Author Interview: Ivelisse Rodriguez

Welcome to the monthly Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Today I have the great pleasure of chatting with Dr. Ivelisse Rodriguez on a special day, the debut of her short story collection, Love War Stories (The Feminist Press, 2018).

Ivelisse Rodriguez has published fiction in the Boston Review, All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, Obsidian, Kweli, the Bilingual Review, Aster(ix), and other publications. She is the founder and editor of an interview series focused on contemporary Puerto Rican writers in order to highlight the current status and the continuity of a Puerto Rican literary tradition from the continental US that spans over a century. The series is published in Centro Voices, the e-magazine of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. She was a senior fiction editor at Kweli and is a Kimbilio fellow and a VONA/Voices alum. She is currently working on the novel The Last Salsa Singer about 70s era salsa musicians in Puerto Rico. She earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College and a Ph.D. in English-creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Welcome and congratulations, Ivelisse.

What is your book’s genre/category?

My book, Love War Stories, is a collection of short stories. It is literary fiction.

Please describe what the stories are about.

My book is about the burgeoning sense of womanhood in Puerto Rican girls and young women. I am interested in the love stories women have been told generation to generation and how anti-love stories need to rise up to give women other alternatives.

How did you come up with the title?

The title comes from the last story in the collection where mothers and daughters hold “love wars.” Daughters tell love stories and mothers tell anti-love stories. The title captures the trouble with love that is evoked throughout all the stories.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book, I think was written for my college self. I think that these are the stories young women who break themselves for love need to hear, that the self is more important than being beholden to love. Women need to hear different stories that they can be more than women in love.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Being done. Or, in the interim, writing really good lines.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The most challenging part is sitting down and doing it. You have to face your fear of failure every time you sit down and sometimes it is so overwhelming that you just have to walk away. Another challenging aspect for me is revision. It is easier for me to start something, but when you revise, you really have to focus on the larger story and your word choices, so this part of the writing process is much slower for me. 

Ivelisse, did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

During the writing process, I learned to be more patient versus rushing to send out a story that needs more work. I also learned that consistency is the only way to get your story done.  

What I learned about the publishing process is that it is pretty mysterious and plenty of other writers don’t know what is going on either. I wanted to know how everything works—who got my ARCS, who got my press kit, etc., but I didn’t want to stalk my publicist. I’m just super nosey, and I wanted to learn about the process. And other writers and I would trade any information we were able to procure.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I hope they gain some insight about love, and the ways it can break women in particular. I also hope they will be deeply moved by the stories I have to tell. I hope it is a book that people carry in their hearts.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

In terms of marketing, my query letter did a good job of describing my book. That partly stems from the feedback I received from a professor in my Ph.D. program who was working with the students going on the job market; for my academic job letter, she told me to make my book sound more interesting, so I worked a bit on that. And I name-dropped in my query letter, so that helped too.  

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

What didn’t work is that I sent the book out when it wasn’t ready. And I think that squanders opportunity. Being on the other end as a reader of submissions for a literary journal and for fiction contests, I can tell you, especially for the contests, there were too many submissions that needed a lot more polishing, so they weren’t even in the running.

Ivelisse, do you have advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Revise, revise, revise. And go to writer’s conferences and meet other emerging writers. Don’t be dismissive of people because they aren’t some bigwig. I have received support from people I met early in their careers, those still building their careers, and those who are literary icons. We are in this together, so don’t treat people like crap because they are not famous—just as a general rule of being a decent person but also because you never know where people will end up. I also think it is important to be a good literary citizen—again, we are in this together, so take the opportunity to help other writers whenever and however you can.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

The last book I read is the forthcoming Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. I think the book adds so much to the narrative of Colombia. It’s the story of a wealthy family and a plot to kidnap the two daughters. Contreras shows how wealth does not shield one from violence or dire situations or the destabilization of home. She also showcases all the hard choices that women, in particular, have to make. It’s a lovely read, and I would highly recommend it. It’s a memorable book.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have favorite books more so than favorite authors. Some books that I love are The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros, Middemarch by George Eliot, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange, Drown by Junot Diaz, and Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, and quite a few others.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I like to write in bed, only because I have an adjustable bed, and it is super comfy. I also like to read in bed. I hate reading paper books now because I love turning off the lights and reading my Kindle or Nook in the dark. It is one of my favorite things to do.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and then I went to boarding school when I was 13 (on a full scholarship).

Website and social media links?

https://www.ivelisserodriguez.com/

Love War Stories Cover

Where can we find your book?

