5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Friday, July 24, 2015

Indie Author Interview: J.D. Cunegan

Indie Author Interview with J.D. Cunegan - Author of the Mystery/Science-Fiction Novel Bounty.

J.D. Cunegan introduces his debut novel, BOUNTY, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose.

Interview with J.D. Cunegan

Author J.D. Cunegan
Author J.D. Cunegan
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
J.D. Cunegan: When I was 11 years old, I read my first comic book – an issue of Jim Lee and Chris Claremont’s X-Men – and at that point, I decided that I wanted to create my own characters and worlds and stories. Once I got to high school, I started creating my own characters, including the main character of my first novel, Jill Andersen.
Back then, I had designs of being a comic book creator, but once I got to college and fell out of love with art (the problem sometimes of turning a passion into a course of academic study), my writing far out-classed my art. I finished college studying journalism and for several years, I was a sports writer more than anything. Over the years, though, I kept tinkering with and rebooting my characters, until I finally got to a point where I felt comfortable enough turning my comic book stories into prose compositions.
Now here I am, 22 years after that initial spark, having published my first novel.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Stan Lee is an obvious one, given my lifelong love for comics, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give the late Michael Turner his share of credit, too. Turner was a comic book artist and co-creator of the long-running comic book Witchblade – a book that was extremely important in terms of inspiring me to write my own stories.
Joss Whedon’s a big part of that as well, because I hit a creative funk when I was in college, and I didn’t get out of that funk until I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Those two shows reignited my desire to write and create.
These days, when I’m not reading comics, I like to read a lot of different books. I don’t really have a favorite writer, per se, though Dan Brown’s earlier works are favorites and I’ve lately enjoyed Andrew Mayne’s Angel Killer. As it turns out, Richard Castle novels are pretty good, too (you wouldn’t think so, but they are).

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Since that day when I was 11. I knew from that point on that I wanted to write. And I’m fortunate that I’ve always been able to write, in one form or another, over the years. Whether it was comic book scripts or newspaper articles or press releases or novels or whatever, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a lot of interests over the course of my life, but writing is one of my few passions.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was in middle school, I wrote a lot of X-Men stories. Really simple stuff – and really not very good – but I look at it, in hindsight, as practice. By the time I created my first original characters in high school, the stories started getting a little more involved – but it wasn’t until I grew into adulthood that I really matured as a storyteller.

"[...] most of my debut novel Bounty was written in airports and on airplanes."

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

Not really. I can write almost anywhere, any time. I write at home, I write at work… hell, most of my debut novel Bounty was written in airports and on airplanes. My day job takes a lot of my time throughout the year, so I have to be flexible in when and where and how I write. I can’t really afford to stick to a heavily regimented schedule or routine.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Anywhere I can plug in my laptop and access my external hard drive is a good place for me to write. I don’t even need a quiet place to write – in fact, I prefer to write with noise in the background, which is why I often write while listening to music.

"The hardest part is editing [...]"

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The easiest part of writing to me is the act of writing itself. Getting the words down on the page is relatively easy for me – especially compared to all of the other stuff that can surround writing – because of the purity of it. This is what writing is all about: putting one word in front of the other and weaving your way through a tale for the first time.
The hardest part is editing, but not because the act of editing itself is difficult (though it can be). I find editing hard because there’s no set rule for when enough is enough. A book can be ready after two pass-throughs, or three, or five, or twenty. There is no hard-and-fast guideline when it comes to fine-tuning a manuscript, which is what makes it hard to deal with sometimes.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a reader tells me they enjoyed what I wrote, because more than anything, that’s validation. A lot of times, I’ll write a chapter or a particular scene and think to myself, Wow, this is really good… I can’t wait for others to see this! But until someone actually does, there’s no telling how they’ll react. Seeing them enjoy reading something as much as I enjoyed creating it is a great feeling, and it sort of validates my instincts as a writer.

Bounty (J.D. Cunegan)
Click to Read an Excerpt

J.D, please tell us a little about your Science-Fiction / Mystery Novel Bounty.
Bounty follows Baltimore homicide detective Jill Andersen as she works to solve murders in her hometown – all while leading a secret double life as the costumed vigilante Bounty. Jill is a character I first created when I was in high school, because after discovering the comic book Witchblade, I was in love with the idea of a cop who doubled as a superhero.
Jill has always wanted to be a cop, even as far back as when she was 9 because she worshiped her father, who was also a homicide cop. But her father Paul eventually fell from grace, and his baggage was part of what prompted Jill to lead this double life – which was made possible because of the secretive government experiment she took part in when she was serving in the Army during the War in Iraq.
Bounty details a murder that threatens to reveal Jill’s secret, and she finds herself having to simultaneously solve the case and look over her shoulder. The constant interweaving between the past and the present is one of the things that made this book so much fun to write.

"[...] sci-fi aspects with the murder mystery genre really helped the story come together."

