Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Indie Author Interview: John Cunningham Jr.


Indie Author Interview with John Cunningham Jr. - Author of the Christian Historical Fiction Vengeance & Betrayal.

John Cunningham Jr. is a former high school history teacher. He's written professionally for over thirty years, his work appearing in numerous Christian and secular magazines. His special genre is Christian/Inspirational historical fiction

Interview with John Cunningham Jr.

Author John Cunningham Jr.
Author John Cunningham Jr.
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
John Cunningham Jr.: I have been writing professionally for thirty years. It started when I was in my late twenties. At the time, I was teaching high school. While visiting a bookstore, I happened upon a book titled Writing to Inspire. One of the authors was a lady who served as editor of The Upper Room, a devotional magazine published by the United Methodist Church. Since I was familiar with the magazine, I followed her guidelines to the letter and sold my first article. From then on, I was hooked. I started to believe I could become a professional writer, which is something I’d dreamed about since childhood. As I devoted myself to studying the craft—reading how-to books, taking writing courses, and attending writing conferences—I soon found myself selling more and more articles on a more consistent basis.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
CS Forester, Louis L’Amour, and James Michener have had the biggest influence on my writing.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t recall how old I was, but it was before I entered the seventh grade. Since I wasn’t very good at sports, my interests first turned toward reading and later, writing. I fell in love with words.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

I am a morning person, so my peak time is in the morning. I’m also a goal setter. For each writing project, I set a goal to achieve for that particular day. It may be writing a scene, it may be researching a scene I’m working on, or working on my blog. Anything writing related. Every day is different, which makes writing even more interesting. However, most of my writing is done in the morning,
I usually go to bed early, between seven and eight o’clock, and usually awake around five or six o’clock. Often, I start writing at seven, though it can start earlier depending on how many projects I’m working on and my goals for the day. If my writing schedule is really full, then I’ll begin work around five. I usually write till ten or eleven, and sometimes up to noon, depending on my projects and schedule. I also research during this time, if I need to do it, and take short breaks. But when I write, I require as much undisturbed quiet as possible because my writing time is highly focused and intense. Since I’m not married, I usually don’t have a problem getting this.
I do more research in the afternoons. Sometimes I write and research at night, too. The mornings, however, are my peak time. For me, it’s not how long I write or how many pages I write, but the quality of the time that I spend writing. Did I accomplish all my writing and research goals for that particular day? If so, then I’ve had a good day.

"I love the creative process, getting into my characters’ heads [...]"

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Getting up and doing it is the easiest. I love the creative process, getting into my characters’ heads and being them as I write. I also love the revision process, because I enjoy playing with words, cutting them, rearranging them on the page, etc.
Writing dialogue is my biggest challenge—making it interesting, believable, and true to the characters who are speaking it. I always have to work extra-hard on this.

John, please tell us a little about your Christian Historical Fiction Novel Vengeance & Betrayal.
Vengeance & Betrayal is Book 1 in my two-book Civil War series, Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters. Through a number of subplots woven throughout the novel’s main plot, it tells the stories of four families living on the Gulf Coast – the Westcotts, the Jessups, the Creole Soileaus and the indomitable and devout slave Danny, who escapes bondage and finds service aboard a Union warship and his wife Nancy, cruelly whisked out of his life decades before the war. Its three main settings are Mobile, New Orleans and the Union’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron, commanded by Flag Officer David Glasgow Farragut. It climaxes at the Battle of New Orleans and Book 2, River Ruckus, Bloody Bay, continues their stories till the end of the war.

Vengeance & Betrayal (John Cunningham Jr.)
Click to Read an Excerpt

While the Confederacy struggles to build a navy to defeat the Yankee fleet threatening New Orleans, these coastal families suffer their own personal conflicts: secret courtships, emotional turmoil, banishment, prejudice and hate. For those in naval service–-Danny and Confederate Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott, whose family owns Nancy–-vengeance and betrayal approaches as the battle of New Orleans draws near. If the Westcott’s butler Titus succeeds in his plan, and Ben’s mortal enemy Master Xavier Locke of the USS Madison gains the upper hand, both Danny and Ben will suffer heartache and loss in vastly different ways.
Unlike most Civil War novels, which deal with the armies and other settings, Vengeance & Betrayal’s emphasis on the naval war and Gulf Coast Southerners sets it apart from similar Civil War stories.

