Saturday, April 09, 2016

Author Interview: CJ Standal

Hi, guys! We have another author interview for you! This is from the author CJ Standal. We've reviewed his book, Rebirth of the Gangster, here on the blog! I'll leave all the links to this post below, like always. I hope you guys enjoy!!

I love writing in all sorts of playgrounds:Rebirth of the Gangsters is my first comic book, and I've been published by Slant magazine (see here). I'm also a high school English teacher: next year I'll be teaching a graphic novel course; in the past I've taught a hip hop course; and I educate the the youth about other valuable things, like Shakespeare. Because I’m a high school teacher and some of the language in my comic isn’t school-appropriate, CJ Standal is a pseudonym. For these reasons, I won’t send a picture too; I hope you understand, CJ

  1. What should we call you?

CJ or CJ Standal, either works: I’m easy (picture Igor from Young Frankenstein when saying “I’m easy”.)

  1. How many books have you written? What are the titles of your favorite three? *assuming you’ve written three*

I’ve written no books.  I did write a comic before Rebirth of the Gangster (it was called The Eye of the Beholder) but I didn’t publish it, because I wasn’t thrilled with the product.  Rebirth of the Gangster is my only published work (outside of articles for Slant) and it’s my favorite.

  1. Where are you from?

A suburb outside Minneapolis in Minnesota.

  1. When did you start writing?

I started writing for fun about a decade ago, but I started plotting Rebirth of the Gangster about a year ago, which is when I got serious about trying to be published.

  1. What/who is your biggest motivator?

I have this story that I feel needs to be told, and because it’s relevant, it needs to be told now.  I also am chasing fame (I’m only somewhat joking), but I’d settle for enough recognition to just be able to produce the comic and pay Juan for his pages (this part’s completely serious and true).

  1. What inspires you?

People in my life, especially my girlfriend, and all the comics, books, other works of art I experienced growing up.

  1. Do you have any pets (children included)? If so, what are their names?

I don’t have any pets or kids, but my girlfriend has a cat named Moira Kittskies.

  1. What’s your favorite genre to read? Write?

Generally speaking, I love to read thrillers/noir/cop procedurals, which is what Rebirth of the Gangster is (hopefully elevated past just genre fiction).  So far, I love to write that genre the most, but I’d love to take a shot at fantasy, comedy, and superheroes.

  1. What’s your favorite line from a movie?

“All the pieces matter”--I’m kind of cheating, since this is from the TV show The Wire, which is a huge influence on my comic
  1. What’s the secret to juggling real life and writing?
Making writing part of routine.  Since I teach full time, I set aside Sundays for writing definitely, and then I find two weekdays to write for an hour or two after work.  I’d like to write more, but it make me less likely to fulfill my other responsibilities.

  1. What do you tend to snack on when you’re writing?

I don’t eat often when I’m writing, but if I snack, it’s normally Goldfish.
  1. What three words would those closest to you use to describe you?

Funny, compassionate, calm
  1. When you walk into a bookstore, where is the first place that you go?

The graphic novel section.

  1. What is the most difficult part of being an author?

Promotion and trying to get my name out there (which connects with the financial difficulty of being an author who needs to pay his artist).

  1. Besides being an author, what would your dream job be?

I like to think I can sing, so I’d love to be part of a band.
  1. What’s the funniest/oddest thing you’ve been asked in an interview?

I haven’t been interviewed often yet, so your question about which animal I’d like to have a mini-version of seemed the most random and funny thing I’ve been asked so far.
  1. When you have time to sit down and enjoy someone else's work, what do you find yourself reading?

All sorts of comics, nonfiction novels, fantasy, and thrillers.  Really I like to read all kinds of stuff-it depends on the mood I’m in--and I’m constantly in the middle of 3 or so books that are stacked on the floor by my bed.
  1. If you could be anyone, who would you be? Why?

Neil Gaiman, because he’s a huge success in comics, but he doesn’t let that define him: he’s constantly trying new things and pushing himself, which is what I like to do and what I’d hope to do if I was famous instead of resting on my laurels.

  1. If you could look back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Get started writing and looking to publish earlier.  I’d also tell my younger self to be more willing to trust others and be confident in myself.
  1. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who are self-destructive and impulsive (I see this in a lot of my students, who do what they want in the moment, even if it’s bad for them).

  1. What do you do during your free time (when you’re not writing)?

I love to run, read, Netflix binge, play board games (love Settlers of Catan and 7 Wonders!), listen to music and podcasts, and much more.
  1. Assuming you enjoy starbucks, what do you usually order? (if you don’t enjoy starbucks, how do you take your coffee/tea?)
I don’t like coffee so I would probably order green tea or something like hot chocolate.

  1. What is something your readers would be surprised to know about you?/What’s something you want your readers to know about you?

