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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Interview: Charles Justiz


How long does it take you to write a book?
In general, it takes six to eight weeks to write the first draft of a book. A good writer can probably write around two thousand words a day. Of course, to get two thousand words, you sometimes have to write ten or fifteen thousand words. Writing is rewriting. At the end of the six to eight week process, I read the book for continuity and accuracy and correct any obvious flaws. Once again, writing is rewriting. I then release the book serially to various editors. I do an edit pass for scientific accuracy, one for grammar, one for character development, and one for structure. Then I rewrite (see above). At this point I'm ready to start submitting it to the publisher's editors. By the way -- more rewriting, at the end of it all, I've got a book that’s been published once but edited at least ten times from cover to cover along with dozens of chapter edits and minor clean ups. If I am lucky, I can push a book out in six months. If not, it can take a couple of years.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I consume every kind of news I can grab and try to understand the interrelationships. Also, I am blessed with a group of family and friends that are incredibly talented and opinionated. I use them as a sounding board for my ideas and to keep me educated on what is going on in the world around us.

What do you think makes a good story?
For me, character drives a good story. If I do not know the characters in a book and am not invested in them -- either by wanting them to succeed or to fail miserably -- the book is flat. I know I’m invested in the characters if I wonder how they are doing while I’m not reading the book. Then I have to have conflict.

Where are you from?
I was born in Miami and was there the whole time through high school with the exception of brief stints in parts of Illinois. I spent ten years in the Air Force where I bounced around a bit. After the Air Force, I moved to Houston where I live today.

How did you come up with the title?
I write thrillers, but I try to stay true to the science, history, and physics of the situation. Also, I have a background in rocket science. Specific Impulse is the title of my first book and implies that the protagonists have been pushed in a direction that is very calculated and not of their choosing. It also has the double meaning as a term that describes a rocket's efficiency. My second book in this series, Mass Fraction, also uses similar double meaning.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
All of my writing looks at the world and at the threats that face us as our science makes each individual more powerful and hence more dangerous. However, I am very techno-optimistic in my outlook, so part of the writing shows the challenges but the rest shows that we can overcome the challenges if they are recognized and addressed.


What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing a credible, strong female lead had me very worried in that I was afraid I would get it wrong. Fortunately, I was married to a very admirably strong woman and was friends with some others -- astronauts, managers, CEOs. They were gracious enough to allow me to pick their brains. It was the only way to get the proper insight. It must have worked as I have had positive feedback about the character of Carin Gonzalez.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Mass Fraction continues the story of Specific Impulse. The protagonists, Carin and Jake, are dying and they are still looking for a cure. The answer they need is based on a science and an understanding of our natural world that far exceeds our own. However, when they get to where they think their remedy lies, they find the culture has regressed to an agrarian subsistence level – think 16th Century Europe -- and is on the brink of a civil war.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
As a writer, you never think your work is perfect. There are always minor tweaks and modifications that would help here and a word choice that would help there. Eventually, a writer just has to release the book to the wild and move on to the next project.

What are your current projects?
I recently sold the screen rights to Specific Impulse to a movie production company. Also, I am writing Mass Fraction, the sequel to Specific Impulse.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is two simple words - every day. You have to write something every single day. On average you should try to put a few thousand words together, but even as few as five hundred words will help. This keeps you sharp and keeps you in the habit of producing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My message is simply, “Thank you very much.” Thank you to my fans for their acceptance of my work and thank you for the spirited and frank discussions. It keeps it fun for me.

*Finally, please include blurb, image cover (attached to email, not embedded into interview), one buy Link and one Website, Twitter and Facebook link if you wish to*

Website:  http://www.charlesjustiz.com/
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/charlesjustiz
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/charlesjustiz

Synopsis:
Space scientist Carin Gonzales and former submarine commander Jake Sabio are two strangers drifting separately through life when a mysterious explosion rocks them together. Now, the after effects have changed them both in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they can see better than before the explosion, other times they can smell more precisely and they move in ways that are clearly impossible. These and other changes come with a price. To make matters worse, everyone else who felt the effects of the explosion is now inexplicably dead.

Time is running out for Gonzales and Sabio. An infection from the explosion is slowly killing them and the Center for Disease Control would like to lock them up in a lab for study. Due to a tenuous string of seemingly unrelated events, Special Agent Will Greenfield wants them for questioning. In addition, contract killer Antonio Crubari would be happy if they would just hurry up and make themselves dead, and he’s willing to speed up that process.

A solution to their dilemma must be found quickly, but the more Gonzales and Sabio look for an answer, the more they are convinced they have run across something never before experienced by humankind. How are they going to resolve their problem when all indications are that the cure is not on our planet?

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