Introducing Guest Blogger: Mark R. Hunter

Mark Hunter’s first novel, Storm Chaser, was published in June, 2011 by Whiskey Creek Press. WCP also published his collection of short stories based on the same characters, Storm Chaser Shorts, in June, 2012. Mark also appears in My Funny Valentine, a humor collection by various writers and artists.

In addition to his full time job as a Noble County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher, Mark is a newspaper writer whose humor column is carried in three local newspapers; a 30 year veteran volunteer firefighter; and a volunteer writer for some local non-profits. When asked if there’s any stress in his life he laughs hysterically. He lives in Albion, Indiana, with his fiancée/wife Emily (long story) and a cowardly ball python named Lucius.

Mark can be reached through his website, www.markrhunter.com, where you can also order print and e-book copies of his works.

You can also find him on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

I love how he describes himself as an author, humorist, and mustache owner.  Please go to his website and follow his blogs.  You won’t be disappointed!  Cross my  heart.  Pinkie swear.

Here are the overviews of both of his books:

Storm Chaser:

The black funnel of an approaching tornado makes all other troubles seem small. But when Indiana State Trooper Chance Hamlin “rescues” Allie Craine from a twister, his troubles are just beginning-Allie, a disaster photographer, rescues him when he drives into the storm’s path. Chance doesn’t like being rescued, he doesn’t like photographers, and he definitely doesn’t like being stuck with Allie when she wants to stay in calm, peaceful Indiana. Too bad his family, friends, and even the other members of Chance’s volunteer fire department think she’s great. Suspicious of Allie’s motives, he decides to drive her away out of sheer boredom-but that’s not so easy when someone begins causing fires and other catastrophes around the area. That someone might be Allie, who has plans of her own…

Storm Chaser Shorts:

Just like the weather, a person’s story changes all the time. Sometime it’s a romance, sometimes a comedy, and when things go badly it can be a fine line between action-adventure and tragedy.

Storm Chaser Shorts follows two converging stories. One involves the family and friends of Indiana State Trooper Chance Hamlin, who struggles to defend his hometown of Hurricane and his family from all manner of threats – whether they want him to or not. The other follows disaster photographer Allie Craine and those pulled into the wake of her passing, as she’s tailed by the shadowy and disaster prone Luther Magee.

Seven stories are set before, and three after, the events of Storm Chaser. Like the weather – and life – the tales are diverse, ranging from humor and adventure to what may be downright mystical.

After all, life with a Storm Chaser is as diverse as the weather.

*****

Thank you for stopping by while on your blog tour, Mark.  Let’s get started…

1.      How did you get interested in this particular genre?

Back in the early 90’s I wrote a humor column in which I made fun of romance novels – the old, 70’s style bodice ripper types that my mother would bring home by the stack. My then-wife challenged me to read a modern romance, and reminded me that about half of all fiction paperbacks sold at the time were, indeed, romance novels.

I read, I liked, I wrote, with my preferred subgenre being romantic comedy. Although there still are some romance lines with specific story requirements, you can have a lot of leeway with modern romance writing: Generally the only absolute requirement is that the story centers on a relationship and has a happy ending, and sometimes not even that. (Me, I like happy endings.)

But, honestly, I’m interested in just about all genres; I cut my teeth on science fiction.

2.      What kind of research did you do for this book?

My research was mostly already done with Storm Chaser and Storm Chaser Shorts. My heroine is a disaster photographer; I’m a photographer and trained weather spotter who’s been fascinated by the weather all my life. My hero is a state trooper and volunteer firefighter; I’ve an emergency dispatcher and volunteer firefighter who’s also worked in security, EMS, and hazardous materials.

Since I set the story in my own home area of northeast Indiana, overall the research was easy. Just the same, I spent weeks developing characters, doing an outline, and making sure I had the details right before I started the first word. I usually end up with a filled notebook and manila folder before I start typing anything.

3.      What is a typical working day like for you?  When and where do you write?  Do you set a daily writing goal?

Every writer should set a solid goal of writing every day. Do as I say, not as I do.

With my schedule, I get my writing time in whatever snippets I can find it. For my unpublished novel, Coming Attractions, I outlined the whole thing and created the characters (with the help of my kids) while waiting in the car for the drive-in movies to start, over the course of several trips one summer.

The laptop is my friend. Although I have a nice (if small) office, I can be found working at any hour on the couch, my “captain’s” chair in the living room, the dining room table, or the front porch. I might be typing away in the car, or the library, or at my wife’s college, or anywhere else. It all depends on how much time I can pry away from Real Life.

4.      What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Finding time! I keep telling myself I’m going to give up other stuff, but I’ve become involved in the community over the years … and then there’s that darned day job.

The second hardest part is revision. I go through each manuscript dozens of times, doing first rough revisions, then looking for specific problems, then doing read-throughs once others have taken a look at it. It gets old.

