We here at GLAHW have met so many amazing and talented people out in the big wide world (you know, OFF the internets) and thought it was high-time we introduced them to you. Who knows? You may end up discovering a favorite new artist, photographer, writer, or all-around awesome human. This time around, we will be talking to JC Rudkin, the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of James & Casey Rudkin.
JC Rudkin is the writing team of James and Casey Rudkin. They share a fondness for old pulp horror tales, board games, and archival research. Their previous collaborations include short stories and two daughters. When they’re not writing, they might be preparing elaborate meals, camping in their trailer, the Quahog, or walking their dogs. They currently reside in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where James often shovels more than 20 feet of snow each winter.
GLAHW: How long have you been writing? When did you get started?
Casey: I’ve been writing since I first put a thick pencil to double-lined elementary school paper. I’ve always loved telling stories. Jim came to it a bit later.
Jim: Most of my story writing when I was younger was more like comic books and games. When I got older, most of my writing was academic. It wasn’t until we started writing together about seven years ago that I came back to fiction.
GLAHW: Why did you choose the horror genre?
Jim: I’ve always been a fan of all of the old pulp horror stories, like HP Lovecraft and his contemporaries wrote. Of course, like everyone else our age, we both read a lot of Stephen King growing up. Horror is also a favorite of both of us in gaming.
Casey: And right now, the contemporary horror scene is very exciting. I love what Matt Ruff, Victor LaValle, and NK Jemisin are doing with Lovecraftian themes while subverting the racist and misogynist takes HPL included in his original work.
GLAHW: Were you inspired by a person or event to begin your writing career?
Casey: I wrote a story for the Hemingway Short Story Contest in 1984 called “The Tail of the Dragon (or the Dragon’s Tale),” which was a fantasy/political satire about police corruption in Key West. I got the call that I won Honorable Mention and was invited to the award ceremony. My boyfriend and I were the youngest people in the bar (at 16). They had no idea I was just a kid when they selected my story, and they treated me not as a kid, but as a fellow writer. That was a turning point for me.
Jim: I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for Casey.
GLAHW: Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
Casey: We’re definitely both.
Jim: Sometimes Casey will just write and see where the words take her. Sometimes we’ll discuss what we want to do and outline it. Sometimes I’ll take over in a scene and take the story in a different direction. It all depends on what we need at the moment.
GLAHW: Have you ever had an encounter with the supernatural?
Casey: Nothing specific, but you know those “weird things” you can’t explain? Once I was driving on I-96 between West Detroit and East Lansing, bringing a friend back to college. Whiteout blizzard conditions – I shouldn’t have even been on the road. To stay on the highway, I followed closely the taillights ahead of me. When we got out of the worst of it, we realized there was nobody else on the highway in front of me, and we hadn’t passed any exits. We both were sure there had been a car in front of us the whole trip. I still can’t explain that.
GLAHW: Are you superstitious? Why or why not?
Casey: I’d like to think I’m not, but I totally am. No umbrellas in the house, knocking on wood, salt over the shoulder. I have a few.
Jim: I’m about the same. I’d like to think I’m not superstitious, but I do all those things too. And there are certain things I will not mess with like Ouija boards.
Casey: Oh, yeah! No Ouija boards. I was out at a mall with our daughter, and we saw Ouija board panties. She shrieked and said, “Why on earth would you curse your lady parts?!?” Why, indeed.
GLAHW: What do you do for a living, outside of writing?
Jim: Teach writing.
Casey: Jim and I both teach college-level writing, and we have for years. Right now, we’re both teaching at multiple colleges and universities online.
GLAHW: Do you keep a journal every day?
Jim: Neither of us do.
GLAHW: What do you prefer to write – short stories, poetry, novels, scripts, etc.?
Jim: It has to be novels because we are nearly incapable of writing short stories.
Casey: He’s right. Our last “short” story was 10k and needs to be edited down to 8K. Our debut novel, Cthulhu: A Love Story, was supposed to be a short story originally. We’re not great at brevity.
GLAHW: What truly scares you?
