C. W. Schultz was interviewed by Write Publish & Impact, a writing circle of authors and editors from Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Here is an excerpt of the interview from September 12, 2021.
I was looking over some of the previous posts and noticed there was only one update in 2016 and 2017 each. In these posts, I even mention the rarity of an update; but after actually looking at some of the dates, it makes me realize how much time has gone between delivering news. Hopefully there will be more posts in 2018; however, it’s important to me to never cry wolf. The idea of posting just for the sake of it is a real turn off for me. It actually takes the fun out of sharing news on my writing. So, please know that, even though I don’t post very often, I’m always working; and make special note that when I do post something, it’s for good reason, and not done just for the sake of it.
The big news right now is, after coming to terms with it for several months, the release of The Fall of Peacetime will be postponed from Fall 2018 to Fall 2019. The next several months will be dedicated to revisions, but it’s gone from 150,000 to 170,000 words. This is almost the length of my last two releases (Jill and A Book About a Film) combined, so my premiere estimation was a bit off, since Fall of Peacetime is bigger than anything I’ve written to date. They say, “Good things come to those who wait”, and I’ve noticed the story getting better and better the more I work on it; so the longer it takes, the more confidence I have with this book’s quality.
To hold you over, I really recommend you read some Jack Ketchum. If my writing has interested you enough to visit CWSchultz.com, I can’t imagine how taken you’ll be with Ketchum’s work. Sadly, Ketchum died this week. It’s always hard to lose someone who has played a role in your craft, but it’s salt-in-the-wound when they pass away on your birthday, as Ketchum did. While I may not have known his bibliography backwards, my second novel The Pack and many of my short stories would not have existed without such influences as Peaceable Kingdom and The Girl Next Door. To me, there’s no bigger thanks to a writer than to recommend his/her work to someone else. I hope when my time comes, someone else out there will think highly enough of my books to do the same.
It’s been over 10 months since a website update. I think that’s the longest www.cwschultz.com has gone since its launch back in October 2011. Oh, that’s another thing, Happy 5 Years to the website! If all continues to go well, I look forward to another five years with updates on a more frequent basis.
While the updates have been scarce lately, this shouldn’t imply that I haven’t been hard at work. Sure, there’s been a few distractions. Mainly, Snowpuff, the Wife and I have gone from renting an overpriced 650 square foot apartment in the University District to practically stealing (though we legally bought it) the perfect home in West Seattle. And yes, this is great news, but those of you who’ve spent a lot of time in both the University District and West Seattle will understand that it is necessary to just take some time and acclimate.
But even with the change from U-District to Dub-Sea, I refused to allow the creativity to rust. Most of late-2015 and early-2016 was dedicated to promoting my fourth book, A Book About a Film, which received the most promotion out of all my publications, and I’m happy to say was met with very kind words from the folks patient enough to push through it.
Mid-2016, was the start of a fifth novel inspired by the Voynich manuscript, which failed after about four weeks of work and has since been scrapped. But that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. Keep in mind, I’ve been known to salvage unrealized projects before. Let’s not forget that Yeval was originally a screenplay that was eventually scrapped mainly due to length (having added the internal monologue and elements of transgressive fiction afterwards, when I realized I’d get more attention and satisfaction out of the story being more of an ugly art piece rather than dark entertainment, though I secretly wanted it to be both); and Echo with Laughter was a script rejected by a director/friend/producer for being too “on the nose”, but I ended up turning it into a short-story and Sirens Call Publications published it as The Stairwell. And then, of course, there’s A Book About a Film, that got several false starts between 2010–2014. So, if this Voynich manuscript idea sounds appealing to you, never say never.
But even though that particular “fifth novel” didn’t work out doesn’t mean there’s not another fifth novel in the works. In fact, that’s my main motivation for posting this today. Two chapters and a prologue have been completed, and while this is not deep enough to the point of no return, I’ve written over 17,000 words of internal notes; so, I technically have half a novel’s worth down, so I do think it’s a bit far to turn back. Plus, this was the story I’ve been wanting to write for several years, but have forced myself to hold off. Maybe that’s why the Voynich manuscript idea didn’t work out; maybe I’m simply far more passionate about this current idea than the Voynich one.
