Interview with Author Tomas Cudzis

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m originally from Slovakia but live in the UK since 2005 with two year pause 2010-2012, when I bounced between the US and Slovakia.

After my parents divorced, my dad stayed in the Slovakia while my Mom went to live with me in the UK for few Years and then with my sister that is living in the US since 2004 to help her with household. She stayed there ever since with occasional trips to visit me or her sister in the Slovakia.

So now I do have 3 homes really. At hearth, I’m still Slovakian and even though I live in the UK for a long time now, I never applied to be UK citizen, still remaining Slovakian. On the other hand, I do go every second-ish year to visit my sister and mom that live in Las Vegas for my holidays and still plan to  move in the future into the US if possible. But truthfully, since I have been in the UK for all of my adult life now, UK feels like home the most. I’m very  glad and happy that I had the opportunity to be part, live, study and work in it, due to the UK being within the EU zone at the time (Slovakia is EU country). But now, since there is impending brexit, it could go all into a halt (since I’m still only Slovakian citizen). Currently, I’m about to finish my masters (in September) at Coventry University in Exercise and Sport Science, and will be looking at my options after.

To answer how I did get into writing…Well, it’s really down to a chance really. Ever since I have been growing up, I think I was very creative. There was always a story behind everything in my head. Listening to a music? I have seen in my head a story to it. An object of any kind? Instant story in my head. I have always seen it more like a movie.

Could visualize everything in my head and eventually, music became more prominent where there was always not just a story behind everything, but also a song that would reflect the emotion that I personally felt and fitted the narrative of the story in my head. The books are really a tribute to the Linkin Park music band songs to date. When I was a teenager still growing up,  I started to imagine a story where I was the hero (what a surprise), or rather a superhero like a Batman. It started all with the “In the End” song from Linking Park that I heard possibly in the radio. Then I got their whole first album: The hybrid theory and that created a whole anthology of stories (of my superhero) in my head based on that. Needless to say, their follow-up albums didn’t disappoint, regardless of them being always different in the style of music, adding more and more stories in my head with each new song. The only band that I can honestly say, that I do enjoy an cherish every single song they had made. All of them are “hits” for me. But naturally, with me growing up, the stories in my head changed into something slightly more realistic (slightly I admit), that didn’t necessarily involve a super-hero. I always wanted to be in a movie production industry, but never really got a chance. Either way, I was getting (way) older, and I felt that the stories in my head are slowly fading, vanishing even. I just thought, I should preserve them for myself, if nobody else, as I thought they were pretty cool.

After Chester (LP singer) had passed away, it prompted me into action before it was too late. Although the whole 4 books stories are largely changed from the original one (about the second, more realistic hero).  Mainly due to me either forgetting it, or that now I had to also connect it into logical order (one giant story made of pieces of my previous visions connected to the songs) that would include all of the LP’s songs. Also, because I tried to add controversy into it, things that would challenge the reader himself. As you know, in the books (or the one you did read) the characters express the way they think, to make it seem logical (or perhaps not). However, many times challenging if not controversial in their final decision and action. None of the characters are perfect, and more often contradictory rather than complimentary to each other. No-one is straight up good, or just plain bad with a perhaps exception on the truly evil (bad guys) side. Nothing is white, nor black. All is grey and the reader himself would be the judge to who is his “good” guy, the most reasonable, the most compassionate etc., no doubt different from reader to reader. Just like in real life.

We all have a bright and dark side. We all are liked, and certainly also disliked by someone else. It didn’t matter that we didn’t give them reason for it, or at least we’re not aware of it, it’s just the way life works. People are different, unique, sometimes with contradicting values, simply can’t please everyone. I’m glad that you liked my book, but I’m sure that for some others, the content may be too graphic, too controversial, too violent or simply not good enough quality. I accept that, but to finally hopefully and definitively answer your question how I did start my writing: I wanted to preserve what I still had in my head whilst giving a tribute to the People who perhaps influenced it the most – the Linking Park. My only worry was that since I am not a writer really, and I’m certain that I will not write for a long time after I finish the last 4th book (never say never), the books would not by a tribute by far, rather lacking the quality of content, uniqueness and excellence of the LP’s genius. Thank you for bringing me peace now, that I know at least ONE person did like it and appreciated it for what it is: an amateur work.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Oh, I accidentally answered that I guess. Well, to preserve what little of the  stories I still had in my head, to give back a tribute to the people that largely influenced me, and certainly, it was also fun and satisfying to actually use and to present my creativity, to make it “come to life”. Before, no-one really knew. Nor my family or friends, what I could be capable of in terms of creativity. To them, my previous attempts to get into let’s call it “entertainment” industry, was just that – a talk with no real evidence of skill.

There is but one: one I did when I was still only 18y old back in 2004 as a diploma project.

It is rather basic in animation and graphics, but I did it alone on a already slightly dated computer at that time. The rendering process alone took 3 whole days and I had to borrow my friends PC’s hard drive so that I had enough space. I will include a link: Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animation
Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animationI am not a animator, i have wanted to be a games designer.I have made full concept game with storyboard and ever…

The character in the video with the yellow eyes is the original “superhero” me, the rest my closest friends at that time. Largely influenced by largely unknown “Guyver: the dark hero” movie. I hope that you did recognize the aliens, as of the actual alien’s franchise. Hope you enjoy that too.

