Award-Winning South Florida Author
By Andy Armano | www.AndyArmano.com
This month’s cover story features a local, South Florida boy who has made us proud. Craig Moody is an award-winning, published author from Pembroke Pines, FL. The ’49 Indian¹, his debut novel, is one of two Florida winners of the third annual Indie Author Project regional contest. The Indie Author Project (https://indieauthorproject.com) is a publishing community that connects library patrons with great indie-published books, and their annual contest helps local authors get the recognition they deserve. This year’s Indie Author Project regional contests ran in 14 states and one Canadian province, and fielded thousands of submissions from authors of all types.
Moody’s entry to this contest was facilitated through Broward County Library’s Local Authors initiative program (https://www.broward.org/Library/Pages/BCLLocalAuthors.aspx), which supports and promotes homegrown literary talent.
The Local Authors program at Broward County Library includes resources such as Biblioboard, a free service that lets self-published authors create and professionally format their books into digital and print-ready formats and submit their work for inclusion in the statewide Indie Florida Collection. Winning titles reflect the best indie-published eBooks each region has to offer in adult and young adult fiction. These books, and hundreds of other top indie titles, are available in the Indie Author Project Select collections on BiblioBoard Library (https://library.biblioboard.com), OverDrive (https://www.overdrive.com), and more digital collections.
Moody’s previous multi-award-winning novels include His Name Was Ezra and The Stars of Locust Ridge. He currently resides in Fort Lauderdale with his boyfriend, Gable, and a 24-year-old cockatiel, Alley. Craig recently sat down with OutClique magazine to discuss art, spirituality, the creative process, and having fun.
Andy Armano: I am so impressed with your body of work. Congratulations on the state win of the Indie Author Project. I know the Broward County Library is incredibly proud of you.
Craig Moody: Thank you. It’s such an honor. I really do believe my art belongs to the world so for it to receive this recognition means a lot. My prayer for the book was that readers would connect with it and that they would feel the joy I felt while writing it.
AA: You’re incredibly prolific and you’ve won quite a few awards. Do you have a process for tapping into your creativity when writing a novel?
CM: I don’t sit around and plan. I don’t write with an outline or anything. It just takes a life of its own. That is so fun for me because even I don’t know what will happen before I write it. There are times when my boyfriend comes home from work and I’ll be so excited saying, “Oh my God, something happened in the book today that I was so not expecting!” The first time this happened, he was so confused and he said, “Well, you wrote it.” My answer was, “Yeah, I know, but this part of the story just came through me today, so even I didn’t know it was going to happen.”
AA: That’s so cool. I love your spirit of fun.
CM: I think that’s a huge part of being an artist – having fun. I hope the career really takes off, but in the meantime, I just enjoy the process. Even if no one reads the book, it’s enough for me to just go through the journey of writing it. You’ve got to love what you do, even if you’re not making a dime from it and even if your audience is very small. Don’t get too invested in outcomes. Of course, we hope that good things happen, but never get too connected to an external goal for the work because, at the end of the day, it really is about the creative process. You’ve just got to honor that. That’s what I try to stay focused on.
AA: Do you share any of your novels as you are writing them, or do you write it entirely in private first?
CM: As an artist I want to share with others what comes through me. When I write, I read portions aloud to Gable. I might read it aloud to my best friends. That is part of my editing process, but also it gives me that shared fulfillment.
AA: That’s a wonderful process. It allows you to have that connection with someone experiencing your book for the first time.
CM: I do think there’s a social connection that comes from art. There’s a special feeling we get when we connect to music, or to film, or to writing or art, paintings, and drawings. I really recognize that connection as a spiritual experience. I believe that art comes from our original source, whatever you choose to call it – the universe, God, or whatever you might call it. Art is a soulful thing that unites us in an unspoken way.
AA: You now have four acclaimed novels on Amazon, but let’s go back to the start. Your first novel, The ’49 Indian. Was it easy to write or was it intimidating?
CM: I was really inspired by my own relationship. The relationship was new and everything was going so well in my life. We were in our first year together, which is the honeymoon phase. It was so wonderful getting to know him and he was getting to know me. That whole newness and openness in the relationship, it kind of swept me up into writing the book.
