Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on John Buja, a retired Technical Writer (20 years) and Bookstore Manager (13 years), who has been writing on and off since he was about seven. As John Buja, he had two children’s books published a long time ago. For the adult things, he’s J. Edwin Buja. His newest book as J. Edwin Buja is King of the Wood – The Wood Book One. John lives in a small town near Ottawa, Canada.
We asked him where people can find his work (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
I have short stories in Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and Wicked Weird. Stuff is available from Amazon, Haverhill House Publishers, and my basement.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
I’m on Facebook.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your newest works?
My short stories are pure horror. The King of the Wood novel was supposed to be horror but turned into magic realism/urban fantasy/horror/whatever you want and is funny in places. I was recently compared to Charles L. Grant (one of my idols) and Charles DeLint (his twisted brother).
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I read as much as I could bear about trees, flowers, and European nature mythology. There’s no particular story about research that’s my favourite. The research itself is the best thing about writing. I was a history major at university.
What was the inspiration for King of the Wood? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The initial inspiration for King of the Wood was an image in the opening credits of the new Outer Limits (roots growing from a house, I think). Also Cate Blanchett. It started as a story about a baseball game at Necon, then I realized it was a romance and that got the ball rolling. It took sixteen years to finish.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out King of the Wood? How did you overcome that challenge?
I wrote most of the book while I was laid off from various high tech jobs. The hardest part was writing after work when all my creative juices had been squeezed out of me at work. I retired. Also, I work well with deadlines.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
There’s a character who only appears in passing in this book but has a larger role in the second book. She’s a Glaswegian university professor who swears like a sailor and looks like a certain actress I like. Steve O’Leary was fun to write because he’s so insane about being clean (like me).
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I’ve always loved horror and science fiction. I saw the first three series of Doctor Who when it came out. Stephen King and William Goldman are inspirations. I don’t take anything seriously.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favourite part is the writing and watching how the stuff flows out of my head onto the screen. A lot of times, the story doesn’t go where I thought it would. The worst part is getting used to the idea that someone might want to read my stuff and that’s it’s good enough to show an editor. The biggest lesson is sit my ass down and write (Thanks Jim Moore).
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Don’t listen to my advice because I didn’t and it took me sixteen years to finish the book.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
We’ve (my wife Dianne and I) have been going to Necon since 1986. Since then, we’ve vacationed in New England at least twice a year. With the mountains, it’s so easy to have a town hidden away where no one will find it.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?
Would you like a million dollars. Yes.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Part Two of the book is almost finished and should be out next year. There are several novels in the works but they have to be finished which is something I’m not really good at doing.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
Reading, history, model kits, bad movies, British TV, eating.
What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
See the previous question. I do a lot of reading about World Wars One and Two.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
It’s a corner in the basement surrounded by reference books. No one can see me when I’m sitting there. I need a dictionary, an atlas, and chocolate.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
There’s a reason nobody knows about it.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Meeting other writers and talking about the craft.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I need silence. When I listen to music (heavy rock like Deep Purple), I tend to type along with the beat which makes a lot of noise and hurts the keyboard. When I do listen to music, it’s with the headphones on and nothing else to distract me.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
No pets. Dianne wants a dog. I’m not a fan of dogs.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
Chocolate, tea, jujubes, and hard cider.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
Finishing what I start. I have to outline the characters, geography, and any technical stuff before I’m comfortable. Then the story can just do what it wants.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
Don’t quit your day job. (I didn’t.)
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
New England Horror Writers because most of my writing friends are from New England and that’s where I feel the most comfortable. I only joined the HWA a few months ago so I can’t talk about that. Go to Necon in July.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer ALL of our questions, John!