What inspired you to write the book?
As I mentioned, Jill Andersen is a character I’ve had in my head for about 20 years, and she’s probably my favorite creation. So once I finally got the personal courage to write a novel fit for publishing, I knew it had to be her. So many of my favorite fictional characters are female – Buffy Summers, Sydney Bristow, Sara Pezzini, Kate Beckett, Nikki Heat – that writing about Jill was almost second nature to me.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with coming up with stories to go along with Jill as a character, but interweaving the vigilante and sci-fi aspects with the murder mystery genre really helped the story come together. In fact, I already have four or five other stories lined up, so Jill is a character I plan to be writing about for a long time.

“This was not what I was expecting, and I loved it.” 

Who do you see as your target audience?
Comic book fans, fans who enjoy superhero stories, and murder mystery fans, I think, would all love this book. One of the things I love hearing from people who read Bounty is “This was not what I was expecting, and I loved it.”

What makes your book special?
I think the blending of all the different genres and elements and the way they all come together to tell a suspenseful and fast-paced story. Subversion of genre expectation is one of my favorite things to do as a writer, and I think Bounty fits that bill.

"[readers] go onto Goodreads or Amazon to rave about it… that’s a great feeling."

How would you describe the success of your self-published books so far?
Hit-or-miss. If you look strictly at the sales chart, success really isn’t there – and I’ve already undergone one cover re-design in the hopes of mitigating that. But everyone who has read Bounty loves it, and that’s a really good sign – especially since this is my first published work. It’s one thing for people in my life to rave about my writing when I show it to them in private, but when people buy the book, read it, then go onto Goodreads or Amazon to rave about it… that’s a great feeling.
It’s my hope that the sales pick up the more I publish. I’m working on a Bounty digital short, called Boundless, that I hope to put out next month, and I’m targeting my next novel, a Bounty follow-up called Blood Ties, for a January 2016 release. Maybe publishing more stories will get more people noticing and clicking the “Buy” link.

"Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Those are the two best ways to improve as a writer and become more inspired. The more I read, the better I write. Don’t just read stuff similar to your genre of interest, either; read anything you can get your hands on. And loathe as I normally am about books on writing, Stephen King’s On Writing is a wonderful book. I could feel myself becoming a better writer as I read it.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
As I mentioned, I’m in the editing stage of a digital short called Boundless that will be out next month. It’s gonna be a free e-book that’s sort of a prequel to Bounty; it details Jill’s first couple nights as her vigilante persona, and it was a lot of fun to write.
I’m also editing Blood Ties, the second book in the Bounty series that will be out in January of next year, and I’ve already started writing Behind the Badge, which will be the third book in the series. If I can have that book out by next summer, that would be great.
I’m also working on a completely different project, separate from the Bounty universe. It’s a supernatural/occult epic called Notna that details the Gem of Notna, a powerful crystal of unknown origin that chooses its next bearer and will play a pivotal role in the fate of the world. It’s a much different style of book than everything else I’m working on, and I hope to have it out in either late 2016 or early 2017.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I don’t see bookstores disappearing, simply because there are so many people who still prefer physical books – even with the growth of e-books. With Kindle alone, I have so many reading options – my Kindle device, my smartphone app, my Windows app – and those are all great, but I know I love the feel of a book physically in my hand, and I know many feel the same way.
I’ve sold far more e-books than paperback so far, which sort of betrays my point, but I don’t see physical books ever truly going away – and even if they do, it won’t be in the next decade.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle. One of the older ones, not the fancy new ones that seem to do everything but cook my dinner. I like to use that or my Kindle app for Windows. I have a Kindle app on my phone, but I just can’t bring myself to read on my phone.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work full-time. As much as I would love to make a living writing novels, I’m not anywhere near that point yet. If I get there, it’s gonna be a long haul, so for the time being, I hold down a full-time job while writing.
Outside of writing, I’m a huge motorsports fan – NASCAR especially. I also enjoy collecting and reading comic books, reading novels, and watching Baltimore Orioles baseball and Washington Capitals hockey. Video games are also a hobby, but there are only so many hours in a day, so they tend to be the hobby that gets neglected.

How can readers connect with you?
Readers can follow me on Twitter (@JD_Cunegan), on Facebook, and on Goodreads.

Thank you very much for the Interview, J.D.

About the Book Bounty

Bounty (J.D. Cunegan)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Jill Andersen is one of Baltimore's best and brightest detectives, but she harbors a dark secret -- a secret that threatens to come out when the body of Dr. Trent Roberts is pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Roberts' connection to Jill reveals a past that involves a tour in Iraq, a secretive cybernetic experiment, and a conspiracy that involves a native son.

Can Jill solve the case while still keeping her secret? Will her partners at the Seventh Precinct find out what she's so desperate to hide? What was Dr. Roberts looking into that led to his murder? And perhaps the biggest question of all...

Who is Bounty?

- "I actually loved the cybentics in it and the author explains everything so well. The plot has been planned out thoroughly and has it's twists and surprises. [...] this shows talent in writing. Bounty is character led and plot driven. I can't wait to see what J.D. Cunegan offers us next." - Reader Review

Link to the Book

Link to the Paperback Bounty on Amazon

Link to the eBook Bounty on Amazon

Please, share with your Friends!