"[...] I decided I’d write a novel to fill this niche."

What inspired you to write the book?
I grew up in Mobile and lived in New Orleans for twenty-five years. I’m also a fan of CS Forester’s Hornblower series. As a student of the Civil War and a lover of naval history, I’ve never read a Civil War novel with a setting on the Gulf Coast using the naval war as its backdrop. Since Farragut was such an important figure in the conflict, and a Southerner himself, I decided I’d write a novel to fill this niche. But it was CS Forester’s books, many years ago, which first got me interested in naval fiction.

"[...] readers who love big, sweeping historical epics."

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
This book targets readers who love big, sweeping historical epics. Right now, it’s only available on Amazon Kindle, though a print edition is in the works.

How long did it take it to write the book? How did you go about your research?
About five years, including the research.
My research included more than a study of secondary sources. Since I am a stickler for details, I also studied the logs of different ships featured in my books along with their officers’ correspondence. These I found in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. I also did on-site research, visiting antebellum homes, forts, and even a Civil War naval museum. Personal diaries of men and women proved valuable when it came to writing dialogue, because they gave me a feel for how people back then talked, expressions they used, as well as their attitudes toward slavery and the war.

"Don’t quit, and don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dream."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Don’t quit, and don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dream. Subscribe to writing magazines and writing blogs, take writing courses and build up a library of good writing reference books. Don’t just build up your library, though. Read those books. Study them, underline things that help you and mark on the pages if necessary. Study and learn, study and learn, study and learn. I’ve been at this craft for thirty years, and I still take time to study and improve my craft.

What about the second book in the Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series? Tell us a little about it.
Its title is River Ruckus, Bloody Bay. It continues where Vengeance & Betrayal leaves off and climaxes at the Civil War’s bloodiest naval battle, the Battle of Mobile Bay. It also tells the true story of a famous author living in Mobile at the time, Augusta Jane Evans. Though not as well known today, she was as popular as Harriet Beecher Stowe and other famous female writers in her own day. Despite the Union navy blockading Mobile, she managed to write the only book during the war that was an instant bestseller in the North as well as the South.
We get deeper into the lives of the series’ main fictional characters, too. Some of them change for the better and others for the worse as they deal with the tragedies and triumphs the naval war brings to them.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am currently working on a second edition of a little dog story I had published many years ago, which is now out of print. It’s a Civil War story that’s primarily seen from a dog’s perspective. I’ve also started researching Book 3 in my Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle

How can readers connect with you?
At my website, www.johncunninghamjr.com

Thank you very much for the Interview, John.



About the Book Vengeance & Betrayal

Vengeance & Betrayal (John Cunningham Jr.)
Click to Read an Excerpt
A sweeping saga of the Civil War’s western naval campaigns, Book 1 in the Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series follows four Southern families living on the Gulf Coast—the Westcotts, the Jessups, the Soileaus, the indomitable and devout slave Danny who escapes bondage and finds service aboard a Union warship and his wife Nancy, cruelly whisked out of his life decades before the war.

While the Confederacy struggles to build a navy to defeat the Yankee fleet threatening New Orleans these families suffer their own personal conflicts: secret courtships, emotional turmoil, and banishment. For those in naval service–-Danny and Confederate Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott, whose family owns Nancy–-vengeance and betrayal approaches as the battle of New Orleans draws near. If the Westcott’s butler Titus succeeds in his plan, and Ben’s mortal enemy Master Xavier Locke of the USS Madison gains the upper hand, both Danny and Ben will suffer heartache and loss in vastly different ways.

Unlike most Civil War novels which focus on armies and land campaigns, this two part series is set against the backdrop of New Orleans, Mobile, and David Glasgow Farragut’s naval exploits.

"Up and coming historical-fiction author, John Cunningham, invites his readers to enter into the intense, up-close drama of the Civil War in his newly-launched book, Vengeance and Betrayal. As a judicious, life-long student of that war, and most especially in the realm of the navies and naval battles, he opens a door into a world that is not often seen by readers of Civil War novels.[...]" - Reader Review





Links to the Book

Link to the eBook Vengeance & Betrayal with Excerpt on Amazon


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