? campervan
Safari or Cruise? safari
Thank you, Justin, for joining me today. It’s been fun!
Writer of Sandcastle and Other Stories, reader, book/music/film/travel reviewer for In Classic Style. Pets: Zippy, Kipling, Ajax & Eartha Kitt’n.
Justin Bog contact details:
My creative writing blog is here.
Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog
Buy my eBook at Amazon by clicking here.