Folks, I’m here today with my buddy Justin M. Woodward. He’s that dude in the picture. You see him, right? If you’re seeing a picture that’s in color, it’s probably because you’re somewhere off the window and you’re not looking at the black and white picture directly next to this text. Got it now?
So read below and learn a little bit about Justin M. Woodward!
JZ: So, Justin M. Woodward, we meet again. Not as friend or foe, but as interviewer and interviewee. But the only question is who is who?
Justin: Maybe we can let the readers decide that?
JZ: Oh snap. Well, let’s get to it then, all right? Justin, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing your coming book, Tamer Animals, but you’ve also just released another book, Candy. Care to tell us a little about both?
Justin: Of course. Tamer Animals is the second book I wrote. I started working on it pretty much immediately after finishing my first novel, The Variant. Tamer Animals follows a group of teens who go camping near the Coheelee Creek covered bridge, a place that is said to be haunted by ghosts. But what the boys find in those woods is much more sinister. Tamer Animals was picked up by Bloodshot Books in the fall of 2017 with a mid to late 2018 release date. Since I had already talked up the book so much, my regular readers were ready for it right then, so I posted a poll in the group my fans made for me, Justin M. Woodward Fan Club. I asked if there would be any interest in a serial story (I wanted to give my fans something to keep them interested in my writing, I wanted to stay relevant) and there was interest, so Candy was born. I didn’t have any idea where the story of Candy would go, and I released the first chapter only two days after the initial post about a serial story. I knew I wanted to do a punchy neo-noir comedy style story. Something fun, crazy, bloody, and unpredictable. I think I succeeded.
JZ: You wrote Candy in a very non-traditional way to go about it. Care to talk about the experience?
Justin: I really wanted to stay in front of my readers. I was thinking about how some writers will go two, three years between releases, and while that may work out fine for big-time authors, I can’t afford to be “forgotten” like that. I’m extremely interactive with my fans, and I wanted to create an experience that we could all go through together. I released Candy on Wattpad, one chapter every Saturday, until the story was done.
I found this way of writing interesting because I was forced to write whether I felt like it or not, I promised my readers a chapter a week, and that’s what I did. And it worked wonderfully. I asked my readers questions. I asked their opinions. Once, when I hit a wall, I asked my most helpful reader and critic, Judy, to give me a completely random word to work with. She said “yo-yo.” Readers of Candy will know the importance of that word in the story. This is why Candy is so special to me. She is a part of me, and I feel like she may be a part of my readers, too.
JZ: Your books The Variant, Candy, and Tamer Animals are all three very different books. What drew you to write in three different genres?
Justin: What draws other authors not to write in different genres? Seriously though, I never saw myself as a “horror writer” or any other particular label. I wrote The Variant with no intention of it being any certain type of genre. I just started putting words on paper, as usual. When I began writing Tamer Animals, I was making a statement which just happened to fit well into the horror genre, so I went all-in and made it full-fledged horror. And with Candy, I really just wanted to have something quirky, smart, and fun. I understand the importance of being a consistent genre writer, but to this point, I have no plans of locking into one field.
JZ: Who are your favorite writers and why?
Justin: I was thinking about this question yesterday. I honestly couldn’t pick a top three or a top five, or even ten, because it’s ever-changing. I would have to say that Chuck Palahniuk is very important to me. He is my number-one source of inspiration for all three books I’ve written so far. His style intrigued me so much in my teens that I couldn’t get enough of it. I devoured his works and I really attribute him pretty highly to my being a writer.
Stephen King, of course, is brilliant, and I can’t imagine what the world would be like without his stories, honestly. I could say more, but everyone knows about Uncle Steve.
And Neil Gaiman is one who I’ve really grown to love in my late twenties, with The Graveyard Book being my favorite by far. I would have to say that Neil is my biggest inspiration for the novella I’m writing now, which is tentatively titled A Boy Brushed Red (you heard it here first).
JZ: Well we have two books dropping from you in two months, but that’s certainly not enough to sate the Justin M. Woodward fan club I’m sure. What’s next in line?
Justin: I’ve been working on an all-ages urban fantasy novella for a publisher who I can’t name just yet. Hopefully I can say more on that soon. I’m also about 40% done with my first short story collection. Which, in contrast to the aforementioned novella, is my darkest work yet, by far. Just wait until you read Taking up Carpentry.
JZ: Okay, now onto the most important question, basically all that other crap was just warm up, all right? What inspires you?
Justin: Go to hell, J.Z. Just kidding, mostly. Well, my son Nathan was the driving force behind The Variant. 100% no doubt about that. In general, I’m inspired heavily by music, mainly the feeling of a certain song, or a title. Take my short story on Wattpad, Smile Like You Mean It, for example. The Killers’ song about love has such a creepy vibe to it, that every time I would hear it, the chorus of “Smile like you mean it” followed by the trippy, space-synth just evoked a feeling in me. Something sparked in my imagination, and suddenly, Brandon Flowers wasn’t asking, he was demanding. A lot of my stories are based on song titles, and I think a lot of writers do that.
Thanks for having me!
That’s a wrap folks, click HERE to check out Candy!
You can find Justin M. Woodward here on the following places: