- a writer of superheroes, unexpected Chosen Ones, and other such weirdness
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to 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, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.
J.D., thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
Well, the good thing is, I’m a cat person and I’m not allergic, so I’m perfectly content with the cat I currently have. A black-and-white stray had paid us a visit a little more than a year ago and simply decided to stay. I guess the cat adopted us. He doesn’t have a name (mostly because I can’t think of one – and I’m a writer!), but he’s made himself quite at home, and honestly, having a cat has made being in lockdown and quasi-quarantine a lot more bearable.
Things are just better when you’ve got a pet.
How lovely to have had a pet keep you company! I’ve actually started debating getting a cat — despite my allergies. And I’m sure most authors out there can sympathize with the struggle to find ‘the right name’, I know I can!
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I began writing when I was 11 after discovering superhero comic books. I originally wanted to be a comic book artist, but as I got older, I became a much better writer than artist (oops), so I eventually shifted to writing prose instead, and I converted all the characters and stories I had created to that point (that would eventually become Bounty and Notna) to prose fiction instead. So I still told and published the stories I wanted to tell as a teenager – I just did it in novel form instead of comics.
I’m the author of the Jill Andersen mystery/thriller/superhero series (it’s been called a mixture between Castle and Daredevil), which is five books in at the moment – Betrayal, the most recent entry in the series, was published last April. I also wrote the standalone fantasy book Notna (it’s been compared to Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Supernatural) and its companion, the short story collection Legends of the Gem.
I also recently released my first non-fiction book, The Art of Reading, where I argue that reading is one of the most important tools a writer can have in their toolkit, and that reading is important in becoming a better, more productive writer.
Awesome! While I’ve never had the graphic novel urge, I’m a huge graphic novel and webcomic addict.
What do you like to read?
With the possible exception of romance and erotica (because I’m not a very romantic or sexual person), I’ll read just about anything. Fantasy, dystopia, superheroes, mystery, thrillers, non-fiction, spy novels, political books, magazines, blog posts, newspapers…I try not to limit myself to genre or author, because while it’s okay to have preferences, I have a hard time automatically dismissing something without giving it a try first; there’s no telling what amazing work you might be missing out on if you do that.
I see you’re following the advice to read widely! You never know when some bit of knowledge or writing technique will come in handy – in your writing, or just in conversation.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Outline before you write
Outlining’s not really my thing. I’ll do outlines of a sort for my own work, a vague road map that’s just detailed enough to keep me going in the (relatively) right direction, but I can’t do those ultra-detailed outlines that break things down, scene by scene. It takes all the fun and spontaneity out of writing for me; I need some wiggle room for the eventuality that my characters are simply going to decide they’re doing their own thing, and the surprise in that keeps me going as a writer. Because if I’m surprised, then chances are, my readers will be, too.
I like my high level outlines, too. And I know some writers who are such pantsers that writing a detailed outline takes the joy out of writing for them, and they just can’t find the drive to finish a book if they already know what’s going to happen… sounds like you’re almost in that camp!
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Read read read read read read read! Stephen King thinks writers should read. Neil Gaiman thinks writers should read. And I like to agree with them (because come on, that’s damn good company to keep). Writers who don’t read baffle me, because reading is a great way to learn and a great source of inspiration. In my experience, I struggle most as a writer when I’m in the middle of a reading slump. The more I read, the more I write (and the better my writing is).
I love a writer who’s clearly already practicing what they preach. Besides, most of us got into this writing-habit because of a love of books.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
The Jill Anderson Series: a comic book-inspired brand of fast-paced prose, with chapters that fly by and plot twists that will leave readers guessing and waiting for more.
Bounty (Book 1)
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?
(Plus, Boundless – the Bounty prequel, freebie for newsletter subscribers (hint hint!))
History’s most peaceful race created one of its deadliest weapons.
Forged in the Living Flame by a long-extinct alien race, The Gem of Notna is the stuff of legends, on par with Pandora’s Box or the Holy Grail. But once archaeologist Dr. Jack Corbett stumbled upon the crystal deep in the Amazon, he triggered a whirlwind of events and found himself neck-deep in a centuries-old holy war. The Divine and the Underworld have been locked in a virtual stalemate for the past three hundred years, and the Gem of Notna could be the key to breaking it.
With the gem in his possession, Jack discovers a world of monsters and gods, as well as an entirely different plane of existence that watches over our own. Old grudges resurface, fallen warriors are reborn in the most violent of ways, but at the end of the day, the fate of the world may well rest in Jack’s hands.
Introducing Notna, a supernatural fantasy epic that will leave readers flipping through the pages with every twist and turn. Grand in scale and steeped in the very comic book lore that lured Cunegan to writing in the first place, Notna proves that anyone can save the world – or die trying.
The Art of Reading (non-fiction)
Sometimes, it feels like everyone’s got some advice for how to write.
But what about how to read?
A full library can be a writer’s best friend, and reading plays a far bigger role in the creative process and a writer’s productivity than you might think. Stephen King, international bestseller and uber-productive wordsmith, said it best in his book On Writing, when he argued for the importance of reading, and The Art of Reading dives deeper into just why that is.
This book examines how a healthy reading habit can feed and sustain a productive and successful life as a writer. The Art of Reading will not tell you how to write, but it will show you how reading can help you improve as a writer.
Check Jeff Cunegan out across the web!