There is more to Nashville-based author AJ Scudiere than meets the eye. She holds two science degrees - an Honours B.A. of Psychobiology and a M.S. of Psychological Science. Unlike some authors who draw their inspiration from only a few sources, AJ finds inspiration for her writing in all places.
Her most recent thriller "God's Eye" was released this past fall and poses the questions "what is evil? and would you recognize it if you saw it?" AJ is on the cutting edge of audiobooks with her recordings resembling movies more than books. "God's Eye" is available from Audible.
You made your debut as an author in 2008; what is it that sucked you into writing?
I started writing as a kid with a notebook and a pencil. I wrote for me, just to put the stories down. I think I write because I gather trivia and character ideas in my head and it all needs a way out!
Was writing something you always wanted to do or was it something that struck you later on in life?
I always knew I wanted to write, but I just didn’t commit to ‘being a writer’. Then I was reading a really bad novel one day – it was so bad I threw it across the room. But it made me realize that if he could get published, I could do it, too.
We love your AudioMovies. How did you start that?
The publisher told me it was time for an audiobook and I was thrilled. I researched a few to see the state of the art these days, and I found that I liked the multi-reader versions best. Then I spoke to Stefan Rudnicki – the producer on all the AudioMovies. By then, the publisher had suggested a more fleshed out audio experience, and Stefan had been looking for a book to do that with. However, he pointed out that in order to create a full sound, it takes a certain writing style – strict point of view, no omniscient POV, very few ‘he said’ statements. By then he’d already read Resonance and said it was what he’d been waiting for so he could do the whole cast experience.
What has the reaction to the AudioMovies been?
The response has been unbelievably great. One reviewer said ‘ditch the ticket to the cineplex’, which I thought was a huge compliment. So far, Resonance and Vengeance have won a handful of ‘Best Fiction Audiobook of the Year’ awards and two Audie nominations. We are hoping for the same response to God’s Eye which will be available any day now!
Tell us about your book "God’s Eye." Katharine is a great character and being pulled between good and evil. How did the concept for the book come up?
This story started as a dream I had. In the dream, I chased a black cat through my house and it went around a corner and disappeared. I couldn’t tell if the cat was good or evil, but I knew there was a message to me in its visit. The dream lingered with me until it became the whole story of God’s Eye.
All too often characters write themselves; did you find this happening with any of the characters in your book?
Oh yes! Margot in particular did this. She was supposed to be more remote, more the ‘uninvolved, but helpful’ character. Then she stuck her nose into Katharine’s problems (and to be honest, Katharine needed it!) and Margot became a much richer part of the story than I had intended at the beginning. Looking back, it would never have worked without her.
Did you ever have a moment when you found yourself wondering why the character did something?
I don’t often wonder why characters do the things they do. I work so hard to be sure that motivations are real and believable. However, I often find myself needing a character to do something and they just won’t do it. Sometimes they are stubborn that way and I have to work things around to a storyline that fits.
We love the cuddly Utukku! He is positively adorable! Where did the idea for a plush Utukku come from and how has it been received so far?
Each book has a ‘collector’s item’ (for Resonance, a compass that points South; for Vengeance, ninja throwing-star pushpins.) God’s Eye needed that item and Utukku was really the brain-child of Eli Jackson, who pointed to the cover and said, “We need to make him the collector’s item. But he’s just too scary.” The next thing I knew, I was getting a prototype Utukku and I was in love! The fans (‘Smart Chickens’) named him and he’s been getting a great response.
Being pulled between good and evil seems to be something we can all empathize with. Do you see any parallels between "God’s Eye" and the current political or economic climate of this country?
Absolutely. A big part of Katharine’s story is that she thinks everything is okay if it’s just about her. But we all create ripples on the pond, and it’s too easy to be ignorant about what we cause just by living our ordinary lives.
You’re called a "dark author" but we can’t help but wonder: is there a side to you that’s secretly filled with bubbles and rainbows?
Haha! Most of me. I’m a sunny optimist in my everyday life. I’ve been replacing the beige paint in my house with bright colors, even my keyboard is a rainbow of colored stickers. I love animals and have a soft spot for rescues. I hold up traffic for frogs and turtles to cross the street. But what I write is much darker!
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
For AudioMovies: God’s Eye will be available on Audible any day. It’s already on my website, and the USB version is a pendant with the God’s Eye ‘eye’ on it. For books: I just finished the first draft of my fourth novel “Phoenix” about a firefighter whose adoptive mother finally tells him the secret she’s kept since he was a child. This sets him on a path to find the pieces of his life before he was adopted and none of it is what it seems. For my snarky blog, Smart Chickens: we are adding a ‘Living Geek’ section with all the things you can do around your house to make life better/geekier! And for travel: I’ll be at Marcon, ComicCon, Killer Nashville and DragonCon just to name a few! I can’t wait to meet all the fans there!