So what’s this big passionate idea I have? Isn’t it better to keep you in suspense? No? Well, I respectfully disagree, but I’ll compromise and share some details wit-cha. I’m going back to the first-person narrative. I know, I know, there are a lot of limitations, but I think it’s best for the story. So far, I’ve written four books, my first two in the first-person (Yeval and The Pack) and my most recent two in the third person omniscient (Jill, very omniscient; and A Book About a Film); I’m digging back into the style of my early days of publication, already almost 10 years ago, of first person narration. But like with every new story I write, I want to do it differently. Instead of having one main character narrating the story (props to Randy Mulray and Siggy Farris), I’m going to have several different characters tell their story, which takes place during the buildup of a great war (with an obvious war-is-not-great moral, but I’ll try not to be cliché about it); a writing style that first got my attention when reading Chuck Palahniuk‘s Snuff.
As for when you’ll get to read this work all depends on how long it takes me to write it, which in turn depends on how long it is. I’ve been pretty accurate with my release date estimations but have a tendency to overestimate my word count during the writing process. Right now, it looks like I’m on track to meet my one-novel-every-three-years average (so late-2018), with a likely length of 125,000 words. Before finishing the first chapter, I thought all my ideas would result in a read far more dense, like 300,000 words; but, like with my other books, when I get the ideas on paper, I like to keep things tight. I don’t like a moment of boredom, or a single word to go to waste. An editor for Jill once told me I had so much going on so quickly—a statement I couldn’t deny, originally planning to divide the story into 2–4 separate books—but I refused the suggestion to fluff my material. Reading takes time and it’s very easy to get bored. A reader should be entertained from the first word to the last; and there should be things underneath the surface, between the lines, so the reader is motivated to come back and discover something that wasn’t there the first time. So, will this fifth novel that’s gone from 300,000 words down to 125,000 words perhaps go lower? I doubt it, because unlike Jill, which was a beginning, middle and an end that I thought could be so expansive that I’d have to divide it up; this fifth novel is a beginning, middle and end to the start of a great war. Will I want to write about the war itself and the aftermath of it? Maybe, but that would be two different books. And while I’ve said before that I generally find sequels unnecessary, a sequel(s) to novel #5 might be necessary.
But here’s a critical thing: I don’t want to be that writer who just publishes book after book, as if it’s the size of the bibliography that counts instead of the actual stories. While I don’t think of my work in terms of good or bad (that’s the reader’s job, not the writer’s), my books mean a lot to me and I intend that each of them continue to count for something. A day won’t come when I do this strictly for money or the size of my bibliography or to stay relevant, etc. I write because it makes me happy; sometimes it’s therapeutic, other times I simply just want to write. If the day comes when I stop loving it, I won’t force some piece of tripe into the world. Like I said, reading is hard. It takes time and patience. To present to the world a story so insincere is, to me, a writer’s greatest crime.
I’m not saying I’ve published masterpieces. Again, it’s up to the reader to decide good or bad, not the writer. I fully admit that the grammar Nazis would have a field day with me. But only someone who has absolutely no creative backbone could think that something not printed through those huge publishing houses (most of which have at least a couple of errors of their own) could be free of any grammar issues. There’s a difference between presentable and quality. One is polished, the other may be something that’s tarnished; but many times, the latter has more heart. And despite any shortcomings I have as a writer (like shamelessly starting sentences with “and” and “but”), my work always comes from the heart. And while the criticizers say some pretty funny things, it’s those that enjoyed my books and write me about it who make this all worthwhile. Chef Ben Shewry once told himself after he received one of his first compliments, “[I]f there’s one table that likes it, there will be others.” I don’t see why the same doesn’t go for books.
So even though I write because I love it, it’s the kind words of those who took the time to send me compliments that keeps me going. And, with that said, I’ll get back to writing.
At home, Rachel Rhodes is a mother and wife. At work, she is a manager. At night, she is the infamous serial killer known only as Jill. Her secret will eventually affect everyone in her life, from her family members to the detectives investigating the case.
Luck starts off on her side as she befriends heartbroken detective Cole Dale, who’s an important link to the investigation. However, that luck seems to fade when Rachel meets Cole’s partner, an unorthodox and mentally unstable detective, Perry Charleton, driven by personal reasons to stop Jill using any means necessary.
The novel is told in an omniscient narrative style, allowing the story to have a hauntingly neutral perspective which disguises everything as it progresses and leaves no room for predictability, entangling the reader in a web of evil. Layered with symbolism and motifs, leaving the story to come together like a puzzle through the characters’ actions and interactions; its themes deal with such issues as dysfunction, impressionability and influence, sexism, racism and even humiliation.
