Author Q&A: Houstonian Alexander Juden
Houstonian Alexander Juden’s debut, Red Tiger Hunting, published in late 2022. Scarred and disillusioned, John Griffin has returned home from the Great War with no job and no real prospects. He is contacted by Harry Armistan, a very worried father and a rich New York City financier about his missing daughter. Armistan enlists Griffin to find her after receiving a recommendation from Griffin’s former marine commander. Griffin agrees and returns to England where his only lead is the missing girl’s widowed sister-in-law. Intrigued by the young widow, violence and mystery follow.
Alex Juden is a former law firm gopher, pretrial interviewer, naval aviator, trial lawyer, corporate compliance lawyer, and public company general counsel. He studied history and political science at Rice University. He lives in Houston with his wife and one child, who will shortly graduate from high school, following his two older siblings into the wider world.
Alex answers some questions that I posed to him about Red Tiger Hunting:
What inspired you to start writing Red Tiger Hunting?
I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. When I was young, at night, I would fall asleep telling myself stories in my head, and I’ve been writing off and on most of my life.
My kids have had to listen to my stories every night when I was there to put them to bed. Of course, much to their dismay, I never actually finished those stories. As for writing this story, I worry that people have forgotten about World War I, its causes and the time period generally. I wanted to tell a story that taught a little history while entertaining.
What kind of research did you have to do?
I studied history at Rice University. I took several courses on nineteenth and early 20th-century German history from the late professor Francis Loewenheim. He was a fantastic professor (and his classroom was damn cold). These classes provided the backbone for much of my research.
But I researched more things than I can list. A very few examples include:
- Yankees and Senators baseball
- when was the phrase “out of your league” coined (it’s not exactly clear, but I used it anyway)?
- The speed of the Mauretania,
- the sound of a Chauchat,
- the ingredients of a French 75, and
- the height of the windows at the Savoy hotel.
I also read a bunch of books. Some I note in the acknowledgements, but I read so many that I couldn’t list them all.
Can you share something with me about your book that is not in the blurb?
Much of the history is as accurate as I could make it, and Walt Disney really was in France in 1919. The book also provides a little history that many of us may not know: racial prejudice in 1919, the euphoria of 1914 at war being declared, the difficulty of crafting a treaty ending the war, and the rise of Bolshevism beyond Russia.
What surprised you the most when writing this book?
I may need to attend remedial writer school. I don’t know exactly what is going to happen until I am writing a scene. Every surprise in the book surprised me. I would find myself writing, and a twist would pop into my head. I knew where Griffin (the main character) was going to end up, but I had no idea how the book would end. I really didn’t know the ending until I started writing it.
Do you have any say in what your book cover looks like?
Yes. That is the beauty of self-publishing. I was very particular about the mood and the feeling I wanted from the cover, and Jenny Conte with Sharp Egg Inc., did a great job with it.
Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with me?
I’m well into the second adventure of Griffin. I’ve got about 70,000 words, but they’re 70,000 words that are going to need a lot of editing. I just wish I knew how the story ended….
What are you reading now and what have you read recently that you loved?
Currently reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It is a gap in my education that I haven’t read the book before now. I also am reading a couple of books that are research for the second Griffin book (but on that, I don’t want to give anything away).
I recently reread Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian. I love this book. It is beautifully written, and the characters are some of the best in fiction.
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