Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun Friday with CJ West!

Hi Folks,

I've got another fun Friday on tap for you. Author CJ West has graciously agreed to answer a few questions, highlighting his current release The End of Marking Time. He’s a very interesting man -- check it out, here's a quick bio before we jump into my interview:

CJ wrote his first book in 1979 while bored during school hours, but at that time writing was second to golf. CJ practiced hard daily and eventually entertained hopes of playing professionally. In 1985 he chose Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMASS Dartmouth) over golf and studied Business Management which advanced his career in computer technology.

Twenty years after that first book, CJ plunged back into writing. After six years studying other authors and working at his craft, CJ released Sin and Vengeance in 2005. He currently lives in suburban Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

JET: Your book The End of Making Time was just released on June 10, 2010. Can you tell us a little about the book and what makes it a have to have on our book shelves?

CJ:From the moment you turn over The End of Marking Time, you’ll see it is different. The first sign is that the back cover text is landscape (sideways if you’re not a graphic artist). Then, Michael O’Connor introduces himself and begins talking to you as if you already know him. He does this because he believes you are a member of his jury. Michael is trapped between two sheets of plexiglas facing an opaque window. He believes you are behind the window and that you have two buttons, one red, one green. If you press the green button he goes free. Michael spends the entire book trying to convince you to press the green button.

Michael’s story has garnered terrific reviews and encouraged debate on issues related to rehabilitation of felons and the effectiveness of our penal system and capital punishment.

JET: Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

CJ:I write stories that entertain me as well as my audience. I have an affinity for action, unusual characters, and intricate story lines, so that is what I write. I was talking to a reader last weekend who said she admired my ability to introduce something into a story and later turn the entire situation on its head and make it something completely different. Thrilling and surprising readers this way is what excites me as a writer.

JET: Have you ever seen a dead body? How has that influenced your writing?

CJ:Have you seen my Facebook page? What part-time assassin hasn’t? I wouldn’t be very good at my day job if I hadn’t.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

CJ:My most challenging hurdle continues to be convincing new readers to try my work. I have five books in print that receive terrific reviews, but it is still difficult to convince readers to try a new author.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

CJ:I always enjoy meeting readers who rave about my work, but if there is one moment that stands out, it is a phone call I received this year regarding the budget of the Sin & Vengeance movie. The production company decided they wanted to go for a much larger budget because they were so excited about the project. Their excitement is contagious. There have been a series of these moments starting with the first contact from the screenwriter who wanted to adapt the story for film. I’m not positive Sin & Vengeance will make it to the big screen, but I have enjoyed every step of the journey so far.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

CJ:Growing up my world centered on golf. The writers of Golf Digest, particularly Tom Watson, had a huge influence on me. I didn’t find a love of fiction until much later.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

CJ:I didn’t know I wanted to take the plunge until I was already swimming. I started writing as a hobby and enjoyed it so much that I wrote everyday for years. It wasn’t until Sin & Vengeance was optioned for film that I believed I might make a career of this.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

CJ:It is all about the writing. We all get wound up about promoting books and trying to reach readers, but all that effort is wasted if the book isn’t great. It’s not good enough to be almost as good as the commercial writers. You need to deliver something that wows readers. You need complete strangers to start calling their friends and talking about you. I really believe (short a half million advertising budget) that is the only way to make a living selling books today.

JET: I understand some of your recreational interests include race cars and firearms. . .What kinds of guns have you had the opportunity to shoot? Favorites?

CJ:I’ve been shooting since I was nine. I started with a .22 revolver that was my grandfather’s and fired rounds by the brick. I spent years learning to shoot a compound bow and really enjoyed 3d shooting, which is a competition set up like a golf course for 3 dimensional animal targets made of high-density foam. These days my favorite is my 12 gauge Browning Gold. My brother nicknamed me the assassin because creatures that venture close to me have little chance of escape when I am carrying my 12 gauge.

JET: What about race cars - what’s the fastest you’ve gone on the track? Off the track?

CJ:My coolest car experience was this year on my book tour. It’s actually captured on video at Anthony Ricci, instructor to body guards and professional drivers, takes me around an obstacle course backward at 40 mph in a retired police car. When we are done, he accelerates to 50 mph and spins the car so we are travelling forward again. That event was amazing and there are more videos of it on my Facebook page and Youtube channel.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

CJ:Reusable bag.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

CJ:Steak. I won’t specify my favorite because it would probably gross your readers out.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

CJ:I can enjoy a read on the beach for a few days like any writer, but I prefer the mountains in the fall.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

CJ:Funny. Both. I grew up on Rock, but for the last two years I’ve been listening to modern country.

JET: Classics or Modern?

CJ:Modern. I enjoy finding new writers.

JET: Vamps or Wolves?

CJ:No thanks.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

CJ:I really enjoyed Zombieland! The great thing about Zombies is that they move slowly and no one gets too upset if you kill one. As long as you’re packing lots of ammunition, it sounds like a good time.

JET: Horror or Comedy?

CJ:Comedy. I’ve never been a horror fan. If it doesn’t have a plot that keeps me thinking, it better be funny.

JET: Salty or Sweet?


JET: Coffee or Tea?

CJ:Iced Tea. I might be the only writer who doesn’t use caffeine on a regular basis.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

CJ:I’m working on a love story / thriller called Addicted to Love. To call it romantic suspense would be a misnomer. It is as suspenseful and plot focused as my other books, but it is about love. The first chapter is available at the end of The End of Marking Time.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about CJ and his work at the following places:

CJ: Thanks for having me, J.E.

Thanks for joining us for this interview! Next week I have the fabulous Lauren Baratz-Logsted on her one question blog tour!


Debbi said...

Great interview! CJ's book is awesome, BTW.

CJ West said...

Thanks Debbi! And thanks for hosting me J.E. This was really a fun interview.


JETaylor said...

Thank you very much for stopping by and entertaining us CJ - it was my pleasure having you here!