An Interview with Charles Justiz: Specific Impulse

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When I describe Charles Justiz, there are few adjectives I feel are better fitting than “brilliant.” A former NASA examiner pilot and corporate aviation safety consultant, Justiz has most recently also added “best-selling author” to his resume.

Specific Impulse is a Sci-Fi thriller about two strangers whose paths cross only after a mysterious explosion forces them together in a fight for their lives. The book has received the coveted Clarion Five Star Review, making it that much more difficult to resist the temptation to see how these protagonists survive.

I jumped at the opportunity to interview Justiz, excited about the possibility of learning some of his secrets.

Day: Your book is captivating. Where did your inspiration come from?

Justiz: Thank you very much. The main idea for the book came from a question I asked my neurologist-brother: “Why don’t we all exhibit the splinter skills of savants?” His answer was interesting, but it got me thinking that these folks exhibit super-human mental feats, but they are considered damaged by our society. What would it take for a “normal” person to achieve these skills and how would these people be treated by our society?

Day: Very cool. So, what prompted you to turn those wonderings into a book?

Justiz: I kept thinking that someone should write a science-based thriller. I have seen precious few of these recently. I am very techno-optimist in my outlook. Finally, I wrote the book because it didn’t seem like anyone else was going to write it and I really wanted to read it.

Day: How long did it take you to get it ready for a publisher?

Justiz: It took about a year to go from a blank page to a published book in my hand. After the writing and never-ending editing process, I got an agent. She was great and submitted my book to several houses. We got turned down by some and got some encouragement from others, but the whole process felt stilted to me. An author loses control of their work once it goes over to a publisher. The horror stories were everywhere. I looked at the main functions of a publishing house and considered what needed to be done. Editing and consulting had already been done on the book, the book design was finalized, the copy-editing needed to be done, but that could be outsourced as could the production, and the author is always responsible for their own marketing and promotion.

My wife is a best-selling author of business books and has 10th Degree Black Belt in marketing. With Internet-based distribution, why would I want to go with a brick-and-mortar publishing house? I discussed it with my agent and she recommended that I self-publish. This was a brave move for her. We chose iUniverse because of the ability to publish physical books and place them with the major bookstores as well as being able to produce Kindle and Nook versions. I have been very happy with the relationship. Shortly after my decision, best-selling author Seth Godin followed suit by dropping his long-term relationship with his publishing house for the self-publishing option. I’m sure he got the idea from me. Ha!

Day: I think that’s going to encourage a lot of hopeful-authors. For those who are interested in still going the traditional route, what all did you submit to those publishers who received your submissions?

Justiz: Each publisher is different. You have to go to their individual websites to understand their particular submission process. Since my work was a novel, I ended up sending a query letter followed by the entire manuscript in most cases.

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About Author

Amy Day

Amy Day is the Associate Publisher and a contributing writer for Strategy Magazine. She has an MBA in Marketing Communications and Strategic Leadership from Southern Methodist University and has been on staff with Strategy for nearly a decade. She is an award-winning business executive with customer service credentials from the Disney Institute. In addition to editorial oversight, her regular beat includes business, customer service, publishing, and family/child wellness.

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