Author Interview: Gabriel Valjan

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life, where I have the great pleasure of chatting with my fellow authors across genres, which is always interesting. Today I’m happy to welcome Gabriel Valjan.

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing, as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston’s South End, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen.

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Welcome, Gabriel.

What is the genre of the book you’d like to discuss?

Corporate Citizen is the fifth book in the suspense/thriller Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing.

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Briefly describe what Corporate Citizen is about.

Bianca, our former analyst for the covert agency Rendition, is called to Boston to help clear a friend framed for a double homicide. All her Italian friends except for her boyfriend come with her. The murder investigation uncovers a drug ring for synthetic heroin, which Rendition may or may not have an interest in. Bianca continues to receive help from inside Rendition through a mysterious agent named Loki. There’s a troubled vet and a love interest and a criminal mastermind, unlike any Bianca and her gang have ever encountered.

How did you come up with the title and what inspired you to write this series?

The title is a buzzword from the business world. Corporations, like people, have ethical, legal, and social responsibilities. I am intrigued as to who is responsible when corporations commit crimes. A CEO might be the face to an organization, but decisions are far more complex when there is an obligation to shareholders and the ultimate objective is profit. What do you do when you are a citizen and your country behaves like a corporation? Bianca left Rendition because of the necessary evils she witnessed. She learns that one can never leave Rendition.

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What do you do when you are a citizen and your country behaves like a corporation? This is a question many Americans are asking themselves right about now.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Yes and No. Bianca may resemble my younger self, when I was more logical than Mr. Spock. Like her, I acted that way as a coping and defense mechanism. With age, I allowed myself to relax. Where we differ is gender and I do hope that I was successful in putting across a woman’s perspective.

Is Bianca in all five novels?

Bianca is in all 5 novels. The graphic above depicts the book in chronological order.

1: Roma, Underground takes place in Rome. Bianca is enticed to participate in a sting to capture thieves stealing cultural artifacts from the city’s underground. A real group of amateur archaeologists are mapping the city beneath Rome and I let my imagination run with that idea.

2: Wasp’s Nest. Bianca returns to Boston under the pretense of helping a contact within Rendition, but she is fearful of the growing intimacy between her and Dante. I tried to showcase lesser known parts of Boston. The inspiration behind this outing was what if someone disrupted the pharmaceutical industry, particularly cancer research, with an invention that did away with chemotherapy and radiation.

3: Threading the Needle. Bianca and her gang tackle political terrorism in Milan. The inspiration here was what the Italians call The Years of Lead, which was a series of terrorist attacks from 1969 to 1984. The height of terror culminated in the kidnapping and murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Speculation exists as to who funded and directed far-right groups to destroy the Communist Party in Italy.

4: Turning To Stone. Bianca is caught between the Camorra and the Sicilian mafia in Naples. The Sicilians are hatching a plan to destabilize the world currency market to their advantage. The Fiscal Crisis of 2007 provided the basis for this novel.

5: Corporate Citizen. Bianca is back in Boston to help a friend framed for murder.

Each of my novels includes the first chapter of the next one in the The Roma Series. Book 6, Crunch City, is situated in London and it will explore (or explode) the extent of surveillance. Bianca has a new and formidable nemesis at Rendition, but she also has an unexpected ally at her side. She’ll have to make a decision on her relationship with Dante.

Thanks for including the brief synopses. What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

I worry whether I have seeded the story with just enough clues so that it is not predictable. Am I too obvious? Was I too obscure? The reader is a god, who must be appeased, and yet should still be surprised with the creation. It’s kind of like looking at a platypus and scratching your head. There’s logic to the design.

Great questions to ask during the writing process. Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

My characters have a life of their own. When I write it is like meeting old friends. I’ve been fortunate to have a collaborative relationship with my publisher. I have a say in the editing process and in cover-art design. I believe the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities describes today’s authors and publishers. Indie publishers have proven they can put quality out there in the market. The Big Five and literary agents are not necessarily gatekeepers for taste and talent. Self-publishing, while not new, is a hit or miss. Amazon has created both the markets and the platform. Readers are feasting and authors are like matchstick children hoping for a kind soul and a sale.

I found myself nodding at your answers above. What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

Walter Tevis’s Mockingbird. In a post-apocalyptic future where machines do everything and reading is illegal, an android named Bob Spofforth runs the world — and he is suicidal. Another character, Paul, is a conformist who teaches himself how to read. He falls in love with Mary Lou, a rebel who lives in a zoo. This is not Humanity versus the Machines story. Knowledge has slipped away. Watching Paul learn and then teach Mary Lou how to read is a reminder of why we read and why we are human. Tevis will reduce you to tears.

