About J.D. Cunegan:
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.
What inspires you to write?
I've always been a creative person — whether it was drawing or writing or whatever. I didn't make the conscious decision to become a writer until I was in middle school, after I discovered superhero comic books and fell in love with them, but as far back as I can remember, I've always spent whatever time I had creating something or consuming the creative efforts of others.
Simply put, I don't know who I am if I don't create, and the written word is my instrument of choice. If I'm not writing (or doing writing-adjacent activities, like reading or listening to other writers talk about writing), then I don't feel like myself.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
R.R. Virdi, S.E. Anderson, Madeline Dyer, Chuck Wendig, Ron Chernow, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kevin Smith, Cait Ashwood, E.A. Copen.
Tell us about your writing process.
I'm what could best be described as a "plantser;" while I do outline a novel before writing it, said outline isn't overly detailed and contains a lot of wiggle room — because at heart, I like writing by the seat of my pants, and the outline serves no other purpose than to keep me at least somewhat on the rails. My outline is often little more than a series of tentpoles, highlighting the *big events* in my story, while the connective tissue that really lies at the heart of the tale come to light when I actually start writing.
I like having that wiggle room in case the characters do or say something I didn't expect, and I find some of my best stories come from moments like that . An overly detailed outline would do away with that, and my work would turn into… well, work. And we can't have that.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I can talk to my characters until I'm blue in the face, but they never listen to me. Non-writers assume we have all the control at the keyboard, and that couldn't be further from the truth. In truly great stories, the characters take control; they steer the proverbial ship. They are the driving force in the story, not the author.
This was no more evident than in the end of Behind the Badge (Jill Andersen #3); in that book's conclusion, Jill does something I never expected her to do. But it fit who she is and what had happened earlier in the book, so her decision, while surprising, was the best thing to happen to my story.
Not only that, but I find if my characters surprise me, then chances are they'll surprise my readers, too.
What advice would you give other writers?
Your work will not be perfect in the first draft. It might not even be good in the first draft (this is true even for the world-famous bestsellers). But that's the point of the first draft; you can fix a bad page, but not a blank one. Just put one word in front of the other and worry about everything else later.
That includes things like editing and formatting and book covers and marketing… these are all important things to consider once you start thinking of publication. But not when you're writing. When writing, that should be your sole focus. Those other questions will still be there to answer *after* you've actually completed the manuscript.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Self-publishing was the easy call to make, because of the amount of control and freedom it gave me over my own work. By self-publishing, I control everything — when I hit Publish, I know I'm putting the story I want to tell, the way I want to tell it, when I want to tell it out into the world.
Self-publishing is a lot of work; on top of writing, you're also in charge of editing, formatting, book covers, blurb writing, marketing and promotions… it all falls on you, whether you do it yourself or you hire out. But there's no publisher to handle those steps for you.
But with that responsibility also comes control. No one's telling you to change anything or get rid of something you feel strongly about. If you self-publish, you're in complete control of every aspect of bringing a book to life. It's a lot of work, but it's also incredibly freeing and there's a certain amount of power that comes with that.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think self-publishing and independent publishing will grow even more, because the Internet has removed the gates that previously kept so many writers (especially non-white, non-male writers) away. Amazon, Smashwords, and other publishing platforms have brought publishing directly to the writers, and the ease of use alone has made for a more level playing field. The traditional publishers are not going anywhere, but they will have to deal with self- and independent publishing more and more, and eventually, the stigma surrounding self-published books (that they're poorly written and/or poorly edited) will go away.
What genres do you write?: Urban fantasy, superheroes, mystery/thriller
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.