2020’s Half Over (I Know, Right?). So Let’s Take Stock.

Well. 2020 is half over. What a decade this year has been, right?

First and foremost, I hope you and yours are safe and healthy. I hope you’re doing your part to get us through the plague that won’t go away (yes, that means wearing a mask… you know, when you’re not at home getting your hermit on).

But before the world went all to hell (again), I’d had 2020 as the year I got back into creative gear. I set seven goals for myself in 2020:Betrayal High Res (2)

  • Publish Betrayal (Jill Andersen #5).
  • Write and publish Bitter End (Jill Andersen #6).
  • Finish writing the script for Bounty: Origins graphic novel.
  • Write two short stories per month.
  • Submit stories to two anthologies.
  • Announce new series (after Betrayal‘s release).
  • Read at least 30 books.

So let’s see where I stand.

Publish Betrayal (Jill Andersen #5): This one became a reality on April 14. See?

Write and publish Bitter End (Jill Andersen #6): The first draft is well underway, roughly 25,000 words or so in.

Finish writing the script for Bounty: Origins graphic novel: In-progress! The first draft will be complete by Dec. 30.

Write two short stories per month: Honestly, this is the one that’s given me fits. I’ve written hardly anything not novel- or graphic novel-related. The ideas are there, just not the push to put those ideas into, you know, words.

Submit stories to two anthologies: In-progress. I submitted a short story back in January or February to an upcoming anthology titled Warps in the Tapestry (yes, the follow-up to Cracks in the Tapestry). I’m looking for other potential anthologies to submit to.

Announce new series (after Betrayal‘s release): Watch this space come the fall.

Read at least 30 books: 14 books read as we push into July. The goal is still within reach… even as I sit here with more reads in-progress than I care to admit. Last book read?

Aix Marks the Spot by S.E. Anderson.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Black Lives Matter

I’ve struggled the last week-plus with what to say regarding current events. Not that anyone’s chomping at the bit to hear what I have to say about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and every other black person who has lost their life due to police brutality — but I feel I have an obligation to speak out, both as an author who writes fiction involving police and as a white person.

Black voices are the most important, and they should be listened to and amplified, but white people have a responsibility as well — not just because historically, we’ve been responsible for the violence that is now front and center, but also because we have the platform, the societal clout, to atone for our collective past and forge a new wBehind the Badge 2ay forward.

I’m well aware this post might cost me some fans. My last newsletter that even sniffed of politics resulted in a lot of people unsubscribing from my newsletter. And you know what? That’s fine. If this sort of thing makes you mad, then chances are, you wouldn’t like my work. And to paraphrase the late Kurt Cobain, I don’t want racists and sexists and homophobes as fans anyway.

Behind the Badge (Jill Andersen #3), in large part, because of the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore several years ago, and the epidemic of race-inspired police brutality that surrounded it. It mattered to me that my fictional cops took a stand. In real life, the good cops don’t stand up to the bad cops. In Behind the Badge, they did just that.

But now I see that’s not enough.

That’s not to say the series is ending. It’s not; I have plenty of Jill Andersen stories to tell, and I wouldn’t be a writer if current events didn’t inspire them to some degree. Jill is, for better or worse, the muse through which I work through issues like this, and don’t be surprised if that manifests within the next several books in the series.

But for now… Black Lives Matter. They just do. Not matter more than, not matter instead of… just matter. They matter. And the people tasked with protecting us are killing them indiscriminately.

It feels weird promoting the Jill Andersen series in the current climate — I mean, come on, how tone-deaf would it be to tell people to buy my detective mystery series while everyone’s screaming to either eliminate or transform police? But I think fiction still has a role to play here, and I’m committing to pledge my next three months’ worth of royalties to organizations and charities supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

So if you decide to buy my books, you know where your money’s going. It’s up to you how you feel about that. But the reality stays the same, regardless of whether you believe in the movement or not.

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

THIS WEEK: Superhero Virtual Convention

Superhero Convention

This week, the great folks over at superhero-fiction.com are hosting a Superhero Fiction Virtual Convention! Each day this week, at 6 p.m. EST, there will be a virtual panel discussion tackling a topic specific to the superhero fiction genre.

Here is the schedule:Betrayal High Res (2)

Monday — Superhero Romances
Tuesday — Creating the Power Behind Supers
Wednesday — The Not-So-Nice Anti-Hero
Thursday — Superheroes on Screen
Friday — The Origins of a Superhero

Yours truly will be a panelist for both Superheroes on Screen and The Origins of a Superhero, but I hope you’ll peek in and check out all five panels. The superhero genre is a steadily growing one, and there are some really great authors who deserve a bigger spotlight.

