Write Publish & Impact

Eden’s Exchange talks to @C_W_Schultz #author #interview

C. W. Schultz is the pseudonym for American writer Calen Sifferman, and we met on Twitter just before he was heading overseas. I liked his bio and invited him for an interview.

Please give Calen a warm welcome and add him to your networks.

* * * *

Nice to have you here, Calen. Tell readers about your greatest extravagance.

I’ve been collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia since I was a little kid after seeing a friend’s collection. I just fell in love with the artwork, especially the vintage stuff from the 1940s and 1950s. What makes it such an extravagance is that I don’t even drink soda (and I’ve never done coke)!

I never touch Coke either (both the soda and the other kind). 😉 What is one thing you want to do before you die?

I want to have kids. One boy and one girl. I don’t know the first thing about children, haven’t held a baby in a very long time, don’t think I’ve ever changed a diaper… but I’ve always wanted to be a dad. Just got married in September 2013, so I’m halfway there I guess. I’d also like to earn that Wikipedia article before I’m cremated or six feet under; already got my IMDb credit outta the way!

Nice. What are some of your favorite curse words?

My wife is strangely immune to the utterance of the C-word, so that’s no fun. Pink Floyd has an album called Ummagumma, which is apparently British-slang for the old in-out-in-out; so that word is always fun to dig up if I sense the presence of a Floyd fan.

I love Floyd, and I did not know that! Do you have a motto you live by?

Kick ass and enjoy your riches, or squeeze pennies and cherish your dignity.

That is a new one for me. What makes you laugh, and I mean, REALLY laugh?

I always laugh really hard when a person puts forth a serious effort in impersonating an animal. The reason it never ceases to amuse me is because they always realize how ridiculous they’re being after the damage is already done.

yevalLet’s talk a bit about your writing. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My ideas for stories and characters come from real life events, art (specifically film, literature and music), and random ideas that just pop in my head unprovoked.

What motivates you to write?

I was writing even before I could… well… write! When I was a small child, I’d hand one of my parents a piece of paper and a pencil and ask them to write down a story I would make up. I remember this clearly. If that’s not a sign that I was meant to write, I don’t know what is. Even if I had millions of dollars and spent every single day eating fried chicken and drinking Corona nonstop while sitting on a beach not caring about anything except reapplying sunblock, my mind would still be creating tales no matter how leisurely I would try to be. Whether I have success at writing or not is irrelevant; I’ve always been writing, and I always will be writing… and in a 100 years from now, when I’m long gone, my books will still be on bookshelves. That counts for something, whether you sell one copy or one million copies. That’s something that any writer can take pride and comfort in.

So true, name a few of your favorite authors and books, and why you like them.

Literature is pretty endless, so I’m always excited to read new things. Unfortunately, my eagerness to explore the vastness of literature has kind of prevented me from rereads. Therefore, choosing favorite authors and books has always been tricky for me because my process is to keep moving forward. I think the last time I revisited a novel was View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts when I was a kid; I loved the mystery, the twists and turns, and especially the cat named S.O.B. I’d also like to give props to Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Irvine Welsh’s Marabou Stork Nightmares. Those two authors, and especially those two novels, have encouraged me to go against the norm and to not be afraid to put anything… and I mean ANYTHING!… on paper.

the packWhat part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

The thing I enjoy most about writing novels is the whole creation process (the characters, the conflict, the history). However, I write some pretty heavy stuff and it can get quite draining, so I suppose my least favorite part about being a writer is how emotionally exhausting it can get.

Is it important for you to know the title or ending of a book before you write it?

I always do know the title and ending before I write a book, but I wouldn’t call it “important”; I just know pretty much everything about my novel before I start getting it on paper.

Wow, very interesting. You must be a plotter who outlines.  

Yes, I do a lot of outlining. Sometimes I scribble it in a notebook, other times I create a pretty little itinerary on Word Document, and there are other instances where I just have it all outlined in my head. But I pretty much always baby-step my way from chapter-to-chapter.

Are you working on another book now? 

Yes, I am working on a fourth book entitled A Book About a Film. It deals with a lost film and also a secret society. Unfortunately, I can’t go into any more detail right now. I’m finished with most of my research; the rest is just piecing things together and polishing it up. Hopefully it will be out in 2015. Marketing will be… unique.

Tell us about the genres of your published works. 

My first two books kind of mixed genres, and my current book, Jill, is no exception. Jill is a horror/thriller mixed with some elements of romance. I like to call it a “serial killer soap opera”!

Jill cw schultzWhy should people read Jill?

Horror fans should read it because it’s chilling and extreme. However, putting the edginess aside, the more philosophical reader will appreciate its social commentary and use of symbolism. It’s really a story for anyone who has a strong stomach and an open mind.

How long did it take for you to write it?

Just short of two years. I started writing it in January 2011 and it was released in December 2012.

What inspired you to write it?

