Interview with Christian author Cliff Hudgins
What inspires you to write? People? Nature? God?
All three of these help me with direction in my writing. I grew up in Texas where my father worked in the oil field drilling wells all over south Texas. I spent my summer months during school break on the sites where Dad was drilling. This allowed me to meet and see many different types of people. Some were wealthy ranch owners and others were the cowboys who worked on the ranches. South Texas is a mixed-culture area where many Hispanics, mostly Mexican live along with the non-Mexicans. I try to keep that rich mixed culture as a central part of my stories. The people of Texas are a rare breed and very colorful bunch.
Nature is a vital part of the story lines. I write about places that I have actually visited when I was younger following my Dad in the oilfield. I got to see places from a different viewpoint. Not as a traveler looking through a windshield, but as a young adventurer carrying my trusty 22 rifle or 20 gauge Remington 870 pump action hunting rabbits, squirrels, quail, or dove. Most of what I gathered from the country was by foot and embedded into my memory.
I also find inspiration from God. Most of the stories about the old west depicted Christians in a different light, usually weak or morally unfit.
The westward expansion was also an expansion of families moving west and they brought with them their love for God. Most towns that sprung up during this time started with similar building needs. First came a general store then a saloon. Following these came a Church and a school.
The Texas Rangers were re-formed after the Civil War and their main concerns were raiding Comanche and Kiowa, along with an assortment of bandits. Their main task was to protect the families of Texas, of whom many were God fearing people seeking to find their place in the world.
I don’t write from a preachy standpoint but rather from people who have convictions and are struggling in life. I also write so I don’t have to explain to my grandchildren what all those ugly scenes are.
On a few occasions the inspiration comes from a suggested topic or a thought that springs up. A friend suggested that a good story might be about a young boy who is cut off from his family and discovers that he has the uncanny innate ability of a fast draw and a deadly shot, so from that came “Viejo and the Lost Child.” Another one was a phrase that ran through my head for a while. It was a cry that was never heard and out of that came, “The Cry Never Heard.”
Do you write from your head, your heart, or your gut?
I begin with my heart. I want my reader to cry with the characters, laugh with them when they make mistakes or just have fun, and be awed at the wonders of the Texas scenery painted with words. The analytical side of me is concerned with sentence structure, flow, and all the other techniques involved in developing a story. I also like to include what I call a “Got You” moment, where the reader is caught off guard from an action, which is more of gut feeling than analytical.
How much time a day do you spend writing?
My goal since retirement was to spend three to four hours a day in composing, but since last October I have had several health issues and have not been able to maintain the schedule. I am now on the mend and plan to continue writing with the goal of completing two to three books a year.
It is not like I spend three to four hours composing then forget about writing. I spend the other hours either thinking through a scene or allowing my subconscious to work out tough parts of connecting the story.
I am blessed with an ability to stop writing, place the piece down, and return the next day or the next week to start where I left off. A lot of writers are compelled to write a complete chapter before they quit for the day but I don’t even have to complete the paragraph. I think this was a skill learned in sermon preparation over the past 40 years while having to handle all the important interruptions of the day.
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