An interview with Will Castillo, author of JAKE HOWARD: MULTIVERSE 101

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing ever since I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in my early teens. My uncles introduced me to the game when I was young, but they didn’t really visit often. In the spaces between visits I would try to write mini adventures. They were terrible I’m sure, but my uncles played them like they were epic fantasy.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Once I got the idea for this story the writing came surprisingly easy. Before this book, not easily at all. I’ve tried to sit down and write something for over ten years but nothing ever stuck with me, I would lose interest in my own story a chapter or two in and just delete it. This time felt different.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, personally, the hardest thing was finding that initial spark for a story. Like I said, it took me over ten years to find a story. Once I did, my fingers just went nuts.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

A little of both, actually. Once I got about three chapters in I wrote a quick, one sentence synopsis for each chapter and stuck to it for the most part. There were a couple of beats in the book that happened earlier (or later) than I planned just because of the direction the story took so my outline was a bit fluid. I’m trying not to spoil anything here.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those write only when they feel inspired?

For the most part I kept to a schedule. When I started writing I worked at a terrible job, but I had three days off a week. I would wake up on my days off at 6:45, go up the street to grab a coffee and a breakfast burrito, come home and write for two to three hours. More often then not though I would think of something later in the day and go back and write some more.

Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

Yeah. I would generally shoot for 1000 words a day. Sometimes I wouldn’t quite hit that number but there were other days I smashed that goal.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

For this book it was very important but it came a little easier to me because I grew up a town over from where my story takes place. I grew up in Wallkill, NY which is maybe a fifteen minute drive to New Paltz. I spent a large chunk of my time in there, I love that town. Pretty much all of the places Jake mention in the book existed in 1997 New Paltz, some of them are still there. The things I wasn’t sure of I researched heavily and asked some of my friends that still live up there for clarification.

How much of yourself did you put into your book?

A lot more than I intended actually! The book is told from Jake’s perspective so a lot of his reactions to the situations he is thrown into are pretty much exactly how I would react. There are a couple of things in Jake’s backstory that happened to me as well. Again, no spoilers, but I feel that it made him feel a lot more realistic and relatable.

It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?

Yes. I’ve always been the kind to “fall in love” hard and fast, from as early as kindergarten! I still remember my first crush, first heartbreak, everything. The story that Jake tells about his ex near the beginning of the book comes from a relationship I had around that time. But I believe that all of those experiences, good and bad, make you there person you become for better or worse.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I adore that book, it is one of my favorites. I love the way Wade Watts describes the world, the pop culture references, the story in general. It’s one of the few books I have read, and listened to, over and over again. I would say that would be the initial spark that made me think, “Hey, you should write a book!”

What other books have influenced your life the most?

Besides Ready Player One I would say Tough Shit by Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith has a way of speaking (by his many podcasts) that is just really motivating! He was the other major influence in crafting my story.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

As I wrote the first draft I had a system: I would write and then the next day I would go back and read what I wrote, edit and then write more. When the first draft of done I tried to edit it myself and it just wasn’t working out because I was biased. My very dear friend Anastacia Carroll took a look at a page I shared on Facebook and sent it back to me with a lot of red ink all over it on things that I just flat out missed. Stacy jumped on bored and helped my edit and tune up the book. She actually was a huge help, I can’t thank her enough.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

Very important, without using the cliche’. The original title for my book was Multiversity and I picked that because I thought it picked up the fact that my book involved a multiverse and it takes place at a university. As it turns out, there is already a graphic novel called Multiversity so I knew I had to change the name. Stacy helped me iron that wrinkle out.

As far as the cover goes, I had a vision in my mind that I wanted but I have very little artistic ability. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I was trying to come up with alternative ways of finding a cover that would stand out. I went on placeit.com and found a picture that was almost entirely what I pictured in my head. I paid the required fee and that is how the cover was born.

Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?

That is what I am doing right now and it is exhausting! Seriously, this is the hardest part of the post-writing process as an indie, self published author. I’m stumbling my way through it but places like storiad.com, seriousreading.com and fiverr has helped a lot in addition to be sending emails to anyone that will listen.

How big a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

Music was a HUGE part in getting me in the zone for my book! My book takes place in 1997, the height of the grunge/alternative era, so I wrote to music from 1997 and prior. Jake calls out certain songs in the book at certain times and, in the movie that played in my head while writing, it has a soundtrack. I actually have the “soundtrack” to the book up as a playlist on Spotify.

Have you ever written a character with an actor in mind?

Yes! Like I said, as I was writing it was like I was copying what I was seeing in my head so much so that I one hundred percent had a cast in my mind. When people read my book I, of course, want people to put their own faces to the cast but this is how I see as a couple of characters with a little description as to why (I’m only talking about the characters mentioned on the back of the book for now):

I think Tom Holland would be the perfect Jake. His Peter Parker is the best cinematic version of the character and I feel that he would capture what Jake goes through in the book perfectly.

Florence Pugh is who I see as Beth. She is a fantastic actress and I loved her in Fighting With My Family. Without giving away anything, Beth goes through just as much if not more than Jake and there would definitely be some “heavy lifting” in the role. After seeing her in Midsommar, she’s perfect.

Scott would be Cole Sprouse. I used to watch Zack and Cody with my kids but, now, he is great on Riverdale. When I think of Scott, he’s who I see.

They say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think?

I don’t think that is necessarily true. Harry Potter is the obvious example that immediately springs to mind when I think of a book adaption done right. The only thing that kind of irked me the first time I watched the series was that the whole “Hermione liberating the house elves” sub-plot was no where in the series. I think that would have been a fun aside to the main story.

On the other hand, as much as I adore Ready Player One, the movie just wasn’t as good as the book. I understand why some of the changes were made; some scenes just sound more exciting on paper than they would be on screen. But there were some other changes that seemed needless.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m a huge movie buff and gaming nerd. Right now I am currently obsessed with Pokemon Sword and Shield and everything on Disney+. My wife and I love The Mandolorean and I just introduced my daughters to Three Men and a Baby.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

Well, right now, I’m concentrating on marketing my new book but I have started the foundation for my next book. The second book in the series will pick up about four months after the events of this book and that is all I’m going to say right now about that.

When can the readers expect your next book in print?

Right now I am shooting for next winter, somewhere in 202o to early 2021.

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