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Ask An Author 3.0 #14


astone2292

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I'm not sure about everyone else, but the weather in Kentucky's starting to warm up a bit. Well, at least for the moment. The chilly breezes were welcome for a short while, but I've had enough snow and ice. I'm ready for summer! Bring out the swimwear and IPAs! But you know what else we need?

The March edition of Ask An Author! I'm all smiles with this month's featured author, although he might hunt me down after this introduction. One of GA's Signature Authors, Big Daddy @Carlos Hazday! An anonymous reader sent me some questions about his C.J. series, so let's dive in!

    

C.J.
Carlos Hazday

15 Books / 45 Reviews / 863,840 Words / Rating: Mature

CJ’s fifteen when his step-father banishes him from his home for being gay. When he moves to Washington to live with his father, he begins a journey of discovery. The series follows him through high school and college as he accumulates friends, and learns what it’s like to be a young, wealthy, gay man living in an urban environment.

 

What made you write the final book to the series in 2019 and then return to it in 2021 with a new CJ novel? 

 

Exhaustion and fear.

After churning out ten CJ books, I was tired of looking at everything through the same filter: could what I saw, heard, or read be incorporated into the series? By then, the stories had become more complex, and the supporting cast had gained popularity. I thought I could silence CJ by writing the stories some readers were asking for about secondary characters. As an aside, it didn’t work, CJ continues to infiltrate my thoughts constantly.

I knew where CJ would end up twenty-years after his college graduation, and I feared I wouldn’t be able to share that. I have health issues that flare up now and then. Facing our mortality can be a motivator and with me the result was Hail to the Chief.

Singer, Ranger, Cadet and a couple of other stories featuring secondary characters gave me the chance to expand the CJ-verse without having to feature him in every story. At some point I knew I had to return to the main series, and CDMX was the vehicle for it. One little comment in HTTC had followers up in arms wanting to know details. Those details are included in the final chapters of the Mexico book.

 

When you created CJ in 2015, how did you go about creating the character and did you think you would still be writing about him 7 years later?

Hell, no! As I’ve previously mentioned, the original idea was to write about a gay father with a gay son. Yeah, I still did that, but instead of CJ’s dad being the main character, his son took over. At some point I realized my plans to write about a rejected kid moving and spending a summer surrounded by gay adults would not be enough. Writing about summer let to three more tales named after each season.

But the ideas kept coming, and CJ’s future looked too interesting to quit. I took him through high school and college before I jumped ahead those twenty years. CDMX picks up a bit over a year after his graduation from Georgetown. Inspiration has not abandoned me. I have three other CJ books in process right now. 

  

How difficult is the research for the books, as they got more complicated as the characters got older? 

It’s brutal. Because there’s so much. I’m a stickler for getting details right, and that leads to countless hours reading. Sometimes multiple references result in one line in a story. Actual research isn’t bad, but it is time consuming. Since Owen was introduced, I’ve learned a lot about wines. Because of the spinoffs, I’ve spent countless hours reading about music competitions, injured veteran recovery, and the Air Force Academy.

And of course there’s been a lot of location and architectural research when writing about travel. Many locations I’ve used I’ve visited, but for some I rely on the internet and fellow GA members. I last visited Mexico City a couple of decades ago. Using my experience as a guide, I had to update my knowledge. You’d be amazed at the number of articles read and documentaries watched on Maya ruins!

My next story’s set in Spain, so I’ve called on a Spaniard for assistance. So far he hasn’t quibbled with most of what I’ve written, but he has provided some great information I incorporate in the story.

 

How many more CJ books are planned, will you be bringing us up to date with events that are mentioned in the final novel? 

Short term, there will be three more stories with CJ and Owen as the main characters. After Mexico, I’ll jump five years and switch continents. We’ll spend a week in Spain 2027. Then I’ll return to 2022 for the three months following Mexico, and jump ahead to 2027 again for a party in Las Vegas. Long term, I’m not sure. I do have tentative titles for about a dozen other stories. But I think I want to write shorter installments from now on. The rambling novels are exhausting.

