Interview with writer Justin Bog

Today’s guest, Justin Bog, is at the tail end of a virtual book tour for his short story collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories.

Bio: 
Justin Bog, first and
foremost, 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.
“Growing up in the 70s, Stephen King was about to publish his first
novel and John Updike had only published the first of his Rabbit books. Along
with so many cinema buffs, I witnessed the huge change in the way movies were
distributed — from artistic, Director-driven films backed by huge studios to
the dawn of the Blockbuster and popcorn summer films, like Jaws, Rocky, and
Star Wars. I was drawn to the music of these decades as well,” says Bog.

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.

Welcome, Justin. Please tell us about your current release.
Sandcastle and Other Stories started out as very short stories, almost
flash fiction. Each tale began with an impulse, a character’s image in my head,
or a singular voice of one of the character’s, speaking to me. In “Typecast,” the
voice of the bad-boy actor came through loud and clear, and I hope I captured
his world both on and off screen. There is a darkness to these ten psychological
dramas, and my mind turns that way more often than not. I didn’t mind shocking
readers, making a thoughtful or natural conclusion, and, really, only two of the
stories have an element of shock to them, but the shock is earned. There’s no
gimmick. The characters lead the story, and I followed each one to his or her
end point. I took the shortness of each tale and built a structure, tinkered
with the characters, the settings, the time each tale took place, and added just
enough back story to flesh each motivation out a bit, each epiphany a character
may come to. This was a really fun collection to put together and all the
stories are linked by this milieu of darkness. There is humor woven into the
threads, and I like hearing that the stories resonate with
readers.

What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration came from my love of reading short fiction. The stories of
Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Rachel Ingalls, and
Stephen King (who hasn’t he influenced or inspired) I still find the most
influential in my own writing. I wanted to create tales I would like to read. I
hope others like them too.

What exciting story are you working on
next?
I just finished another edit draft on a 12,000 word longer story title The
Conversationalist that was just accepted to be part of an original eBook
suspense anthology called Encounters. Each of the tales had to center around a
stalker of some type. It would’ve fit well as the end piece in Sandcastle since
it was written in April when I was putting the eBook together for publication.
My first novel, Wake Me Up, is finished, but going through probably two or three
more copyedit reviews before it sees publication. This is a psychological family
drama about a crime in Missoula, Montana and the aftershocks. Sandcastle and
Other Stories found the interest of a publisher in Washington State where I live
and Green Darner Press will publish the print version this fall. Very excited by
all this publishing news.

When did you
first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I was sending out short stories and
getting rejection letters — these helped spur me on. Some of my tales found
runner-up status and honorable mentions, but I never sent them out as a
collection to be published anywhere before. Now, more than ever, I feel a
validation to the long hours at home alone tapping away.

Do you write
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like?  If not, what do you do other than
write and how do you find time to write?
I try to write full-time, but that’s not possible. I worked as a manager in
bookstores for over 20 years until 2005. Then my partner and I moved to
Washington State. Currently, along with the writing life, I’m taking on book
editing jobs, working with other authors, helping their books reach the best
potential. I edit content for the eMagazine In Classic Style and also write pop
culture recommendations for the magazine as
well.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I tend to work on a project until it is finished. I don’t take breaks, a
day break, or even a week, until the work is on paper in a first draft. But I
don’t write thousands of words at a time either. That’s a rare occasion. I read
that Hemingway only produced 400-600 words a day, words that he would keep. If
something pulls me away, a move to a new home, a trip to visit family or
friends, I can pick right up where I left off. I don’t know if that’s very
interesting. I like listening to music as I write. Radiohead is playing right
now.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew
up?
I actually wanted to do two things. 1) write books and 2) work in
bookstores. I love bookstores. I don’t get to visit them as much now with the
writing schedule, but I will always browse through bookstores whenever I come
across one. So, even though I’ve accomplished my childhood goals, there’s more
and more to do, and I’m always dreaming.

Anything additional you
want to share with the readers?
I love that you are reading my writing and sharing your thoughts. I can’t
say that enough. The fans who tell me the stories made them think, had an
emotional response to the situations — this makes my day, makes me feel like
the writing life is so worthwhile. Best to you and your own reading and writing
dreams.

Thanks for having Reviews and Interviews as a tour stop. Best wishes for your continued writing.

14 thoughts on “Interview with writer Justin Bog

  1. JustinBog says:

    Lisa, thank you very much for interviewing me for your terrific blog. The writing process, publishing a book, and then what follows after all the hard work, is the icing on the cake. Best to you, Justin

    Ingeborg, I thank you too and hope you like the stories too.

  2. Eden Baylee says:

    Excited for all your publishing news, Justin, with being included in a suspense anthology with your story "The Conversationalist," and of course, with your first novel, Wake Me Up. You are such a diligent and hard-working author who also supports others, so it makes it all the more incredible that you have produced so much work.

    Bravo on making the rounds with Sandcastle and Other Stories. Everyone should read it and see how short stories should be told.

    Oh, and thanks for the trivia about Hemingway. I did not know that!

    eden

  3. JustinBog says:

    Hey, how nice of you Eden, Cathy, and M.E. I loved hearing from you hear. Hemingway's style of writing was an influence to me, and his quotes about the writing life are enlightening. Thank you for reading Sandcastle and sharing the word.

  4. Brandy Walker says:

    Thanks for another interesting interview. Like hearing about your process and loves (bookstores). I love bookstores myself – how blessed you were to work in them for many years!

  5. Dionne says:

    Another great interview Justin. You should come to Oz, we have lots of great bookstores. Congrats on your book, I really enjoyed it. Your characters have depth and intensity. A great achievement.

  6. JustinBog says:

    Brandy, Dionne, and BK, thank you all for stopping by this really posh book review space. The writing life is very different from the retail book selling life but each side of the business has its perks. Good reading. I would love to go to Oz, wait, which Oz are you talking about Dionne? Should I go get some ruby slippers? Take care, BK, and it is sad that my first book tour is almost over. Thank you for all of your patience and help.

  7. JustinBog says:

    Brandy, Dionne, and BK, thank you all for stopping by this really posh book review space. The writing life is very different from the retail book selling life but each side of the business has its perks. Good reading. I would love to go to Oz, wait, which Oz are you talking about Dionne? Should I go get some ruby slippers? Take care, BK, and it is sad that my first book tour is almost over. Thank you for all of your patience and help.

  8. tmycann says:

    Justin: I'm impressed at your stamina… producing not only new creative work but also all these interviews!
    Lisa: Nice interview – and thanks for sharing it.

  9. Jessica Kristie says:

    It is awesome to see Justin doing so well. He is a really supportive, honest and great guy. His success is deserved. Much love to you Justin! xoxo

  10. JustinBog says:

    I am catching up after the tour, alas, has now come to an end. Thank you very much Tonya and Jessica for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on the interview and Sandcastle and Other Stories. I hope they hit you well. Best always.

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