Another book for my reading list, thank you. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Tough question. Margaret Atwood. Jane Austen. Louise Brooks. Raymond Chandler. Eduardo Galeano. William Faulkner. Dashiell Hammett. Dorothy Johnson. E.J. Levy. Gabriel García Márquez. William Maxwell. Carson McCullers. Flannery O’ Connor. Victor Hugo. E.B. White. Richard Yates.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Dashiell Hammett and William Faulkner. Though these two writers polar opposites in style, they worked language in ways I envy. If you research Gertrude Stein, you’ll discover that it was Hammett — not Hemingway — who was responsible for the spare minimalistic style. Hemingway learned his craft from journalism (being shot at is excellent motivation for brevity) and reading Hammett. Faulkner – read his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (557 words) – and ask yourself this, Is not compassion first and foremost a necessity to being a better human being and a great writer? His novels are challenging but rewarding.

Is not compassion first and foremost a necessity to being a better human being and a great writer? Great question. For me, the answer is yes. I’m off to Google Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

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

I have an MA in Medieval Studies. 

Gabriel, what is your favorite part of writing?

The beauty of a series is I have a cast of characters and each one has a personality and quirks. Corporate is a long, hard look at Bianca and what makes her tick. I enjoyed those moments when she surprised me with something she said or did. Bianca is guarded and she allows herself some vulnerability when she meets Nick.

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

I write in my bedroom, where one or two cats stare at me and count keystrokes. I like reading in bed.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

The Roma Series is classified as genre fiction, but I hope that readers see each novel as an exploration of friendship and love, that what matters most in life is how we treat each other. Each novel takes place in a different city because I want readers to see how Europeans see the world, and how an American deals with a different mindset. I ask questions about culture and society throughout the Series. Do you work to live, or live to work?

I like the idea of offering readers an opportunity to see the world through different lenses. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

It depends on the definition of success. Sales have not made me a household name, but I have developed a small following. Social media has allowed me to meet other writers and for them to know me. If ‘success’ is word of mouth, then I would say other writers, established and struggling, know that I am a supportive and encouraging person. It costs nothing to be kind and positive. I think what I have done ‘right’ is be myself and let my name stand for something. I go to readings to support others, I tweet to get the word out on writers I know, and I’ll write reviews. The best community for me has been other writers.

I agree with your definition of success. I met you through your generous tweets of my book, so I can attest to your support of other writers.

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped with your books?

It’s hard to tell because I believe everything is cumulative. The problem is you don’t know what will work. I have had mixed feelings about PR firms. They are expensive and I think they are figuring it out along with the rest of us. It’s been a learning experience.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Read and learn from the writers you enjoy. Take apart; analyze what you admire. Be consistent, persistent, and tenacious about improving your skills. Set aside your ego and write because you have a story to tell. Respect your reader’s emotions, intellect, and their time. To paraphrase Carver, your job is to capture the heartbeat and the ‘human noise.’

Well said. Website and social media links?

Web: www.gabrielvaljan.com

Twitter: @GValjan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gabriel-Valjan-291400997547203/ 

Where can we find your book?

Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/2pORYMH

WGP: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/gabriel-valjan/

What’s next for you, Gabriel?

Winter Goose Publishing will release the first book of another series in late 2017. The Company Files: The Good Man is what I would call historical noir. The story takes place in 1948 Vienna and it’s the early days of the American intelligence community. Jack Marshall is asked to find former Nazis in Germany’s atomic program before the Russians do. Someone is killing them and Jack has to put a stop to it. For touchstones for the writing, think of Joseph Kanon, Phillip Kerr or John Le Carré, and yet different.

Vienna and the American intelligence community. We will have to chat about that another time! Thank you for visiting today, Gabriel. All the best to you. 

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and 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 of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book, A Decent Woman:  http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

 

Author Interview: Barbara Eppich Struna

Welcome to The Writing Life blog! Today, we are celebrating our third blog anniversary, and to help us celebrate is Barbara Eppich Struna, who was my first guest author in 2015. That seems like eons ago, and I’m happy to say that the Tuesday Author Interview series is still going strong. We have a wonderful line up of talented authors for 2017, who will chat with me about books, writing, publishing, editing, marketing books, and publishing. I hope you’ll join us each Tuesday. Thank you for your support!

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A storyteller at heart, Barbara Eppich Struna lives on Cape Cod with her family in an old 1880 house where her imagination is constantly inspired by the history that surrounds her. She is the published author of two historical novels, The Old Cape House – “First Place – Historical Fiction, Royal Dragonfly Awards 2014”, and The Old Cape Teapot.

Struna is an International Best Selling Author, a Member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women, International Thriller Writers, Sisters In Crime, and President of Cape Cod Writers Center. Always a journal writer, she is fascinated by history and writes a blog about the unique facts and myths of Cape Cod.

