And he’s back! Q&A – C. J. Duarte

A big “Welcome Back!” to C.J. Duarte, who was here 10 months ago to discuss his novel The Dash, and now he’s back again to update everyone on his goings on. Hurray!

How have you been? Keeping busy?

I’ve been great. The support from numerous people is very much appreciated and I can’t express my gratitude enough. In terms of book activity, I’ve been sporadically updating my website and promoting Volume 1—keeping an eye on things, but at the same time not letting them get in the way of my regular life. When you’re an unknown author and have almost no resources, you learn to be more appreciative of any bit of positive attention, because that’s how a lot of literary successes are built. They’re built not only by savvy but by patience as well.

The Dash has been out now for about 7 months. Any thoughts on the whole process looking back? Anything you’ll do different for Volume 2?

Wow…honestly, I’m very content and have no regrets. To me this book is an automatic success for three reasons: it got finished at all, it got accepted by a publisher, and it’s getting interest from many different people. Of course I wouldn’t argue with even more success, but anything beyond this stage is more of a bonus. When you work on such a big, personal project for so long, you’re not exactly in tune with the status quo. You’re doing it more for yourself, which is how it should be in my opinion.

Speaking of which, how is Volume 2 going? Any particular phase you’re at?

Volume 2 is still being finalized in various ways, including its release date, which I still have no clear projection for. I’ve said it would be ready around late 2012, but things can always change: it may come out a little earlier, or a little later—or when you least expect it. This should not discourage people from reading or revisiting the first volume, because I made it layered enough that it could practically stand on its own. Questions would remain of course, but none so nagging that you’d lose sleep, I don’t think. Certain things are better left unexplained, after all, for the sake of balance.

Without giving much away, what can readers who read (and thoroughly enjoyed, on my part) Volume 1 expect from Volume 2? There were so many incredible loose ends!

Thanks for the kind words. Readers can expect a slightly longer installment, denser with text, and with more psychological elements. So depending on what you thought of Volume 1, you’ll either see Volume 2 with more appreciation, or more bafflement—or perhaps, more of both. Claire Bead (the central character) will be trying to stabilize her life more, with some additional obstacles, connections and other strangeness along the way. I must admit: if you thought Volume 1 had loose ends, you haven’t seen anything yet!

Any other projects in the works yet?

Not necessarily. I’m always coming up with ideas, but it’ll be a long time before I get into a similar process as I did with The Dash. I never planned on being a prolific writer, let alone a really high-profile novelist, so your guess is as good as mine as to what will come next with me. But I’ll tell you this much: if or when my newest novel comes out, you won’t be underwhelmed. What I may lack in quantity, I try to make up for with quality, so no matter how long you may wait for my next work, you’ll find that it was worth every second.

Over the past 10 months, have you learned anything about your writing methods? Anything that you’d consider changing or found really works for you?

Yes: I’ve learned that I really like to take my time and stick to a more low-key principle, regardless of what others may think. I’ve also learned that I’m a lot more practical and methodical than the average writer. I’ve never written constantly and obsessively, but in shorter bursts. And I’m very much an “outline” writer to start with—which people might not believe while they’re reading The Dash, but it’s true. The story definitely becomes more spontaneous the bigger it gets, but for the most part I’m an old-fashioned pragmatist with this craft, even though I have appreciation for it all the same.

Now that you’ve done the mind-twisting/dark fantasy/horror genre (is there one category that really sums up The Dash?), what other genres would you consider?

That’s a good question. One of the things I’m really proud of with this book is that it has so many different levels, it leaves open a window for almost any type of creative offshoot. Naturally, that’s also part of the challenge: when you come to the end of writing a 1,500-page experimental, serialized novel, it’s hard to even fathom what you can do after, out of the countless options. I think it’d be fun to attempt a pure genre: a romance, or science-fiction, or a more straightforward mystery. There are so many stories that I’m discovering or brushing up on, it should give me more than enough inspiration going forward.

Parting words?

Yes—thank you again to those who have supported me and continue to do so. I’m proof that you don’t need an endless network of connections to succeed in life. It can certainly help, but don’t undervalue yourself if you don’t have it, or if you feel you’re misunderstood. As long as you have faith in yourself and in good ideas, you will prosper, period. That prosperity may not be staring you in the face right away, but it will be there, if you want it to be.


  1. An interesting interview, and refreshing to hear from a writer who has such a passion and faith in their own vision. An epic achievement for a first publication, I wish you all the best with writing book two.


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