Name Chuck Buda
Age Chronologically, 46. Mentally, 12.
Where are you from New Jersey. Born and raised in Central NJ. Live in Northern NJ. Two different worlds. Thus the distinction.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I am married to a beautiful woman who allows me to live in my pajamas all day. We have a son and a daughter, both of whom are high school students. Our extended families are interesting. My side is Mad-Hungarian and my wife’s side is Happy-Go-Lucky Cuban. So holiday parties are quite unique.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Armand Rosamilia and I started co-hosting The Mando Method Podcast on Project iRadio. The show covers every aspect of writing from experienced and neophyte perspectives. Plus, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi runs a segment at the end of the show called Marketing Morsels where she teaches authors how to promote and market their work. We have gotten tremendous feedback on the show so far.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing back in grade school, mostly poems to girls. Then I discovered James Bond and Dungeons & Dragons. The stories captivated me. So I decided to write my own knock-off James Bond novel. It fizzled after about twenty pages. I later wrote song lyrics for a fictitious band in high school. It was a great band. We just didn’t play any instruments.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a tough one. I guess I first considered myself a writer when I published my first novel. It was hard to call myself a writer while I did it in the shadows.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Like so many people these days, I lost my job to outsourcing. Twenty-five years in Corporate America, outlasting multiple rounds of layoffs over almost a decade, and then the axe finally caught me too. It was a major blow. I fell into a depression which transformed into a midlife crisis about my life and legacy. It may have been divine intervention. I decided I had no more excuses not to pursue my life-long dream. So I sat down and wrote.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My prose is thriller-paced without long, descriptive paragraphs. I write the way I like to read, almost in a pulp style. I like to leave the details to the reader’s imagination because people visualize the settings and characters in their own way. Long descriptions jerk me out of the story flow and I don’t want to do that to somebody else. I do tend to focus on the psychological depths of the characters though.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles fly out of my mind at the most unusual moments. One of my multiple-personalities is a Game Show Host or Late Night Show Announcer. He has no problem identifying catchy titles.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Have fun. I just want people to enjoy the story and escape the daily pressures of life. There are themes within my fiction but I don’t really club people over the heads with them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
On some level, all of my books are based on realistic experiences and personalities. My Son of Earp series, which is a supernatural western thriller, is less realistic than my Debt Collector series. Those books are closer to realistic. I won’t reveal how much because the truth might frighten too many folks.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The book that had the most profound effect on my life is On the Road by Jack Kerouac. My early influences were The Hardy Boys and James Bond. Then Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edward Lee. Nowadays I find myself drawn to anything by Armand Rosamilia. I enjoy his writing voice. It is unique and full of Jersey attitude. I read his work before I ever met him, in case anyone thinks he is forcing me to say this. Armand is my biggest mentor. Gary Jonas, another wonderful author, has been a tremendous advisor to me too. I have been very lucky to find such giving individuals.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Chuck Buda is a hot new author. I love his stuff. Impressive authors NEW TO ME are Adam Cesare, Jaime Johnesee, Stephen Kozeniewski, Tim Meyer, Ann Riley and Matt Serafini. These authors have infused freshness in the horror genre. I already mentioned Armand Rosamilia as my favorite author. Love his writing voice.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The two-headed brothers-from-another-mothers, Kent Diamond and Alex Spiezio. These two friends listened to me talk about writing for years…many years (three decades). They encouraged me and challenged me to put my money where my mouth was. And they never doubted my abilities. The three of us have been through many ups and downs together. So I will have to kill them in future novels before they share any more details.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and no. It is my career because it is all I do now. But I view it more as a calling or a purpose than a career. As long as it never becomes a JOB…
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No way. I am very pleased with Bankrupt, the final chapter in the Debt Collector Trilogy. The story morphed from the original outline but the characters took me to the rightful conclusion. They were very dissatisfied with the outline. I’m glad I paid attention to their wishes.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My earliest plan was to graduate college and then hitchhike from Jersey to Hollywood to become an actor (you can guess I had recently read Kerouac). I auditioned for a few agents who told me not to give up my dreams of becoming a professional office worker. So I figured the best revenge would be to write movie scripts for a blockbuster film. Then I got serious with a young lady and found a nice office worker job instead of following my dreams.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone by sampling the newest book in the trilogy. Instead, here is the first chapter of book 1 – Pay Up and Die:
“Come on, dammit,” Lori muttered under her breath. It was getting late and she needed to get home before Doug. Otherwise she would have to endure his paranoid jealousy and accusations of an affair. They had been married for almost two years now but he was still so insecure. She sighed to herself.