You can find it at https://www.feministpress.org/books-a-m/love-war-stories, or Indie bookstores, or Amazon.com.

What’s next for you, Ivelisse?

Hopefully, I will get back to working on my novel in August. It’s called The Last Salsa Singer, and it is about the friendship between two musicians in a salsa band in Puerto Rico during the 1970s. It’s about the value of friendship and art over romantic love, it’s about salsa, and it’s about an underestimated young woman who shatters everyone’s life.

Best of luck with Love War Stories. I look forward to reading the book and wish you happy writing!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English, at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico.

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Author Interview: Sally Cronin

The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome the lovely and talented Sally Cronin, author of the short story collection, ‘Tales from the Garden’.

Sally CroninSally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each. She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain.

In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.

EPS: Welcome, Sally! Thanks for visiting with us.

SC: Thank you Eleanor for inviting me over to visit today. As with any writer the opportunity to talk about my work is always very welcome!

Tales From the Garden small- CoverEPS: My pleasure! Sally, what is the genre of ‘Tales from the Garden’?

SC: Tales from the Garden is a fantasy short story collection for all ages.

EPS: Please describe what Tales from the Garden is about.

SC: The collection of stories is about statues, fairies and other magical beings that live in a garden and come to life at night when the humans are asleep. There is the usual mix of evil, beautiful princesses, and heroes with love stories and adventure; of course a wicked witch.  There are stories about Roman Eagles and a Last Emperor, The Fairy Kingdom of Magia in the roots of the old magnolia tree and stone guardians in various forms who protect the humans as well as their fellow garden dwellers. There are 80 illustrations which I hope will be enjoyed by younger readers as well as fairy tale lovers of all ages.

EPS: I love the idea of including illustrations! How did you come up with the title?

SC: The simple answer was that the working title, Tales from the Garden, seemed the most appropriate. I checked the title out and did not get too many hits and most were about horticulture rather than fiction.

EPS: What inspired you to write this book?

SC: We have our house for sale here in the mountains to the north of Madrid. We arrived here 16 years ago and although I have spent time away from the house for work; it is our main home. The garden is large and we inherited several stone statues that the previous owners had bought but could not take with them. We kept finding more of them as we explored the various nooks and crannies of the garden and spread them around so that they could be seen. With the prospect of leaving this garden and knowing that most of these statues are too heavy to take with us, I decided to take their stories with us instead.

EPS: Wonderful story. What is your favorite part of writing?

SC: My favourite part of writing is the pre-keyboard process when it is still all in my head. Usually when I am swimming, walking or listening to music, which I do any chance I get, I get the basic idea and then start playing around with various scenarios until I create a solid storyline. I enjoy getting all the segments in a row and then swapping them around until I have the sequence more or less right. Then I sit down at the computer and blast it out without editing until I have something concrete to work with.

EPS: What have you found is the most challenging aspect of writing?

SC: I would probably say the final editing stages when you read the story or book through and put yourself in the reader’s position. What seemed logical to you can often have a step or two missing for the reader because they have not been through the same thought process. I am a very fast sight reader and this means I have to really slow down by reading aloud to ensure that the flow is right.

EPS: I am a fan of reading aloud for the same reasons. Who are some of your favorite authors?

SC: I bought my first Wilbur Smith when I was 11 years old. We had just come back to England after two years in South Africa and I loved everything about that wonderful continent. I have every one of his books, many in hardback. The second is Jean M. Auel who wrote the Clan of the Cave bear and then the rest of the series about Ayla, set about the time the ice was receding and there were still some Neanderthals left. Riveting but you need patience as there is often years between books because of the amount of research that Jean does for the novels. Apart from that I love a good crime thriller or historical novel that has been thoroughly researched.

EPS: What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

SC: Apart from Wilbur Smith there have been one or two teachers who allowed me free rein with my imagination. Although it was 57 years ago, I still remember my first teacher at primary school, who realising I could already read reasonably well thanks to my two older sisters, gave me more advanced books to read than the rest of the class. Her name is Mrs. Miller and I can still see her face today.

EPS: Do you have a favorite place to write?

SC: I love the office I share with my husband David. It is useful since he is a book designer and he is on hand when I need some advice. It is also our snug with our television and I have all my music and books to hand. It has shown us that when we downsize, our priority is to have a room that is big enough for us to share and surround ourselves with those good things in life.