5.      What is the best thing about being an author?

The fame, adulation, riches … or at least, I would assume so. For now, I’ll have to settle for the pure fun of telling a story, not to mention the feedback from readers – riches or no. I once did some number crunching and estimated my hourly wages, after expenses and figuring in the time I spent working on various aspects of Storm Chaser. It works out to $0.0014 cents an hour. You don’t take this job for the easy money, people.

6.      If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Well, Fran’s kinda hot … but then, I’m taken, and she could beat me up. So could Fran.

I think I’d love to hang out with the whole extended Hamlin clan, as a group. It would be a chance to experience a slice of classic – and vanishing – Americana. Elsa mothering me, Beth being a whirlwind of energy and sniping with her brother, everyone else from the story wandering in and making themselves at home … I could use the relaxation.

7.      Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?

I plead eclectic on this one. L. Frank Baum, Dennis Smith (Report from Engine Co. 82), Isaac Asimov, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, Lewis Grizzard … and Andrea Edwards, a husband and wife romance writing team, like me from the general northern Indiana area. At the moment I’m reading this obscure little thing called The Hunger Games.

That’s only a partial list, of course.

8.      Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

Bills. Bills are a big inspiration – especially the internet bill, which gives me an accusatory stare once a month: “Doing some writing research, there? Can you justify me, big guy?”

Oh, you mean …? Well, I can’t name many real people as inspirations, which is kind of sad, although some teachers encouraged me on the way. (My junior year English teacher was Verna Trestrail, the daughter of famed science fiction writer E.E. “Doc” Smith.)

Mostly I was inspired by comic books, the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, and Star Trek. The first story I ever attempted was an Oz based Mary Sue, and the first one I ever tried to sell was influenced by Star Trek to the point of, shall we say, larceny. I’ve gotten better.

9.      If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be and can you give us a brief summary?

I’d give it the same name as my humor column: “Slightly Off the Mark –  Mark R. Hunter thumbs his nose at Murphy’s Law while tackling home maintenance, relationships, and the insanities of life, all with similar results: laughter and bodily injury.”

Wait, make that “New York Times bestseller Mark R. Hunter”. This is set in the future, right?

10.  Is there a message in your novel that you’d like readers to grasp?

Sure: “Happy endings are good.”

No … no, not in so many words. I tend to develop plot first, and character second. Often readers will comment on the theme of my stories, startling me with the realization that there was a theme – I’ve found it better if that part comes out organically, without my conscious input. In other words, I just try to write a fun story.

However, a story must have a point; be about something, even if that something can be explained simply, or hardly explained at all. In the end, it turns out Storm Chaser is about learning to trust, finding your dreams, and, of course, “true love conquers most”. Not all. Let’s not get silly.

11.  Since writing is a creative endeavor and assuming you’ve experienced, “writer’s block,” do you have ways of getting your creative juices flowing again?

I haven’t had writer’s block since my late teens, and I think at the time it was because I was pressuring myself to write for a living, but didn’t have any life experiences to write about. Thank goodness I didn’t get published back then.

Actually, I have the opposite problem: Ideas are like snow squalls, flying around me in clouds constantly. I could only hope to have enough time to write them all out. If not for those pesky bills, I’d be writing ten hours a day.

For those times when I’m working on a specific story and get stuck on the next scene or chapter, I like to mull it over while doing mundane chores: Mowing the lawn, dishes, laundry, home maintenance, self-first aid after doing home maintenance … Sleeping on it also helps. I’m never stuck for long.

12.  Can you give the readers a peak into your next project?

Which one? What the heck, let’s go with all of them:

I’m working on revising and picking out photos for Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Volunteer Fire Department. As you might guess, this is a pictorial history of our local volunteer fire department, which will be sold as a fund raiser for the department.

I’m preparing to send out to publishers Coming Attractions, a romantic comedy about a clash between an Indiana businessman and a big city lawyer who arrives with orders to shut down the local drive-in movie theater.

I have most of the first draft finished for The Notorious Ian Grant, the sequel to Storm Chaser. It tells the story of Allie Crane’s half-brother, a Hollywood B-list celebrity who arrives in Hurricane, Indiana with the aim of making up to his family for all the times his public behavior embarrassed them. He gets involved with the Hamlin clan and their friend, police detective Fran Vargas, when one of his many enemies starts trying to kill him.

That’s the short list. I have another romantic comedy, Radio Red, that needs a little revision before I send it out again, and a comedic YA mystery called Red is For Ick that needs a bit of fixing before it sees the publishing world, plus some other projects yet to come.

I just need more time!

 *****

Isn’t Mark just awesome?  I will definitely be adding his books to my collection and you should too!  Mark has such a humorous, easy-going writing style.  It’s refreshing to see that nowadays!  You can also find him on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter.

Please go “LIKE” his page!

*****

COMING UP:

Tomorrow 9/15:  Interview with Craig O. Thompson, award winning author of, OMAR: The Novel.  Be on the lookout!

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