How's the weather where you are?
Today looks to be another hot one in southern Colorado, but that's okay, it's a dry heat!
Sit down for a while, get a cool drink, and enjoy this interview with Hunter Chadwick!
Hunter Chadwick is a pen name that I adopted to separate my non-fiction writing (which is in my real name) from my fiction writing. It’s based on a nickname from a friend during my teenage years. I spent most of my growing up years in rural Oklahoma and I first knew I wanted to be a writer in a high school English class. I enjoyed writing a short story and after I submitted it, my teacher accused me of plagiarizing it. That made me think I might possibly have a knack for it.
I attended the University of Oklahoma where I received a BA in English Literature. I went on to study and receive a Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling. Both of those degrees are very helpful in writing. My wife and I married when I was in graduate school and we have 3 children.
Since 2000, we have lived outside of the United States and most of the writing I did from 1989-2020 was not for publication. I always wanted to write a book and during an extended time in the US after our second child started University, I began working on my first book, Seeing God: For Who He Really Is, which was released in 2020.
In the Fall of 2021, while preparing to release my second non-fiction book, The Danger of Being Alone Together, I had an idea for a fiction story about the same time as I received an email telling me as an author about the opportunity to write serial stories through the Kindle Vella platform. When I started writing in November, I didn’t know if anyone would ever read it, but in January I started to pick up some readers and in March this story, After It’s Over, won the first Kindle Vella Madness tournament against 63 other stories.
Since that time, I started writing my second Kindle Vella story, The Force of Magic, and have plotted out both stories. After It’s Over, is the first book in a two book series and The Force of Magic, will be the first book in a trilogy. All five books should be out and released in ebook, paperback and hardcover by early 2024, beginning with the release of After It’s Over, this September.
My blog: https://seeinggodclearly.com
Where to find me on social media: https://linktr.ee/hunterchadwick
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I still work a full time job, so most of my writing and editing happens before 8AM and after 8PM, with the occasional longer Saturday session. I try to write 500-1000 words a day and rarely write more than 2000 in a day.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first book was a non-fiction work that I started in 2019 and finished during the Covid lockdowns of 2020. I was 49 when I finished it.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive of my writing. The most common comment is from my wife, who can’t believe I’m just walking around with these stories in my head. :)
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Always read the stories out loud to yourself (or have text-to-speech read them). This will help you hear what doesn’t sound right. Don’t be afraid to receive feedback and criticism. Try to have a thick skin. You don’t have to take every bit of advice you get.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes! I really like to hear from them. It was very touching to hear that many of them cried after reading an especially moving episode. I cried when I wrote it, so I was glad to hear I was effective in conveying that emotion to the readers. I have received some criticism, but mostly constructive, which I really appreciate. The Vella platform allows for easy post-publication editing. I love to hear from readers about specific characters that they enjoy or dislike.
What do you think makes a good story?
If you fall into the story, it must be good. The genre isn’t as important as relatable, interesting characters and a world that triggers your imagination. That provides the framework for a compelling story to develop.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Mostly energizes me, especially after I hear back from people after they’ve read my writing. As long as I’m not generally exhausted, writing doesn’t drain me.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did and I will probably continue to use one. It allows me to separate my fiction writing career from my other professional career. So far, I’m happy with using a pseudonym.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I want the overall plot to be original, but the characters to be relatable and enjoyable.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I didn’t intend to write a book series when I started writing fiction, but as the stories developed, it became obvious that both of the books I’m writing now would work best as parts of multi-book series. I do have another book I intend to start writing later this year that I intend to be a stand alone work. We’ll see if it stays that way. :) I don’t intend to write other books or series that tie into these books, but The Force of Magic does have some potential for that. I do write free supplemental stories related to these books that are in my newsletter.
What does literary success look like to you?
More satisfied readers. Every new reader who reads and finishes a book is a significant success. What an incredible joy to create something that others can enjoy. I hope to gain more readers and readers who enjoy my books enough to recommend them to others.
What do you have coming next?
In addition to the completion of the two book series mentioned above, I’m planning a historical fiction novel about my ancestors immigration to America and participation in the early days of settling the wilderness. This was inspired by reading some old letter and journal entries from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from my dad’s side of the family.
Excerpt from After It’s Over:
“Reece! Reece, is it you? Thank God you answered your phone!“ proclaimed a frantic voice on the other end of the line. The voice was familiar, but the emotion coming through made it difficult to know for sure. “Reece, I need your help, can you help?”
“Shelly? Is that you?” Shelly Tran had been his girlfriend for several years until she broke up with him over 2 years ago when it became clear that he was not giving up his job that required him to be on the road most of the year. The parting had been okay, but neither one of them had stayed in touch. Honestly, Reece found it too painful and didn’t want the reminder of what might have been.
“Reece, I don’t think it’s safe here anymore. I think I need to leave, but I’m scared!”
“What’s happened? Are you still in Chicago?”
“Yes, I couldn’t think of where else to go. Could you come get me? You don’t have to take care of me, I just need help getting out of the city. Everyone I could think to call isn’t answering or has already left. You are the only one I could get a hold of who might be close enough to help!” Shelly explained.
“Shelly, it might be possible, but I need to make sure I can find enough gas to get there and some supplies. Are you still in the same place?”
“Yes, oh thank you, thank you so much for being willing to help. Reece, you don’t know what it is like here. It’s not safe to leave the house.”
“Stay put, stay safe and keep the lights down. If I can find everything I need, I’ll be headed your way in the morning. I’ll try and call again before I leave.”
“Thank you Reece, you are a lifesaver. I’m sorry I haven’t called. I’m sorry for…everything.”
Maybe all Reece really needed was direction. Something in front of him that needed done. Shelly’s need had finally put a face on faceless humanity and it was time to re-engage with reality. Real life was lived with other people, real people. Not just those we saw on the internet. Maybe if more people had realized that sooner, the world wouldn’t be in such a sorry state. Reece couldn’t do anything about that now, but he knew what he could do: he could help Shelly get out of Chicago and see what comes next.