For more information on the Virtual Convention, click here.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Interviews and Panels and Conventions… Oh, My!

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Tired of being stuck at home and missing conventions? Well, I’ve got good news!

On Saturday, May 9, I will be joining A.F. Stewart on Between the Pages at 4 p.m. EST! Join us as we discuss my work and anything else that comes up.

Click here to watch on Facebook and here to watch on YouTube.

Also, on Monday, May 11, I will be joining E.G. Stone for an interview. More information on that when it becomes available!Bounty Final

Also, the week of May 18-22, the great folks over at superhero-fiction.com are hosting a Superhero Fiction Virtual Convention! Each day at 6 p.m. EST, there will be a virtual panel discussion tackling a topic specific to the superhero fiction genre.

Here is the schedule:

Monday, May 18 — Superhero Romances
Tuesday, May 19 — Creating the Power Behind Supers
Wednesday, May 20 — The Not-So-Nice Anti-Hero
Thursday, May 21 — Superheroes on Screen
Friday, May 22 — The Origins of a Superhero

Yours truly will be a panelist for both Superheroes on Screen and The Origins of a Superhero, but I hope you’ll peek in and check out all five panels. The superhero genre is a steadily growing one, and there are some really great authors who deserve a bigger spotlight.

For more information on the Virtual Convention, click here.

Superhero Fiction Sale 2

Speaking of superhero fiction… from May 11-May 17, take advantage of this epic 99-cent sale organized by the fine folks at superhero-fiction.com (seriously, they rock — Trish Heinrich and Remy Flagg have put together a kickass community that has, in part, made this opportunity possible). Yes, Bounty is part of the fun, but… just look at all the superhero goodness up there!

Click here for more details and add to your TBR piles!

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Why Superheroes? Redux

In celebration of National Superhero Day (yes, that’s a thing), let’s return to an old blog post asking a question I get a lot regarding my work. Edits and updates have been made where appropriate.

While I love a great many different types of stories, the superhero genre has always had a certain appeal to me. After all, I never considered being a writer until I discovered comic books — X-Men, to be exact — and even today, the superhero genre is one in which I proudly plant my flag.Batwoman_(52_11)

Granted, the term “superhero” can have a pretty broad definition. Most would agree the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Daredevil are superheroes. But is Batman? Is Spawn? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The Punisher?

Arguments can be made either way for most of them; to this day, I will argue Buffy is very much a superhero. It’s not always about the cape and the secret identity.

Superheroes are all the rage these days, what with the near-ubiquitous nature of superhero films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically, is largely responsible for the mainstream popularity of the genre (to say nothing of DC’s films and cadre of TV shows — particularly the Arrowverse on The CW). I think the reason superheroes speak to so many is because they represent a reality in which there’s some semblance of control.

Let’s face it: things are really scary in the world these days (and not just because of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight). Fact is, there isn’t anything the vast majority of us can do about any of it. What can I, just a 38-year-old dude, do about international corruption and espionage? What can I do about school shootings? About the hate that has seemingly run rampant everywhere? Or the virus that has most of us holed up in our homes?

For the most part… not much.

Superheroes leave us feeling less helpless in the face of such horrors. Want the wicked wiped off the face of the Earth? There’s the Punisher. Want to believe it’s possible to exact justice on evildoers in the aftermath of personal tragedy? Maybe Batman’s more your speed.

Bounty-Small

Serve your country in spite of not being what one might consider the ideal soldier? Captain America. Want to serve your country and community, even after it’s cast you aside because of who you are? Batwoman. Work to protect your own kind while working to get a world that hates you to be a little more understanding? There’s the X-Men. Some mystical ring decides you’re worthy of protecting… oh, you know… space?! Green Lantern.

Superheroes tap into that deep-rooted desire to do more, to affect the world in ways he can’t as regular people. They show us a reality in which the big scary things can be defeated. They give us hope that the individual can make a difference in the world at large, even when reality continues to slap us in the face and tell us no.

That philosophy guides me every time I sit down to write one of Jill Andersen’s stories. She took up the mantle of Bounty because of her desire to do right by her hometown, her need to serve beyond what she can do with a badge on her hip. Early in her law enforcement career, Jill saw that being a cop only accomplished so much. If she wanted to do more, she had to become more.

Most of us can’t become more. So we turn to stories of those who can.