EPS: Please tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

SC: I think I have probably given away most of my secrets by now in the posts on my memories, but perhaps one of my regrets would surprise most people who know me. As I mentioned, I love crime novels and when I was eighteen and considering whether to take my dental nurse training further as a Royal Naval nurse, I also thought seriously about joining the police force.  I was offered a place with the Royal Alexandra Nursing Service, so I turned down an interview with Hampshire Constabulary.  As it turned out, life intervened and I did neither. However, in hindsight I wish that I had taken the police career more seriously.

EPS: What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

SC: I learn something new every time, and I think that is mainly down to the evolving nature of Indie publishing in general, but also the support system online offered by other authors. When I wrote my first book in 1999, it was a difficult process and not much easier for the second. Certainly in the last year or so it has become clear that as a writer you do need to be online with a blog and on social media as there is a vast pool of knowledge and experience on offer as well as support.  I really do not think that most mainstream authors have caught up with that yet. Their marketing is done by someone else and whilst they might have lots of followers on social media I don’t believe that they interact with them to the same level as we do. I am sure that the combined efforts of indie authors to create a strong presence online will continue to drive the evolution of the industry to a point where it works more efficiently for us.

EPS: I would agree with you. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

SC: This is the first book I wrote on my blog first. It gave me a chance to gather feedback on the individual stories and try out various themes before committing to the book. The comments that the individual stories received gave me the confidence that there is a market available for the stories and I am doing the same with my next book with a short story every week that will end up being two collections at the end of the year.

EPS: Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

SC: Your book needs to be as polished as any that has gone through a number of professional hands. That is tough as it costs money but if you feel that you do not have a particular skill then try to find a work around.  For example, give the book to people you know who are avid readers of good books and also anyone you can find who has an English Language degree.  Advertise at the local university or college. You may have to pay a small fee to a student but I have found that they appreciate the chance to work with an author. There are a number of computer programmes that can help. Spell check is an obvious one but there are more sophisticated ones that will also highlight grammar edits, as well.  Finally, read and read again. It can be wearing, but leave gaps between reading and do something completely different and come back to it.

If you cannot afford someone else to design and format your book then take advantage of the free blog posts and also the very inexpensive books available with step by step guides to the complete process.

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

EPS: Website?

SC: I have my own website for the book which is attached to the main publishing site. This enables me to  sell my books at a substantial discount.  http://moyhill.com/tales/

EPS: Sally, where can we find ‘Tales from the Garden’?

 

SC: The book is available on Amazon and the quickest route is through my author page.

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/author/sallycroninbooks

All my books can be found on Amazon or smashwords.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

EPS: What’s next for you?

SC: I am really into short stories right now and two anthologies will be out by this time next year. I also have a People Management Development programme that is finished and is ready to go in the New Year. I will be using that as part of my training consultancy. I also have a WIP in the form of a book on care for the elderly in the home. I love a good plateful!

EPS: You certainly keep busy! Thank you for visiting, Sally. I enjoyed getting to know more about you, and I wish you continued success with your writing.

SC: My thanks for this wonderful opportunity to talk about Tales from the Garden and this wonderful, crazy world we inhabit as writers.

EPS: True words about the wonderful, crazy world of writing. Thanks again, Sally. Best wishes and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Sally’s Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

Social Media Links:

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
https://twitter.com/sgc58
https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

ellie

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker, inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and the Historical Novel Society, and a contributing writer for Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season. Book clubs across the United States have enjoyed A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel and a short story collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47WI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Apollo Papafrangou

The Writing Life is pleased to welcome Apollo Papafrangou, author of the upcoming novel, Wings of Wax.

Apollo Papafrangou is a writer from Oakland, California, where he pens novels, short stories, and, occasionally, poems. He is a 2010 graduate of the Mills College Creative Writing MFA program, and the author of “Concrete Candy,” a short story collection published by Anchor Books in 1996 when he was just 15 years old.

His debut novel WINGS OF WAX, the story of a shy, young artist seeking to reconnect with his ladies’ man father in Greece, will be published in March, 2016 by Booktrope.

HBO Films optioned the movie rights to his story “The Fence” from 2000-2004, and his fiction has appeared in the 1998 Simon & Schuster anthology entitled “Trapped. Apollo’s work has appeared in “Voices,” a collection of works by Greek writers published in 2013 by Nine Muses Press, Quiet Lightning, among other publications.

Apollo author pic

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome, Apollo.

WingsofWaxcoverWhat is your book’s genre/category?

Wings of Wax is literary/contemporary fiction.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Wings of Wax is the story of Angelo, a shy, young artist seeking to reunite with his estranged father in Greece and to learn the mysterious ways of the kamaki: the classic Mediterranean ladies’ man.

