I can’t tell you the last time I saw a man in a pair of trouser braces! Let’s get to know James Cudney’s style! He’s the author of Father Figure, it’s on my Kindle ready for me to tuck into reading I can’t wait… it’s time for Meet The Author.
Hello nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?
Although most of my family is from the New York area, my parents took a brief excursion to Florida for a few years where I was born. We lived there until I was three years old when they returned back to Long Island. I grew up there, went to college in Pennsylvania, and had a brief stint in California. For the last six years, I’ve lived in New York City. I have this battle of wills between living in the suburbs and living in a major metropolitan city. I’m already itching to go somewhere rural, but it will probably need to wait a few years.
I’m a quiet, stay-at-home, routine-oriented kinda guy. I do a fair amount of world traveling, watch a few favorite television series, working out, some gardening, reading and genealogy. I like researching and analysing things and puzzles, but for the most part I’m usually doing something relatively simple and calm. Every so often, I get a little crazy and go out to a few bars, get adventurous, and cause a ruckus. I try to keep that to a minimum cause it might make me suddenly get outta control! And I don’t want to have to explain any jailtime experience… although that might help me become a better writer… 😊
Kim: Haha, ‘jail time.’ And Long Island? New Yorkers from there have such a cool accent.
Who is your favourite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?
I’ve got four favorites these days: Agatha Christie, Ken Follett, Henry James and Kate Morton. My inspiration would be a toss up between Follett and Christie because they are the most prolific story tellers I know. I hope to have dozens of books over the next thirty years.
What genre do you enjoy reading?
Although I read across almost all genres, my go to ones usually include mystery, historical fiction and thrillers.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I don’t think it changed my actual writing process, but it has given me an entirely new level of admiration for editors. I’m fairly strong at understanding 90% of all the grammar rules and styles, but I missed a lot. I never worried about the differences between “knew” and “had known” as it can be fairly minor when you speak; however, it’s a whole different ball game when you are telling a story in the past tense and need to refer to something that happened even further back. I’m much more careful of these things while I’m writing so that my editor doesn’t have to find the obvious problems – I get those fixed in my early drafts before passing it on to her.
Kim: Hmmm, I hear that or is it I heard you? 🙂
So you’ve published a series, what is the series about?
I’m working on the sequel for my first novel right now. I knew it could and should be a series, but I wanted some security than readers would find it equally as compelling. I’ve heard them loud and clear about it, and so I’m in the outlining process now to deliver something within the next year. I’m also focused on looking at potential options to turn it into a film or television series down the line.
The books will follow the Glass family who live in Connecticut, USA. Ben, the patriarch, died in a car accident in the first book, leaving behind his wife and five adult sons. His will was the catalyst for the family to implode over all the buried—or not-so-buried—secrets that were on the cusp of staying hidden. I’m currently drafting several short stories to function as a prequel for everything that happened to each family member before the first book, then a sequel which will show us life three months after the huge family showdown near the end of the last one.
Kim: Did you say movie? *raises eyebrows* that would be amazing!
What was it like creating back to back stories that link?
It’s quite complex because there are 6 flashbacks that happen in the book where details about characters’ lives are revealed. Everything is so date driven, I keep a detailed list of facts and timelines showing all the integration points. It’s a good thing all my research, project management and genealogical skills stayed with me!
Kim: that’s what also throws me in writing too, the timeline of events, you can guarantee one reader will be paying such close attention they’ll notice if you are even a day out! Lists work in my experience.
Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? If you could what genre would you like to dabble in?
Yes! I am planning to write a cozy mystery book and/or series next year. I’ve also been convinced to write a romance novel, but I’ve never really read any before. So, I need to brush up on some good ones in that genre, then take a crack at it. Hey… you’re familiar with that… and a pretty popular author… maybe I need some pointers from you?
Kim: *blushes* * clears throat* well, ya know… maybe I could help, anyways back to you a new male author in the romance genre sounds good to me. I interviewed two other guys who want to do it, I wonder who has the biggest balls and will go for it! I’d love to read it.
What has been your most proud moment as an author?
Being able to say I published a novel and have an ISBN registered in libraries and bookstores. I accomplished my goal, and if I didn’t get to publish any additional after these first few, I will still be proud of what I achieved.
Was there ever a time you wanted to pick up your laptop, and then launch it out the window with frustration?
Nope, not my laptop. People, yes. Random pieces of junk mail sitting on the desk needing to be thrown out, definitely. My frustration usually comes if there’s a negative review that’s from someone who’s just being rude. I like constructive criticism as it drives you to do better. But the meanies make you occasionally ask yourself ‘why do I do this to myself’ and then I want to throw things. Just not my laptop – too much saved on it!
