Today I’m pleased to welcome author, Justin Bog to The Writing Life.
Justin Bog, a member of the ITW: International Thriller Writers, is an author of literary psychological suspense, horror, and contemporary fiction. Currently, Bog is an Editor for Gravity books, an imprint of Booktrope publishing. Justin was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for the eMagazine, In Classic Style. He enjoys cooking and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long-coat German Shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n. He lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Literary/Psychological Suspense stories. This collection in its original form was named Best Suspense Anthology by Suspense Magazine!
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition takes the collection full circle. There are now twelve dark tales and these deal with the human condition, how we all try to get along, face obstacles, work towards understanding, even when the journey takes a darker turn. There are some shocking moments, twisty endings, and bedeviled people in moments of stress within these tales, but there is also a sense of humor, a moment where life makes us all laugh at our weaknesses exposed.
How did you come up with the title?
Sandcastle is the tale with the strongest “Gotcha” moment. I wanted to create my own Shirley Jackson tale, tell it in a naturalistic way, normal, and show how a chill can enter even the sunniest of places. This is a story with a definite ending, but it never ends since thinking about the story continues long after the story is told. I used this story as the marker for the book, and the title developed from there. A few of the other stories placed highly in short story competitions, earning early recognition.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
I wanted to gather up a few of the stories from my past work, and write a few new chillers for a debut book as a self-published author way back in 2012, and then a publisher came calling for the collection. Since then, I want to keep sharing my stories with readers. Sandcastle received incredible notices and was a Finalist for the Ohioana Book Award in 2014, chosen out of 400 other books. Being from Ohio, all of my books are entered there. Many states help their authors by claiming them. Now, I added two new dark tales that fit with the original ten and actually make the book feel rounder, strengthened in tone, the final tale sharing imagery placed within a few of the other stories, and ends the dark collection on a more hopeful note, as slim as that is.
What is your favorite part of writing?
When I get lost in the process, in heavy writing mode, the outside world disappears and a new world forms. I forget what music I’m listening to, fading to white noise, distractions also evaporate.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Finishing a story is the most challenging, and this mostly with longer stories, novellas, and novels. I’ve written and completed novels (unpublished so far), but I’m not satisfied with them; parts need a ton of rewriting. I keep going back to them and tweaking sections. This becomes circular. When will it be finished? A perfectionist is never satisfied, and this is one of my faults. I’m working on not kicking myself too hard, and will try to get these novels out to readers in the coming years. Right now I like the brevity of telling a short story.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Shirley Jackson is my favorite, along with other short story writers and a few novelists like Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Margaret Atwood, Rachel Ingalls, Cris Freddi. Gillian Flynn is a newer author I admire because she owns the darkness she writes about. It’s what interests me, too.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
See previous answer and add Stephen King (I try to tell this kind of story, too), Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, and other horror writers of the seventies like Joan Samson, who only wrote one horror novel in her lifetime, the killer, The Auctioneer. My work is veering into the horror genre of late.
Favorite place to write?
I write in my home office. It’s a mess of papers and piles of books, but it’s a comforting place.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I stay at home most of the time and enjoy the company of my four pets—I love watching movies, and once thought about becoming a film critic. I’m not a hugely social person.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
Social media does build friendships. Mainly with other authors in the same place, writing their own stories in their singular fashion. It’s not a competitive sport, thankfully, and each writer out there has been able to show me something new.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I let the stories speak for themselves. And spoke to anyone who wanted to talk to me about the book. Over the years, I’ve built up only a meager following, but I love the readers who tell me the stories hit them well. I don’t love the marketing aspect of the writing life, but it’s necessary to announce a new book, tell as organically as possible why people would like the book, and move onto the next book, build up a body of work. I’d love that.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
The best advice I received? Learn to write. Take the time to learn the basics of writing. Study it so much that information, rules, spring out of your ears. Write every day. Write even though you think what you are writing is horrible. Put that story away deep in your own file drawer. Resist taking this out later and fixing until you have the skills. Learn to write. Take time off from this writing education and live life to the fullest. Each experience helps. Relationships. Study people, how they talk, converse, face adversity… and then come back to the writing desk and tell these stories that you can’t get out of your head.
Where can we find your books?
Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition is available for Pre-Order at Amazon right now and will be available as a paperback and at other bookstores at the end of May. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Sandcastle-Other-Stories-Justin-Bog-ebook/dp/B00X4JTOYM/ref=sr_1_2_twi_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1431887189&sr=8-2&keywords=justin+bog
I also published a stocking-stuffer-sized collection of holiday tales titled Hark—A Christmas Collection with Booktrope last November, and these are about real people, adults, dealing with the holiday season while facing challenges, loss, longing, love, even madness. http://www.amazon.com/Hark-A-Christmas-Collection-Justin-Bog-ebook/dp/B00PL81XFC/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=04GEA8PKXKY276YCXVXE
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up four novellas for a fall release, tentatively titled, The Answering and Other Dark Tales. One tale is a psychological thriller, another is bio/contagion horror, and another is a supernatural tale about a vengeful ghost. The fourth novella is in the creation machine.
Thanks for a great interview at The Writing Life, Justin Bog. I wish you much success with your books!
About Eleanor Parker Sapia
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.
A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M