It is not often that I meet an author who is also a geologist and a photographer. The combination makes for great life experience to spin into this historical yarn about a fashion photographer. Bud’s story also highlights how a novel can start by humble means and turn into something special. I hope you’ll welcome Bud Rudesill here on No Wasted Ink. Oh…and by the way, there is a little extra something on the lens of the camera in Bud’s headshot. Click to the larger version of the photo to see the surprise.
My name is Bud Rudesill. Condensing the story of sixty-eight years of life—my life—is far more daunting than writing a novel, for the story of my life is a saga. I have pursued so many options, been so many places, and earned my living doing so many things. Life for me has not been the pursuit of a dream. It has been more like a dream composed of choices, opportunities, luck—good and bad—romance, and adventure. For me, those are the components of good stories. I never have to look far to find the material to spin a yarn.
I have heard stories, first and second hand, of people who settled the West. I sat in a room with a woman who had come West in a covered wagon as we watched the live television feed of Neil Armstrong taking the first giant step for mankind on the moon. I worked on a ranch as a young man where I heard three generations of verbal history of that ranch. I have a master’s degree in geology and have worked in Saudi Arabia where I was befriended by a Saudi who believed he was the first Saudi delivered by an American Aramco doctor. I learned computer programming on an IBM 1620 and am still reasonably computer literate. My great, grand uncle, Jack Wilkinson Smith, was arguably the father of California Impressionism. I’m not bad with brush and paint myself. And that is a sample of vanilla in a Ben and Jerry’s.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing fiction early in 2002 because back problems and consequential surgery was seriously limiting my physical activity. It was time for me to use my mind more instead of my body. Painting more was part of the solution. Writing was the other part. In essence I began living a large part of my life vicariously through my characters. The sum total of events and accomplishments of my life, plus the stories I’ve heard over the years told by others are the food for the creation of the characters and events that fill my literary works.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess when I finished a 135,000 word novel in three weeks. The novel wasn’t good enough to be publishable, but it had a lot of good story and writing in it. I knew I would be able to write good stories well at that point. It took me a lot longer to get very good at the craft.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Cutter’s Bizaar started as paintings in mid 2002. I got the idea of painting images of fashion models and I distorted them because the fashion industry is a distorted fantasy world. After finishing several paintings that I felt were a major breakthrough in my art, I started making up vignettes about the women in the paintings. I tied them together through a Wyoming born cowboy-turned fashion photographer. The vignettes became a modest little self-published/computer printed magazine and then that became a novel.
The story is about four decades at the end of the twentieth century of the fashion photography business and an unlikely fashion photographer.
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, I knew I had a good idea at the first showing of my paintings where I hung the vignettes with them. I had copies of the magazine at the second show of my paintings. Women were interested in the images and the stories. It took me almost a decade to realize how pertinent the stories were to the contemporary interest in fashion. It was another writer who is also a fashionista that got me watching the reality fashion shows and I quickly realized I needed to turn the vignettes into a novel.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I have a master’s degree in Geology, so I learned technical writing starting as an undergraduate. I would say that my style is to just tell my stories as well as I can—to communicate the plot, character development, emotion, etc. to the reader while maintaining tension and interest in the plot and characters. I would say this style contrasts mostly with writing that is more about the impact on the reader of the sounds and impressions of the words than the story they tell.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
When I was designing the cover for my little magazine I realized I could imitate the style of the title of Harper’s Bazaar and work a play on words, sort of, by misspelling bazaar and bizarre, placing the first name of my protagonist between the two As. The misspelled word added to the concept of an industry that is a bizarre fantasy world.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My stories almost always have strong female characters and strong men that love them. Fashion models that succeed have to be strong, resilient, and smart. There’s a reason why the top models get paid a hundred times what top photographers get paid. So a lot of the novel is about the difficult situations models are subjected to, and how they cope and sometimes become extremely successful.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I know a lot about the cattle ranching life, my protagonist, Frank Cutter grows up with. I’ve been to the locations described in the book. I know a lot about modeling for artists and a little bit about shooting fashion photography. No, there isn’t an individual or series of events that the story is based on. Much of it is based on research and fantasy, but sometimes the view from outside looking in is more accurate than the view from the inside. In this case the target market is people on the outside, so a fantasy about a fantasy world is, hopefully, good art.
What authors have most influenced your life?
My life has been most influenced by people who have written scientific and historical works. My writing has been most influenced by the printed words of Hemingway’s stories of Africa, Joseph Conrad, and Erwin Shaw. The writer, in the common sense of the word, who most influenced my life, was Edward Dorn. He was an instructor at Idaho State my freshman year and I took my first literature class from him. It wasn’t his writing that influenced me, rather his teaching style and some of his lessons.
If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor?
Yes. The first few sentences Ed Dorn spoke to the class I was in eventually had more impact on my writing than any of the many lessons since. It’s a long story, but the crux of his lesson was that it is not the grammar or spelling that is the most important aspect of the writing. The most important aspect of writing is to communicate something—an idea or feeling, knowledge, whatever—that is in your mind to another person. This applies to technical writing as well as fiction.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I did. The painting is one of the first I did in the series that inspired the novel. I selected this illustrator because he works real cheap.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writing fiction for me is one of many art mediums. I am an artist. I don’t make art because I’m good at it, because I like making it, or because I can profit financially from it. I make art because I’m compelled to make it. My life is nothing without satisfying my basic needs—food, water, sleep, shelter, sex, and making art. In my opinion, if a writer is motivated to write fiction because they want to make money by selling their product, they are involved in a nearly futile struggle. If a writer is compelled to write, they should write for that reason, and they should perfect their craft to the fullest extent of their talent and ambition. It is the process and end product, not monetary profit, which will sustain the needs of true artists.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To my readers—thank you for having the courage to read something that isn’t recommended by people who make a living off promoting writers and/or their works. Thank you again if you critique me so that I can continue to improve my craft.
To my potential readers—I don’t employ the latest artificial devices to hook you in the first three lines of my stories. I’m old school and set my stories up with care so that there will be no confusion later on as to who did what, when, where, how, and why.
Pittsboro, North Carolina.
I am an artist and photographer, and a geologist. I have done a fair bit of ranch work including some in the Valley of the Warm Winds, also known as the Wind River Valley, Wyoming.