Tuesday, July 10, 2012

VBTC Interview with Justin Bog - Sandcastle and Other Stories

Today we take the pleasure in chatting with the talented author Justin Bog. Justin is touring with his debut collection - Sandcastle and Other Stories. Welcome Justin, we're glad you're here with us today!

MM:  Many authors relate their characters to people they know.  Is this the case with your characters and do you see yourself in any of them?

What an interesting question. Off the top of my head, beyond Leo in Typecast, who was inspired by a Hollywood actor (but it isn't him at all and I'm not telling who it is either - hehe - but you can guess after you read it), I can't think of one person in real life who I placed, or made a composite character, in any of these ten stories. There isn't even a thinly veiled reference. Even the most autobiographical tale, On the Back Staircase, where a young girl scares herself one night, and may really have heard someone coming up the back stairs, isn't me. The brothers and sisters, the twins, are not my own brothers and sisters, nor do my parents inhabit that story. Everyone is made up. I have taken people from real life and placed them in my longer work, the two novels, just characteristics though, not them -- a friend wanted me to put her in a recent book, and since it was a contagion story I asked her if she wanted to catch the virus or be one of the people trying to survive among the chaos. She chose to be infected, and she got locked up by the people running about in a panic. I hear my voice in some of the characters I create, that's about it, but not my author's voice though.

MM:  Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

My favorite character in the book is Leo from Typecast, and a close second is the main character, Melanie Fortaine, in Poseidon Eyes. Leo is a favorite creation because he's always facing people who shy away from him, physically and emotionally. People who initially don't understand him based on appearance, get to know him a bit better and try to change him. He's an actor so a change in character is part of the territory, but the cool thing is Leo remains centered, balanced, grounded, and is so used to being 'typecast' in the roles he plays, he doesn't expend much energy on what other people do around him, even if they are the ones less centered, unbalanced and not grounded at all. Plus, he looks after a stray cat named Jazz Hands. I love Melanie in Poseidon Eyes because she also is strong, will not bow to what others expect her to live her life like, but she has to go through a very harrowing situation to get to this mindset.

MM:  Who is your most favorite character from any book of all time?

Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo is my all-time favorite character. His struggles and perseverance are awe-inspiring. A close second, Jack Torrance from Stephen King's The Shining. He is a doomed figure, and multi-dimensional -- it's very hard to feel sympathy for a villain in any story, but King made Jack Torrance very sympathetic despite how the ghostly presence tries to change him.

MM:  If you could dive into the pages of any book, which book would it be and what character would you be?
It would be great fun to dive into the role of one of the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings. They're such happy people. Merry, Pip, Bilbo, even Sam or Frodo, who had so much pressure placed upon him by so many different engines -- any of those. I wouldn't make a good Gollum.

MM:  If your book was to become a movie, which actors/actresses do you see playing the parts of your characters?

For the story Sandcastle, Evan Rachel Wood would make a good Trish, mother to Jane, and Emma Stone would play Brenda very well. For all the tales to be filmed, a huge cast of actors would probably have to work for scale -- it would definitely be an independent film, very low budget; making all ten stories into short films would be amazing. 

MM:  What can we expect from Justin Bog in the future? Any new projects?

I just turned in another edit on a new suspense story, The Conversationalist, and it's almost 12,000 words in length. (Does that make it a novella or just a really really long story?) Katarr Kanticles Press will publish this story in an original eBook anthology later this summer with the tentative title of Encounters. A Washington State publisher, Green Darner Press, will publish the print and other eBook versions of Sandcastle and Other Stories in November, in time for the holiday season. After that, for 2013, I've already completed my first novel, Wake Me Up, a psychological family drama mixed with the Young Adult genre. Then, with the writing complete on a psychological/horror/suspense novel called The Shut-Ins, I'm halfway through a major first draft revision. I'm also at work on a new suspense novel called The Volunteer, and love this tale because it touches on the sport of tennis, my favorite sport. I'm planning the next story after that one -- something supernatural.

MM:  Where can readers connect with you?
Readers can find me at my writer's life blog www.justinbog.com or Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog. I also have a Justin Bog Author Page at Facebook.

They can also find the kindle version of Sandcastle and Other Stories for sale at Amazon. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Sandcastle-and-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B0081NXXO8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341519217&sr=8-1&keywords=sandcastle+and+other+stories

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a wonderful pleasure.

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.

The ten literary, psychological, and suspense tales collected in Sandcastle and Other Stories are nothing short of an escape into a roiling sea of emotion. You will meet an old man twisted by fate and a lost love . . . a young girl playing on the ocean shore who becomes entangled in the nets of a mercurial god . . . a divorced man mired in his troubles who is pressured into taking a singles cruise . . . a Hollywood actor in a night time television drama who is always typecast as the bad boy . . . a family on the edge trying to live with a troubled daughter who they believed they'd never have to coexist with again . . . a young adult bruised and torn by a secret past who watches the world around her teetering on the brink of chaos . . . a new mother of twins who finds it difficult to say no to the pushy, energetic President of the local Mothers of Twins Club . . . a child kept awake by night terrors, and a woman who hides her secretive personality from everyone on the beach one sunny day. Upon reading, you will meet several more people who view life as a constant struggle, and others who resist this mindset, some with grace, some with humor, and others with acts of hubris. The genuine voices of the characters, mixed with a clear-eyed tonal simplicity, make this a series with mesmerizing psychological interplay. All of the stories span a broad depth of human understanding and build a bridge between the deepest chasms of pain and the highest portals of joy. Read Sandcastles and Other Stories and you will stand witness to unspeakable hate sitting with cozy wile right beside unconditional love -- a true fictional study of the human condition.

