Author Curtis Bunn:
I started writing books, indirectly, through reading “Waiting To Exhale” on the beach in Hawaii in 1993.
Where did you get the idea to write “A Cold Piece of Work?”
My ambition is always to produce stories and characters that provide insight, especially into the minds of men. In this case, I wanted to write a character study of a contemporary man whose faith and trust in women are damaged so much so that he even loses a bit of his soul. How does he handle it? Well, not so well. But he’s honest with himself about his flaws, fears and vulnerabilities – not a comfortable place for men.
Tell us a bit about yourself. That’s a loaded question. I could drone on for pages. J But I won’t do that. I will say that I’m a born writer and storyteller. Since I was 13, my focus was be a professional journalist, which I accomplished, working 25 years as an award-winning sportswriter in D.C., New York and Atlanta. That writing background gave me a command of the English language that cannot be underestimated. Combine that with a truly vivid imagination and I have been able to craft a new career that is just as fulfilling, fun, and exciting. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m on the golf course. There’s so much more to me – a proud father of two great kids, lover of movies, tremendous Spades and Scrabble player – but I’ll leave that for another time. J
How did you get started writing? In the eighth grade, I knew I wanted to be journalist and I created the path to achieve that – high school newspaper editor, college newspaper writer and editor for four years, and then the aforementioned career. I started writing books, indirectly, through reading “Waiting To Exhale” on the beach in Hawaii in 1993. I enjoyed it and it made me think. I can do this. Of course, it wasn’t until years later when I started to write “Baggage Check,” my first novel, which became an Essence magazine No. 1 bestseller. So, in a roundabout way, my friend Terry McMillan inspired me to write novels.
Describe your writing style. It’s thoughtful and clever, humorous and light. Sometimes it’s playful; often it is subtle. Does that make sense? In short, my writing expands many styles, depending on what I’m writing about at that moment. Above all, it is easy to understand and embrace. I’m not sure any of that is a style, actually. But, at the very least, those are the different elements I bring to writing.
Where did you get the idea to write “A Cold Piece of Work?” My ambition is always to produce stories and characters that provide insight, especially into the minds of men. In this case, I wanted to write a character study of a contemporary man whose faith and trust in women are damaged so much so that he even loses a bit of his soul. How does he handle it? Well, not so well. But he’s honest with himself about his flaws, fears and vulnerabilities – not a comfortable place for men.
What is the most important thing men and women should know before entering a relationship? We all should know that the person we’re excited about early in the relationship will infuriate, disappoint, and surprise us in a not-so-good way in the not-too-distant future. So, it really becomes about how much we like the other person. Love endures only when there is that real, true, unbending fondness that you share for the other person. I believe in the power of love. But love is almost fluky. People say they fell in love at first sight. That’s a fluke. And, people fall out of love all the time. I believe more in the power of like. To like someone means you have to get to know that person. You can’t fall into “like” at first sight. Liking requires interaction and interplay and time together. It’s built – and sustainable. Even if the relationship fails and no one is in love anymore, you can still like the other person at the end of it.
In writing “A Cold Piece of Work,” was it your intention to help women better understand men? Absolutely. I’m sure women believe men are the ninth wonder of the world. (Trust me, men feel the same about women. J) But, at least when you read “Cold,” you receive organic, authentic expressions, thoughts, emotions, fears – the whole gamut – of a real man. Does that mean women will close the book and feel like they better understand men? Absolutely. Does that mean they will deal with me differently because of this knowledge, well, not necessarily so. J
What do you want readers to take away from “A Cold Piece of Work?” Bottom line, men hurt, too. In too many cases, women feel men are empty inside, that they philander and mistreat and anything else we do with no conscious or soul. And they are right!!! J Well, in some cases. But then there are the cases where a man actually has feelings and those feelings have been crushed. And when you examine how Solomon dealt with his issues in “Cold,” you come to realize that in this one instant – perhaps the only one there is – men and women are alike. You hurt a man enough times and it’s going to impact him; he will develop trust issues. We always knew that about women. Well, the same applies to men. And I’m not sure women understand that about men. “Men are dogs,” is the common cry, the easy out. But when we were puppies, things happened that determined our bite. And most times, it was a woman’s actions that helped influence who the man grew in to. That is not an excuse for out-and-out lying, cheating, etc. But when it comes to the “fear of commitment” issue, the past matters.
What advice do you give authors seeking to get published? Write. Write. Write. At the same time, be sure that you have a command of the English language. And make sure you have something to say. I talked about writing my first book for almost six years before I started it. Why? Because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. Now more than ever, with the industry upside down, it is imperative that you complete a strong, engaging, well-thought-out, well-written manuscript. Read books on writing. Study other authors. Don’t just wing it. Go in and do it the right way. That would give you the best chance to be published (aside from self-publishing).