Welcome back to The Writing Life, Barbara!

What is your book’s genre?

Suspenseful Historical Fiction

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Barbara, please describe what The Old Cape House is about.

Nancy Caldwell relocates to an old sea captain’s house on Cape Cod with her husband and four children. When she discovers an abandoned root cellar in her backyard containing a baby’s skull and gold coins, she digs up evidence that links her land to the legendary tale of Maria Hallett and her pirate lover, Sam Bellamy. Using alternating chapters between the 18th and 21st centuries, The Old Cape House, a historical fiction, follows two women that are lifetimes apart, to uncover a mystery that has had the old salts of Cape Cod guessing for 300 years.

How did you come up with the title?

My husband and I, along with our children, live in an old 1880 house on Cape Cod similar to the house in the story. In fact, it is the house pictured on the book cover.

What inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted to write a story about our old house and its history. I knew from my research that it held many secrets. When a connection finally sparked in my head between our house and the 18th century Cape Cod legend of Sam Bellamy, his lover Maria Hallett, and the pirate ship Whydah, I knew I had to write The Old Cape House. Besides I’ve always maintained a philosophy in life of,  ‘It could happen….” and “What if….”

Of course, I never found what my contemporary character discovered but I did uncover several surprises.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Crafting the plot, and if I discover any missing facts or holes in the history within the story, after months or years of research, that’s where I make it up and fictionalize. I love to tell a good story.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways? 

My contemporary main character resembles my life and thoughts about 50% through the storyline. The character experiences some of my adventures and choices. She takes chances as often as I do.

For example:

Did I move across the country with my children into an old 1880 house at forty years old? Yes.

Was I a stay–at-home mother of five children? Yes.

Did my husband/artist support us through his artwork? Yes. I was the business manager/agent for his career.

Did I unearth a surprise in my backyard like my character? Yes, under 10 inches of dirt.

Barbara, what do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Making sure the reader wants to turn the page.

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

To be honest, it’s been a while since I have had the time to finish reading someone else’s book. When I’m engrossed in writing, and I’m on Book #4, I’m too tired to read extra. Plus my research takes up a lot of time. But I do love the whole process of writing a book. In the new year of 2017, I plan to read more.

I find it difficult to read for pleasure when I’m writing, as well. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I enjoyed reading William Martin’s Cape Cod and Back Bay. I love the technique of alternating chapters between centuries, which he does so well.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

My mother always encouraged me to follow my dreams and my husband, a full time/self-supporting artist, who never gave up on his goals.

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

I write in the parlor of our old house in front of a large bay window and always listen to instrumental music, usually movie soundtracks. Because all of my children are grown and on their own and my husband works in his art studio, I can play my music without interruption. I have to set the timer on my phone to 45 minutes; otherwise I’d sit at the computer all day, lost in the story.

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

Whenever I’m driving on the road and I see a garbage bag on the side, I always think there’s a dead body or treasure inside.

I’ll admit my mind goes there, as well. Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

I knew there would be numerous drafts and editing but did not expect the lengthy time involved as the MS moved through editors, proofreaders, and beta readers.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

An appreciation for a good story that is simply told and the need to keep turning the page. 

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

I think the best thing that happened to me was that a publisher picked up my book and guided me through the preparation and publishing of my first and second novel. I also paid attention and educated myself about the many confusing ins and outs of the process. My third book, coming in 2017, will be self-published because my publisher closed. It has turned out to be very challenging but with my background knowledge in place, I know it will be a success.

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

Querying too early and thinking the MS was finished. I was rejected 55 times before I re–wrote the MS based on the comments in the rejections and finally received a contract.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Edit, edit and edit. Find at least 10 beta readers that include, some family, friends, but mostly readers who are merely acquaintances.

Great advice. Website and social media links?

barbarastruna.blogspot.com  Blog

https://www.facebook.com/strunabooks/  B.E.Struna Books

@GoodyStruna  twitter

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Where can we find your book?

Amazon

Barnes& Noble

Ibooks

www.Struna galleries.com

What’s next for you?

As I mentioned before, my third novel in The Old Cape Series will be out in June 2017, The Old Cape Hollywood Secret.

Currently I’m writing the fourth in the series.

Thanks for visiting us again at The Writing Life, Barbara. I wish you the very best with your series. Happy writing.

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

 

 

 

Author Interview: Eric Douglas

The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome Eric Douglas, author of Return to Cayman.