As with any C. W. Schultz novel, Jill is a study in candor. The author himself calls Jill “a serial killer soap opera” as Rachel seeks the romantic, fairy tale ending that only a deranged woman would believe possible after the things she has done.
Chapter 1 Teaser
WARNING: The following contains strong language, sexuality and violence that may be offensive to some…
Though this is nothing compared to the rest of the book. >;]
THE CLUB WAS BUSY FOR A WEDNESDAY EVENING.
Jacob Hansen observed this when he was halfway through his second martini and realized Colin Owen had not said more than “Dirty martini, Jake?” and “Another?”
Colin had been the bartender at Club Blue since new ownership took over a year ago. For the past three-and-a-half months Jacob had been coming in a couple times a week, usually on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. It was easier to pick up a woman when there wasn’t a crowd.
The typical woman at Club Blue was in her early twenties, slender built, usually tall, and always wild. Jake, however, was happy even with a woman slightly below par.
Tonight was unusually wild. Plenty of guys for the hotties to choose from which only reduced Jake’s chances.
“Hey, buddy,” Colin said as the bar began to die down.
“Colin,” Jake replied. “Busy night. What gives?”
Colin shrugged. “Business is business.”
“It looks like it’s slowing down a bit.”
“Shh. Don’t jinx it.”
“I thought business was business.”
“I won’t complain when it’s busy,” Colin began while wiping the counter. “That doesn’t mean I don’t prefer the down time.”
“Not so fast,” Jake said, then guzzled the rest of his martini and placed the glass where Colin had just wiped.
“What? You don’t want my company?” Colin teased, smiling as he swooped the glass closer to him. “For a guy who doesn’t want company, you sure look unhappy sitting here by yourself.”
A woman of 43—twice the age of most of the girls at Club Blue, but twice as beautiful—took a seat at the bar a couple of stools away from Jake.
He observed the few faint freckles on her face.
Cute, he thought.
He noticed a few more freckles on her neck, and even a few on her cleavage which she was obviously flaunting.
Look at those things! DDs, maybe even E-cups. Definitely at least Ds. I know who I’ll be thinking about if I go home alone tonight.
Jake was about to turn to Colin and say something like, “I’m not sitting by myself anymore, smartass,” but noticed that Colin had been pulled away by other customers.
Colin took their order, slid Jake his martini, and then prepared to make a couple of drinks for the people who just paid.
“Dark in here,” Jake observed.
Colin just shrugged.
“It’s getting busy again,” Jake pointed out, taking a sip of his third Martini.
“Looks like you jinxed me,” Colin replied as he mixed a margarita.
“May I have a dirty martini when you get the chance, please?” the woman asked.
“And put it on my tab,” added Jake.
Colin looked up from mixing the margarita and glanced briefly at the woman.
After Colin delivered the customers their drinks, he started on her martini.
“Thank you,” she said to Jake. “I’m Rachel.”
After the excitement of Rachel not rejecting Jake’s offer, he felt himself begin to blush. To avoid revealing how nervous he was, he said the first thing on his mind. “Aren’t you a little old for this club?”
You moron, Jake thought at the same time Colin raised his eyebrows.
Surprisingly, Rachel just laughed.
Is she laughing at me? “What I mean is… I felt like the only mature person in here. Then you came along and now I don’t feel so alone.”
“How old do you think I am?” she chuckled playfully.
“Old enough for me not to feel like a creep for buying you a drink.”
Rachel laughed again and then thanked Colin as he set the martini in front of her.
“What’s your name?” Rachel asked.
“I’m Jake. You from around here?”
“Actually, no.” She took a sip. “I’m actually from Portland on business.”
“Ah-ha. What do you do?”
“I started Flickerless Candle Co. Pretty much just a scented candle business. Small, but popular in Oregon and Northern California. Maybe Seattle might want some of my candles.”
“What do you do?”
“CEO of Sunrise Coffee.”
“You’ve heard of us?”
“I’m surprised, we only distribute in Washington.”
Rachel guzzled her Martini.
“Another?” offered Jake.
“I want a smoke.” Rachel pulled a pack of cigarettes from the little black purse that matched her hair and dress perfectly. The green color on the Marlboro Menthol 100’s pack matched her eyes that had already been matching the ring on her right-pinkie with an emerald-stone. Jake noticed this and thought black and green have never gone together better. “You smoke?”
“No,” Jake replied.
“Wait here while I smoke?”
“Or, you can keep me company outside.”
“Maybe I’ll bum one of those,” Jake said, feeling a bit useless just standing in the cold watching Rachel smoke.
