Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
Q1: Thanks for participating in our Authors.com Spotlight Interview series Del! Please introduce yourself and your book to help our readers get to know you.
A: My name is Del Huntsman and this is my first completed work. The name of my book is Cruel Curse. It is a story set in the Civil War period of American history. It uses the Southwest as a backdrop and the drama unfolds (predominantly) in what was once known as New Mexico Territory. It begins in Georgia when the war is ending and then moves West as the story develops. It is somewhat graphic in its portrayal of the more callous side of human nature when conflicting emotions, ambitions and cultures collide, but there are redemptive moments throughout. It has been described as more introspective than one would expect for a story that incorporates western themes. I tried to draw the characters as likable, despicable, irascible, laughable and ultimately, believable as is currently in my power to do.
Q2: Please explain how you came to be a writer, what inspired you to write your book(s) and how long it took.
A: I discovered fairly early on that I enjoyed writing down my thoughts; it seemed more of a cathartic exercise than anything else. I came to really enjoy the Western genre although I have a wide range of tastes when it comes to storytelling. Zane Grey’s work served as an inspiration to me. I like the poetic flare he uses to raise the stylistic bar in an otherwise “gritty” genre. It took me about two years to finish Cruel Curse (I couldn’t work on it full time) and almost another year to finish the editing/publishing process (there was a pretty steep learning curve).
Q3: What did you enjoy most about creating this book?
A: Starting with one sentence and then letting the characters take me where they want to go.
Q4: What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?
A: All of the locations (geographically) are real; the ground that I walked on, landscapes that I surveyed and cultures I had the good fortune to interact with. Every one of these characters—good/bad, sad/happy, funny/tragic—are a slice of me, i.e., the demons that I battle, the hopes that I have, the loves I have lost, the ironies I endure; all extracted from my own life’s experiences and injected into the personalities that animate the story. Sorry if that sounds overly dramatic, but hey, I’m a writer.
Q5. How did you get published?
A: I chose to self-publish. I made a few attempts at approaching some of the more established publishers, but the effort didn’t produce any viable offers.
Q6: Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process?
A: The writing part was fun, the editing part was daunting and the self-publishing part was incredibly frustrating. Because I did not have an established Trade Publisher willing to back the project and supply all the benefits of that relationship (editors, proof readers, designers, etc.), it was truly an uphill battle. When you self publish it is all you. I had this feeling as if I was on a conveyer belt (literally—no pun intended) moving through a dark room. People would grab the book from my hands every few feet mumbling in some foreign language and then shove it back at me a few feet later telling me the next person would answer any questions. I would struggle to see if any of my concerns were addressed before the next person snatched it away. The belt would stop and go, stop and go, break down occasionally, until finally I rolled off the end into the light of day only to be dropped into the middle of a vacant parking lot clutching my book, with no instructions on what to do next. But, other than that it was a very uplifting experience. Alright, so maybe I’m over dramatizing a little, but there is a lot to absorb as you go through the process. And to tell you the truth, I wasn’t really all that impressed with the publisher I chose (nuff said). Now, however, with what I have learned, my next project should be a lot easier to complete. And I’m also hoping that with one on the shelf (so to speak), I may get a closer look the next time I submit my work to a Trade Publisher.
Q7: What one thing did you wish you'd known before you started this project?
A: I wish I was better prepared mentally and emotionally for how difficult it is to get a first work published. Especially when you have no compelling background to provide the credibility you need for a fair, unbiased review. A “connection” (or a good word) to get you in the door is always nice. It is incredibly important that you do not get discouraged when you discover that your book/story (and the effort you put into it) means more to you then it does to anyone else.
Q8: You're a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book. What would you hope to hear them say about it?
A: “I wish I could have paid more for this!” (kidding). I would like to hear them discuss the specific details and comment on the parts of the story that really caught their attention. I mean, besides just the sex… No really, it interests me to hear whether the set-ups I introduce and the perceptions I’m trying to orchestrate are effective. It helps me improve as a writer to hear what readers say about a character, or a circumstance the character is dealing with. If there is something in my presentation that is weak, then I’m probably not communicating the idea correctly, which in turn causes the storyline to become abstract. It is a very subjective thing, but there is something to be said for being able to review a reader’s deliberative process (generally speaking), and then use that information to facilitate your own creative process.
Q9: Tell us one thing about you that most people don't know or would surprise them.
A: I’m not wearing pants right now (kidding). I do have a pretty strange sense of humor, as you can see. I think people are pleasantly surprised by it (most of the time).
Q10: What single piece of advice would you give new authors?
A: Learn proper punctuation/grammar now if you don’t know a lot about it. I still have a lot to learn (as you can probably see in this interview), but I try to take advantage of every opportunity to expand my knowledge and reinforce my skills. Professional readers, that is, those to whom you will be submitting your work, will stop reading immediately if the grammar is subpar. The creative part is fun, but if you don’t use punctuation to put the emphasis where you want it and construct the sentences properly, you won’t communicate the meaning effectively. In the end the story (ideas) that you are presenting will suffer. The people who can make or break your first effort (or any effort) have stacks and stacks (files and files) of submissions to review and unless you have a proven track record their finger is hovering over the “delete” key. I do not say this to be discouraging, I say it to prepare a new author for the reality of going from an idea to a finished product. And a publisher is looking at it as a potential “product”.
Q11: Share a short summary of a typical day in your life with us please.
A: Wake up. Take care of the morning chores. Sit in front of the computer typing, “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy,” over and over until my girlfriend starts to get really freaked out. Not really. It’s a pretty typical day by most standards except I’ll try to put in five or six hours trying to get something down on the page that will get me closer to another completed work. Some days are more productive than others but if I get going on a tear I’ll be up to all hours of the night. It’s pretty spontaneous at that point.
Q12: Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?
A: I sit in my recliner by the wood stove with a cup of coffee, puffing cherry tobacco from my pipe, and trying to call forth a creative thought from out of the ether. I’m naked of course. Sorry, there’s that pesky sense of humor again. Anyway, take away the pipe, the cherry tobacco, add some jeans and a sweater, and the rest of it is pretty accurate.
Q13: What's your motto or favorite quote you like to live by?
A: Words are an expression of the human spirit; but actions are what animate the soul.
Q14: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us in closing such as your website, an imminent book launch or what you're working on presently?
A: I have one book project I am currently about three chapters into and another project I’m just now considering. I’ll have updates on my facebook page if anyone would like to visit me there.
I have facebook pages for both Del Huntsman and Cruel Curse, although, I prefer most of my interaction take place on the Cruel Curse page right now. Friends are welcome: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cruel-Curse-Mark-of-the-Bloody-Seven/...
Cruel Curse can be found for sale on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cruel-Curse-Mark-Bloody-Seven/dp/1452053022 and BarnesandNoble.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cruel-curse-del-huntsman/1106502514...
It is available for Kindle and Nook as well.
Authors.com profile: http://www.authors.com/profile/DelHuntsman
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