I call Wake Me Up a literary crime novel because it is centered around a brutal assault that is perceived by the small college town to be a hate crime. I love books about social injustice the best, books with a real message or subtext woven into the narrative---books like The Count of Monte Cristo, Crime and Punishment, Before and After, and The Lovely Bones.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
The most challenging part of the writing process is finding readers who want to take a chance on a new or unknown author’s book. In today’s busy writing and reading life, there are over 200,000 books published each year, when this number over fifteen years ago used to be around 50,000. How does a book stand out? Writing a book is difficult, getting to that end point in a natural way, and then comes further editing and proofing and formatting. I have a wonderful team of professionals helping shape each of my books, book cover designer, book manager, proofreader, and a publisher, Gravity, who helps shoulder the small burdens each author may feel as a book nears the publication date. The writing process has always been one of learning the ropes, and I still call myself a student. I want to take risks with my stories, make a reader gasp in shock, bring a reader to tears. There’s a point in Wake Me Up where even I begin to tear up.
When and where do you do your writing?
I love writing on my iMac or on my laptop. I also write initial notes longhand on yellow paper tablets. I write in my home office or sitting at the dining room table. I wrote most of the first draft of Wake Me Up in coffeehouses, both in Ketchum, Idaho and Cannon Beach, Oregon. Writing is portable.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
Promotion is always difficult. As I wrote above, it’s the most challenging task. I love hearing from readers, and social media brings a reader’s experience closer than ever before. If you read Wake Me Up or any of my other stories, please know I welcome your thoughts!
What are you most proud of as a writer?
That I didn’t stop. There was a time when I kept submitting story after story and the rejection file thickened. One of the rejections from a national magazine was personally cruel towards me as an author, and I rethought sending my work out for quite some time afterward. I began reading more, formed a book group. Then, after not too long a point, I read so much that I wanted once more to begin creating my own fiction. This was about a two-year break, and I’m happy I had this “wake up” moment. I haven’t stopped writing, and I know I’ll always have this curious obsession. I have published six books so far (two are out of print) through two separate publishers, and I have completed work at the halfway point for the next three books. I imagine these being published in the next three years.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I would want to invite Chuck Palahniuk and his partner to dinner. His writing hints at the strange journey he’s taken to become a published writer. I love his books, his imagination, for being as dark as can be, relentlessly unapologetic. I fall into darkness while writing, and this is a happy place for me. I’d love to talk to Palahniuk about darkness, being accepted for writing what you like to write about, and shaking up sensibilities along the way.
A member of ITW: International Thriller Writers group, Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest with his two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling. He is the author of the Suspense Magazine Award-winning collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition, and Hark: A Christmas Collection. Find Justin at http://www.justinbog.com and on Facebook at Justin Bog.
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