Rachel opened her purse and handed him a smoke and lit it for him.
“I quit about four years ago,” Jake said, taking the first puff.
“Yeah? How does it taste?”
“Not good anymore.”
They shared a laugh.
Jake kneeled down and crushed the cherry gently. He stood up again and handed the dead cigarette back to Rachel. Aside from the blackened front and a faint yellowish inside the filter, the cigarette was in pretty good shape.
“Don’t mean to be rude,” he said bashfully.
“That’s okay. Don’t smoke it if you don’t want it. I’ll have it later.” She smiled and took it, digging into her purse again for the pack.
“I don’t mind standing out here with you,” Jake began. “But if you want, I can go back inside and order us another drink.”
“Wanna take this party somewhere else?” she suggested in a natural tone.
Jake was surprised at how perfect and easily things were falling into place. “Yeah,” he replied.
“You’ve had a little too much to drink. My motel room is about a block away. The Sunhill Motel. Room five.”
“Sure,” Jake replied, failing to disguise the happiness in his voice.
“Okay. I’ll head over now. Pay the tab and meet me there. You can pick up your car later tonight. Or tomorrow morning.”
Jake arrived at the Sunhill Motel almost twenty minutes later. He told Colin that he was going to leave his car in the lot until morning and to not have it towed. Jake slipped Colin $20, but Colin waved it off.
Jake insisted and added the $20 to his tab. Colin shrugged and said, “This one’s on the house.” He put a martini in front of Jake. He couldn’t resist.
Jake guzzled it. “Thanks. This will make me less nervous. I don’t know if I’ve ever been with a woman this beautiful.”
“Good for you, buddy,” replied Colin. “Wish I would’ve gotten a better look at her. It’s been damn busy. You jinxed me.”
Everything was going great. The last martini kicked in as he walked up the driveway to the one story motel.
There were 12 rooms, each with its own parking space in front of the door.
Jake found room five on the west side. No car was parked in front, but the lights were on.
Maybe I can give her a ride tomorrow. Keep this thing going.
Jake knocked on the door.
“Jake?” Rachel called.
“Come in. I’m just picking up a little. It’s unlocked.”
Jake turned the knob and entered.
He looked around the room. There was a TV to the left, the bed and nightstand to the right, and the bathroom adjacent to the door.
Typical motel room. He didn’t see Rachel anywhere. Where is she?
He saw movement out of the corner of his left eye.
He turned and saw Rachel approaching.
Jake awoke, staring at the stained yellowish-brown ceiling, the result of years of cigarette smoke.
It took him a while to realize what was going on, but it all sunk in when he noticed from the puffiness and strange mixture of numbness and soreness that his left brow was swollen. Pain became full-blown and he was then able to comprehend the extent of his injury—the shock had gone and the seriousness of what had just happened began to kick in.
He looked around the room and saw Rachel sitting on a chair next to the bed, smoking and watching TV.
“My eye,” Jake moaned, still in a bit of a daze, trying to communicate to Rachel that he was hurt.
When he moved to touch the wound, he realized that his arms and legs were tied to each of the bed posts with shoe string.
“Oh, you’re up,” Rachel said and turned off the TV.
Jake realized how calm Rachel was and hoped, Maybe this is just some kinky shit.
Rachel stood up and grabbed a syringe off the nightstand, shoving the needle into the side of Jake’s neck without hesitation.
Solid and heavy were the only two sensations Jake could convey. He felt like he was turning into stone.
“The Norcuron works pretty quickly,” Rachel said as she slipped the syringe in a medical bag, also black, next to her purse under the chair. “You’ll be paralyzed but capable of feeling. This is the ultra-torture accessory. A must have for any serial killer.”
Jake suddenly realized what was happening and began to scream, but deep moans were all that came out and before long, the moans turned into quick periodic gasps.
“I don’t like men,” she explained as she slipped on a pair of black leather gloves. “My father would fuck any woman in sight, and I ended up marrying a man just like him. My brother and my son will not be like them. Unfortunately, my brother contracted HIV from a blood transfusion about 15 years ago. The tragedy bestowed on one of the only men I actually love fills me with an indescribable rage. Nice guys do finish last… until I get involved.” She enjoyed giving all her victims her life story. Allowing the victim to understand the root of her anger robbed them of any hope that they might survive—they would understand she had no intention of not following through. Her brevity and matter-of-factness made it clear to Jake that he was not the first man to hear this tale.
Rachel picked up a hammer. It had Jake’s blood on it.
