Interview With Author Hugo L. I. Cukurs

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Hugo Cukurs, I’m Brazilian, 43 years old, and I’ve been living in Toronto with my wife and daughter since 2016. I’m a creative professional (designer, art director, writer) with more than 20 years of experience, but I started writing just a few years ago. My first book is Samurais of Fukushima – The battle of the dead, and it’s about a group of survivors trying to escape from a zombie apocalypse in Feudal Japan. There are two samurai with a brutal past, a Viking, and other unlikely companions in this group.

I launched the Portuguese edition (ebook and paperback) of this book in 2018 and the English edition (ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook) in 2020. Now, I’m working on my second book that is totally unrelated to Samurais of Fukushima. It’s about a crime in a dystopic Toronto in 2078. I’m planning to launch this new book in 2022.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

I’ve always been working with creativity all my life, and I consider myself a geek. I love all kinds of movies, comic books, fantasy books, etc. And I always wanted to create my fictional universe.

One day, I was listening to a podcast with an interview with Brian Michael Bendis, a famous comic book writer, talking about his creative process. It started something in my mind that made me start thinking about how I would create a book. My first insight was about bringing zombies to an unusual scenario, and after, I had the idea about samurai. I used to train Tae Kwon Do, and I wanted to make it part of my story.

A few hours later, I started listing characters, chapters, structure, etc. I wrote close to 20 pages and stopped for almost a year because I was really busy planning to move to Canada. When I arrived here, I was spending more than an hour per day in the subway. And I decided to make this time more valuable. I started writing again, and in less than four months, the book was ready.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I believe we can get inspired by everything. Movies and books helped a lot. To get inspiration for the Samurais of Fukushima, I watched many samurai movies, read comic books, talked with friends, etc. Sometimes, it’s good to go outside, go to a museum, or just grab a beer with a friend to open your mind.

# How do you deal with creative block?

Changing the scenario helps a lot for me. The pandemic hit me hard with creative block. I was working from home all the time, and I was missing interacting with more people. I tried to make small changes in my routine and in the place I was working at home. About writing, looking for references has helped me. If it’s not getting better, I will stop for a few days to avoid the pressure.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Doing the proofreading by yourself. Your eyes and mind will get so familiar with everything that it will be hard to find all mistakes.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

It’s the last part of the book for me. I used to do small brainstormings to find key messages to represent my book. With that, I will filter all that explains the book’s idea well until I find the best one. About the cover, I recommend looking for a professional designer. I did it by myself because I’m a professional graphic designer, and it was part of my goal to write a book.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I don’t care about bad reviews or negative feedback if it’s fair, and it offers something that can help me write better in the future. I don’t like when someone just leaves 1 star (it happened just once) because it won’t help the writer or other readers understand the book’s problem.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I think self-confidence helped me to improve my creative process. Moreover, the creative flow I used in my first book is something that is helping to write my second with more efficiency.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The best part was starting to see all my ideas turn into something real. The worst part was the sales that I was expecting more of. And I was surprised by all the good reviews I got.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Just finishing the book and loving the result was a tremendous personal satisfaction. I believe if I like what I did, it’s because I did something good, and it will be attractive for my readers.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

In my opinion, it’s about passion. You can’t be creative without passion.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

I’ve always tried to create mind maps. It helps me to connect all ideas easily.

# What are your plans for future books?

As I said before, I’m working on a new book. This time, with no zombies and samurai. It will happen in Toronto and in the future. In this book, I will create a futuristic scenario with many actions and fights, and I will try to include a few easter eggs from Samurais of Fukushima.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I love sports! Soccer (I’m a São Paulo FC fan in Brasil), Hockey (Go Leafs Go), martial arts, sailing, Handball, etc. I’m a movie addict, and I love to watch my favorite movies many times. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book and movie as well. I like to read everything! Books, comics, magazines, etc. And to finish, my family is my life! I love to spend time with my wife and daughter.

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