It’s not about the superpowers or the costumes. Not really. Stripped of the flash and the bright colors and the larger-than-life villains many of them face, superheroes reflect everything we wish we could be — both individually and as a society. We’ll never leap tall buildings in a single bound, we’ll never close a Hellmouth before it devours the Earth, and we’ll never lead the wicked in handcuffs to Arkham. But so long as we have heroes who can and do, maybe the world isn’t quite as hopeless as it seems.

Then again… the powers and costumes are pretty kickass, huh?

Want to celebrate National Superhero Day? Bounty is now just 99 cents, and Blood Ties is just $1.99! Pick those books up, and grab my new release Betrayal. All proceeds from sales made on April 28 will be donated to first responders and medical personnel, who right now are the closest thing we have to actual superheroes.

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

RELEASE DAY: BETRAYAL

Here it is! Betrayal, book five in the Jill Andersen series, is now available!

Release day… there’s nothing like it.

Someone is killing Baltimore’s heroes.Betrayal High Res (2)

The ones with badges. The ones who put out fires. The ones who debate laws designed to make the citizens’ lives better. None of them are safe, and their deaths amount to little more than public spectacle. A mysterious band of militants called The Collective takes credit for the killings, but the origins and identities of its members are unknown.

Jill Andersen now has an FBI badge on her hip. She is tasked with bringing down the cult, and she must make sure she doesn’t wind up in their crosshairs in the process. All of her theories and leads come up empty – none of the usual suspects are behind these ghastly murders. They might just be in the line of fire themselves.

With those closest to her now targets, Jill must race against the clock to determine who’s killing the best Baltimore has to offer. But along the way, she’ll discover a jarring secret – one that threatens to make her question everything that has happened in her life to this point.

Assuming it doesn’t kill her first.

Betrayal, the gripping, hard-hitting fifth novel in the Jill Andersen mystery series (BountyBlood TiesBehind the BadgeBehind the Mask), gives readers yet another taste of author J.D. Cunegan’s comic book-inspired brand of fast-paced prose, with chapters that fly by and plot twists that will leave readers guessing and waiting for more.

Grab your copy! (available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Scribd, and paperback)

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

SNEAK PEEK: Betrayal

“I understand that, Mayor, but I have an 11:00 I cannot miss.”Betrayal High Res (2)

Commissioner Jackson Saunders’ phone was tucked between his broad shoulder and his barrel neck as he rolled his eyes at the voice on the other end. He’d barely had a chance to finish his morning coffee and the mayor was already on his ass. About what, he couldn’t tell. Closure rates in the city were improving. Public opinion had… well, improved wasn’t the right word, but at least the locals weren’t taking to the streets en masse for one reason or another anymore. The vigilante had even kept a low profile in recent weeks, and as much as Saunders wanted her behind bars, he had his reasons for leaving that alone.

Reasons the mayor didn’t need to know.

Leaving the Bishop L. Robinson Sr. Police Administration Building, known in some circles simply as The Bishop, and hanging a left on the sidewalk, Saunders approached a black SUV idling at the curb. His 11:00 was on the other end of downtown, and traffic was more of a mess than usual thanks to blocks of road work and construction. The end product was touted as a way to further revitalize downtown Baltimore, but in the meantime, it meant hassle and traffic jams for everyone.

Even important people like the police commissioner.

“Fine. I’ll call you when I’m finished.”

Saunders hung up without another word, cutting the mayor off and stuffing the phone into his coat pocket. He ignored the greeting the man in the three-piece suit whose name he forgot gave him, sliding into the back seat and slamming the door shut himself. Saunders hated being chauffeured around like he was a damn king. Last Saunders checked, he could still drive his own pickup truck, and he was still capable of opening and closing doors himself.

The security detail he understood, useless though they sometimes were, but the rest of it? Needless crap. Crap that never would’ve flown in the Army. At least, not back in the Vietnam days.

“Use the siren,” he ordered as the SUV rolled into traffic. “Don’t have time to waste on this damn traffic.”

Something cold and metal poked against the side of Saunders’ neck and he froze. The window separating the front of the SUV from the back lowered with a low-pitched whirr, and Saunders glanced into the rearview mirror — only to be greeted by the sight of a pair of green eyes staring back at him.

His driver did not have green eyes.

Other than the man’s eyes, the rest of his head was covered in a black mask. Saunders shifted his gaze to his right, finding another black mask and military fatigues. A handgun Saunders didn’t recognize pointed in his direction, the silencer digging into his neck.

