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.
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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.
Let’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.
What 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”!
Why 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.
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Connect To C.W. Schultz
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.