Lori entered her PIN more slowly this time so that the stupid machine would work. She had to make sure the check cleared today so that she could withdraw funds to reimburse Doug’s emergency fund. He was always so habitual about his accounting practices. Like clockwork, he would go through the shoe box in the closet every Tuesday night. It was another one of his annoying paranoias. He had to physically count the stack of cash and open each insurance document to ensure that all contingencies were accounted for. Craziness on one hand but comforting on the other. At least she knew he was meticulous with making sure they were provided for.
It was so stupid of her to borrow the money but she had to have those shoes. The sale was only good for one day. And she had been dreaming about those sling backs since she first laid eyes on them a month ago. A cash purchase was her only option since Doug inspected the credit card statements religiously. He had scolded her so harshly once last spring that she had changed over to a “cash only” policy to avoid Doug’s scrutiny.
She hated these outdoor ATMs because she always felt so exposed to potential muggers. At least if it were a drive-thru ATM she could pull up close and lock all the car doors. But the only way to avoid all the damn fees was to use the machine provided by her own bank. Thankfully, the bank had chosen to use extremely bright lighting over the brick facade. And it was comforting to see the security cameras on each corner angled over the machine.
As she waited for the ATM to process the card and reveal her latest transactions, Lori got a creepy sensation that she was being watched. A chill shot up her spine. She glanced to the left and then the right. She swiveled around and eyed the parking lot. Everything appeared to be clear but she still couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness.
Finally, the screen showed her the check cleared today as she had hoped. She punched in her request for cash and waited impatiently for the money to come out. It was all here and now she had to hustle home in a race against the clock, and Doug.
Lori turned and headed for her car. Her senses were still on high alert as she couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. She kept peering from side to side. She reached into her purse for the car keys but fumbled around all the junk inside. She stopped walking for a second to glance down into her bag. There they were, right under her used tissue and empty gum wrappers.
She clasped the keys and started walking again. As she looked up from her bag she realized she almost walked right into the handicapped parking sign. It startled her and she exhaled loudly, rolling her eyes. Such an idiot, she thought to herself.
As Lori put the key into the door she was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of dread. She quickly spun around and a huge man was hovering over her. He was dressed like a lumberjack which was strange in this suburb of New York City. But she had no time to contemplate it further as he clutched her neck and lifted her off the ground. Her feet were kicking wildly, trying to wiggle out of his grasp. She noticed that he was a fairly attractive man, in a rough sort of manner. It fleetingly crossed her mind that she was being choked to death by a lumberjack and all she could do was admire the man’s features. So she shook off the ill-timed thoughts and focused on getting out of this situation.
A small hatchback pulled into the parking lot and approached the struggle. The balding driver lowered his window and shouted, “What the hell is going on here?”
The large man in the red and black flannel shirt slowly turned to face his distraction while continuing to strangle the little brunette with the glasses that were now askew.
As the Good Samaritan began to step out of his car a large, expensive SUV screeched alongside the hatchback. The window was already down and the driver looked angry. He was dressed in an expensive suit and his fine features belied a life of prosperity and privilege. “You better get out of here now or you’re next,” he threatened baldy.
The Good Samaritan deflated immediately and nodded his understanding. He got back in the hatchback and sped across the lot.
“Go take care of him and fix this mess,” the SUV driver yelled at the large man.
Lori’s hand found the lumberjack’s huge belt buckle and she grabbed hold of it, trying to get leverage to kick this monster off her before she blacked out. Her lungs were straining for life. The veins on her temples bursting at the surface of her skin.
Without blinking the large man slammed Lori downward, smashing her head and breaking the side view mirror off her car. Her lifeless body now limp in a pile underneath the shadow of her vehicle.
“Well what are you waiting for?” The SUV driver was exasperated.
An almost imperceptible smirk on the right side of the large man’s face. He trotted over to his pickup truck in silence. The engine roared to life and the truck sped across the lot without the headlights on. It reached the stop sign and then squealed loudly as it swung left in pursuit of the small hatchback.
The door opened and two expensive shoes stepped onto the dark asphalt, one after the other. The open door chime sounding its rhythmic cadence. The well-dressed man walked over to the woman’s body. He bent down and checked for a pulse but there was none. Not anymore.
As he stood up, he straightened his tie and adjusted his suit jacket. He looked up at the full moon and took in a deep breath. Closing his eyes to get control of himself, he let out a large exhalation. Now, he had to make sure that the job was completed to his satisfaction. There could be no loose ends. Ever.
