The Joy of Storytelling with Justin Lazaro

I know you guys like it when I interview authors, especially those who are new to the market, so today I have newly self-published writer Justin Lazaro on the blog to talk about his first novel, the writing process, and his ideal life.

Justin Lazaro, author of The Blue Dejou

First, what are your books and where can we buy them?

The Blue Dejou is a coming of age work of fiction with a pinch of magical realism. I tend to enjoy stories with extraordinary ideas in an otherwise normal world. It’s an ebook that you could buy on Amazon.

What would you say was the beginning of your journey to being published?

My journey started in 2010 when I was working in a non-profit credit counseling company in San Francisco. One of my close co-workers was going to graduate school for creative writing. During coffee breaks I would tell her ideas for books I would love to write. I always dreamed of writing a book and getting it published but my strict asian parents always taught me to be more practical than idealistic. After a little bit of coaxing from my friend, I began scribbling notes on company scratch paper during my free time, and the rest is history.

Did you self-publish Blue Dejou? Can you talk about that process?

Yes, I self-published The Blue Dejou. Originally I wanted to go the traditional route. I wrote query letters and e-mailed literary agents. One literary agent told me she thought my story was interesting, but the fiction market is hard to break into. Additionally, a lot of publishers are looking for authors that already have a following. After a couple of months of lukewarm responses, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So far it’s been great.

How did you prepare for the launch of the new book? What kind of marketing or community building do you do?

My preparation was more mental than physical. Being judged for a work of art that you have devoted a large chunk of your life to writing is nerve-wracking. Once it was up, I posted the book to internet communities that I knew would be interested in my novel. Some of them include: pug lovers, residents of Sacramento, the LGBTQ community, etc…

In your novel The Blue Dejou, your main character is kind of butch, maybe something of a gaybro. Why did you choose to go that direction?

The character I consider a gaybro was based off of one of my best friends. He’s a decorated military veteran that swears like a sailor, is a self-proclaimed redneck, and has more pride in his little pinky than a gay parade (I’m gay just in case that comment seems to come from left-field). He’s a complex character who is like no one I’ve ever met before. I had to write him into the book.

Now that you have your first book under your belt, what would you have done differently if you had it to do again?

I would believe in myself more. There were countless moments that I doubted myself while writing my book. In a time where we are surrounded by incredible authors, it can be very difficult for someone to even dream about writing a book. My book may not be the best but I know there are people out there that love it as much as I do.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about writing?

There are countless hours of thought and decision-making to create that story. That book you thought was boring and written horribly, still required months or even years for an author to put together. One aisle at your Barnes and Noble bookstore might have required more collective effort to write than what it took to build the Great Wall of China! I have so much more respect for the art of story-telling now that I have went through the process.

Do you consider yourself a sci-fi writer?

Not really. Other than this fantastic bean that does the opposite of coffee, there are no other sci-fi elements to The Blue Dejou. I like to create stories that are relatable and realistic. For this book, I wanted the reader to feel as if they could just drive to their nearest Blue Dejou and order their favorite flavored joozoo drink to help them fall asleep at night.

What question do you wish an interviewer would ask you and what’s the answer?

Q: What does your ideal life look like?
A: In my Ideal life I am able to create stories full-time. As an introvert by nature, my mornings and afternoons would be spent writing and thinking of ideas for my next book. I’m happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas. I have close friends and family that I don’t have to schedule weeks in advance to see. Dinners are loud and boisterous full of both meaningful and trivial conversation. Life is uncomplicated and sleep is easy.

Thanks again to Justin for taking my interview request. You can buy The Blue Dejou on Amazon for $2.99!