Monday, July 11, 2011

Q&A with C.J. Duarte

 Hello again!

As promised, I have a Q&A session with a buddy of mine who was lucky enough (and worked hard enough) to get his first novel accepted for publishing. I've been hearing about this epic work for years now, and it is with relief and excitement that I finally get to read it soon. Here, C.J. discusses his novel, the process of getting it published, and his favourite part of writing - below will be a link to his website if you want to follow him directly.

C.J. Duarte - The Dash

About You:

1) I've known you a pretty long time, but let's pretend I haven't. What can you say about yourself? What do you think would be written about you in the back of the book?

Probably "The Dash is the first novel by C.J. Duarte," and that's it. In fact, that's the only thing I want written about me in the back of my book, because I'd really like to be one of those writers who leaves their work more open to interpretation, and does as little personal publicity as possible. Creating an artistic work is not always easy, and the more ambitious it is, the greater the risk--but the greater the reward as well, usually. So for as long as I can, I'd prefer to keep living as low-key and normal a life as possible, while still retaining a casual online contact with any fans or other people who wish to communicate with me about my writing.

Questions about the Writing Process:

2) How long have you been writing? In high school, you and I often worked together on writing projects, but when did it really become a clear that it was the career path you wanted/needed to take?

 I've been writing for as long as I can remember. There were a lot of experiences with elementary school teachers being impressed with some of my writing projects, and encouraging me, but it wasn't until late junior-high school that I really thought about it as a serious career choice. English tends to be a good subject for me--more so on the storytelling side than on the technical or historical side--but again, it wasn't until mid-high school that I seemed to do better in English than in practically any other subject. So that was a clear sign. Plus I've always been lost in my own imagination, so the template of the English language gave me an ideal platform for that.

3) What motivates you to keep writing? Getting started on that first page is the easy part, I find, but when you're a couple chapters in and the ending you're really looking forward to writing seems so far do you keep yourself going?

What honestly motivates me to write, is the fact that there's nothing else I'd rather be doing in terms of career plans. Of course I enjoy the creative process, but the fact that it's very relaxed, old-fashioned and solitary also gives me great peace of mind. The desire for me to write is motivated just as much by health and well-being, as it is by artistic and financial dreams.

4) One thing I always want to know about other writers is if you have a routine when you write? A particular place, CD, beverage, anything like that to get yourself in the right mindset?

There's really no set routine for me; ideas come up at any time and on any level. Having said that, I used to do a ton of writing during late-night hours because it was a period when I was more nocturnal and excitable. But now I'll pretty much write at any time if I have the energy for it. I also like to take walks, listen to music, watch a movie or TV--anything like that. And if a great idea comes up but I can't jot it down in time, I don't normally fret, because the mind can be so cyclical that your inspirations will come right back to you if they were interesting enough.

5) The journey from manuscript to publication can be long, tedious and frustrating...but somehow you managed to surpass of all that. What can you tell us about the process of getting published? What route did you take with it?

 In early 2010 I contacted a few people I'd met from the literary industry, and they gave me advice about taking a break from my material, fine-tuning it and so on. By the end of that year, I was extremely fortunate to discover Baico Publishing and sent them my work. A few months after that, they offered to publish it, just like that! Needless to say, this is the kind of quick, relative ease that most writers never ever experience with publishing, so I'll always be very humbled by having had such amazing luck, especially with Baico. They're a small but super-efficient operation that publishes a huge variety of titles every year, has a direct relationship with their clients, and gives the author virtually all the control over creativity, design, promotion, if you're like me and you have a lot of ideas and "visions" about your work, then you really can't do much better than Baico, for sure.

Book-Directed Questions:

6) What about The Dash? This is your first full length novel, I believe, and by the sounds of it, it's quite a trippy epic! Even if you're not comfortable giving away the plot, can you give one sentence about the narrative that would make people want to read it?

 Fasten your seat belt, it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

7) Considering the length of the novel, when did you start your first draft? How long did it take you from first draft to final edit?

 Beginning in late 2003, I brainstormed and scribbled and sketched my way to something resembling a decent story, until finally a manuscript was completed in late 2009. A couple of years and two or three major re-edits later, I'm now waiting on the formatted copy of my book to look over, before it goes into printing.

8) What was your favourite part of writing the book? Not scene or anything, (unless you care to share ;)), but throughout the process. What was the most difficult part?

My favourite part was generally the mystery and adventure of the whole process. Even when I was well into rewrites, there were still surprises and parallels between certain passages that I'd forgotten about or never noticed before. The most difficult part was maintaining continuity, and deciding what to cut out once the chapters got more complicated. Yes--it sounds hard to believe, but there is deleted material from this giant book. Basically they were passages (or many pages, in some cases) that were too redundant, too arbitrary, or too unsavoury.

9) Now that The Dash is well underway to being released for the masses, are you developing any ideas for your next project?

 I'm working here and there on my next novel, which promises to be just as long, complex and imaginative as The Dash is. (Which means it'll probably be serialized, too.) I have absolutely no clue when it'll be completed, though, let alone released, so don't hold your breath!

10) Most importantly: IS THERE A RELEASE DATE PLANNED? Any estimates of when it might be?

We're aiming for Volume I to be released sometime in September 2011, with promotion beginning at about the same time. As for the release of the second and final volume, we're not a hundred-percent sure about that, especially since I haven't fully tweaked it yet. I'm hoping it'll follow within a year of Volume I's release, assuming that the first volume is successful enough.

One last question:

11) As a final question - in one sentence - what advice would you give any aspiring writers out there?

Try to give people an emotional connection to your writing, and don't worry so much about "originality" or about new media/open media, because I believe that truly good writing will always be appreciated, sought out, and compensated in some way no matter what.

 Well there you have it: some great advice and great insight into the workings behind what should prove to be a dazzling story - can't wait to learn more about it.

I want to send a very special thank you to C.J., because he has played a big role in my own motivations to keep writing. With a knack for marketing, and a great understanding for video and photo editing programs, he has made quite a few little book trailers and posters for my finished novels. With his permission, I'll probably post some here eventually.

All the best to you, my friend - you have my complete support!

To follow the progress of The Dash and author C.J. Duarte, please follow the link to


  1. I personally will be lining up for the release :)
    I remember a certain one of your essays being printed out and read to the class in high school.
    Now your first book is being published and the whole world will read it!

  2. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement! I'll be looking out for it when it comes out.