Recently, I sat down with author CJ Wilton about his novel, 90 Seconds from Sanity. I read this book recently and I can tell you, it's a wild ride (see my review on the Twisted Road Book Review website)! 90 Seconds is on sale today through tomorrow for only .99 on Amazon. Please do yourself a favor and go check it out now!
Have you ever cried over a book? If so, which one and why?
There was a scene in Wonder by R. J. Palacio that brought tears to my eyes. I have a special needs child, so that book was really moving.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I don’t know that I have a writing Kryptonite, but a busy and full life can prevent me from writing. I don’t mind – I have a job I love and wouldn’t trade time with my family for anything, but you have to find ways to make time to write. I’m lucky, because I have an incredibly supportive and amazing spouse who supports me in all I do.
Who are your top five favorite authors?
My top five authors would include Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, and Lisa McMann.
What’s your ultimate writing goal?
My ultimate writing goal is to continue to put out books that I’m proud of and that an audience enjoys. In terms of goals, I have another ten or so books I’d like to write in the next several years.
What made you decide to become a serious author?
I’ve always been a writer as a lawyer, and, over time, I decided to give fiction a shot. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing several times, but when I read a collection of his short stories where he explained the genesis for his ideas, I began thinking about a first novel. When I broached the subject with my wife, she immediately said to “go for it!” so I did.
Do you do research for your characters or settings? Give us an example.
I do. I want my stories to ring true. For instance, when writing 90 Seconds from Sanity, I did a lot of research into mental illness to ensure that it was reasonably accurate.
Do you believe writing is a gift or a learned skill?
I believe it is both, like most things. Some people are born with innate talent. But without a lot of hard work and effort, that talent wouldn’t amount to much.
Do you believe anyone could write a book?
I believe anyone could write a book if they are willing to invest the time to develop the skill. But that time is usually counted in years.
How often do you write and for how long?
I try to write some each night, depending on what else is going on in life. I try to get in a few thousand word a night – if I go too much longer than that, I notice the quality starts to diminish.
What did you edit out of your most recent book?
I edited a lot out of my most recent book. Like most writers, I tend to overwrite initially and then spend time tightening and focusing. As Mark Twain noted, I would have written it shorter but I didn’t have the time.
How do you name your characters?
It’s about the same way we named our children. You try out a lot of names and, at some point, you just find one that fits.
Do you read your book reviews? Why or why not?
I do read my book reviews. I’m trying to engage with the reader, so all feedback is useful. And you often learn more from the critical reviews. But as long as a reader is feeling something, I think I’ve done my job as an author.
Are any parts of your book(s) auto-biographical?
No. One of my characters is a lawyer, but that’s about it.
What was the hardest scene you every wrote and why?
In 90 Seconds from Sanity, there is a disturbing scene of sexual violence. It was hard to write and it has been off-putting to some readers. But I think the scene was necessary for the story – it generated such strong emotions and really allowed the reader to go deep inside the head of one of the characters.
What one thing would you sacrifice to become a better writer?
I wouldn’t. I’m happy with my life and love the challenge of growing in this craft.
How long does it take you (on average) to write a book?
Generally, I can put a manuscript together in a few of months.
Do you write to music? If so, what do you listen to?
I do not.
Have you ever been contacted by a non family/friend fan?
I have – on Facebook. I’ve gotten some very good feedback and high praise from a few readers.
Have you ever thought of writing outside your genre?
I have and I intend to. One of my daughters would like me to write something she can read, so I have a book outlined in a different genre once I finish the Insanity Series.
What is your best writing advice for beginners?
Read. A lot. It seems odd, but to be a good writer, you have to be well read. And then, once you start writing, keep at it and continue to hone your craft and skill.
About the Author:
C.J. Wilton is a Yale Law School graduate who has practiced law for years. His active imagination and love of horror and thriller novels have spawned his debut novel, 90 Seconds from Sanity. Wilton currently lives with his wife and children and is preparing to release his second novel, Beyond Sanity. He's currently drafting the third novel in the Insanity Series.