AA: What was it like when your boyfriend, Gable, read the book?
CM: He was the very first person to read the book when it was done, and I was so nervous. When he reached the end, he not only cried, he wept. It was the first time I saw him truly weep. He’s not an emotional guy like that. I had to go comfort him. I knew the book touched his heart. To this day, he is my biggest fan. He is always excited about the next thing. “When is that one going to be done? What’s it about?” We have a lot of fun with that and it’s wonderful. He is tremendously supportive and I’m so grateful for that.
AA: Your first book, The ’49 Indian, is about a gay relationship. Your subsequent books haven’t necessarily had gay protagonists. Was that a conscious thought on your part?
CM: No; not a conscious thought, at all. None of it really is. I always start with a seed. I get this feeling about a story and it progresses from there. I don’t plan it out in advance.
AA: Did you worry your readers would want you to follow-up with another gay romantic novel?
CM: I didn’t encounter too much of that. My readers have been very loyal. I think there’s been a few people that read my first book and asked me, “When are you going to write another gay love story?” I don’t think in that way. I’ve told different love stories because I think there is such a universal appeal to love stories, or just whatever story, just whatever feeling I get of this story needs to be told. That said, I do have a novel in process that is gay-themed. So, I am happy to say more gay-related stories are coming.
AA: As an artist, I feel the same way. You want to explore your own creativity and not be bound to others’ expectations, but you can’t help but be aware of that pressure of expectations.
CM: I couldn’t think of anything worse than having somebody tell me, “You need to write a book about this, like this.” I would be devastated. It wouldn’t even be any fun for me. I love writing because it takes me out of this world and takes me somewhere else with other characters that I spend time with. I want that to be free and possible. Yes, I completely agree with you, but it does happen and I think that pressure is not a good thing. I think it’s a mistake in art when choices become a business decision. We’ve seen it time and time again. An artist only ends up feeling stifled, or maybe the artist tries to capture the past, but doesn’t live up to it, instead of creating something fresh and new.
AA: You seem remarkably at ease with letting go as an artist and trusting the process. That’s not alway very easy for me, and I admire you for that.
CM: I try to let it be as fluid and inspired as possible. I try to be the vessel and allow the art to come through me as pure and true as possible. I don’t judge it. I let it be. For me, I think it’s a mistake to put too much thought and control into art. I’m not saying it’s right or it’s wrong, it’s just how I experience it. In the bigger picture, I really believe that my art belongs to the world. It doesn’t belong to me. I was just blessed and fortunate to experience it first and to raise it up and get it out there, but I don’t own it and I don’t control it. There is interest in making The ’49 Indian into a movie and some people think I should want to write the screenplay, but I don’t. I’ve done my part by writing the book and I trust that wherever it goes next is where it should go. Besides, novel writing is very different from screenplay writing. There are talented and gifted screenplay writers out there who would connect to the soul of the books.
AA: I can see creativity is a spiritual experience for you.
CM: That’s really what I want to get across. For me, writing has a very spiritual aspect. I’m always in awe of it. I’m a channel for something bigger than me; it comes through me. The best way I can describe my relationship with my books is to compare it to being a parent. Just be proud of your children and want the best for them, but recognize and allow them to be who they are, what they’re here for, and what they’re meant to be. That’s the best way I can put it into words.
Andy: That’s so true. Man, it’s so inspiring talking to you. I love it.
CM: Thank you. I love that you see that. When you first contacted me you told me that you see yourself as a channel in your portraits and interviews, and you told me you see your role as an artist to be a portal so your subjects shine through your work. I think that’s wonderful. It also made me recognize in you that perception you have as an artist; that is similar to how I feel.
AA: Thank you! I have so enjoyed talking about art and creativity. Thank you for all your time and for sharing so much. I wish we had the space here to print our deep, analyistical, and historical analysis on the importance of Madonna to the gay community and pop culture at large (laughs).
CM: Me too, but I cannot go without saying how honored I am that OutClique wanted to do this with me. Thank you.