Kim: Never mind the haters, do they know what it takes to knock out 90,000 words? Your book is 400 pages ,so at a guess from experience I’d say that’s about the word count if not more. If they don’t like your work… well, at least they bought the book and your pockets are lined either way, LMFAO.
Sorry, sorry no I meant never mind the haters, for every one person who hates or dislikes what they read there are ten that did love it! Chin up.
Are you a “plotter” or a fly by the seat of your pants “pantster” as a writer?
Definitely a plotter. I map everything out in a 30 to 40-page outline before I ever start to write. I assign chapters to weeks, detailed descriptions to characters and settings to scenes. From there, I am a pantser. I start with parameters and knowing what I need to accomplish in each scene, but whether the character is happy or sad, truthful or deceitful, funny or mean… that just flows as I’m writing.
Kim: sounds good to me.
Am I the only one who gets hung up on commas? Do they make you go blah! when you’re writing?
Oh – insert your favorite explicative – you are not! I am comma heavy. I tend to insert them whenever I hear that pause in the words in my head. My editor totally called me out on it in a nice way. I’ve cut the usage by 75%, but she still catches several per page. I give up at some point and think… ‘this isn’t my area of expertise, let the person who knows how to do it fix it!’ If I didn’t, I might just lose my mind permanently.
Kim: ha, I think I over inset too if I’m honest.
Every writer has a word(s) that they always slip up on when they write, then slap their forehead when they notice their typo. For me it’s further and farther exit or exists- but hey I’m over it now. Do you have a word (s) that make you go blah! Go away not another damn typo.
I do, but it’s not that I confuse two words in spelling. I think faster than I type sometimes, so I end up reversing the order of words such as “to” or “the.” I can’t tell you the number of times I end up with something along the lines of “I am going the to store.” Then when I am re-reading or editing, I totally skip over it and the editor or beta readers find it. I’m like ‘Yo, writer, how does this happen???’
Kim: ‘Yo! Writer! *smiles* when I want a really good laugh, I pull out my first draft of my first ever romantic suspense.
What are you working on now? What will you release next?
I’m writing some of the prequel Glass short stories. I’m outlining the Glass sequel. I’m outlining the intro to the cozy mystery series. But… I’ve suddenly become obsessed with a very emotional love story that I can’t get out of my head. But there’s no way I can write all 4 by December, so I need to push two until next year. What do you think I should do?
Kim: hmmm, when this creativity overload happens to me, I go with what I can’t get out of my head as that’s where the passion and heat is. Personally, I’d go with what drives you most, as you’ll write it with heart. Keep the outlines going but write what’s calling you… But whatever you do, write them all no matter how long it takes. Myself and Didi are working on The Suspenseful Collection Volume #2 and have outlined #3. Technically, she has been waiting for me to finish two stories since Christmas! Other things have called us both, we focused on this, but we both know when we go back to those stories they are going to be totally badass, because it will be the right time the calling is there. Never write under duress the result won’t be your best work.
So… where can we get your books?
Right now, from Amazon. Both are available on my author page @ https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A big ego hurts writers. A tiny ego also hurts. This is the case of Goldilocks and the three bears. Find the happy medium and stick with it. There is a time to self-promote and share why you are a great writer and there’s a time to sit back and let other people take the lead.
Kim: *Nods head* nice, agreed.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Interesting question… I’ve made the conscious decision not to worry about research in my first two books. I chose story lines where I knew the settings and time periods so well, it wasn’t necessary to research. I had a couple of plot points to work out, for instance exactly when did using hair for DNA research become common practice and what happened with college acceptance forms in the 1980s. Both were easy, but my focus was on writing and making a name for myself. The plan is to spend more time researching for future books now that I’ve built up a readership and interest in my style and voice.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I’ve read everything on Goodreads and Amazon, and if I stumble upon it anywhere else, I read it. I can’t help it. I want to learn what readers like and dislike, so I can grow. I am overwhelmed and speechless by all the good ones. On a few negatives ones, readers have chosen to be unnecessarily cruel and silly. I’m all for constructive criticism, but when someone is downright nasty, it hurts. I have a thick skin, but it still causes you to feel awful. It’s not unlike life though. People say things to hurt you, then move on. I wallow for a day or two, then I am good again.
Kim: the best amour writers can wear is thick skin, to be honest James I’ve come to the conclusion there is a reader for every writer’s style, even when you break the rules of the norm for the gene. So just keep pushin’ and really don’t let the mean comments hurt you, I promise there will come a time where you just don’t care for the straight up mean rubbish.
