Interview with J.A. Hunsinger

Welcome Novelist and Publisher Jerry A. Hunsinger! Interestingly enough, Jerry’s journey into writing and publishing began with a career in aviation. He’s learned a great deal along the way.

 

1.                  Tell me in a nutshell, who you are. You describe yourself as a novelist, yet I was surprised that you are also a publisher. How did that come about? How do you describe yourself, or how do you see yourself?

 

Jerry: A nutshell, huh? At my age, there is a big nutshell, but I’ll give it a shot. As you, know from reading my bio. I spent most of my adult working life as a commercial pilot, but not all of it by any means. I also owned two ranches and a commercial shrimp boat during those years—all served to keep me very busy. Also during my aviation career, I was an engineering technical writer for the Air Transport Division of Honeywell Engineering in Phoenix, AZ. I retired in 1998 and was then able to devote some of my time to my first novel. My writing was sporadic until 2004. My writing ultimately led to publishing after I wasted one year seeking a literary agent to pursue publication of my work through a large publishing house. So today, I both write and publish. How long that will continue is impossible to estimate at this point.

 

2.                  What genre do you primarily write in? Tell me about your most recent work.

 

Jerry: I have written only historical fiction novels. My first novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers was published August 1, 2008. It is the first novel of my Axe of Iron series and will be followed by Axe of Iron: Confrontation, scheduled for release in June 2009. These books are a continuing series of tales about a medieval people whose lives are surprisingly like ours. They have the same basic desires for happiness, love, food, and shelter that has dominated the thoughts of generations of cultures the world over. These character-driven, historical fiction books tell of the adventures of Greenland Vikings as they struggle to establish a settlement in North America 1000-years ago in the face of hostile native opposition.

 

3.                  What are your upcoming career goals as a novelist or a publisher?

 

Jerry: I want to complete the Axe of Iron series of five or six books and then continue writing in my area of interest as long as I enjoy the task. I have several stories roughed out that I would like to finish. At this point, I am unsure about the publisher part. The business is in a state of flux right now that can be attributed to the world economy and the introduction and proliferation of several electronic formats for books that are having an effect on print version sales. Why would a person buy a print version when the same thing is available from Kindle, Sony, and others at a fraction of the cost? My wife and I each own Kindle 2 and I can tell you without reservation that they are an amazing reading device.

It looks like I will publish one novel per year that I write because I am so busy with the business end of publication that I cannot finish any more than one per year. As far as other author’s books, I do accept limited submissions and the details of submissions may be found on my website under the Submissions tab.

 

4.                  Your website mentions that you had a long career in aviation. Is that still a hobby? Did you love that job or were you always a writer at heart? Do you think that career influenced your writing at all?

 

Jerry: Yes, I had a 32-year career as an airline pilot and no, flying is not a hobby for me and I no longer fly airplanes myself. I not only loved my flying career I have too much respect for the business of flying an airplane not to admit to myself that I cannot do as good a job safely as I once could. Facing one’s own mortality, especially when it is a mechanical and mental task in which you had a great deal of ability is difficult to do. I have never scratched an airplane and I wanted to leave it that way. My flying career has no bearing at all on my writing. I have written several pilot’s manuals and papers as an engineering technical writer, but just one article about flying. I have always been a writer at heart and I have written since the nuns taught me composition in grade school. Believe me that was long ago.

 

5.                  It wasn’t until 2004 that you grew serious about writing. You credit that change to your wife, Phyllis. How did she give you the push in that direction?

 

Jerry: My wife Phyllis made me believe in the story that I had held inside for my entire adult life. Without her support and advocacy, I would not have begun, completed, or published this first novel of my series. It is the most difficult undertaking of my life. She pushes me just enough and I need a push on occasion, to get the job done.

 

6.                  Describe the ups and downs of your writing career.

 

Jerry:    Believe me there have been more downs than ups. I would not call writing my career. I am past labels for what I do; my careers are over. Writing is my avocation. I write because I must write; I have a story to tell. Now that I have actually gotten the process going with one book published, I derive satisfaction from telling my tale to others. I expect that feeling to continue as the Axe of Iron series unfolds. The entire writing/publication process was difficult and expensive. There are two major downs in my writing and both are part of the learning process. With high expectations, I presented my rough draft manuscript to an editor—wrong approach, forget the expectations. I got my masterpiece picked apart, marked up in red, and seriously in need of correction and rewrite. My response? I dropped it in the trash. Phyllis to the rescue! She made me see the error of my ways and pushed me to do what all writers must do at this stage, dig in, and do your job. I cracked up the editor by telling her that she had said that ‘my baby was ugly.’ Actually, it was ugly, so I had to fix it, and I did.

Dealing with agents is the most disheartening undertaking for a writer. Agents act like the writer exists because of agents, when in fact it is the other way around. I wasted a year trying to find an agent from among those professing to have an interest in my genre only to find that there are not any in existence.

After the literary agent debacle, it took seven long and difficult months before I held the finished book in my hand. The composition/format, copyedit/proof reading, and printing of a book is a very intense undertaking.

