Author Spotlight: Justin Bog

Who is Justin Bog?justin-bog

Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island.their long coat German shepherd, Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray, and Eartha Kitt’n. R.I.P. Zippy!

What motivated you to write this second short fiction collection: HARK: A Christmas Collection?

I love to write short fiction, and always have. I like the brevity of an idea, and painting a complete world in a finite length. Like poetry, every word has weight. A narrative has to be set in motion, characters must be introduced in a natural manner, all within a quick burst. HARK developed because I began to write a short holiday story each Christmas season. These are the first six from the past six years. They are about real people, mostly adults, braving another Christmas holiday. Each of the stories has a lesson to reveal about human nature—and these are not your sweet Christmas tales for children either; they are for those who think deeply about Christmas, and life, what is happening around them that might startle or reveal something below the surface.

What strange things do you do when you write? Do you listen to music? Watch television? Eat Cheetos?

I do listen to music, and all kinds, any genre. Right now I’m listening to the new album, Nightride, by Tinashe, a cool soul singer. When I write my stories or novels, I listen to albums, Fleetwood Mac, NIN, The Pretenders, or classical.

What was your greatest challenge writing these stories and how did you overcome it?

I’d say the greatest challenge was making the stories as natural and realistic as possible even when revealing something that may be “impossible.” In one story, “Seducing Santa,” the main character, a single businesswoman, who is lonely, but willing to put herself out there in the dating pool, sets her mind on seducing Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, and Santa actually appears right in front of her in the middle of the night, ready and willing to teach her the best lesson about love and life and people. This is the most humorous tale of the six, but I love a bit of dark humor added to each of them.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters in HARK, who would you choose and what would you do?

I really love Callie, the main character in “Bracelet.” This story is about a local Anacortes character (my hometown) who buys a present for her younger sister in April and days before Christmas she can’t find the gift anywhere. She becomes anxious and this leads to a wonderful climax. Callie is real to me but created out of whole fictional cloth. Callie and others in the story, form a book club, and these women appear in one other story set in Anacortes, Washington, titled “The Heralds,” as in: “Hark the Heralds, Angels sing . . .”

What’s next for you and your writing career?

I recently published my first novel, Wake Me Up, a literary crime novel that is receiving heartfelt reviews and being compared, favorably, to The Lovely Bones because the narrator speaks from and observes the action from an impossible place: he hovers over his family and the strangers of his town after he is brutally beaten by school bullies and placed in a coma. All the secrets his mother and father, and the woman his father chose to have an affair with the past spring, are revealed to him in this state. I’m finishing up a novella, writing two novels, and hope to finish three other novellas to place as a collection, all next year! That’s a lofty goal for any writer, and I accept the challenge. These are all going to be in the suspense/horror/supernatural genre, since my work has become darker as I move forward.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

I think of ideas for stories/novels often, and I use the Note feature on my iPhone to write these ideas down. I don’t have time to get back to them, usually, but when I start a new short story, I sometimes use them to jumpstart a tale. The last short story I wrote was inspired by a short story by Ray Bradbury, and I’m happy to say I’m continuing to lean on his work for inspiration.

What is something you are not good at doing?

I used to be really good at playing tennis, or seeing the complexity in design, arranging things, putting jigsaw puzzles together. After thirty years of doing this for friends, this has led me to finally take on Development/Content Editing and Author Consultation for my new business: The Author’s Advocate. It’s strictly word of mouth and for those past the very beginning of their careers, or for those who have mastered the writing part and need someone to simply look at their story to see if it works. Often, a story needs some bit of revision, and editing is the best yet most frightening or loathed part of the writing life for most authors.

What message do you want readers to get from reading HARK?

I hope readers view the stories in HARK as a wonderful addition to the holiday, that the stories resonate with those who sometimes don’t feel the forced charm of Christmastime yet also cherish it nonetheless.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play way too much Plants VS. Zombies/Heroes on my iPad! And I’m on Social Media too much too, something I’m going to lessen in the next year. I watch a lot of great television, The Fall, Orphan Black, reruns of Buffy . . . and love complex and intelligent films like The Invitation, and Michael Clayton.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Brave your inner fears and finally allow your writing to be published. I did this after not doing so for many years. I’m once more submitting short fiction to journals, after a long absence. I gave my stories to friends to read and they never felt enthusiastic about them—so I believed this to be true. Finally, I put a few stories on my writing blog, something I continue to do—go read two weekly serials I have going there, A Play Demonic and The Volunteer—and received feedback slowly. A year later I had enough for my first collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories. Six months later, this indie collection was reviewed in The Huffington Post, and a small publisher contacted me about publishing the paperback version. This paperback came out in 2013 and the book was one of the Best Books of 2013 in the Suspense Anthology category by Suspense Magazine. This was a huge honor. Sandcastle was also a Finalist for the 2014 Ohioana Fiction Award, chosen out of over 400 books by Ohio authors or books set in Ohio! I haven’t stopped writing and publishing what I write, even if it isn’t for those early readers who weren’t enthusiastic about reading dark literary fiction. Books will find the right audience.

What are your favorite characters that you have created?

I love Brenda because she is a complex terrible person who acts out one cheerful day at the beach in the title story, Sandcastle, in Sandcastle and Other Stories. What she does is heinous, but I’ve had a few readers who viewed her actions as understandable. It’s a shocking tale. I also really love Deepika, in my novel, Wake Me Up. Deepika is a writer as well, from northern India, who is teaching at the same college as the narrator’s mother. She is the other woman in the narrative, and is the catalyst for much of what develops. She also begins to write stories based on the narrator and his family, what horrible things happen to them, and she hopes for possible redemption.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your teenage self?

Keep writing and submitting your work. Even then. Do it, and do it like your life would end the next day.

Purchase Justin Bog’s novels

If you buy the paperback version of any book, the kindle version is free!

unnamed-1 unnamed-2 unnamed-3















Within Hark: A Christmas Collection, a retired police officer faces another Christmas Eve while bitter recollections haunt his every turn, a lonely businesswoman plans to seduce Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, a widow grows anxious searching for a misplaced present she intended to send to her ungrateful sister, a stubborn and brave woman can’t keep the images of her past—these ghosts—from haunting the life she chooses to live; while attending a Christmas party in Sun Valley, Idaho, a bookstore clerk and his partner are taught a lesson most un-holiday-like, and, in the final story, a couple portrays Mr. & Mrs. Claus in their small island town’s holiday festivities and face a grim diagnosis together.

Connect with Justin Bog

Amazon Author Page:

Justin Bog Author page on Facebook (please hit the like button!):

The Author’s Advocate page on Facebook:

Justin Bog A Writer’s Life Blog (please sign up for a newsletter there!):

Twitter name @JustinBog:



Comments are closed.