[ChetCunningham.Com, Chet Cunningham's Wonderful World of Books]
ChetCunningham.Com, The Cyberspace Home of Chet Cunningham
[ChetCunningham.Com, Chet Cunningham's Wonderful World of Books]
Welcome to
Chet Cunningham's
"Wonderful World of Books"

Since his first novel was published in 1968 Chet Cunningham has written and had published nearly 300 works of fiction and 15 non fiction books. He is equally adept on horseback, in the techno-thriller arena, or recounting military history. His output includes 125 westerns and 50 men's action/adventure novels.

Frequently Asked Questions for Chet Cunninghamís Books

  • How long does it take you to write a book?
  • How long do you write a day? Iíve heard of writers who can work only two or three hours and they are washed up for the day.
  • Do you ever get writerís block?
  • If you were never in the navy, how can you write so convincingly about the Navy SEALs?
  • How do you find out so much about guns and military hardware, especially the new ones now in production that arenít in the militaryís hands yet, like the 20mm shoulder fired rifle?
  • Does a computer interfere with your creativity? I like to feel the pen sliding over the paper as I write.
  • Do you ever use people you know in your books?
  • Who is the best person today writing about the U.S. Navy SEALs?
  • Iím trying to write. Can I send you some ideas to look over and give me some advice?
  • Critique groups. Are they of any value to a writer?
  • Can a man write from a womanís viewpoint, and vice versa?
  • A friend says he always writes from the first person viewpoint and present tense to get more immediacy and into the characterís mind. Is this good?
  • How long is a novel?
  • Whatís your quick definition of a novel?
  • How many books have you written and had published?
  • Is it true that you wrote and sold a book once in five days?
  • How much time do you take off between books?
  • Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

    A: Depends on how long and what kind. One of the SEAL TEAM Seven books takes me about a month and a half. A longer book can take me three months. I worked for over eight months on HELL WOULDNíT STOP, An Oral History of the Battle of Wake Island.

    Q: How long do you write a day? Iíve heard of writers who can work only two or three hours and they are washed up for the day.

    A: I came from a newspaper background. When the Editor assigns you a story, you write it. No ifs, buts, or I donít-feel-like-writing-today. I usually write from eight to ten hours a day when Iím on a roll on a book. Researching is another thing.

    Q: Do you ever get writerís block?

    A: I never use the term. I donít believe it exists. Ever heard of a carpenter not going to work because he has ďcarpenterís blockĒ that day? If a writer canít write, itís because he doesnít really want to, he isnít ready to get it on paper, or heís just plain lazy. Thereís no such thing as writerís block, only writer dumb-dumb-dumb.

    Q: If you were never in the navy, how can you write so convincingly about the Navy SEALs?

    A: Hey, you donít need to be a killer to write about a killer. You donít need to be a mobster to write convincingly about the mob. Itís called imagination. You temper that with detailed research and logic and mix in a batch of current world affair hot spots and terrorists and Navy traditions. Oh, I was also in the army for two years and had my share of combat. So, thatís how.

    Q: How do you find out so much about guns and military hardware, especially the new ones now in production that arenít in the militaryís hands yet, like the 20mm shoulder fired rifle?

    A: Guns is the military. The whole point of the military is to use weapons to defeat an enemy. That means killing them. You do that with guns. I keep my eyes open and also listen to everything I can about new weapons. Watch the magazines. The Bull Pup, the 20 mm laser aimed rifle, was detailed in the February issue, 1998 of Popular Mechanics. The weapon wonít be in military units until 2006.

    Q: Does a computer interfere with your creativity? I like to feel the pen sliding over the paper as I write.

    A: Good for you. Youíll never be a threat to me as a competitor. You might try a chisel, a hammer and a large piece of stone. No computer glitch is going to dump a whole chapter on you. A computer these days is an absolute essential part of the writerís craft. Even newspaper men had to go to it for the daily news because itís quicker, easier to turn into type and into newspapers. A computer lets me write up to about a hundred and fifty words a minute, when Iím on a roll. Try writing that many words on paper and see how long it takes. Then doing corrections, changes, and rewriting are all highly simplified. Then, too you can ship your agent or publisher a 3.5 floppy disk with a 250,000 novel safely enclosed. Go Computers.

