Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Phoneix by AJ Scudiere and a Guest Blog Post!

So thrilled to have AJ Scudiere here today with a little bit about about writing her latest novel, Phoenix.  I'll turn it over to her!

Write What You Know or Learn What You Want to Write!


                Writing “Phoenix” was a thrill. Researching the book was just as fun. But, like every writer knows, getting there can be a climb.

                I knew I wanted “Phoenix” to be a story about a firefighter, and I knew I wanted it to mirror the journey taken in the classic tale “Jason and the Argonauts.” Researching a classic—which I was already familiar with—was easy. But I knew nothing of the firefighting life except that it was nothing like “Rescue Me.”

                It’s often hard to walk in somewhere unknown and ask for help. But I did it, time and again. I went down to my local volunteer station and the firefighters there were amazing. They got a kick out of the idea that I was writing a book. After the initial ‘Is the firefighter the good guy or the bad guy?’ question, they happily answered anything I asked. They even went so far as to suit me up, make me haul around one of the air tanks, and then showed me how to run the siren and use the thermal imager.

                I knew I needed a bigger fire station though—one where there were firefighters on duty around the clock, somewhere with a bell and not just a pager system. I asked at my local station and got the runaround. I live between two towns, so after I realized the first station wasn’t going to say yes, I went the other direction. Sadly, no one there knew what to do with a writer who wanted to ride along either (I guess they hadn’t ever seen ‘Castle.’) There was no ‘no’ but there was no ‘yes’ either. I tried the Nashville station, then my hometown and got exactly nothing.

                For four months I searched for a station to ride with. All along my book was on hold—I couldn’t write about a firefighter if I didn’t know what they did. But I have learned that if I tell people what I’m looking for someone will come along. As evidence I’ll tell you I tried to learn Latin for my third book “God’s Eye.” When that proved too much, I started asking around. It took less than a week to find out that one of my coworkers was fluent and often worked as a translator (Thank you, Beau!) So, at this point I figure if I can find someone fluent in Latin, I can find anything. I always believed that a fire station ride along would be just around the corner.

                Sure enough, another friend of mine stepped up. She was friends with her local police chief, who put me in touch with the local fire chief. I drove all the way to West Columbia South Carolina to do the ride along. It took me over four months to find the right place. But it was well worth the wait. Fire Chief Wyatt Coleman and his full crew answered my questions and let me hop in the truck any time the bell rang. I love making up the story for Phoenix, but they made it real. They gave Jason’s life the texture it deserved.

                I hope they enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And though it’s not a book aimed at firefighters, I hope they can echo the sentiments of firefighter and EMT Mike Bunch who told me “You got it right.”

                I recently started research for my fifth book, “Inertia.” Asperger’s was easy to research and so were generators, but plantation restoration was another issue. As usual, I told my friends what I was looking for. This time one turned to me and said, “You know my father is one of the premier restoration experts in the US, right?”

                No. I hadn’t known. Thank you, Wally Hebert! I’m already writing the first chapters of Inertia. And once again am proud to say that I know what I write!

AJ Scudiere lives in a world where texture reigns supreme. Whether it’s air or virus or even location, it can be felt and smelled. At heart a biologist and avid student, AJ writes about the possibilities that keep us up late at night. The dark writer lives outside Nashville in an idyllic setting full of wildlife and open spaces.
The author has three suspense novels, Resonance, Vengeance, and God’s Eye. The fourth novel—Phoenix—is due out this fall.
Jason Mondy’s world is unraveling.

His seemingly secure job as a fire fighter is suddenly thrown into chaos. The bright spot in his week is that he rescued two children from a house fire, but he returns home that night to find all his furniture is missing. His girlfriend has left him without warning and his nightmares keep him from sleeping. Even just a simple trip home to find some rest leads his adoptive mother to sit him down and tell him that maybe his troubles aren’t quite as innocuous as they seem. Then his she divulges a secret she’s kept for over twenty-six years . . .

Jason has a brother he doesn’t remember existed.

He doesn’t remember his life before he was adopted at age seven. He only knows that he was rescued from the fire that took his birth mother’s life. But the story is deeper than that, and the foundation on which he built his world is now cracking. The brother he doesn't remember it out there somewhere, left behind.

Armed with only this stunning new piece of information, Jason embarks on a quest to find the truths buried deep in his past. As he searches, one by one the pieces of his life fall like dominoes. And the more he uncovers, the more everything he thought he knew about himself and his past begins to turn to ash.
I’ve read a few of AJ Scudiere’s books, and though this one wasn’t my favorite of the group, I still found it an interesting read.
The author obviously does her homework. She knows how to give us vivid descriptions of a firefighter’s life, what he goes through every day. There are so many great details, so many interesting things to learn about their lives that the book is worth reading if only to get a peek into this.
On to the characters. Jason, the protagonist, is not very likeable at first. I think this was a conscious choice the author made, to show his character’s progression as the novel goes on. We get to see him mature and grow. The other characters are all pretty fun, keeping the plot interesting and the dialogue quite lively.
The only thing that put this book a little lower than the rest by this same author is that it started off a bit too slow. The first few chapters tended to drag and though, for someone who’s read her other books knows that the story will pick up, those of you who are new to her writing might be put off.
All in all, though, I do recommend this book to all of you who like thrillers.

1 comment:

Mrs. Jones said...

What an amazing story!
I havent before heard of AJ Scudiere, but she has some sound advice. Write what you know!!
So many times it seems that you start reading a book, only to determine the author has NO idea what they are writing about!!

Great post!
Ill be finding and reading Pheonix soon!!