Yes, I do clear up one tiny, little, item I mentioned in Hail to the Chief. But I still haven’t figured out why readers considered that a cliffhanger. LOL

Thank you to the member who asked and to Aaron for coordinating the AAA feature. Having done it for a while, I know it’s not easy. And thank you to ALL of GA for the incredible support I’ve received over the years.

    

I love working with Carlos. This guy has taught me more about the English language than any of my educators, public or collegiate. If it wasn't for him, I'd probably still be writing in a coke-induced third person-omniscient perspective. A heartfelt thanks for answering the questions!

As always, we're looking for more questions to ask authors! Did you leave a review for a story, but wanted to know more about the plot or the author's mindset? Send your questions to me, and I'll get 'em answered! Any author is up for being interviewed, and any member of the community can provide questions. Until next time!

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19 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

It goes to show how much research and caring about your characters impacts on a story and its readers.

Thank you. Tracking binge readers through their reactions and comments is a thrill. It still surprises me my scribbling captivates anyone!

After a while, the characters have become part of my family and differentiating the real branch from the imaginary one has been difficult. But I don't think I'm the only one.  A couple of readers wondered if it was CJ behind the wheel whenever they saw a yellow JEEP (color was chosen to be distinctive). @dughlas has even encountered Harley during a walk! LOL

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1 hour ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Thank you. Tracking binge readers through their reactions and comments is a thrill. It still surprises me my scribbling captivates anyone!

After a while, the characters have become part of my family and differentiating the real branch from the imaginary one has been difficult. But I don't think I'm the only one.  A couple of readers wondered if it was CJ behind the wheel whenever they saw a yellow JEEP (color was chosen to be distinctive). @dughlas has even encountered Harley during a walk! LOL

And I still think CJ did a turn as a Starbuck's barista in Jacksonville, FL.

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One little comment in HTTC had followers up in arms wanting to know details. Those details are included in the final chapters of the Mexico book. "

That "one little comment" refers to a literary device common!y referred to as a "hook."  And I believe the comments here and in the chapter comments as well as the series blog have set several more.  

I for one am thoroughly hooked.

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1 hour ago, dughlas said:

I thought old people didn't need as much food or sleep.

Why do you think I post chapters and reply to comments so early in the day? This morning I overslept; didn't get out of bed until 5:15! Next thing you know, I'll be joining the retirees for restaurant's early bird specials. And I thought CJ and Owen having dinner early because of their kids was hard. I don't have their excuse!

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1 hour ago, dughlas said:

And I still think CJ did a turn as a Starbuck's barista in Jacksonville, FL.

He was probably the one who convinced store employees to unionize!

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33 minutes ago, Daddydavek said:

One little comment in HTTC had followers up in arms wanting to know details. Those details are included in the final chapters of the Mexico book. "

That "one little comment" refers to a literary device common!y referred to as a "hook."  And I believe the comments here and in the chapter comments as well as the series blog have set several more.  

I for one am thoroughly hooked.

I keep telling readers the comment section is often as good as the chapter itself. And yes, I've been known to foreshadow or share details edited out of the chapter's final version.

That hook a couple of years ago was a stroke of luck more than genius. I tried to update the lives of every Squad member with a line or two, and the one I chose for Lincoln wasn't meant to create such a stir. It was just a little detail. It turned out to be a bigger deal than what Owen's sister asked of him and CJ! Anyway, not one to look too closely at a gift horse, I expanded on the Lincoln bit in Ritch's story. partially forced to by the timelines. We'll finally find out what happened sometime soon.

And no, it does not involve anything a certain Russian spy may have said about Russia invading  Ukraine. :)

 

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CJ and his crew aren't really my type of guys.  👀😄 That doesn't stop me from being in awe of Carlos' writing discipline and the mass of devoted followers his stories attract. Long may it continue. 

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20 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

at some point, so I may be asking for help again.

No problem.

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