Justin A. Edison has been writing
fiction and stories for twenty-odd years. A graduate of the Evansville and Hamline writing programs, he counts among his adventures a rocking semester at Harlaxton (in the British Midlands) and a tour of the Czech Republic. His pursuits include hiking, Web
site design, trying to fix the world (in too many ways) and playing soccer (rather poorly). He lives in the Seattle area with his wife, two energetic kids and a vocal cat.
The Churning is his second novel.
contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote? I started when I was a kid, writing sci-fi adventures and stuff about Transformers
robots and the like. Not very intellectual, and not a whole lot of science, of course. Then it was a bunch of fantasy stuff, coupled with the dreams of being paid (enough) to write such books. I’ve always liked sharing stories. Fortunately, over time,
I progressed to telling tales that people would actually be interested in hearing.
Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words? Football demigod in chains, future cloudy. How’s that?
What was the inspiration
for this book? I loved the idea of an egotistical sports star being held in thrall with no apparent way out. It’s dark and scary, but I knew the meat of the story would come from the hero’s relationships with the villains. These guys
are not bored teenagers with nothing better to do on a Friday night.
Did you do any research for the book? Sure. I have Persian-American family, wonderful people with a rich history. I conducted on-the-pitch research,
of course (I play poorly but understand the game). The feeling of chains and being blindfolded, very scary. Add to it my brief, rewarding time in England—almost as if I was meant to write this book.
What does a typical writing day
involve for you? I get up early and try to hit the desk by 5:30 for a couple hours. Then I put in a few more hours before the kids get home. A good day involves getting out for fresh air/coffee and scribbling pages of notes. Tons of notes.
How do you decide on the names for your characters? I had help with Arman Hessabi’s name. I originally wanted to call him Hazradi (closer to his nickname of Wizard), but that’s really a different background. The others—Fat
Man, Huck, Captain and Kay—they were easy. Other stories are tougher, so I brainstorm until something fits.
Which writers have influenced your own writing? I’d
definitely credit Andre Dubus (II) for dialogue. He was a master. Turow and King and Bowden and Junger have always put me right into the setting—very important. Various fantasy and sci-fi writers for world-building. I guess I draw from all over the place.
What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP? My fourth is called “Endgame.” It’s a war story told from a woman’s perspective. I’m not sure how much credibility the tale’s going to have, but it’s
a book I’ve been taking notes on for 4-5 years. It’s always felt like a natural story, about five people put in a desperate situation.
What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst? If I can cast
aside the doubts and worries (about not being published, ‘wasting time,’ etc.) the writing process itself is wonderful. Brainstorm it, try it out, put yourself in that room or those shoes. As an adult, I once wrote a chapter about a shark incident
and I was afraid to turn off the lights! The worst, of course, is that nagging whisper or laughing bellow that you’ll never amount to anything (as a writer). Hard to silence that one.
Tell us about your travels. A semester in the
U.K., Ireland, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Hawaii. I look forward to more traveling when the kids are older.
Tell us about your childhood. Like a lot of writers (I’ve heard) I grew up rather unhappy, despite an upper middle-class background.
Nobody’s fault, just the way it was. I had an eating problem and an image problem, and writing was as much an outlet as it was a cover for other issues. I could never quite put my finger on what was wrong. I had to learn about conflict the hard way,
and I was a bit of an emotional wreck about it.
Most writers have some quirks – what are yours? The only one I can think of is I pace a lot, making rounds of the kitchen and so forth.
Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop
as you write? I plot them. I made a ton of mistakes (including an entire chucked manuscript) with my first novel. Sometime, yes, I think it would be fun to just start hacking away and see where it goes.
Have you taken any creative writing courses
and would you recommend them? Yes, both a BFA and MFA in writing. Some of the best times were workshops—reading your work aloud (sometimes pretty embarrassing) and listening to others read and have a teacher ask insightful questions. Any
aspiring novelist should take at least a few classes—character, setting, dialogue. Live is much better than online, if you can swing it.
What book(s) are you reading at the moment? I just finished “The Black Count”
and Pessoa’s “Book of Disquiet.” I think “The Beautiful Ruins” is next.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would they be and why? No classics for me. Probably
“Catch-22” for its humor and military madness, “The Kite Runner” for setting and catharsis, and the fifth “Harry Potter” for the dialogue and pure escapism.
Do you have any advice for new writers? It
may be difficult, but you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing and believe in your story. If you can’t start with that, there’s no point going forward.