“What the –?”

Silence.” The masked man’s voice was distorted, probably digitally altered. It sent a chill down the commissioner’s spine, and his hands went up on pure instinct. The man with the gun chuckled and his shoulders relaxed, but he didn’t lower the weapon. “You’re a smart man, Jackson. More than you get credit for.

A thousand retorts flew through Saunders’ head, but he kept his mouth shut. Whoever these men were, something told him they wouldn’t take kindly to sarcasm. He stole a glance at the front again. The driver was focused on the road ahead, and the SUV swerved to the left. Saunders looked out the window in that direction, his arms slowly returning to his sides. Wherever they were going, it wasn’t where his 11:00 would be waiting.

He hoped kidnapping was a good excuse for not showing up.

Ah-ah.” The masked man with the gun shook his head. “Push that button and I pull the trigger. I’d hate to ruin these fine leather seats.

“Fair enough.” Saunders pursed his lips and stared out the window, his left hand inching away from the red panic button on the side of his seat. “Don’t suppose you got a name?”

Not one you get to know.

Saunders shook his head. “Where I come from, if someone’s gonna kill you, you at least deserve to know who’s doin’ it.”

Who we are isn’t important.” The masked man waved the gun around before the silencer jabbed itself into the commissioner’s neck again. “All that matters is the mission. The message.

“This wasn’t part of the deal.” Saunders arched a brow but kept his gaze straight ahead. Given recent events, he had expected one of his long-held associations to come home to roost. Not all of his friends over the years had been on the up-and-up, and considering one of his captains knew of his ties to both the Russians and the Ukrainians, Saunders would’ve been naive to think one of them wouldn’t come calling sooner rather than later. After all, he was technically a loose end.

But if these people were to come for Saunders, then there was no telling what was in store. These masked men, they were going out of their way to keep their identities secret. Somehow, Saunders would’ve rather the Ukrainians had gotten him.

“The message,” he finally repeated once it was clear he wouldn’t get a response. “You ever try throwing a bottle into the ocean?”

In one swift motion, the masked man flipped the gun in his hand and smashed the butt end of it against the commissioner’s temple. Saunders grunted in pain, his head snapping back and bouncing off the window. He slumped forward, unconscious, both temples bloody.

The driver glanced at the rearview mirror as the SUV merged onto Interstate 83. “Shall I get the studio ready?

Yes.” The other masked man wiped the blood from his gun before returning it to its holster. “But not for Saunders. We have other guests to attend to first.

 

Pre-order Betrayal today! Available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple iBooks, and paperback. Betrayal comes out Tuesday, April 14!

Want sneak peeks up to five days before everyone else, and other exclusive goodies? Sign up for my newsletter — which will also net you the short story Boundless — FOR FREE!

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Price Drops Galore!

These are strange times, to say the least.Bounty Final

On the one hand, I’m excited about Betrayal‘s impending release. It’s been almost three years since my last release in the Jill Andersen series, and I can’t wait for the emotional toll I’m about to inflict on my readers.

But I can’t ignore what’s going on in the world. How we’re all pretty much stuck at home, lest we catch a virus that might do nothing or might kill us. These are anxious times, made more so by inept leadership and the fact that a lot of people are now facing deep financial trouble through no fault of their own.

So in response to these trying times, and to celebrate Betrayal‘s release on April 14, I’m proud to announce a pair of price changes:

  • Bounty, the first book in the series, is now just 99 cents on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple iBooks.
  • Blood Ties, the second book, is now just $1.99 on those same platforms.

Paperback prices remain unchanged.

In addition, I’ve unpublished the digital short Boundless — opting instead to leave it as the freebie readers get when they sign up for my newsletter. I hate pulling a book from the market, but based on the sales charts, you won’t miss it.

But if you do want a copy of Boundless, all you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter.

So visit your favorite ebook provider (be it Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple iBooks) and take advantage of these new, lower prices. And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Betrayal today!

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Cover Reveal & Release Date: BETRAYAL

Someone is killing Baltimore’s heroes.Betrayal High Res (2)

The ones with badges. The ones who put out fires. The ones who debate laws designed to make the citizens’ lives better. None of them are safe, and their deaths amount to little more than public spectacle. A mysterious band of militants called The Collective takes credit for the killings, but the origins and identities of its members are unknown.

Jill Andersen now has an FBI badge on her hip. She is tasked with bringing down the cult, and she must make sure she doesn’t wind up in their crosshairs in the process. All of her theories and leads come up empty – none of the usual suspects are behind these ghastly murders. They might just be in the line of fire themselves.