What was your hardest scene to write?
In one of my novels, there is a scene where someone is violently attacked. I made a conscious decision to stop at a specific point and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. I knew exactly what point that was but leading up to it was quite impacting. I’m lucky and privileged to never have gone through something so painful. Just living it through my words and imagination was hard enough, I cannot understand how someone could ever hurt another person or how the survivor finds the strength to persevere. It was important for the scene to be full of emotion and fear, but not be vulgar or vicious in the choice of words. I needed to create imagery without crossing a line. I’m very happy with where it ended up from a word perspective, but I sometimes struggle even in re-reading it myself.
Do you Google yourself?
Yes, and it’s funny. I’ve done it for the last few years, and the things it finds as time goes by… wow! My last name isn’t very common, but I am the fourth with this name as it’s been handed down, so occasionally, I have to check if it’s me or my dad!
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Wow! I’m privileged to know and chat with at least another 50 published authors that I’ve met through my blog and my publisher. I also find a way to reach out to an author I don’t know if I read their book and give them a 4 or a 5. I’ve been able to connect with most of them, too. I learn something new and good from each of these wonderful writers. Sometimes just having a colleague who has been through a situation you’re going through, or a novel handling a topic you need information on, is an amazing source of comfort.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
With two under my belt, each took 6 months from start to finish, including editing. Once they went to the publisher, it was another 2 months, plus a prep month for outlining… so we’re looking at 9 months per book. Some of that time I can be working on two books, so my goal is to deliver two books every year to year and a half.
What’s your favourite movie?
Defending Your Life. Who doesn’t love Meryl Streep?
What music do you like?
I’m a radio guy – top 40s pop make me happy!
Where would you like to travel to and why?
I’m keen on Australia and Patagonia as my next big trip. I’m hitting Italy and England for 3 weeks this spring, but then I’ll be planning the big one!
Which one of your characters is your favourite and why?
Olivia Glass… she’s vivid and ruthless at first, then finds a tender moment. She’s torn between love and power, support and pain. She’s every person in life just on a much larger scale.
Do you need a lot of sexual experience to be a good erotica author?
What an interesting question given I haven’t yet written erotica. I do have 3 scenes in my first book and 5 or 6 in my second book that are quite intimate. Both cover discussion of body parts, physical acts, and imagination. I’m almost afraid to answer this question. It may reveal way more than I intend, but I’m usually an open book, so I’ll give it a try. I think you need to have a fairly extensive amount of experience to be able to write erotica – BUT… that experience could come from many places. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something you’ve done yourself. Sometimes reading about it or watching it happen gives you enough details to understand a human being’s reaction to physical intimacy. Combining what knowledge you do have, talking about it with other people, and experiencing varying degrees of it yourself, you find the right balance of being able to write about it. Consider an author writing a scene in which a character of different sexuality is engaging in something erotic. You may never have done that yourself, but you can imagine what it’s like based on all the other things you’ve seen and done. There’s an emotional reaction we all have to a release. There’s a powerful connection we have at the initial touch. There’s expressions we make when we have little to no control over something happening to / inside us. It can’t often be controlled in the same exact way, but there’s enough to get a clear picture you can augment with your creativity. At least that’s how it works for me! Can I go hide now?
Kim: LMFAO! You’re just too cute you skirted around actually answering!! You answered that like a true politician James. This question was for an erotica author I interviewed, glad you never overlooked it. Well, what can I say? Imagination is a good friend as well as reality, as a romance writer, writing erotically can come naturally ( I don’t write sweet romance) so… yeah, I hear ya! My hardest challenge in this area was co-writing, again, with my co-author a lesbian serial killer! In present tense and first person point of view! Now when I started the story my co-author totally rolled with the whole girl-on- girl scene, and finished up really good! She shocked the hell out of me. When readers demanded part #2 we had to finish up as readers demanded it, a challenge like none other as it was pretty steamy s*hit, even if I say so myself!
If you could do it all again would you change anything?
I’d have started sooner… I wasn’t ready, and I needed to develop more confidence. Sometimes trial by fire is the best path.
Pick one a one time “Bestselling author” or an author with longevity what would you rather?
Follett… he’s been writing for 3 decades and continuously impresses people of all ages.
Thanks for a great interview James! isn’t he a cutie? How he answered the erotic writing question really made me smile. Anyway guys, check back later for excerpts ( posted later today) and a book review of Father Figure in the very near future. Yours truly will do a read and review, I can’t wait.
About The Author:
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?
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