J.P. “Jack” Hudson’s not getting older. He’s getting better.
And he’s getting lighter: “I’m on a diet and got 20-some odd pounds off me, but I cheat on it,” he said before a recent lunch at the Village Inn, where he was joined by two fellow authors.
Yeah, Hudson is 76 chronologically, but his mind’s still sharp enough to keep him enthusiastic about his third career — as an author. He only wishes he would have started writing years ago.
Hudson, who lives in Rio Rancho and sets his Bill Hamilton murder mysteries here, spent most of his working years in industrial engineering and then sales.
Over the past few years, he’s written five murder mysteries and is working on a sixth.
He knows they’re not for everyone. In fact, he believes the majority of his Bill Hamilton readers are older folks, like him, who realize “an older person could be a hero” — and that an older person can even be an author.
“Writing for me is a very slow process,” he said, and his newest Hamilton (who resembles Hudson) murder mystery, “Help Find Me,” took about a year to write.
It’s a little different from the other books he’s written, which began with “A Senior Moment: A Balloon Murder in New Mexico” four years ago. He insists every incident in his books could actually occur; in his “Warming Up to Murder” book, there was an ‘art imitating life’ occasion — with a U.S. senator getting killed in Rio Rancho, an event similar to the tragic Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson a few years ago.
“This one’s more (emotional),” he said. Not about to divulge the entire plot — you can get a book and have Hudson sign it Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Under Charlie’s Covers in Bernalillo — it’s about “Bill’s feelings for a young girl. He’s not even sure she’s real,” he said. “He doesn’t know what her problem is.”
Of course, by the final page, Hamilton’s figured it out and another Hudson who-dunnit concludes.
Hudson said he gets a lot of help from his wife, Pat, and ideas for plots from what’s happened in his own life, using “interesting characters,” sometimes based on people he’s met. Incidents in the books are often based on things that have happened to him, including one frightening ordeal in which he almost skidded off a cliff. Hamilton escapes a similar fate in the new book.
“I try to come up with an interesting ending,” he said. And then, he added, “You say, ‘I don’t want to write anymore’ (and it ends).”
Although there are several writing groups in the area, Hudson doesn’t borrow any ideas or suggestions from them.
“You learn absolutely nothing and none of them are gonna help you sell a book,” he said.
What has helped, he said, is authonomy.com, where writers can post portions of their work, such as chapters, online and get feedback from other writers.
He’s also been helped by doing research on the Internet, as well as — for his newest book — spending an hour with a psychiatrist to get insight on what a consulting session might have been like for a character in his book.
The best way to sell his books, Hudson has found, is by sitting at a table for hours at a time, which he has done many times at Hastings and has done in the past at Under Charlie’s Covers, which always supports local authors. (undercharliescovers.com)