With those closest to her now targets, Jill must race against the clock to determine who’s killing the best Baltimore has to offer. But along the way, she’ll discover a jarring secret – one that threatens to make her question everything that has happened in her life to this point.

Assuming it doesn’t kill her first.

Betrayal, the gripping, hard-hitting fifth novel in the Jill Andersen mystery series (Bounty, Blood Ties, Behind the Badge, Behind the Mask), gives readers yet another taste of author J.D. Cunegan’s comic book-inspired brand of fast-paced prose, with chapters that fly by and plot twists that will leave readers guessing and waiting for more.

Betrayal hits digital bookshelves on Tuesday, April 14!

PRE-ORDER: Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Apple iBooks

Betrayal will also be available in paperback. Click here to catch a sneak peek.

Click here to catch up on the Jill Andersen series!

 

Sign up for my newsletter! If you do, you’ll get a copy of Boundless FOR FREE!

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

Keep Politics Out of It? Couldn’t if I Wanted

It’s something you’ll hear about genre fiction these days — or even about an author or musician or some other art form that asks people to buy the result of that art:

“Can’t you just keep politics out of it?”

I can’t, and I won’t. For several reasons, but before I get to those, let me make one incredibly salient point regarding the leave-politics-out-of-it sentiment: it is dripping with privilege.clean

If you’re in a position where you can ignore politics and the way they affect things, that likely means you’ve never been targeted by or are largely immune from the aftereffects of politics. Historically, that means you’re white, male, straight, and/or a specific type of Christian (hint: it’s not the love-thy-neighbor type).

If you’re some combination of the above traits, you’ve likely been spared much of the worst politics has to offer. Countless people do not have the luxury to just ignore politics; for them, politics can mean life and death.

If you think that’s hyperbole, you’re not paying attention.

Now, with that out of the way… art — be it painting or sculpture or writing or whatever — is often a window through which we examine and comment on life and society. That means, inevitably, that art can and often will be political. Don’t let anyone tell you genre fiction in particular has always been apolitical (I pick genre fiction because that’s what I peddle in).

The dudebros who hate Brie Larson and the idea of a black Captain America and the mere hint of a Harley Quinn film where she’s not fawning all over Mistah J will have you think there was this utopia where comics and genre fiction were free from politics (this “utopia” was also almost exclusively white, male, and straight).

That is clearly, demonstrably wrong.

Genre fiction has always had political undertones, whether its audience saw them or not. The X-Men were an allegory for racism in the 1960s (and later evolved to represent other oppressed minorities, including the LGBT community). Superman was an alien come to America (created by two Jewish men). Wonder Woman was the original feminist superhero.

If we take fiction as a reflection of the world we live in, and not merely a way to escape said world, then it can’t help but be political — because like it or not, politics shape much of the world we live in. Ignoring that doesn’t make it less true.

Sometimes it’s covert. Sometimes it’s right in your face.

You see where I’m going with this?

More personally, I hear other authors tell me I should tone down my political opinions, lest I run the risk of alienating potential readers. I refuse, for a number of reasons:

I’m not just a writer. I’m a full-fledged person with opinions about the state of the country and the world — and I wouldn’t be doing my duty as a person and as an American citizen if I didn’t express those opinions (whether it be verbally, through donating to causes and candidates, or in the voting booth). My work does not rob me of my voice.

If I were to set aside my ideals in the interest of making just a little more money… well, then in a way, I’m no better than the greedy sycophant currently occupying the White House.

And to be perfectly frank, the people who would hate me for my political opinions wouldn’t like my work anyway. It represents everything they hate; it’s full of racial and sexual diversity, with a big heaping plate of what they would call “SJW bullshit.” So even if they did give me their money, they wouldn’t enjoy the product.

As the late Kurt Cobain once said, those aren’t the sort of people I want as fans anyway. He really did say that, on multiple occasions. And I feel the same way; if you’re the sort of person who looks at Donald Trump and those like him and you think that’s the sort of world we need to live in, pass me right on by. I don’t want or need your money.

So no, I will not keep politics out of it. Not out of the fiction I consume, not out of the fiction I create. I will not be silenced, I will not sit down. I will not allow my privilege to protect me; I will instead use it to fight for what’s right. My station as a writer, as a published author, has no bearing on my ability or willingness to use my voice to enact change.

And if that bothers you… well, that’s your issue, not mine.

 

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About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

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