One of the things that inspired me to write Jill was my need to create a female villain who I felt could hold up against the male villains I had created in my first two novels. I’m virtually a man raised by women—my mom came from a family of four daughters who were all really close to each other, and my teachers were all women—so, aside my father, all the authority figures in my upbringing were female and, thus, I was raised to appreciate them as strong leaders. By chance, my first two novels just happened to center around male characters, so the female characters were pretty much forced to be secondary. I felt it was overdue that I create just as unique and twisted female characters in my third novel as I had already done with male characters in my first two novels. Jill is by no means a girl-power novel; in fact, it very much mocks the battle-of-the-sexes outlook. But I was really driven to write a genuinely dark disgusting tale that is masterminded by a terrifying female character.

How did you celebrate when you finished your book?

A glass of Pinot Noir, Italian bread dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar, and Pollo al Gorgonzola at Restorante Doria in Seattle’s University District.

Sounds delicious! Let’s have a quick lightning round to finish off.

Aside from people/pets, what is the ONE item you would save if your house was on fire? Home movies and/or photo albums. That stuff’s irreplaceable.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? I just returned from the Philippines. It was my first time and I can’t wait to go back many more times. I’d also like to go to Australia and on an African safari.

Name a food you can eat everyday. Mille-feuille (also known as Napoleons). Those are da bomb! And wash it down with a hot cup of coffee… OMG! Not only could I have that everyday… if that was the only thing I ever ate again I would be more than contented.

Salty or sweet? As long as it tastes good.

Cat/dog/other pet? Birds are the coolest, but I’d say most of them are probably better off in the wild, so no more pet birds for me. I’m eager to get a pug one day, so I do have a soft spot for canines. But still, when it all comes down to it, I’m a cat person. There’s just no way for me to deny it. You have to earn a cat’s affection, thus making them the more rewarding pet.

Favorite style of music? I like all styles of music, but the majority of my music collection consists of classic rock, so we’ll go with that.

Your most guilty pleasure. Two words: Point Break. “Vaya con Dios.”

Favorite season. SPRING! A new beginning. Longer days. Colorful flowers. Fresher air. Easter candy.

Thanks for coming by Eden’s Exchange, Calen, and I wish you continued success in your writing career.

Readers, please find Calen at all his virtual homes and buy his books in e-book and print on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Connect To C.W. Schultz

cw schultz

WebsiteTwitter @C_W_Schultz | Facebook | Goodreads

C. W. Schultz is the pseudonym for American writer Calen Sifferman (born in Seattle, Washington on January 24, 1985). He graduated from Shorecrest High School in 2003 and Shoreline Community College in 2006.

At Shoreline Community College, two of his plays—A Peach in Place (2006) and Drafted (2007)—were workshopped.

On July 5, 2007, Schultz’s debut novel Yeval was released, a psychological-thriller/satire about a man who uses an imaginary monster to see through the eyes of a serial killer in an attempt to stop the crimes from continuing.

Being a major animal lover, Schultz started 2008 with a short-lived blog about bird care for the fallen Seattle Post-Intelligencer called Birdie Basics, with the rest of that year dedicated to writing trivia questions for game-show Eastern Expedition.

In 2010, Schultz published his second novel entitled The Pack, a whodunit thriller about a group of friends getting a little more than they bargained for when they dip their feet in the business of organized crime. Schultz describes it as a tale of book-smarts vs. street-smarts.

On September 7, 2012, Schultz announced that his film Watch would premiere at the Gig Harbor Film Festival on October 21, 2012. The response was favorable, with the film being placed as the First Runner-Up for the Director’s Choice Award for Best Short Film.

In promotion for Watch’s official release, a Kindle Edition of Yeval was released on September 18, 2012. The Pack was released on Kindle on October 26, 2012 (its two year anniversary) in promotion for Jill, his third novel, which was released on Friday, December 7, 2012, on both Kindle and paperback.

Schultz’s short horror story The Stairwell, originally a spec script entitled Echo with Laughter, was released in the eighth issue of Sirens Call Publications in April 2012. The short bio that was included in the release confirmed that Schultz is working on a children’s story that is expected to be part of an ongoing series.

His upcoming fourth book is expected to be released in 2015.

IndieView with C.W. Schultz, author of Jill

… goriness can be offensive. The hardest part about this is that I’m not trying to offend anyone. Violence is a part of the world and therefore violence finds itself in a story. It’s no different than how love and laughter finds itself in a story.

C. W. Schultz – 12 December 2012

The Back Flap

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.

About the book

What is the book about?

My book is about a female serial killer known as Jill, who selects victims that remind her of her father or husband and lures them to their death with her beauty. As the story progresses, her strategy for avoiding capture slowly crumbles, especially after she takes a gamble and befriends one of the detectives on the case in hopes that he will inadvertently feed her information so she can stay one step ahead of investigators.

When did you start writing the book?

Writing for Jill began in January 2011.

How long did it take you to write it?

The first draft of Jill was finished in March 2012, though it went through an exhaustive series of edits that came to an end in about October 2012. For me, the hardest part about writing a book is editing it.

Where did you get the idea from?

