Interview with John Castle

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I considered -- and am still considering -- the traditional route. But from what I have heard from friends who are traditionally published, writers who go the traditional route are being paid less at the same time they're asked to do more and more that used to be in the hands of publishers anyhow. The way the math works out for me is, if I'm going to do the work of an indie author anyway, and do it for indie author paychecks, I'll take indie author level editorial control, too.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just started. Ask me again a year from now.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There aren't as many stories out there of the type I like to read. Okay, so by the time I've finished writing one, there's no surprise left in it -- I know whodunit because I decide who done it. Still, there's this: if the stories I like aren't out there in the quantity I want to see, then maybe there are other ladies and gentlemen out there who are missing out on the same kinds of stories. So by putting them out there, maybe I'm making some readers happy. I sure hope so.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. There are two reasons why I write for money besides the one I just laid out in that last question. First, I like to put food in the cupboards. Second, I like the idea that I can spin a yarn for people that'll entertain them. Even in the darkest times, a good story can take some of the weight off a person's shoulders, even if it's just for a little while. That's a worthwhile calling.
What are you working on next?
I've got more parts to My Blood Runs Cold coming up. Also, a horror novella, then a prequel to My Blood Runs Cold, and then the next Rock Dylan novel after that. Beyond that, a dieselpunk novel. I've got a nice, full plate.
Who are your favorite authors?
Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, Spider Robinson, Ray Bradbury -- I could go on, but I think you've spotted the theme: 19th and 20th century masters -- not of the "literary" genre, but good, hearty stuff. Whether it's action, humor, suspense, it's got to keep me turning the pages.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Having to pee, usually. Sorry; if you were looking for something profound, I haven't got it on tap.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading. That, or listening to old time radio programs.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
They're usually from writers in genres I know and like but that I haven't got around to yet. I don't tend to get excited about new stuff unless it's from people I know personally, like Jeffrey X. Martin and Trey Garrison.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yeah, it was absolute crap. Hope I'm allowed to use that word. I started young, before I had much real life experience to draw on, so I wrote a lot of fanfic before the word 'fanfic' had even been coined. It was almost universally garbage. But that's where the journey starts. You read, you write, you throw away what you write, you keep writing until you can stand to read it without wanting to vomit.
What is your writing process?
I tend to get the seminal idea, write it in a scratch pad, and leave it. Sometimes it'll be a whole scene, or a character, or just what seems like a clever title that suggests a story to match its meaning. After the germ of the idea has incubated for a while, I reexamine it. If it doesn't stink, I start fleshing it out. I'm big on structure, but not so tightly focused that it's writing-by-numbers. I outline down to the minute, but then the actual composition is a bit more loose and flexible. After composition is done, the work sits again, maybe for a couple weeks, maybe for a couple months. Then out comes the scalpel and away goes the fat.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first novel I ever read front to back was The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn when I was six years old. I'm not braggin' -- there were parts of it I didn't really grasp on the first reading. I was still getting my reading legs under me when I started it, had 'em by the time I was done.
How do you approach cover design?
I do it myself using an app called Logoist 2. I usually consult the cover art requirements for the marketplace I'm publishing to, whether it's Smashwords or KDP. After I set the canvas dimensions, I'll use another app called Terragen to create a background image, generally a generic landscape or cityscape, with the appropriate lighting and look to fit the mood of the narrative. Then I keep it simple from there -- just text. The title, a subtitle if there is one, my byline, and maybe a tagline if it fits physically and thematically.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I'm going to pass on this question, because the answer might be as different from today next week as it was different from last week today.
What do you read for pleasure?
Generally the same genres I write, hardboiled/noir crime stuff and horror.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Of choice? That would probably be the Kindle Voyage. What's the one I've got because it's all I can afford? Just the plain-Jane Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Blogging, with social media promotion via the Publicize feature on WordPress.
Describe your desk
It's got as many legs as a dog but 100% fewer anuses.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
*Where* didn't influence my writing so much as *with whom.* My family wasn't really supportive at all. And that's just fine. That was really a blessing; they were the very first people I resolved myself to prove wrong.
When did you first start writing?
When I first started it as a hobby I was a teenager. When I first started doing it as a way to earn some money, I was still in my mid twenties.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's a story about a guy who once made a terrible mistake, the worst kind of accidental crime that somebody could possibly have to live with. And he's not sure he can live with it, or that he deserves to live for having done it. So he's in the sort of line where he might not. Live, that is. He's forgotten that, yeah, there's that one unimaginably evil thing he's done -- sure, it was accidental, but that doesn't take the knife out of his heart one little bit -- but there was a whole army of good things, too. Problem is, most of those things, the evil and the good alike, came from the barrel of his gun.
How do you get to the tootsie-roll center of a tootsie-pop?
Same way you get to Carnegie Hall, kid.
Published 2015-02-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

My Blood Runs Cold - Part One: Lost Souls
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 27,930. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Mashups
Former lawman turned gun-for-hire Rock Dylan is a man haunted by a terrible past and troubled by a bleak future. But when the most unusual customer he's encountered yet gives him her business, the investigation of one man's murder may lead to all out war -- and the loss of everyone Rock has ever cared about.