Q. When did you start writing your own stories?
A. Seven years ago, I wrote two novels. Neither captured the interest of an editor. About three years ago, I determined to get back into the game. I devoured about a dozen books on writing, and frequented blogs on writing. Gradually, I learned what I had been doing wrong, and what I could do to make my writing better. Now, you'd think bestsellers would just flow spontaneously from someone with a couple of English degrees. Wrong. Writing is a craft that must be learned and practiced, and a demanding one at that. But it's also rewarding if you just stick with it.
Q. Could you tell us a little about your writing process?
A. When I'm fascinated by a particular image, I have to discover the story and characters behind it. I outline in a fair amount of detail, but always follow those surprising directions every plot takes. Tracking down and describing those surprises keep the process exciting and challenging.
Q. What inspired you to write Aztec Midnight?
A. During my last trip to Mexico, my wife and daughter and I spent three weeks in a Mexican village, where we got to know the people and their stories. Mexico is a haunted and tragic country, brimming with life and joy and suffering. At the National Museum of History in Mexico City, I was fascinated by the projectile point (atl-atl and arrowhead) display, which was arranged chronologically. The earliest pieces from 10,000 years ago looked exactly like the points from the same period found in the US, but as the centuries passed, the styles evolved into distinctly Mexican patterns. It intrigued me that such different cultures could arise from a common source. The stories I heard from our hosts about the drug cartels held a grim fascination for me. By the end of our visit, I knew I had to write a book about Mexico.
Q. We love your novella. The mix of adventure and fantasy specifically. What do you like most about Aztec Midnight?
A. I'm happy with the way I captured the feel and mood of the places where the action occurs, which I think is essential to a good story.
Q. Reading this novella makes us want to go have our own adventure in an Aztec temple! Have you ever visited one?
A. I've visited both Mayan and Aztec temples. I was astounded by the grandeur and workmanship of Xochicalco and its observatory.
Q. There are many references to codices and weaponry in Aztec Midnight. How did you acquire the background knowledge to write about them?
A. I was raised on a tobacco farm in rural North Carolina, where I not only found Indian relics in the fields, but learned about guns. My undergraduate degree was in English and history, with several courses in military history, which I still enjoy reading. Also, Isshinryu karate stresses not only the discipline of non-lethal self-defense with bare hands and feet, but the use of primitive tools as weapons when necessary. I enjoy target practice with the sling and atl-atl (dart thrower).
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors?
A. Hemingway, Heinlein, Mishima, and Howard occupy a couple of shelves in my library. I frequently return to them for inspiration and guidance.
Q. What book(s) are you reading now?
A. I'm currently reading Ron Rash's The Cove and Patricia Cornwell's Flesh and Blood.
Tuggle's novella, Aztec Midnight is currently available for purchase. More information, including e-bookstore links and a sample, can be found here...