 

7.                  What is the most important advice you can pass along to writers from a fellow novelist’s standpoint and a publisher’s view?

 

Jerry:    Do your homework on the submission guidelines for any query. All will have their own guidelines; adhere to them absolutely. Do not ever send a manuscript unless it is requested. Hire professional editors to edit everything that another person will read, especially the final draft of your manuscript. An English teacher is not an editor and you cannot edit your own work, so hire someone. Your professionalism will determine whether you ever make the grade. A shabby cover letter on your submission packet will guarantee its demise. Agents and publishers are busy people and they have no time to waste on people who do not follow their submission guidelines.

 

8.                  What else do you want people to know about you? Do you have a message for readers?

 

Jerry:    Yes, Axe of Iron: The Settlers is my first novel. It is a character-driven, historical fiction book. My characters tell the story and the reader sees the events through their eyes. I have had a lifelong interest in the medieval Norse people. That interest is focused on the five hundred year history of the Norse Greenland settlements. The mystery surrounding the abandonment of the two known settlements and the disappearance of every single person living therein has captured my imagination. Years of research has led me to believe that they did not disappear, rather they assimilated with the natives of North America. My series of books tell a plausible tale in support of that contention. No other author has ever treated the subject the way I have.

 

9.                  I really appreciate your time doing this interview. I find your career development very interesting and I think others will, too.

 

Jerry:    Thank you, Destiny. I have enjoyed a very interesting life and I have taken a lifetime of acquired knowledge and applied it to my books. Like everyone my age, I am a combination of many things. If my experiences can save others from making the same mistakes that I have made then I will feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile.

 

 

10.        On your website, it is written, "In order to learn to write, you must write." What great advice!

Jerry:     The quote from my website might bear explanation. I have seen many aspiring writers take one class after another in the hopes that this acquired knowledge will pave the way for them. I, too, took many writing classes. If you spend all your time worrying about plot, voice, POV, etc. you will never actually take the plunge. In the final analysis I can say the classes helped, but what I finally found was, ‘In order to learn to write, you must write.’ You must have story to tell, find someplace where you can do so without interruption, and set down and get at it. You will make mistakes, certainly, but you will learn your craft in the process.

 

11.              If there is anything I should have asked, but did not, please add that on. Feel free to also pass along any appearances you have coming up, or anything like that.

 

Jerry:    I have signed on with Dorothy Thompson for her PumpUpYourBook virtual book tour promotion on the Internet. I have March and April. I can tell you it is an intense promotional effort. She is a dervish who works day and night in her customer’s behalf. You can see each days schedule posted on my blog.

 

Visit Jerry at his website at http://www.vinlandpublishing.com

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Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks, Destiny, what a terrific interview. I appreciate your effort and this exposure. I will drop by often today to answer questions and/or comments.Jerry

  2. Thanks, Jerry. My blog feeds into facebook, goodreads and amazon, so the comments are somtimes all over the place. I will email you with anyone’s questions. Thanks again for allowing me to interview you!

  3. Comment by Email for Hunsinger: I was wondering how your book sales have been going for your first book. The topic seems very narrow for want of a better way of saying it…what makes your series one that would entice people to read, who are NOT historically inclined? G. A. BixlerIndependent Professional Book ReviewerAuthor’s Representative bookreviewers.orghttp://ipbookreviewer-bookreadersheaven.blogspot.com/

  4. Comment by Email for Hunsinger: I, too, have a concern about the agent becoming the predominant "decider" of what goes forth to the major publishers. Other than self-publishing, can you foresee this changing in the future? Perhaps the agent will be obsolete in the new world of publishing where you can proceed to publish if you can’t find an agent to represent you… G. A. BixlerIndependent Professional Book ReviewerAuthor’s Representative bookreviewers.orghttp://ipbookreviewer-bookreadersheaven.blogspot.com/

  5. For Bixler: I have no idea whether the agent/publisher relationship will ever change. It has already changed somewhat as independent publishers continue to proliferate. The big publishers are in a constant state of flux just trying to stay in business. Hopefully the industry will decide over time to eliminate the literary agent as superfluous because it is not right that they alone should decide what gets published by the publishers that they represent.As far as book sales, they are steady. That is all I will say on the subject.The topic may seem narrow to you, but since you have not read the book I regard that observation as meaningless. The Axe of Iron series is the continuing story of a people, why they disappeared, and what may have happened to them. Certainly it takes place in a historical context, but so does every other book about people and their lives. Such works cannot be in realtime, obviously, so therefore they are presented in a historical context because the story may actually have taken place; historically speaking of course.Thanks,Jerry

  6. Well, I think the day is done, Destiny. It is 7:15PM EDT and I believe that is where you are. I will check back once more, in case a late arrival happens by, before shutting down for the night.Thank you very much for my interview on your website. I believe you have outdone the others, asking concise and in-depth questions that should engage a reader. The best of luck to you. Please, let’s stay in touch.Best Regards,Jerry


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