The novel takes place in both the San Francisco Bay Area and in Greece. In many ways, it’s a travel narrative, an odyssey of sorts, both in respect to Angelo’s physical journey, and his interior transformation.

 Apollo, how did you come up with the title?

Wings of Wax is a nod toward the Greek myth of Icarus–the boy who gained flight via mechanical wings attached with wax, but, in failing to heed his father’s advice, flew too close to the sun. Icarus serves as a metaphor in the book as flight is a central theme, as is the often tumultuous relationship between fathers and sons. 

What inspired you to write Wings of Wax?

Many things, but perhaps above all else, the desire to join the ranks of Greek-American writers who are mining the terrain of our collective experience through their fiction. I feel that the Greek-American experience–in all its complexity and variation–has been largely unexplored in contemporary fiction. Of course we have Jeffrey Eugenides, one of my literary heroes, but we need more voices.

My heritage is pretty important to me. Through my stories I want to share its richness with others.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part of writing is the process itself. It’s tedious at times, but I imagine building a story is like crafting a sculpture–you chipaway long enough, and you’ve got something. I also like exploring the interior experience of my characters. Fiction is the only artistic medium through which we get into other people’s heads. Stories show us we’re not alone in the world.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Starting, whether it be a new project or a continuation of yesterday’s work. When I sit down to write each day, I spend a lot of time looking over what I wrote over previous days to get back into the flow. There’s a lot of staring at the white space, but then something inevitably clicks, and I’m able to find that groove again.

I write five days a week, generally, Monday through Friday. I try to get five-hundred words a day; sometimes I write more, sometimes less, but consistency is the key. I put in the time five days a week because I treat writing like a job. 

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

There are so many. Of the classic writers I like Steinbeck, Faulkner, Baldwin, Nabokov, Tolstoy. In grad school I was introduced to some fantastically underrated writers like Bruno Schultz, Italo Calvino, Fernando Pessoa, and Anne Carson. Favorite contemporary authors include Jennifer Egan, Victor Lavalle, Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Susan Straight, Paul Auster, Jonathan Lethem, Cormack McCarthy, George Pelecanos, and many more.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Other than the writers I’ve already named, Nikos Kazantzakis has been a big influence, of course. He is the quintessential Greek writer. His prose is so lyrical and rich without being flowery. I’m also influenced by the great contemporary Greek poets, as Greece is a land of poetry–George Seferis, Yannis Ritsos, Odysseas Elytis.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write on a desktop Mac in my bedroom. I can’t get with the writing in a coffee shop thing. Too many distractions. I’d like to have a little writing studio someday. 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know? 

It’s not so “personal,” but an interesting fact is that I had my first short story published in Zyzzyva magazine, a pretty well known journal here on the west coast, at the age of thirteen. Another bit of trivia: before committing to English as my major back in college, I thought I would earn a degree in Child Development. I’ve always been interested in the way children learn and adapt. I work with kids now at an after-school program as my “day job.”

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

One big lesson I gained from this process is that next time around I need to send out blurb requests much further in advance! It takes a while to corral those endorsements from other writers and public figures.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

Going to grad school for creative writing at Mills College was a great experience. I grew so much as a writer, and I began this novel during my second semester in the program. Soon after graduation I had a completed draft and now, several years and drafts later, I’ve got a published book! 

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Not much beyond the old cliches of keep writing and pushing your work out there. When you’re tired of pushing, push some more. It’s standard advice, but I’ve found it to be solid.

Website?

http://www.apollopapafrangou.wordpress.com

www.twitter.com/Apo_Papafrangou.

You can find me on Facebook, too.

Where can we find your book?

Wings of Wax will be released in March, 2016 from Booktrope, and will be available via local bookstores, Amazon, and other major retailers.

What’s next for you?

I’m almost finished with a first draft of my next book, a currently untitled novel-in-short-stories about twenty-somethings in the Oakland art scene trying to make a living outside of a traditional nine-to-five. The stories feature Greek-American characters, as the Greek community has a lengthy history in the Bay Area, and the culture is obviously my point of reference. It’s an interesting time to be in Oakland, with all the gentrification going on, and I hope, this book reflects that.

WingsofWaxcover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for chatting with us, Apollo. I enjoyed getting to know more about you. Happy writing!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

 

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book club members across the United States have enjoyed the story, as well. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is the mother of two awesome adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Author Interview: Justin Bog

Today I’m pleased to welcome author, Justin Bog to The Writing Life.

Justin Bog's author photo

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.

Welcome, Justin!

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!

ASandcastleCoverNew

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.

Website?

www.justinbog.com

My creative writing blog is here.
Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog

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! 

Eleanor

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