“I can’t take my anger out on my father because he’s dead, and I can’t take it out on my husband not only because he’s the father of my children but also an obvious tie to me, so you’ll take their place. You’ll be their substitute. You’re the next best thing.”
Rachel waved the hammer over Jake’s fully clothed crotch, as if contemplating exactly what angle to use.
“Most man-haters would love to devour a cock and balls, but me, I have more original tastes,” she said, pulling the hammer away.
Jake wondered what a “man-hater” would choose over that.
Rachel picked up her purse, removed a knife from it and then casually set it on the nightstand alongside the medical bag.
“My first victim was actually a castration,” she said as she stared at the reflection of herself in the clean silver blade, gently brushing her bangs away from her eyes. “It was boring. He expected it.”
She climbed on top of Jake’s limp body, reaching over to the nightstand for the hammer and laying it down next to him.
She leaned in close enough to kiss him, and said, “I wanna see you without a…
Critical response has been mixed.
However, IndieReader gives Jill a rather negative review. Schultz’s approach of showing murder as an act of insecurity and moral-weakness by a shallow killer—drawing inspiration from real serial killers—did not sit well with IndieReader, who said: “Rachel kills simply because some men have hurt her, her brother was favored over her, and therefore she hates men. Some additional internal conflict or complexity might serve the purpose of making the murderer, and thus the murders, more interesting.” No lenience was given for the book’s intended soap-operatic direction, with some characters’ behavior being called “pretty inexplicable.” The book’s matter-of-factly and neutral narrative also seemed to bother the reviewer, who said: “The book can also be fairly heavy-handed in its moralizing, spelling out directly morals and judgments that would be more effective if readers were left to infer them.” Despite the panning ★½ (out of five) review, the IndieReader was not without compliments, calling Jill “lively”, “full of events” and “never dull”. They also called Perry Charleton (Schultz’s favorite character of his own creation) “surprisingly likeable, and his personality rather takes over the book whenever he’s in it.”
While Schultz has said he will never play favorites with his stories, he has not done the same with his characters, stating that Detective Perry Charleton is by far his favorite character that he has created.
Author Eden Baylee has a very cool blog which features lots of talented authors and excellent new releases. This week she features Schultz’s recently released A Book About a Film, which is the second time he has appeared on Baylee’s site—he was first interviewed by her shortly after Jill’s release. If you are a lit buff, check out her site and titles.
Got any books released after the 1980s on your bookshelf? Maybe something by Stephen King? Jack Ketchum? George R. R. Martin? Of course you do. Go ahead and grab one, and take a look either on the back cover or the first couple of pages. Odds are, there will be an excerpt from Kirkus Reviews. Well, they had a chance to read A Book About a Film and had some pretty nice things say. Read the full review below, and stay tuned for more as September 8th approaches.
Schultz’s (Jill, 2012, etc.) novel looks at the apocrypha surrounding an infamous lost film.
In this metafictional work, a fictionalized version of the author describes a film that he claims is real, although he acknowledges that many people believe it to be an urban legend. At the same time, he attempts to publish this account with a fictional publisher. If the plot sounds tangled, that’s sort of the point, as this novel is set in the underground world of rare, lost, and legendary independent films, where the smoke and mirrors surrounding a movie can prove more deceptive than those used to make it. The film, known as The Cornfield People, among other titles, is a low-budget neo-noir shot between 1999 and 2001. It follows a journalist at a paranormal publication investigating the eponymous secret society, which is willing to go to great lengths to protect their esoteric knowledge of life and death. The book opens with a foreword explaining that this book is actually the second edition of A Book About a Film, the first having been so explosive that the publisher was forced to redact it, due to an apparent shadowy conspiracy working to keep all knowledge of the film from the public. Even so, “there are still many out there who object to this version as well, as they believe what is reported in these texts are a threat to everyone,” says the foreword’s author. Schultz then offers an annotated, scene-by-scene account of the film, along with supplementary materials; the texts become progressively more sinister as the film’s plot begins to bleed into events of the “real” world. Overall, the novel’s conceit is rather ingenious. However, the author unfortunately gets in his own way when it comes to its execution. The story’s tension is undercut by its jocular tone, and the author isn’t enough of a skilled ventriloquist to successfully mimic the array of critics and film experts whose quotes populate the text. Additionally, the film at the center of book simply isn’t persuasive enough to support all the marginalia. Although this book is fun at times, readers will be left wishing that it had just a bit more polish.
A story with a great premise that never quite takes flight.