Eric Douglas headshot

Life is an adventure for author Eric Douglas, above and below the water, and wherever in the world he ends up. Eric received a degree in Journalism from Marshall University. He has worked in local newspapers where he honed his skills as a story teller. Following a stint as a freelance journalist in the former Soviet Union, Eric became a dive instructor. Not too much later, he became a Diving Medical Technician. Moving from California to North Carolina, he became the Director of the Training and Education Department at Divers Alert Network. The ocean and diving have factored into all his novels since then.

What is your book’s genre/category?

I write in a couple different genres, but my primary series of books, the Mike Scott series, is Action/Thriller/Suspense.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Return to Cayman is the sixth book in the series. They are all thrillers set in island/exotic locations with an underwater/scuba diving theme. I’ve had the good fortune to work in the scuba diving industry for nearly 20 years, and it has taken me to some beautiful places, all of which have (or will) be settings for books. My first novel, Cayman Cowboys, was set on Grand Cayman. For my latest book, my character is returning to Grand Cayman after being away for 10 years. Just about all of my stories contain an environmental element, and it is forefront in this one, but the primary theme/problem is cybercrime.

RtCayman book cover

How did you come up with the title?

Cayman Cowboys came out in 2005, so for this 10th anniversary, I wanted to take Mike Scott back. And Return to Cayman was born. It just made sense. Plus, from a marketing perspective, Cayman is a recognized place and I thought that would appeal to people interested in traveling vicariously to the islands.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

All my stories have some element of history or current events in them. In August of 2014, a cruise ship dropped anchor on a reef in Grand Cayman, destroying a section of reef. The locals and the dive community are working to restore the reef. The first action sequence in the book covers a cruise ship grounding and then spins off on tangents. It gave me a chance to talk about what happens to the reef when something like that happens. I also plan to donate a portion of the first couple month’s royalties to the reef recovery effort.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I always tell people I love to write because it keeps the voices in my head quiet. Or at least quieter…

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Focus.  My voices come up with so many great ideas, it is hard for me to pick and choose the stories that will make it all the way to the end. And, of course, in the middle of a book, when it feels like a slog and you are never going to get through it, it is so easy to get distracted with something new and shiny.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I grew up on science fiction: Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury. In my 20’s I really got into Tom Clancy. I’ve read just about everything from Clive Cussler and others in that vein. I really enjoyed The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro recently, and I’m on my third book by Sheila Redling right now.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

From a writing/stylistic perspective, I’d have to say Clancy and Cussler. Clancy for the detail and the ability to weave multiple, disparate storylines together and end up at the same place. Cussler for the unabashed adventure and fun. I hope I do them both justice. I’d also have to give a hat-tip to Jacques Cousteau and reading National Geographic all my life for the desire to explore the world and the ocean.

Favorite place to write?

I have a home office. In the winter, I’m there, and I love to have a fire in the fireplace. That always gets me in the mood for writing. As soon as the air temperature breaks 50 degrees, if it is sunny, I am out on the patio writing. That’s really where it all takes off for me.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Even though I have a public persona, and I really do enjoy talking to people and gain so much energy from it, I’m not an extrovert. I’m an intensely private person. I love listening to others, but I rarely share many personal details.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Probably the best learning experience is that there is no magic bullet. I’ve read (or at least started) some terrible books that are best-sellers and read a literary genius that sold a couple hundred copies. Anyone who tells you they have the “secret” to selling 1000’s of books is lying to you. It is hard work and something you have to push every day.

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

Return to Cayman came out a week or so ago, and what I think I’ve done better with this book than any of the previous ones is to begin promoting it early in the process, and to gain supporters who can help me promote it. By offering to donate a portion of the proceeds to the reef recovery effort, for example, I have a group of people who also have a vested interest in seeing the book do well.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Everyone always tells you to read. I agree, but my advice is to learn about everything you can. Volunteer for everything you can; you never know where it will lead you. In my professional career, if I hadn’t refinanced my car in 1993 to take a trip to Russia, I never would have been hired by the biggest diving company in California in 1998. If I hadn’t done that, I never would have gotten the chance to study diving medicine, and to move to another company in 2000 that opened numerous other doors. You never know where things will lead and if you don’t explore those avenues, just because, you will miss out.

Website?

I’ve had the same website since 2005 when I only had one book. I was optimistic. http://www.booksbyeric.com/

Where can we find your book?

Print books are available at all the online retailers, including Amazon. My ebook versions are on Kindle.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a novella, in a series of short stories I created, set on a fictional island in the Florida Keys. In June, I am taking on an oral history project (I also write non-fiction, documentary work), and I really want to work on a period story set in Charleston, WV in 1890 around the salt industry. It is a spin-off from a collaborative book I wrote with several other writers called River Town.

Thanks for a great interview, Eric. I wish you much success with your books, and happy traveling! 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 the 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 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, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

 

 

Author Interview: Justin Bog

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

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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!

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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