Damn, I wish I had a chance to do what I would love to do, to be part of a movie productions.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope it will force the reader to think more. To try to understand other people actions and beliefs, not disregarding them instantly based purely on personal feelings, or opposing view on topic.

Although, I had not explored the possibility to give a reason and a story behind the “primary” bad guys. I do believe that we are not born evil, or good for that matter. Nature and nurture are both influencing how we will develop. I didn’t need the need since the “main” character is controversial and “dark” enough on his own, but his way of thinking is explained. Again, not that the reader could agree or disagree with his actions, but to try to understand why. Especially if you account for the previous two books and the first one where Tomas is only 12 Years old at the very beginning. Reader could read and perhaps understand (or not) why he does what he does, or how he did end up at this point (end of book 3). It is really complex.

Again, I hope it will make the reader be more emphatic (or critical) of everything around, and himself. Therefore, dare I say it?: grew as a person, taking away whatever he finds of value in the book, if any. At the very least, I hope he will enjoy reading it.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Oh boy, my sick head? This question really brought smile on my face, thank you.

Well, you know it is quite graphic in the action part, and “heavy” psychologically.

I am a person who hides his emotions (just like the main character), but is rich in experiencing them. The first book is largely reflecting this, as it is almost the real story of me until the main character starts street fights and then kills a person, of course. Many things have been changed for the purpose of a story (I moved into the UK not China for instance), but almost half of the book is the actual biography of me with added controversy in regards of “viewing” women, so that it fits the dark, imperfect character and the  lyrics of the songs of course. But to answer the question: I find it richer in emotions (especially if you listen to the dedicated song after), therefore better experience. Personally.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Violetta, I would ask her to “fix me”, please. But seriously, I would ask Peter to get me into the movie industry, I’m sure he could hack an account or two, or had straight up connections somewhere that would get me the ONE shot at “it”, that I always dreamed about.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have virtually no exposure. You are the very first person showing any interest in my work so I must declare, that it will be your blog. Thank you! I do have FB, Patreon, Youtube, Twitter, Goodreads, Reddit and something called Wattpad, I even tried all kind of LP’s fan forums, but none really exposed my work to the world. Partly, due to me not spending all the time, attention and effort I possibly could have on it, I think and hope.

I did have to work and study (full time) at the same time for the last couple of years now, and I do try to live quite healthy lifestyle (gym, dieting), as I am Fitness specialist after all with many years of Personal training and healthy lifestyle consultancy experience, but this takes away a lot of time as well. The little “spare” free time that I have, I tend to use on relaxing (games, movies), but I still managed to produce 3 books along all of this going on in the last two Years. Admittingly, each book is almost twice in the length of the previous one. Mostly because I really wanted to start at the second that was just naturally shorter than the 3rd , but I didn’t want to start it like the star wars: with the 4th movie (story) first, then come back to explain why and how the hero got into that kind of situation, so I was very conservative with the first book.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

It is very hard to get exposure in this business if you are just starting up, or have no social media presence at all. But first you have to have a “worthy product”, before you should worry about that. Now, I’m not saying not to try to build audience (via social media optimally) before your book is actually finished, but If you have none yet, there is no point worrying if you’re not successful at gaining the audience. That is, if this is not your living of course. I mean, I’m not the right person to ask anyway I guess. I’m just amateur who doesn’t even plan to continue to write once the series are finished, and I never really cared that much about the monetary side of it. It would be nice if it could produce me some income, and it would be very much welcomed right now in my life as well, but it was never the purpose of it, nor did I count on it. In fact, I did at least spent money on a professional looking book covers without any returns as of yet. Don’t matter, I’m very happy with them and grateful to the talented artist who drew them. If I could, I buy illustrations from him as well, a professional editor, hire narrator for audio book and more. My patreon is about animating the books to life, perhaps one day I could afford it.

But back to the question: I think It would be wise to make sure that the book that you’re working on has something “to stand out” in it, something that would guarantee that your only real problem is the lack of exposure, not the quality.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As mentioned before, after I finish (hopefully still this year) the last 4th book of the series, I don’t plan to write anymore. I do plan to invest into illustrations and an editor as soon as my finances would allow it. In most likely distant future after that, I am planning to animate the books. I feel that if this would be an animated series on the YouTube, it would be a lot more successful in terms of exposure than currently in the form of a books. It would also make me very happy that I did in fact (technically) made it into the entertainment industry after all. But that’s getting ahead of myself anyway. Just because you liked my book (one of them), it doesn’t necessarily mean other people will, therefore exposure isn’t all. You brought me hope that it may be “worth something” and thank you very much for that Anthony, so that I will continue best to my ability to try to get more exposure. Who knows, it may actually help somebody to “grew” as a person, or just to enjoy reading it, or hopefully bring even more fans for the LP band. They sure deserve it. Although, they’re massive in the US at minimum, and certainly don’t need my help to gain them more fans, any new fan that will find his way to them thanks to the tribute books would be also a massive success for me.
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