I have depression and anxiety, and I’m funneling some of those experiences into 
one of the characters in this comic; writing is one way that I’m able to process my
emotions in a positive, productive way.
  1. What is your favorite comic?

I have a lot of favorite comics (it all depends on the time of the day and the moment in my life).  When I was in high school, my favorite comic was Neil Gaiman’s Sandman or Fables.  In college it was a toss up between 100 Bullets and Blueberry.  Lately, I’ve been revisiting Little Lulu.  So, my tastes are eclectic as you can see.

  1. What’re you trying to raise money on Kickstarter for?

I’m raising money to pay Juan Romera for the art for the second issue of Rebirth of the Gangster.  Without these funds, I won’t be able to continue the series, which would be a shame, since everybody who’s read the comic said they’re eagerly awaiting the second issues.
(You can find his Kickstarter here)

  1. Are any of the characters based on someone you know personally? If so, who?

No character is based on anyone individually.  Parts of characters reflect my sides of my own personality; they’re also based somewhat on students I’ve taught, family and friends.  But to say any character is the same as anybody I know would be wrong.

  1. Which takes longer; the illustrations or the writing?

The illustrations definitely.  Juan does such a great job with the art, mainly because he takes his time and puts in the work.  The scripts I write don’t take too long (that might be because I have the whole story outlined and broken up into individual issues, so I don’t have to think about what’s going to happen; I only think about the best way to tell the story, which takes less time than trying to do both).

  1. Do you write the story first, or does your illustrator draw them first?

I write the story first, and send the scripts to Juan to illustrate.  By and large, he follows the script exactly, but I always let him know that if he has a better idea, he should let me know and we can adjust.

  1. Have you ever considering illustrating the comics yourself? If so, what stopped you?

No.  I have no talent in illustrating for this type of comic (I could do some rough illustrations for a different style of comic, but not something like this--realism is necessary to this story, and I couldn’t convey that in my art.

  1. Have you ever considered publishing/writing a story/book that WASN’T a comic?

I’ve written articles for Slant, which is my first published non-comic work.  I’ve also thought of writing a book (in fact, Rebirth of the Gangster started off as an idea for a book--a story you can see if you get the “Making of Rebirth of the Gangster” reward on the Kickstarter campaign.

  1. Did you love comics as a child?

Love, no.  Obsessed, yes!  I first started reading comics when my parents got me a 30 issue box set of X-Men comics for Christmas.  I often say that if they knew the path they were setting me on, they would’ve gotten me clothes instead.

  1. What’s the most challenging part about working with an illustrator?

Giving up control.  I’m sure other authors would say something similar, but I’m somebody who does like to have structure and control over my daily life, so it’s hard to give it up to an illustrator.  Don’t get me wrong--it’s all worth it, because Juan makes my comic better than the script, but it’s a challenge for me to let go, so it can get to that point.

  1. How did you go about finding someone to illustrate your comics? How difficult was it?

I searched online; there are websites advertising author/artist/letterers who are looking for work.  It wasn’t very difficult.  The most difficult part of the process was finding the right fit for the story that we would tell.

  1. Do you have any completed/ nearly completed stories or comics that you really want to get published (or just have written)? If so, can you tell us a little about them?

I have the second script of Rebirth of the Gangster written; the Kickstarter campaign is just about raising money so that Juan can illustrate it and we can publish it.

  1. Where do you typically write?

I write in my apartment, often in bed or on a couch.  I do have a desk, but I like writing where I’m more comfortable.

  1. What’s your dream car?

I’m not a big car fan, so I’m not going to get super detailed: basically I’d like a Corvette convertible, but in reality I’m just looking for a car that runs smoothly and doesn’t need a lot of work over the years.

  1. If you could live anywhere on the planet, where would you live?

Other than where I’m living now, I’d love to live in London.

  1. What’s your standing of the declassification of Pluto?

I still refuse to accept it, a decade later. (Me too. What an outrage.)

  1. What's your favorite dog/animal?

I grew up with a dog named Sparkler, who was my favorite pet.  My girlfriend has a cat (Moira Kittyskies) and she’s a close second.

  1. If you could own a miniaturized version of ANY animal, what animal would you want?

I was a huge fan of Rob and Big, so I’d like a mini-horse like they had.

Purchase this book on 
****For the next 6 days, ending 4/15, people can download the first issue of Rebirth of the Gangster for free (or pay what they want). They can download it here****
Follow CJ on

Books We've Reviewed

Pieces Like Pottery: Stories of Loss and Redemption
Tangled Web
Dead as a Doornail
Where Death Is a Hunter
Not Your Mother's Goose
Undressed To The Nines: A Thriller Novel
Bees in Loretta's Bonnet
Let Love In
Let The Waves Come In
The Mine
Learning to Swim
Anissa of Syria

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