Casey: The glaring lack of empathy in many people today. I think a lot of it is a consequence of tearing down the Humanities in favor of STEM in education. I’d love it if we spent more time getting people into reading fiction again, as it builds empathy by seeing the world through the eyes of others. I mean, like, that and the impending zombie apocalypse.
GLAHW: What sort of hobbies are you into?
Jim: Gaming, reading, art, cooking. I’m into gardening, Casey less so.
Casey: That’s one way in which the pandemic affected us less. Staying in instead of going out was already our default. We have a huge game collection – everything from cards and dice to RPGs and board games. Kickstarter is our game store now.
GLAHW: Do you read outside of the horror genre? If so, what else have you read?
Casey: We like to read in bed, and we’ll take turns reading chapters to each other. We just finished Nuking the Moon by Vince Houghton. It’s wild what the government can get up to with nearly unlimited financial resources and some old-fashioned Cold War paranoia.
Jim: We’re into a lot of different genres: history, biography, sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk. If it’s good, we’ll read it.
GLAHW: What’s your favorite genre to write?
Jim: Horror, specifically cosmic horror. Steampunk is a close second.
Casey: And horror mixed with history. If we include historical aspects in a piece, like our short story “Your Plaintive Cries,” you can be sure we’ve hit the archives to double-check the details. It will be accurate.
GLAHW: Do you use a pseudonym?
Jim: As a writing team, it is pretty much by definition.
Casey: We didn’t want to put two names on the cover, and we are a solid team, which is why we chose JC Rudkin as our pseudonym.
GLAHW: What do you think makes a good story?
Jim: Good characters and good action.
Casey: I want to completely lose myself in a story. Characters I can believe are real suck me in every time.
GLAHW: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Casey: Be a writer. Always.
Jim: When I was a young man, I used to say, “All I want is a million dollars and all the women I can handle.” Now, with a wife and our two adult daughters, I like to tell people, “I made it halfway to my life goals.” Still working on the cash thing, though.
GLAHW: Are you spiritual?
Casey: I find spirituality in the enjoyment of a drink while sitting near a large body of water with good company, sunset optional but preferred. I see a lot of the sublime and the divine in nature, but something involving rum certainly helps with that appreciation.
GLAHW: What are your influences?
Casey: Stories I’ve read, people I’ve met, things I’ve studied, and places I’ve been. One thing I really miss from pre-pandemic days is people watching and listening to snippets of public conversations. I write well when I am situated in the middle of chaos, but it has to be chaos in which I have no personal investment. Like my ideal writing spot would be in the middle of Terminal 5 at O’Hare.
Jim: My influences run more toward the old horror comics and all of the gaming I’ve done. I read the old Eerie and Creepy magazines and The Tomb of Dracula series by Marvel, in addition to superhero comics. Then, when I started gaming, I moved from Dungeons & Dragons and Napoleonic miniatures to Champs RPG and Call of Cthulhu RPG. It’s like I’ve lived in other worlds all my life.
GLAHW: What are you reading right now?
Jim: Our next bedtime read is 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire by Rebecca Rideal and after that is the A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods anthology headed up by Seanan McGuire and including Premee Mohamed, and Elatsoe by DarcieLittle Badger.
Casey: We’ve got a TBR pile a mile high, but we’re working through it and always glad to add to it.
GLAHW: What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.
Casey: We’re very excited that our debut novel Cthulhu: A Love Story is coming out from FyreSyde Publishing in June 2021. It is available as an ARC on NetGalley just prior to release, and after that, you can request it from your local bookstore, get it from our publisher’s website, or find it on Amazon. C:aLS is a cosmic horror tale with a love story twisting through it, but it is definitely not a paranormal romance. From our synopsis:
Nothing in Amanda’s life had ever been normal, but her college boyfriend, Ryley, was paranormal. Fifteen years after banishing him to his city beneath the waves, she has to summon him once again to remove all traces of his power from her life. Now the stars are right. She must get Ry back and save the world. But can she save herself in the process?
Cthulhu: A Love Story is a contemporary take on the Lovecraftian Mythos filled with Cthulhu, cultists, and Chinese food.
We hope y’all will give it a look, and thanks so much for having us here.