As a child, I read – a lot. I would go so far as to categorize myself as an extreme reader. It was not unusual for me to climb trees to find a spot where I could read without distraction. Nor was it unusual for me to sneak out of bed after being tucked in, only to crouch by the door and continue reading by the light from the hallway. When I was a child, it didn’t occur to me to try and get to know the writer, or to ask him questions. As I grew older, though, the humanity behind the words became a source of fascination. Biography had its allure, but there was still that remove, that distance between writer and reader. The rise of the internet and social media has collapsed that divide; readers can now have authentic and meaningful relationships with both a book and a book’s author. It is a new joy for this erstwhile extreme reader: the pleasure of getting to know the writer of stories I love. Today, I have the fortune to talk to Hunter Shea, author of the new release, Evil Eternal.
Please join me in welcoming Hunter! We’re going chat about interstellar travel and writing, and then he’s going to share an excerpt from Evil Eternal with us. The tree right over there is perfect for reading in, don’t you think?
Aniko : Would you participate in colonizing another planet knowing you could not return to Earth in your lifetime?
Hunter: Wow, this wins for most original question I’ve ever been asked. I have 2 answers to this, each one vastly different. If you had posed this to me before I was married and had kids, I would have jumped at the chance to explore a new world and, sad as it may be, leave the world and all the people I knew in it behind. I mean, what can be cooler? Now, as a middle aged guy with a family, and a fear of flying (having kids robs your of your immortality and you start to develop all kinds of fears), I would have to respectfully decline and leave it to someone far more adventurous. However, I would see if I could land the job of writing the biography of the person that took my place and their adventures on a strange new world.
Aniko: Do you ever dream of your characters and, if so, have you ever incorporated a dream into your writing?
Hunter: Quite simply, yes. Some characters start off in my dreams and end up on the pages of a book or story. More often than not, though, when I’m really into a book, I will take those characters and plot twists into my nightly foray into my very active subconscious. If I’m lucky, I wake up retaining what I’ve witnessed in my dreams and flesh it out in the book. I don’t do outlines, so there have been times when I’ve painted myself into a corner and wondered aloud just how the heck I’m supposed to move on from my self-inflicted dead end. I’ve had quite a few cases where my characters acted out my escape in my dreams. It’s all part of learning to relax and trust yourself. The answers are all rolling around the noggin.
Aniko: What is the hardest part about writing? Was there anything particularly challenging about Evil Eternal? What about your upcoming books?
Hunter: Hands down, the hardest part for me, or maybe just the part I dread the most, is editing. I love initially writing a story and seeing how it unfolds. Not long after you type THE END, it’s time to revise, revise, revise. This is the real heavy lifting when it comes to writing. By the time you’re done with your edits, you’ve read your book so many times you can almost quote it verbatim.
Evil Eternal was in a constant state of revision because of all the different permutations it took. It started as a short story that I wrote to test out a new computer, of all things. When it was done, I liked it so much, I wrote a follow up short story. Then, I had dreams of turning it into a graphic novel, so I made it into a longer form and had an artist start working on the graphics. When that didn’t pan out, I couldn’t shake the characters and story, so it morphed into a novella. When Samhain Publishing expressed interest in it, I had to expand it to make it a full length novel. A lot of work has gone into that book! If you like it, there are plans for follow up stories, novellas and another full length novel, so get ready to kick lots of demon butt! I’m also putting the finishing touches on a follow up to Forest of Shadows, which should be out next year. All work and no play makes Hunter a dull boy!
Aniko: How funny, I love revision! I force myself through the initial draft and only feel good when I get to the revising part. What do you say we take a look at a bit of Evil Eternal?
Cardinal Gianncarlo walked briskly to Pope Pius XIII’s office, his black robe billowing behind him. The sound of his quick and heavy footsteps echoed across the vast, marbled hallway. The day was bright and filled with promise, in stark contrast to the roiling cloud that had descended upon his fluttering heart.
The email from the lone priest of a small Vermont parish had turned his skin the color of spoiled milk when he had been urged by his secretary to open it just minutes ago. With a knot of dread cramping his stomach, he sped off to the Pontiff’s study. Time was of the essence. Time and –
He reached the library that doubled as the Pontiff’s main office and study, and with unsteady hands rapped loudly on the massive oak door. Like the architectural design of the entire Vatican Palace, the door was a study in elegant simplicity. The wizened voice of Pope Pius XIII beckoned him to enter.
“Sorry to disturb you, but something urgent just came in that I think you should see,” Cardinal Gianncarlo said with a slight stammer.
The Pope looked at the Cardinal and knew.
Pope Pius XIII unfolded the printout with trembling, liver-spotted fingers and read the extensive message. When he was finished, he looked up at his old friend. Deep lines of great sadness etched across his brow.
“So, the inevitable has come back to hound us,” the Pope said.
“As much as it pains me to say, yes.”
The Pope shrugged, the weight of time and responsibility bearing down on his brittle, sagging shoulders. He had served the office of pope for over thirty years, no small feat. He recalled his days as a young man, fresh from the seminary in his first parish in Bergamo, Italy. That young man would never have even dreamed to be what he would one day become. And no one could have guessed the true secrets that lay in store for his discovery when he ascended to the papacy.
“Would you like me to get Father Michael?”
Cardinal Gianncarlo had to resist the urge to pull him close, offering comfort for a man who had dedicated his life to bringing peace and comfort to millions. They were different men the last time, when the beast within Jim Jones was sent to hell, but not before so much had been lost; terrible choices forced to be made, too many lives lost. It had changed them, added years and unbearable pain to their souls.
The old Pope shook his head.
“That is my duty. At my age, it will surely be my final call. Let the burden of the nightmares rest with me. I only ask that you sit and pray.”
The Cardinal settled into a plush leather chair and the Pope offered his hand across the large, neatly arranged desk. In silence, the two men prayed while life outside his windows carried on, ignorant to the dark shadows gathering at the earth’s edge.
You want to know more now, don’t you? Here are some links:
Thanks, Hunter! And … happy birthday to all those special May 7th babies!! You know who you are!
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