He got back in the SUV and drove off in the direction of the pickup truck.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Balancing the business side with the writing side is most challenging. I can really only focus on one at a time. So when I write, I don’t do anything else. And when I focus on marketing, my writing suffers. I’m in the process of trying out several new systems to solve my problem. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have done a little traveling but things are really starting to ramp up. I have definite plans to attend Jekyll Con in Jekyll Island, GA in December and Scares That Care in Williamsburg, VA next July. Plus, I travel every April to Austin, TX for the Smarter Artist Summit. A few more out-of-state appearances are in the works too.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I like to use different artists for different projects. Each story has a distinct flavor to me and I try to pair it with the proper cover artist. The Debt Collector series was designed by Leslie K. through 99designs.com. The Son of Earp series was designed by Phil Yarnall of SMAY Design. I found him at a hard rock show in NYC. That was a cool, chance encounter that turned into a blessing. The other books are designed by a young genius, Marc Gonzalez of mggdstudio.com.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing is always the beginning. Once momentum gathers the writing takes on a life of its own. But getting the outline figured out and writing the first paragraphs are like dragging an anvil up hill.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I have learned that I am far from perfect, which is humbling. As an alpha male, I have walked around for a long time believing that everything had to be perfect or else it wasn’t worth doing. Writing has taught me to embrace the imperfections and to mold them into interesting nuances. They are still imperfections but maybe less obvious. But I know they are there.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I cast all the characters in my books using real movie actors. So, the perfect leads have already been chosen. By me! I wouldn’t want to spoil it for the readers by type-casting my characters publicly. I am a huge fan of Tom Hardy so he would probably get first crack at playing some of my leads. But I would definitely have John Goodman play me!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, don’t pay attention to the negative voices in your head. Write and share it with the world. Then let the chips fall where they may.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love my readers. They are the reason I get to pursue my dreams. Without them, the story wouldn’t be told. And I value their feedback. It is nice to know what you are doing well and what you need to fix. The reader is the focal point of all my work.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I read several books simultaneously because the voices in my head require different tales. My current reading list is Brian Keene’s Pressure, Kristopher Rufty’s Prank Night, Doug Murano’s and D. Alexander Ward’s Shadows Over Main Street and Stephen Young’s Nightmares in the Woods.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I read on my own was definitely Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man. I went to the library with a friend and took the book home that day. I think I read it in minutes and asked to go back to get more. The cases would be solved in the back of the book so little boys could feel like real sleuths!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Anyone who knows me would confirm that I am the Michael Landon of the real world. I cry like a baby when my kids achieve something or at weddings and births. Just like Little House on the Prairie. Don’t tell anyone else though. As far as laughing, it takes a lot to get me to lose it. When I crack up, I sound like Hawkeye on M.A.S.H. Jay Wilburn makes me laugh that hard. And he is a master storyteller.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
This is an excellent question. There are so many great choices. I guess I would have to choose Thomas Jefferson. The man was a genius and wielded so much influence on a fledgling country which has dramatically shaped America’s existence ever since. I would love to get his unfiltered thoughts on achieving the impossible. A close second would be Winston Churchill.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I want it to say something like “he was a great husband and father who did his very best in life.” What it will probably say is “He was something else, huh?”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love to read horror novels. I like spending tons of time in the woods. Hiking, camping, exploring. Nature is beautiful and humbling. You realize how truly insignificant your life is in the universe. All those trees and landscapes have been there long before I showed up and will be there long after I am gone. It is so peaceful. No cell phones or computers. No traffic. Just an overload of awe-inspiring wonder.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love the Big Bang Theory because I am a major nerd. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… So pretty much anything having to do with Bigfoot, ghosts, UFO’s and other unexplained phenomena will make me drop what I am doing to watch TV. I’m a huge fan of SyFy and History Channel. I am a total geek with movies. Anything by Spielberg or in the Star Wars/Star Trek realm is a must. Greatest movie of all time for me is still Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I can’t live without pizza…at least twice per week. Coffee is critical too. My favorite color is CAMO. I listen to so many great styles of music but my go-to is heavy metal. Black metal and thrash metal preferably, but I will never turn off 80’s metal if it’s playing. The best writing music for dark fiction is anything by Lustmord.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I wish I were smart enough to be a scientist. Either an astronomer or a cryptozoologist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, I blog periodically on my website – www.chuckbuda.com. If you miss me there, I can also be found on Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Don’t forget to check me out on iTunes on The Mando Method Podcast.
The Debt Collector Series
Son of Earp Series