I love studying the hubris of man, how we rise and fall throughout our lives—me included. I also love to observe people, listen to what they are saying to each other in a group or how someone speaks to someone on a cell phone out in the open. Usually this bugs others, but at times it’s like live theater, especially if the person talking on the cell says startling things in the presence of strangers.
Wake Me Up is a psychological family drama that centers on a crime and the fallout afterwards in Missoula, Montana. It has just passed through another copyedit and it will soon be ready to publish. The pub date I’m reaching for (with Green Darner Press again, a publishing company that helped see Sandcastle and Other Stories and The Conversationalist, my first two books, reach new audiences) is September, right before another election. Wake Me Up takes place in October 2004 before the Presidential election. If you remember, there was, beyond the usual back and forth battles between the contenders and their parties, a heavy emphasis on social issues. Several states changed their constitutions to define marriage. Now, ten years later, so many states, and our own federal government, are peeling away these dark moments in our country’s past. Ten years is not a long or short amount of time for progress—it’s the right amount of time, but looking back through the characters’ eyes in Wake Me Up, there is still a lot of fear and worry, secrets and brewing scandal, and a crime that rocks the people living in Missoula, Montana begins to shake up the status quo. It was a challenging book to write, and I hope you will want to read it when it hits bookstore shelves later this year. Enjoy these details about Wake Me Up.
1. What is the working title of your book? Wake Me Up
Up above is a mock-up of the Wake Me Up book cover, which will not be used, but I like it, the mirrored images at play, light and dark. As you can see by this cover, designed a few years ago now, I had yet to finalize my new pen name. G. Justin Bogdanovitch morphed into Justin Bog (read all about why I decided to change my name by clicking HERE). The new Wake Me Up cover art will be designed using this painting by my father, a painting I call Ocean Boy. Hope you like this reveal:
2. Where did the idea come from for the book? The book began as a study of a father who is nearing an end point. I wanted to answer a question: what would make a perfectly sound, married, middle-aged father go off the deep end? I created his wife, a university professor, a poet, and then knew they had a teenage son who was just beginning high school. The fall season came soon enough, and then the year, a big election about to happen. Each member of the family was hiding something mysterious; because of their secretive nature, they weren’t communicating well. The son became the narrator, telling what he observes, why he left school one fateful day, confronted his father and a stranger who had come to town, and why he felt such anger that he confronted some really bad classmates in the rain and paid an awful price.
3. What genres does your book fall under? Psychological drama, family drama, fiction, literary fiction
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
As the father? Joel Edgerton, who was so good in Animal Kingdom, The Great Gatsby, and the heart-tugger The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
As the mother? Maggie Gyllenhaal would rock in the role.
As the son? Dane Dehaan was really great in Chronicle, Lawless, and Lincoln. Fun Fact: Dane and I share the same birth place of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
As the woman who enters the picture? Freida Pinto would be a natural.
Dream cast for sure.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A family must come together to save their son after he falls victim to a brutal crime: who is to blame?
6. Will Wake Me Up be self-published or represented by an agency? That is an unknown right now. I hope my publisher, Green Darner Press, wants to give the book a shot. It’s in their hands being read as I type.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The first draft was completed in about nine months, but I took long breaks every three months. With the breaks, it took almost two years. It has been edited by one of the best in the business at the time, and I am encouraged by the reception from early readers. I also published three of the short stories within the novel, the stories one of the characters, Deepika, writes as the action unfolds, on my blog. Here is the link to the very first Deepika short story: Part 1. These three stories within the narrative are collected at the end of the novel in what I call The Appendix, and they add atmosphere and character/motivation/ texture to one of the main characters. I may collect these three tales (and more stories in the sequence) as a separate eBook called A Great Distance for people who want to delve deeper into her character.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I am told by early readers that it fits on the bookstore shelf with the books of Jodi Picoult, Joyce Maynard, and Wally Lamb—high praise indeed. One can dream.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book? I used to read the newspaper daily before the online craze took down so many papers and this would trigger ideas. I could say Matthew Shepherd was one of the inspirations. I went to hear his mother speak about what happened to her son, and how she and others are continuing to try to help others who are bullied, or victims of hate crimes, and what she said must’ve stuck with me as I was creating the characters. After I finished the book’s first draft I read about a crime in Montana where some young people were beaten by a group with a baseball bat, something that I had written about almost exactly. When truth mirrors fiction, nothing surprises me anymore.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Even though the novel is a family drama, there’s a suspense to Wake Me Up since the narrator tells his story from a comatose state and no one knows if he’ll wake up or not. Fans of The Lovely Bones may see a slim similarity in narrative structure—that book was a wonderful novel, and I loved the narrator’s voice (I even liked the filmed version). Only people who love to read the end of books first will know right away, but I hope they don’t reveal anything.
If you have any questions, thoughts, opinions, please comment below. Just keep writing and reading,
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