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 have some new content out. Ordinarily, I’d let my work speak for itself and that’d be the end of my post. But, because I made it a goal to post more often, and because a lot has happened since my last post, I thought I’d share more than usual, considering some of it will likely affect my work.
For starters, I know I wrote that I have a lot of projects lined up, but several of these may unfortunately never see the light of day. There was one that I got really invested in back in March; and, because I wanted to respect someone else’s request, I ended up putting this project on indefinite hold. It’s a never-say-never type of thing, so there’s hope I can share it with all of you eventually; but, for now, my project will compromise a fellow creator’s project that they’ve been working harder and longer on, so I agreed to put the brakes on mine. Without going into detail, their request is very reasonable… it’s just terrible timing. Yes, there are other projects to work on; but for this one, I was at a point of no return. So, huge bummer. Luckily, this creator is very sympathetic, supportive of my project and understands that me respecting their wishes was a huge sacrifice. When a fellow creator recognizes this, it really softens the blow. So, kudos to them.
I’m also anticipating some scheduling changes, which could interfere with my work/life balance; which, in turn, could interfere with my writing time. It’s never gotten me down before, but I thought I’d point it out just in case there are any unexpected delays.
There’s also been a tragedy in my life. Back in April, I lost a friend to suicide. I rotate through states of sadness, disbelief, and anger. Throughout the coping process, I’ve discovered that I might have a lot to say about this situation that could help others. Once a few months have gone by, maybe I’ll share something more for suicide awareness.
Another piece of bad news is that a loved one of mine got into a car accident. It could’ve been much worse; nonetheless, it’s likely going to be a recovery that I’ll be assisting with for a few months.
I’ll leave you with a piece of good news. There’s a new opportunity that could potentially be a breakthrough for literature, in a world that’s constantly distracted by cellphones, movies, social media and videogames. It’s going to take a few months to determine the success (which is partially why I’m being so vague about it), but if it is, then Whispering of the Autumn Leaves is perfect for the type of format it offers. Regardless of how it turns out, I’ll make sure to continue sending updates on the status of my fifth book’s publication.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. It’s always meant a lot, but during times like these is when it counts the most.
Those who’ve read just one of my books will know, based off of my dark sense of humor, that I’m not optimistic enough to assume things are suddenly going to get better just because 2020 is over. After all, it’s called COVID-19, not COVID-20, so we’re not out of the woods yet. My writings also reveal that I firmly believe that beauty outweighs ugliness, good outweighs bad, and happiness easily outweighs the inevitable (and unavoidable) tragedies. Therefore, even if we don’t go back to normal in 2021… if we made it this far, we’re going to make it.
2020 being over also marks another year of Whispering of the Autumn Leaves being unpublished. Certainly, as my fifth novel moves closer to a release date (whenever that will be), there will be last minute changes. All-in-all, I’m satisfied enough with the manuscript to be itching to share this with the world for almost two-and-a-half years now. Unfortunately, there are more reasons not to release it. For starters, I’m just not convinced people are interested in reading anymore. Any time I point this out to writers, I’m immediately seen as a pariah. My conclusions are based on what I see; too many distractions that have quicker payoffs for entertainment than reading, such as: movies, videogames, the ability to get any song you want right away on Spotify, the concept of “binge-watching” which has turned into a common pastime. This is the world we live in now, for better or for worse. Instead of resisting and being an embittered old man about it, I’m doing my best to embrace the inevitability. Thanks to advances in technology, people can still celebrate the Holidays with their loved ones while also social-distancing by using Skype, Google, Zoom, etc. With progress, however, there are also drawbacks. At this time, due to the state of the world and the lack of demand for literature, it’d be unwise for me to take the next step in releasing Whispering of the Autumn Leaves.
To me, Whispering of the Autumn Leaves is my best work. There was so much of my blood, sweat and tears put into this book. I hope to share it with you some day. In the event I’m stubborn enough to never release it, I’ve given a copy to four people: my wife, my father, my best friend, and one of my wife’s friends. So, Whispering of the Autumn Leaves can never be taken to the grave with me, and they have my permission to publish it if I die before choosing to release it.
In an attempt to stay current, I’ve turned to YouTube as a creative outlet, and it’s honestly been nothing short of fulfilling. The encouragement I’ve received to continue making Mysterious Music episodes is inspiring, plus I’ve also had an opportunity to meet fellow horror-movie fans in response to my Scream content. So, until Whispering of the Autumn Leaves is published, anyone reading this will have plenty of Mysterious Music and Scream episodes to look forward to, as well as other YouTube content which I plan on releasing every first Wednesday of the month, from February–August 2021. As for September 2021 onward… well, that’s the start of autumn, so it might be a good time to revisit the possibility of releasing Whispering of the Autumn Leaves. We’ll see…
Lastly, you can count on more updates at www.cwschultz.com throughout the year. I even gave the website a makeover for the first time in several years. While posts will be more frequent, they’ll probably also be more lighthearted. Before, the site only got a post for something significant; for now, my motivation has shifted to stay in touch and stay writing, regardless of progress. I was partially inspired by a blog called One Day in the Life of Jerome. As of this writing, the blog has been taken over by his son Matthew, after Jerome passed away from COVID-19 in July 2020. Despite his untimely death and having never met him, I found Jerome’s love for life touching. Since you’ll probably agree that my time is better spent writing stories and making videos, I’m unable to commit to a daily blog. So, I’ll use a different line from a similarly titled Beatles song and call it… 4000 Holes.
So, here’s a picture of my cat in a box on the couch. My wife and I wanted to snuggle with her on the couch, but Snowpuff refused to leave her box that was on the floor; so, I instead moved the box to the couch with her in it, and she still refused to leave.
Anyway, we’ll see how long this nonsense lasts. Until next time, stay safe and thanks for visiting www.cwschultz.com!
Today marks the 1,209th day since A Book About a Film was released. 1,209 days represents the longest I’ve ever gone without releasing a novel. Since I feel like I owe you guys one for your continued patience, I decided to not only release a sample chapter of the forthcoming Whispering of the Autumn Leaves, but also make a video of it. Unfortunately, still no release date. Whispering of the Autumn Leaves is very long and complex, and deals with a lot of stories intertwining through multiple dimensions, so there’s a lot of planning needed to avoid knots and ensure the reading experience isn’t too much of a maze.
Thank you for maintaining your interest after such long gaps. Rest assured, I’m doing everything in my power to make it worth the wait. To be continued…
Chapter 3 – The Andles A
A public service article published in the 1231 issue, titled “The Psalterist and the Shawmist”
Monsters have always lurked in the Royal Forest, a vast wooded area crossing into the regions of Denland, Everdirk and Wist Vondorian. It was a story to teach children not to wander far, or help them visualize the unknown evils of the world. Now, however, it appears some of the monsters have emerged from the Royal Forest to kidnap the children.
Within the last few cycles, the amount of missing children has increased. Reports stretch from the Royal Forest’s nearby farmlands like Naidney, all the way into the northern side of Denregal, particularly the Roachill district. Some believe there are hexminors turning children into red-crested jays, the black bird with a flame-red crest. However, these birds aren’t seen nearly as frequently as the rate of disappearing children, thus debunking this theory.
Two men were spotted emerging out of the Royal Forest. One was described as fat and balding, while the other was said to be thin and covered in locks of blond hair. The former cradles the bulky harp instrument of a psaltery; while the other carries the slender flute instrument of a shawm. They’ve been dubbed the Psalterist and the Shawmist. Both tall in stature, their footsteps make for long strides, explaining why witnesses have had difficulty chasing them down when they see a child in their company.
The sound of music can be heard as the Shawmist leads the child back into the Royal Forest’s border of black pine trees, which are so tall, they reach into the clouds on a rainy day. The Psalterist waddles behind his partner-in-crime and their young captive, ensuring the child doesn’t escape the musical trance.
Days later, the child is found in the farmlands, identified only by the clothes he or she was last seen wearing. All that is left is a dry skeleton, as if the child had been dead for decades. Skin and all organs are completely gone, and the bone is as clean as polished ivory.
People believe a witch lives in the Royal Forest, and they named her Ryla Bao. The name comes from the Mirean language the villagers in Naidney use, which is directly translated to Evil-Eyed Lady; “ryl-” meaning “eye”, “-a” meaning feminine, and “bao” meaning “evil”. They say she’s centuries old, and uses black magic to allow the children’s skin and organs to prolong her youth. The younger the child is, the longer it takes her to age again. The Psalterist and the Shawmist are her warlocks, commanded to retrieve her sacrifices.
Many expeditions have been organized in an attempt to save children seen leaving with the warlocks. However, these same expeditions are usually soon abandoned, with the child’s skeleton always turning up days later. While in the Royal Forest, people who have survived the expedition claim to experience spirits speaking to them, as well as strange disorientations that causes nausea and euphoria at the same time. These disorientations greatly affect the sense of direction, resulting in parties traveling in complete circles; as well as a sense of time being paralyzed, with nights seeming to last as quickly as a few minutes or as long as several days. Beasts in the Royal Forest also show signs of ravenousness, with bears, unisaurs and wolves oft attacking and killing members of the search party. The probability of being attacked by an exceptionally aggressive beast has led many to conclude that entry to the Royal Forest is equal to certain death. When King Three of Johnamas Hollied introduced the punishment of Banishment to the Royal Forest back in 978, he had heard the stories of these aggressive animals. Now, with a witch and two warlocks emerging from the haunted woods, the probability of survival lessens and the punishment of Banishment to the Royal Forest is ever crueler.
