Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Blog: Author Justin Bog

Please welcome author Justin Bog who is promoting his new book, Sandcastles and Other Stories. Be sure to check out the YouTube trailer at the end of his post!

Welcome Justin!

Justin Bog's 10 Secrets Of Sandcastle and Other Stories 

First of all, before I begin to speak about Sandcastle and Other Stories, my new book of literary and psychological tales, I want to thank Kari and From The TBR Pile Blog for hosting a stop on my Virtual Book Tour. Every place I have visited so far has been interesting and keep my curious engines running smoothly.

If you read my A Writer's Life Blog (, where I collect recommendations in pop culture, bits of unpublished writing, both novel sections and tales for future collections, you may know that I love Top Ten Lists. Best books for Summer is a List I love to put together; the Top 10 Favorite Albums that help me create List is an ongoing thread, best films, best writers . . . and got me thinking of a theme for this Guest Post. I don't speak about writing much, the process. I just sit down and write. Love to listen to music while I write, and . . . (first secret)

Secret #1) I don't worry about any "rules" of writing. I do recommend writers learn the rules of writing, and make up their own -- if at all possible in this day and age. No rule is carved in stone. Follow your muse.

Secret #2) My muse leads me to very dark places at times, and I tend to send her to Tahiti when she's finished, if only so that she can soak up the sun; she loves to snorkel in Bora Bora. 

Some people love first person over third person -- or the least used point of view, the lonely second person -- or the exact opposite. You learn about someone's tastes this way, but nothing is wrong; it's only a preference. 

Secret #3) In Sandcastle and Other Stories I wanted to mix up the first and third person POV, have some of the more verbose characters narrate. In the first story, the old gardener in The Virtue of Minding Your Own Business has a weary voice, and I loved his language, and listening to what he had to say about what happened in his life and what drove him. 

Secret #4) For the second story, the most shocking, Sandcastle, I knew I wanted a third person narrator to tell the inner thoughts of the characters in a detached fashion. It needed a clinical journalistic tone so that the suspense would grow naturally. In this story the narrator did dip into two of the characters' minds, but this was a subtle thing. I don't mind head-hopping. There are times when it is necessary as long as it serves the story.

Secret #5) Big secret: My mother gave me the idea for the story Mothers of Twins. She had three pregnancies, and wound up with five kids. I have an older sister, a fraternal twin brother, and my younger sister and brother are twins. I did not base any of the characters in this story on anyone in real life, except there were identical twin girls who lived in the same dorm my freshman year at the University of Michigan -- but they did share a dorm room, unlike the twins in my story.

Secret #6) I lived in several of the places the short stories were set. I did not live in Maine, but I visited, and thought about an old gardener working for a wealthy family on an island for The Virtue of Minding Your Own Business. My father grew up on the Jersey shore, a Seaside Heights bad boy of the late forties and fifties -- I can picture him on that reality show today, which only makes me laugh -- and he took us five Bog kids to the shore to visit our grandmother throughout childhood; I set Sandcastle there. The book's cover art, this Jersey shore, is a detail from one of my dad's Boardwalk Series paintings (see more Dad & Mom Bog art here: I did live in Michigan, lower and northern, and Mothers of Twins and parts of Typecast are set there. I have been on only one cruise, but I never lived in Atlanta like the gentleman from When the Ship Sinks. I grew up in Granville, Ohio, the setting for Cats In Trees and On the Back Staircase, and both these stories use my family home as a location. I have lived in both southern and northern California, the settings for Typecast and Poseidon Eyes. Under the Third Story Window is set in a neighborhood that is hanging on in a running-down part of Chicago. The final story, Train Crash, I imagine taking place in a train station down the road a bit from Chicago, a town I visited several times in my life.

7) The seventh secret? In the original order of the stories, before hitting the publishing button at Amazon, I had On the Back Staircase as the second story and Sandcastle as the second to last tale. I switched them to what you'll find in the book after reading the collection for the fiftieth time because I didn't want the three stories that mention twins to be the first three; at one time I did, and, besides, Sandcastle needed to hit the reader sooner.

Secret #8) Despite the suspense or shocking tales within Sandcastle and Other Stories, I wanted to also share a sense of humor, a turn of phrase that would make someone laugh when a character said or did something. My sense of humor runs to the dry. Please let me know if you found anything funny about the tales, the characters, or their situations.

Secret #9) I love secrets. I don't keep secrets. One of those annoying traits really because no one likes to be around someone who won't keep a secret. When someone says to me, "Don't tell anyone else this, but . . ."

I reply, "Nope, don't tell me. Because time will pass and I'll forget what you told me is your secret, and I'll be talking to someone else and then there goes your secret, and you'll be mad at me for revealing something you thought you told me in confidence and we won't be friends anymore."

"Oh." And then the friend will usually tell me anyway. I won't hurt anyone's feelings with a hard truth. Usually, it's not my place to do so. The characters in Sandcastle and Other Stories have secrets that drive them, motivate their actions every waking moment. Some of these secrets are huge, while some are smaller, but no less intimate or emotional when discovered. 

Secret #10) The final secret about Sandcastle and Other Stories is that it was not going to be my first published book. I was ready to put out my novel, Wake Me Up, last year. Life got in the way. I hadn't built up an author platform for self-publishing. No one knew me in the social media world. So, I decided to take the stories I published to my blog, revise them heavily, and make them the introduction to my writing. I'm very happy I did, and I love hearing how the stories hit people, make them feel something. Thank you very much for reading, and I encourage you to contact me after you read Sandcastle and Other Stories to let me know what you think.

All the best to you, and thank you for reading,


YouTube trailer:

Author info:


Twitter @JustinBog link:

Facebook Author Page:


RachelintheOC said...

What a wonderfully revealing interview, Justin. I love hearing your rules about 'no rules.' That's so freeing as a writer. I read a post at least every day: do this, not that. I'm with you -- follow your muse, fix stuff later (if necessary).

Kudos for your insights!

JustinBog said...

Rachel, you are so great to follow this book tour of mine. I love your insight into the writing process. It's different for every single writer, and should be, but we can all gather later (drinks?) and talk about what strikes us well. Thank you very very much.

Dionne said...

Hi Justin. I loved hearing some extra snippets about your life. You do very good interviews and are a super interesting author. Thanks for sharing.

Jane Isaac said...

Hi Justin - great interview. I love a good secret and it's so interesting to hear about the background to your stories. Thanks for sharing:)

JustinBog said...

Wonderful to see you Dionne and Jane! And thank you for stopping by and leaving your comments. Secrets turn good characters into great fiction. That reveal moment is the moment I look for. Best to you and your writing lives -- always. Justin

Brandy Walker said...

Thanks for another great interview. Love hearing about the personal background behind the fiction especially.

JustinBog said...

You are terrific Brandy for following me on my book tour. thank you very much. I can't wait for your own.