My ideas don’t derive from anything in particular. Usually, I’ll mentally create individual characters in unique situations that they find themselves in based on their personality, then I’ll piece together these isolated ideas into one story. By the time I have all my players ready, I’ll already know which one of them is best suited to antagonize and create a meaningful and interesting conflict. It sounds more random than it actually is. Since this is just the way my creative process works, I’ve adapted to this method which actually helps me create a story that unfolds rather smoothly.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Before I write the first word of my book on paper, I already know what the last word will be. Well, metaphorically. Basically, I know my book from beginning to end even before I write it. This may sound like writing is a breeze for me, but it’s not. Ideas in your head are not the same as ideas on paper. When something doesn’t match up the way you thought it would beforehand, you have to: 1) scrap it, 2) change it, or 3) change a bunch of other stuff in your story so it can be used.

Another struggle was content, for a couple reasons. One reason was because goriness can be offensive. The hardest part about this is that I’m not trying to offend anyone. Violence is a part of the world and therefore violence finds itself in a story. It’s no different than how love and laughter finds itself in a story. To me, that’s appropriate. However, making violence more tolerable and/or less senseless than it actually is isn’t how I want to tell my stories. The real question with me when writing a story like this is not Do I cross the line or not?, but rather When is the right time to cross the line and when is it not? To me, there’s no question I’ll be crossing that line, I just can’t do it carelessly because then I’ll just be writing exploitive trash with zero merit.

The second reason content was a struggle was because of the emotional toll. Writing dark stuff can be heavy. I imagine it’s comparable to a method actor escaping into an evil character… a character that thrives on everything the actor stands against. It’s a burden, but it has to be done.

What came easily?

Dialogue came easily in this story. Some stories, dialogue is problematic. I guess it just depends on what the story is and what kinds of characters are interacting.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

This is a question I always get from those closest to me and I’m sure other writers are in the exact same boat. There are no characters that are based on or an interpretation of anyone I know. I may draw a minor trait from someone I know in order to develop a part of the character. For example, my friend Joe Blow has four sons, so I might create a character that has four sons. That’s it. Other than that, the character has no other similarities to Joe Blow.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Stephen King said, “You have to be well-read in order to be well-written.” There is no question it is important for writers to read. One thing that is important to me is to not develop my craft based on the works of someone else. So reading different kinds of things by many different people is something that I think will give me the necessary flexibility to write with confidence and prevent me from recycling my own or someone else’s material. That doesn’t mean you can’t have influences. There have been times when such authors as Bret Easton Ellis and Jack Ketchum have helped me follow through to the end.

Do you have a target reader?

My target reader is adults with a strong stomach and an open mind. Several years ago I would have said my target audience is men because many of the characters in my stories are men and the content tends to be more tolerated by men than women. However, a lot of women have read my previous work and liked it. I’ll tend to show anti-sexism through a misogynist character or I’ll tend to show anti-violence through a deranged psychopath—I let the characters make examples of themselves… I let them dig their own holes through their hatred and weakness. Ultimately, readers find my approach effective.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t necessarily have a process. Perhaps if I slacked and/or procrastinated, I would develop a routine so I could get my work done. But I don’t seem to have that problem. The reason I avoid a process is because I want writing to be enjoyable, not a chore. I’m not saying that those who have a process don’t enjoy writing; I’m just saying that a process for me would be patrolling myself while in the zone of creativity—a place that should have no boundaries or supervision.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes, I outline. I tend to commit to a story when I think I have a unique enough plot worth telling. From there, I decide how the conflict develops (the beginning) and how it resolves (the end). Then I do extensive breakdowns or buildups of how the beginning will ultimately meet the end; this development includes outlining chapters and noting how this particular section helps drive the plot and/or develop the character(s).

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I wait until I am finished. You have to allow some parts of the story to come together on its own, and proofing yourself before you even have a chance to get the next thing on paper will affect things that can fall into place so nicely.

Did you hire a professional editor?


Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Very rarely. Classical music would be the only thing I’d listen to when writing.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I focused more on publishers with Jill.

What made you decide to go Indie? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Definitely gradual. I was open to anything, but after months of exploring my options for this story, I decided to go Indie.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?

I did it myself.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Marketing for Jill will include the first chapter teaser posted free for all to see at my website. Replicas of the main character’s calling card are also available and will be provided with signed copies of my book—those who are interested may go to Free book giveaways at Goodreads will be in the near future. Other interviews are expected. Press conferences are also being considered.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Write because you enjoy it, not because you think telling stories will be a cool job. Literature or anything else that can be considered an art form should not be a part of a get-rich-quick-scheme.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Lake Forest Park, WA.

Where do you live now?

Seattle, WA.

What are you working on now?

2013 will be dedicated to promoting Jill, continuing my film Watch’s festival run, and polishing a bunch of my spec-scripts. Most likely, I will start work on my fourth novel in early 2014, which will hopefully be out by 2015. I also will be traveling to a third world country in the near future, a place where I expect to draw a lot of inspiration.

End of Interview:

Find out more from C.W. Schultz’s website and his profile on Goodreads.

Get your copy of Jill from Amazon US (paper or ebook) or Amazon UK (paper or ebook)

Author Interview-Schultz & Tetreault

A Book About a Film Joanie Chevalier Interview (1)
A Book About a Film Joanie Chevalier Interview (2)

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