    Q: Do you ever use people you know in your books?

    A: You betcha. A writer has only his life-experiences to draw on for his writing. Thatís why many writers flower when they are in their forties and fifties. They have more experiences to write about. What about imagination? Sure, you temper, change, reverse, upend and condense those experiences and it comes out a book. Characters? I always try to have a real life person in mind when Iím doing a main character. He/she wonít be exactly the same, but it gives me a huge insight how my character should act to stay in character. Many times I use traits from a number of friends, neighbors and strangers to build one character.

    Q: Who is the best person today writing about the U.S. Navy SEALs?

    A: Well, I donít like to brag, butÖÖ.

    Q: Iím trying to write. Can I send you some ideas to look over and give me some advice?

    A: Golly gee whiz. I wish I could say yes. I know, I know it sounds elitist and snobbish, but frankly I have so many projects on the fire right now, that I have to parcel out my time just to get around to them. Instead, ask some local person you trust to read you material and advise you.

    Q: Critique groups. Are they of any value to a writer?

    A: Iíve published a lot of books and I almost always still read my first chapter to my writer read and critique group that I started 40 years ago and itís still going twice a month. Yes, yes, yes. Read and critique groups can be outstanding. Or they can be the pits. If your people are genuinely interested in your writing, and want to give you constructive criticism, it can be invaluable. On the other hand if some of the writers are there only to tear down and bash other writerís work, then itís a bummer. When ten people hear your work, you have ten immediate opinions about it. Write down each one and donít talk, listen. Then later you can evaluate what each said and decide which you agree with and make your changes.

    Q: Can a man write from a womanís viewpoint, and vice versa?

    A: Absolutely, but itís tougher. For starters write from your own gender. Easier for you and me.

    Q: A friend says he always writes from the first person viewpoint and present tense to get more immediacy and into the characterís mind. Is this good?

    A: Most beginners start out this way. A bad idea. You can write just as convincingly and ďget in your characterís headĒ just as well in third as in first person. Try on a John Sanford novel for instance.

    Q: How long is a novel?

    A: How sweet is a kiss? Everything is relative. Some short novels run only 50,000 to 60,000 words. A novelette is usually up to about 40,000 words. Many action and suspense and military action novels these days run 150,000 words and up. Some mainstream novels run 300,000 words. A novel is like a pretty womanís skirt: it should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to make it interesting.

    Q: Whatís your quick definition of a novel?

    A: A novel is when a writer takes an interesting and sympathetic person, and gives him/her a hard problem to solve. Each time the person tries to solve it, he/she only gets mired deeper in trouble, hunted, broke, no car, and his/her feet hurt. Then at the darkest hour, the hero/heroine using his/her own skills, ingenuity, intelligence and abilities, gets out of trouble, solves the problem and lives happily ever after. Any takers?

    Q: How many books have you written and had published?

    A: Iíve had 300 full sized books written and published by legitimate, mostly New York, publishers. Now Iím shooting for 400.

    Q: Is it true that you wrote and sold a book once in five days?

    A: True. An editor friend had a slot in his publishing schedule that was open. A writer promised him a book but never finished it. The editor said he needed the book in a week. It was a series Western and I had written some in the series for him before. I set down at my computer and worked on the plot as I wrote. I figured how many pages of copy I had to do a day. It came out to 36 pages a day. I wrote clean copy as I went and started early and quit when I had my 36th page done. I overnighted it to New York and made it in time.

    Q: How much time do you take off between books?

    A: Guy Demausapant, a long ago French writer, was a master at short stories. He would finish one short story, drop down six inches on his piece of paper and start the next one. Not much time off between his classic stories. Iím not quite that gung ho. I sometimes take a few days off to catch up on other things around my desk, answer my stacked up email and even say hello to my wife. Oh, it also depends on when my next deadline is, and how many pages I need to do a day to meet that deadline. Ainít this fun?









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