Excerpt :

From Sandcastle
From a beach towel space away, Brenda took the scene in. The beach was crowded, but the background noise didn’t bother her at all; Brenda believed she could hide in a crowd, and wondered why being alone was something she deserved. She found herself enjoying the discomfort in the mother and daughter’s close conversation; she almost laughed out loud when Jane’s mouth opened like an outstretched bow. The kid deserves what she gets, Brenda thought. She tilted her head away to make it look like she wasn’t paying attention, but only just slightly. She saw everything.
But . . . I want my balloon.”
Brenda, her pistachio-colored beach chair squeaking when she moved slightly,
noticed a string of saliva dribble from Jane’s mouth and down her chin. Jane’s mother pushed her octagon-shaped sunglasses into the hair above her forehead and stared, her eyes somehow cold and reflecting nothing, at her daughter. “What did I just say to you, Jane? Forget the goddamn balloon. I told you I didn’t want to buy it for you . . . you’re blocking my sun. If you don’t leave me alone and go play, you’ll find yourself at home right now. Be a big little girl for Mommy. If you can do this, I promise I’ll give you another swimming lesson later. Your dog paddle is coming along fine. Go play.”
Brenda tried to smile, but couldn’t, as she thought about her life and what it
would’ve been like if her baby had lived, would this new presence in her family be
capable of healing a prickling rift under her heels, make her husband’s boots stop flailing about – always making contact by accident, didn’t mean to do that, you know me, you know me, you know me. Her life could be broken down into a twisted children’s rhyme.
Right, Brenda, first comes love, then comes marriage; then comes miscarriage, and her goals and planning stopped there. She hated the simple way her life unfolded and the way it seemed so goddamn planned. Ever since she was little she’d been under someone else’s control. When she was twenty, almost two years away from graduation at the community college, she met Jake and they moved in together. Brenda’s parents never trusted Jake; they could tell the first second they spotted him hoisting himself off his motorcycle, then slicking back his sun-bleached hair and finally tugging at the devil-pointed goatee that he was just putting on a big show (her father’s words). They wouldn’t speak to her for months until her twenty-first birthday when they relented and finally knew Jake would, for better or worse, be a part of their daughter’s future. They stopped asking Brenda if she was going to finish college. All they could do was warn her when Jake wasn’t around, try to undermine what was happening all along. “Is he hitting you again, Brenda?” her mother would whisper to her when Jake and Father were in the living room watching the
Sunday football extravaganza, neither of them speaking to the other, just grunting from their Lazyboys, the kind with the built-in beer holders on the arms. All her parents could do was watch and say “I told you so” later, which they did all the time.
How could Brenda reply? Her control had shifted territory, from one of family
questionings and buttonholes, to the scary realm of Jekyll and Hyde. It was one thing she wanted to handle alone, without her parents’ interference. Jake was the sweetest man she had ever met, at first, before the wedding, and wouldn’t even lay a finger on her neck to caress her. It started after the wedding when he slapped her on the butt too hard, a prelude to lovemaking he said, and when she complained, he hit her harder. Of course, he always tried to make it up to her afterwards. He took her to movies she wanted to see, to the roadhouses for drinks, and took her shopping, but never at the good stores, just the second hand malls where he worked in rotation as a night security guard.
Another thing Brenda hated was the way she often caught her mother scrutinizing
her. Her mother’s chin wrinkled up, and her eyes opened just almost all the way and sly, as if her mother had foreseen Brenda’s downfall, as if she was used goods now and any other man could smell Jake’s lousy scent all over her and she would never hear the sound of grandchildren. She said to Brenda, with her patented matter-of-fact tightness, “A lot of women have miscarriages. And a lot of women, today anyway, fail at meeting the right man.” What her mother didn’t have to say was “How dare you do this to our family;” the tone of her voice was enough. At times, Brenda liked to picture her parents, naked, with witch paint splashed across their bodies, dancing around an effigy of Brenda. In her daydream, she would force the effigy to come to life and make it bash her parents’ heads together to let them know they were not always right.
Their spoken predictions of failure had started when she brought her fiancé home for the first time, when Brenda was helping her mother cut salad cucumbers and rip iceberg lettuce, when her mother, in a voice of thinly veiled anger, asked her how long she’d known Jake and asked her if she was really serious about ruining her life with a man like that. Now, her mother gives her books on how to choose your mate and her father still curses her former husband at the dinner table, even though it’s been two years since the divorce. He looks at Brenda and chuckles, wisely, and says he told her not to marry the bastard.
Brenda watched as Jane ran into the water and yelled something to a boy named
Danny Richards. She didn’t know whether Jane’s mother would’ve actually taken the girl home, but it did seem as if Jane didn’t want to stick around and find out. I wouldn’t even bring the whiny girl, Brenda thought, which made her remember her own lost child, the image of a dashed possibility always close to the surface, and Brenda frowned even more because she knew she was a liar. There was a time in her marriage when she fervently believed this surprise baby could’ve saved her, and that her husband could’ve changed if he only held a tiny baby in his arms, focus on something good and pure for once — she knew this was a ridiculous thought. If her baby had lived she would’ve taken her everywhere and she’d never send her away with an imperious flick of the wrist.
The mother readjusted her sunglasses on her nose and then lowered her bikini top an inch, giving anyone trudging by in the sand a tantalizing view. Brenda envied the
woman’s body. It was what her magazines called sumptuous and glandularly flawless.

July 11 - Reviewed at Books, Books, and More Books
July 13 - Reviewed at B00k R3vi3ws
July 16 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
July 18 - Reviewed & Interviewed at A Book Lover's Library
July 18 - Interviewed at Brenda & Steve's BlogJuly 20 - Interviewed at Unnecessary Musings



Thank you very much for hosting a stop on the Sandcastle book tour. I hope your readers like the tales as much as I liked writing them.

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