Now at work on her fifth novel, author A.J. Scudiere writes character-driven thrillers with an edge. Writing for “geeky, intelligent” readers, Ms. Scudiere has a unique vision; her worlds are intricate and interesting. Her most recent book God’s Eye (Griffyn Ink) was released as an audio movie this past spring, and her new novel Phoenix is set to come out in October.
With a background in psychobiology and neurophysiology, she began her professional career as an educator, teaching science. But she finds that teaching and writing novels aren’t too far removed from each other. “I think the two are really similar,” she explained. “Whether the story is Jason is looking for his brother, or this is how electrons move in their sub-shells, it has to be clear. You need to be able to do it succinctly to a certain extent. But it has to be done well.”
I caught up with Ms. Scudiere at last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego, where we talked about her books, audio movies and the writing life.
I had a chance to read a couple of the chapters of your book God’s Eye, as well as look at the audio movie, and I want to get to that, specifically, in a little bit. But I want you to give me your elevator…er…Twitter pitch. What’s your book about in 140 characters or less?
So the elevator pitch on God’s Eye is that Katherine is a malleable character. She’s done what her parents have told her to do, and it works out very well for her. Because she’s malleable. But, she’s targeted by a demon and an angel, who are having the epic battle for her soul. And she has to make a choice. The problem is, she can’t tell which one is which.
So when you say “malleable,” do you mean physically malleable, or just her soul, her emotions?
Emotionally. Other people have told her what to do all of her life. And she doesn’t have any strong decision-making skills about herself. Her family owns a business that she has [now] moved into. They move her around periodically and say, “You’re going to run the business. Therefore, you have to know all the different aspects of the business.” And so without warning, she gets pulled out of her job and moved to another place, but she’s making a ton of money and the spot is guaranteed for her. She’ll eventually be CEO of the company. And why would she argue with that? So when it comes to her life and making choices and deciding what she believes and deciding what she should do with her life, she has no real experience with it.
So she’s on a journey. Sounds like she’s on a [Joseph] Campbell-type journey.
She is. She’s very stationary. And this quest swirls around her and, in part, comes to her.
Okay. So it’s going on within her.
How does she puzzle through it?
She starts off just dealing with it. And in the beginning of the book, one of the goals I had was that I wanted her to be malleable and wanted her to not be a strong character at the start of the book. But she also has to be likable. You have to want to read her story. So initially, animals start appearing and disappearing inside her house. And her first task is just to open herself up to things that are going on that she can’t explain. She’s very good at ignoring what she doesn’t like, because she doesn’t have to deal with it normally in her life. So initially these things happen and they happen more and more and more until she’s forced to deal with them. Once she’s forced to deal with them, she starts reaching out. And as she starts reaching out, she begins to realize that she doesn’t have a life of her own. She has only the life that has been handed to her. And because it was comfortable, she went with it.
And as she goes on her journey, she discovers about herself, obviously.
Yeah. She makes her first real friend from somebody she initially considers to be pushy and overbearing. And she discovers—actually, this is, this is how this happens.