As I continue in my efforts to interview some of today’s amazing authors, I am nearly without words to express how thrilled I am by all of their incredible journeys to becoming who they are. My next guest, someone close to my own generation, is someone I consider just as inspiring and I am thankful to have him here to share his story with me and my viewers. He is Justin Bog.
First, thank you Tracy for allowing me to sit down for your interview. Nice place you’re got here. (Thank you too, Justin.)
Justin Bog grew up a voracious reader, movie fanatic, and music audiophile. Justin always carried a stack of library books and collected way too many comic books from his local Ohio small-town drugstore. More than one teacher scolded Justin to put his suspect reading materials away and join the class. Justin began to make up stories of his own, using an old typewriter he found in the attic.
So it comes as no surprise that Justin pursued an English Degree at the University of Michigan, followed by Film and Music Appreciation classes — finally graduating from Bowling Green State University with an MFA in Fiction Writing. After teaching creative writing, Justin began apprenticing in a number of bookstores and editing fiction for a midwestern journal. Justin ended up on the management team at Chapter One Bookstore in the Sun Valley resort area for a decade, offering book recommendations to its local celebrities, skiing fanatics, and tourists. Currently residing in the San Juan Islands just north of Seattle, Justin has the opportunity to focus on his own novels and short stories, while contributing commentary and reviews of Pop Culture. Justin continues to engage his lifelong passion for writing in combination with his curious mindset as the Senior Contributor and Editor at In Classic Style. Sandcastle and Other Stories is his first book.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a young kid. I made up my own news reports . . . what was happening on the moon or on Mars. Silly stuff. And then the writing bug hit me full-on in high school, and developed in college.
What was your life like before becoming an author?
I spent less time writing, seeing friends more, and wandering about with my pets, Zippy and Kipling. After publishing I grew busier with the marketing side of the machine. Now, I’m striking a better balance, coming out of my mouse house more and more. Enjoying the writing process again.
Who or what inspired you to write?
I would say other authors inspired me to write. I love reading, and always have a book in my hand. I love reading while traveling, and have no problem reading in a car. The authors I grew up reading, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, John Irving, Rachel Ingalls, Alexandre Dumas, Harper Lee, contributed to my love of the written word. In more recent days, Richard Bach (yes, THE Richard Bach), who spoke to me about his process, writing, and risking it, putting the work out for public consumption, helped me get over my publishing fears. He read the stories in Sandcastle and Other Stories over the past year and critiqued them in a no-nonsense fashion; he inspired me and I can only repay that by giving back to other authors. I try to follow his example.
Do you have a specific writing style or genre?
I love psychological tension in the books or stories that I read so I’m drawn to suspense, horror, and family dramas — tales that focus on character, an interior struggle, someone hiding a secret.
Tell me about your latest book? What’s it about?
The ten literary, psychological, and suspense tales collected in Sandcastle and Other Stories are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. An old man twisted by fate and a lost love . . . a young girl playing on the ocean shore becomes entangled in nets of a mercurial god . . . a divorced man mired in troubles, coerced into taking a singles’ cruise . . . a Hollywood actor in a television drama, always typecast as the bad boy . . . a child kept awake by night terrors, and a woman who hides her secretive personality from everyone on the beach one sunny day. Genuine voices of the characters, mixed with a clear-eyed tonal directness, make this a series with mesmerizing psychological interaction. Stories span a broad depth of human understanding and build a bridge between deepest chasms of pain and high portals of joy. Read these dark tales and stand witness to unspeakable hate sitting with cozy wile, right beside unconditional love — a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition.
What was your favorite part of the book to write?
I wrote all of the stories as single entities. I had no idea I would collect them into a whole, but when I was arranging the stories in an order, deciding what story should be the first or last, they came together. The tales share themes, subject matter, psychological interplay between characters. I loved putting the pieces of each story in a perfect place. I tried to get to an ending naturally by giving a rich back story to the characters, revealing just enough to make each character relatable, even if the character may be nice or unlikeable. One of my favorite stories to write was Poseidon Eyes, because it played with the idea of a fully-formed under-the-sea world, and the main character changed from beginning to end, had a true journey. This story went through many revisions just to get the tone right.
What was the hardest part to write?
One of the hardest stories to write was On the Back Staircase because it played with the past and present, and thoughts of a young girl up late at night who thinks she hears someone monstrous entering their home. I wanted the story to leave doubt in any reader’s mind — is there someone there or is the girl making it all up?
What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?
An author should absolutely love his or her book, writing, the book cover; everything about the finished product. I write to please myself first. These are the stories I want to read. I never shared them with many people before last year when I published them to my blog. I gave them to a few local friends. So, finding out that others like the stories as much as I do is the most rewarding thing. There are people who won’t like them; I am drawn to darker tales, some don’t want to read stories that may shock or stir up emotions. I like hearing that the writing made people think.
Do you have any other books complete or in progress?
Yes, A novella, The Conversationalist, will be published in an upcoming anthology titled Encounters by October, along with the suspense stories of eight other authors. The subject of each story had to center on a stalker. My novella is set in my home town of Anacortes and is about a single guy who begins to date women in his island area but doesn’t necessarily treat them well. Someone begins to stalk him. The novella would’ve fit perfectly as the final tale in Sandcastle and Other Stories, right after Train Crash, which has a similar tone of unease. Sandcastle and Other Stories will be published by Green Darner Press by November, if all goes as planned (and when does that ever happen), and my first novel, a psychological family drama, Wake Me Up, will follow that in the early part of 2013. The opening chapter of Wake Me Up is included in Sandcastle and Other Stories as a Bonus. After that, I completed the first draft of my first contagion/horror novel, The Shut-Ins (also for 2013) and I’m at work on a new suspense novel I’ve tentatively titled The Volunteer for 2014.
What are your future plans in regards to writing?
I want to keep writing on my blog, and writing pop culture recommendations for the eMagazine In Classic Style (www.inclassicstyle.com). This has been a fun outlet for the subjects I’ve loved since a kid. I like meeting so many other indie authors and being in the same boat.
Are you listed on the major social networks like facebook, twitter, goodreads, etc… Yes!
A Writer’s Life blog: www.justinbog.com
Twitter: @JustinBog: https://twitter.com/JustinBog
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JustinBog1
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832178.Justin_Bog
Pinterest Boards: http://pinterest.com/justinbog/
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Risk it, but do the hard work before hitting the publish button. Make sure to fix all the grammar and typos and copyediting. I look past a lot of that, but many don’t care to and will ding your book for it. Tell the story you can only tell. Hire an editor. Put out a great book.
Outside of writing, what is your most favorite thing to do and why?
I love spending time with my family. My partner of almost 24 years, and the pets, 2 long coat German shepherds, Zippy & Kipling, and 2 cats, Ajax The Gray & Eartha Kitt’n. Cooking and playing tennis come in third and fourth. Then, reading or watching movies.
Zippy is the larger male, and he’s six years old here. Kipling is the newer puppy girl who turns one in October.
Anything else you would like to add for future fans and friends.
I hope you like my first book as much as I enjoyed writing it. And please let me hear from you.
You have a wonderful back story, Justin, and I am thrilled to be able to share it. I see we have a link in common with writing in concern to the human condition. I personally love the idea of tapping into a lifestyle or persona that will make the readers think and hopefully learn something about their fellow human beings. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing more from you in the near future and I wish you nothing short of the best.