Because the child’s body usually turns up in the farmlands while the expedition is still in place, horrific bewilderment arises by how the body is discarded without the Psalterist and the Shawmist’s reemergence being noticed. Theories have included an invisibility spell, teleportation or that the children are being led into the Royal Forest and exited through a different path as a diversion. If the entrance to the Royal Forest is just an elaborate distraction, there are plenty of barns and small castles between Naidney and Denregal that the children can be easily taken to. In other words, the Psalterist and the Shawmist might not be just warlocks, they could your neighbor.
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.
For starters, I’m not one for nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I get that same warm feeling everyone else does when encountering a movie, song or show from my childhood (Hulu has Doug, by the way). But when it comes to my creative process, I never look back.
I had considered doing a second edition of Yeval, for its tenth year anniversary, but realized it’s just not in me to do something like that. When writing Yeval, I did the same thing as all my other books; I dedicated myself fully to the project… until publication. Aside from the promotional phase, I completely release myself from the book after publishing. I never wallow in my work after it’s been shared with the world. It’s not that I’m tired of it; it’s the painful obsession of wanting to make revisions over and over. My work would never be published if I gave into this urge. There are always minor tweaks you want to make. Before you know it, it could end up being a completely different story. So, to go back after ten years and do a second edition of Yeval would surely result in me making changes. Then, I’d set myself up for a twentieth anniversary edition, thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth… it’d never end. Maybe some writers are interested in doing this; perhaps it breathes new life into their work. For me, I have no interest.
In saying that, it’s actually not unusual for me to go back and reference excerpts for my portfolio, and when I go back to Yeval, there’s something special about it. I’m sure some people will say, “If you obsess over your work while you’re writing it, why are there grammar errors on page X and again on page Y, and how did you miss the one on page Z?” When it comes to grammar, no writer, regardless of how renowned they are, is free of making mistakes. That’s why there are proofreaders. Even the big publishing houses, with several eyes on one book, still get the occasional error printed. So, I don’t think of grammar as the make-or-break of a book for me. My focus has always been the story, and it always will be. When given the opportunity, I try to adopt the label of “storyteller” over “author” or “writer” because I think the latter two evoke the idea of being a walking talking dictionary and thesaurus. If that’s what a writer is supposed to be, count me out.
There are times where I think it’s necessary to explain myself, but a good majority of the time, I believe my work speaks for itself. Yeval is a great example of this, whether we’re talking about my intentions, creative decisions or grammar errors. Going back and skimming through for good excerpts, I often find myself satisfied by its rawness. There’s no hint of pressure or influence about it. This book was truly indie. I let no criticism hold me back from what I felt was necessary for the story. When it came out in July 2007, my instinct was to be ready to explain myself. As time went on, I matured to the philosophy that if I didn’t put it in the book, then explaining it wasn’t necessary. Every time I go back and flip through the book, I’m afraid I might find something that I wish I would’ve done differently or explained a little better. But I didn’t. When I revisit the random paragraphs or pages (and, rarely, entire chapters) once or twice a year, I remember exactly why I did what I did. For all the life lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years, and all the maturity I’ve done as a writer, I’m very happy that I can go back to my very first book and still confidently stand behind it. Take a guy like Bill Maher, who says he can’t even bring himself to watch his old standup because he thinks it’s so bad and he’s come such a long way. I don’t have that feeling with Yeval.
I guess this means, even ten years gone, I’m still proud of Yeval.
So, that’s about as nostalgic as I’ll ever get. Like I said, I always look forward. In looking forward, I’m gonna throw out some news of what I’ve been working on for the last year because, who knows, it could take another nine months for an update.
In my last post, I mentioned I had moved to the other side of the city. A change in habitat is a big deal for me. I also lost a loved one back in October 2016. With all the adjustments, ups-and-downs, smiles-and-frowns… the chaos of life really influences the writing process. So, I’ve been hard at work with a fifth novel. It’s called The Fall of Peacetime, it’ll be about 150,000 words (my longest work yet) and will likely be released in 2018. The title is a double entendre, so I think an autumn release will be the best move. Even though it’s a medieval fantasy novel (a genre that I’ve personally always loved and respected), the direction I’m taking the story will go hand-in-hand with other horror sub-genres I’ve written about, like: cults, inner-demons and serial killers. Like any artist who wants their craft to grow, I wrote this book intending to appeal to readers of my other books while also broadening my horizons to find a new audience. I think both crowds will be in for a surprise.