Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Lee Hunt, a geophysicist on Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects, a writer for BIG-Media.ca. and author of Bed of Rose and Thorns, a must-read standalone fantasy. (Read the review here.)
Amazon author’s page: https://www.amazon.ca/Lee-Hunt/e/B082YFTMCK/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
About Lee Hunt
Born with only one working lung and having had the last rites read to him when almost dying of an influenza-related viral pneumonia, 25-year-old geophysicist Lee Hunt experienced several near-death dreams. The power of communication and the need to both understand and be understood was at the heart of each. He had already found that nothing was more important than being able to cross the distance between people.
Lee’s interests are eclectic. He is an Ironman Triathlete, hiker, traveler, and an enthusiastic sport rock climber. Lee also continues to work as a geophysicist on Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects and is a writer for BIG-Media.ca.
The dream of understanding and being understood has never left his mind, and Lee pursues this dream in his works of fiction through metaphor. His novels include The Dynamicist Trilogy, Last Worst Hopes and Bed of Rose and Thorns.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Bed of Rose and Thorns (BRT) is my fifth book. The others are: Dynamicist, Herald, Knight in Retrograde, and Last Worst Hopes. I am getting set to start on my next book now.
What does literary success look like to you?
I want to create well-written books that engage and affect my readers in a positive way. It would be helpful to be well-known enough and have a commercial presence that allows me to reach these readers, however I am not as concerned about numbers so much as the quality of the experience for the reader.
When you say that you hope to “affect” your readers, what exactly do you mean?
I hope to connect with them emotionally and intellectually over the story. I hope that readers will identify with the characters and their situations and feel drawn in to the action. Some readers may even feel understood by the work.
Are you saying BRT is therapeutic?
BRT is meant to be entertaining, first and foremost. It should be fun and transporting and allow readers to escape. It is fantasy. But, there is a core of truth in the characters that I also hope is identifiable, and this may draw some readers to get more than simple entertainment from the story.
Are you saying there is a message in Bed of Rose and Thorns?
Yes, though not a message like you might get in a classroom.
And the message is?
I don’t think I should say … Different readers will discover the message differently, and I never, ever, want to tell a reader what to think. However, BRT delves into several core fantasies—it is an exploration of these fantasies rather than something as cold as a prescription.
What fantasies form the crux of BRT?
Several fantasies are explored, but two are key. First, that emotions—especially love—have power. Sir Ezra’s passion fuels him with tremendous strength and viscerally effect the people around him. People feel love or fear, of or for him, because of this. The air vibrates with his feelings. I feel this is a universal fantasy as we all at some point or another (or all the time) feel powerful emotions. Our entire worlds turn around these passions. In BRT, Ezra’s feelings have tangible strength.
The other fantasy is a fantasy for women. Ezra loves the Queen and would do anything for her, even to his own detriment. The central, though shadowy figure of BRT is the Queen. She is driven and hard working. She represents the modern working woman. She never has enough time. Others misunderstand her, and few really seem able to fulfill her needs. Ezra is the person who cares enough to try—to try anything to understand this complex woman, and to be there solely for her.
So, is Ezra obsessed?
Some would say so.
What else is BRT about?
Love, but not just romantic love. Ezra has two friends, Pontes and Sir Marigold. Love is explored in different ways through his relationships with these two important characters.
How often you read?
Every day. Reading helps writing, and sometimes I like to see how other writers solve problems and what stylistic elements they use. Most of all I hope to be surprised by a writer.
Do you read your book reviews? Do they please you or annoy you? Do you think you can learn a lot from reading criticism about your work?
I read my reviews and for the most part this is pleasing. You can learn about your own writing from reviews—it definitely becomes clear what readers do or do not connect with and this is vitally important. But mostly you learn about the reader. What they like or don’t like, connect or don’t connect with tells you something about them. I don’t mean this in a judgemental way, it’s just that people reveal themselves in their comments. They show what they care about. Sometimes they bring baggage with them to a read. This can be fair or unfair, and is almost always interesting. I view this as a privileged insight into the heart of the reader and appreciate that they cared enough to communicate.
Mostly I wish more readers would write reviews. I am curious about them and how they react to the worlds I create.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Time. Writing takes time. I recently injured my right ankle in a rock-climbing accident, and I have been off the wall for months. I wish I hadn’t torn the ligament off the bone as I did, but the downtime allowed me to focus more time on BRT and complete the novel.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Pay more attention to the people around myself, especially the ones who are not my friends. They teach things.
How do you begin a book?
Usually I have a plan. I decide what my story is about, what kind of characters are involved, how they come into conflict, what they care about, why they cannot have it. Mostly I think about how the characters must change and why, or what they need to reveal to the reader. So I build a big, complicated spreadsheet with all kinds of tabs, names, sayings, key plot points and chapter guides.
But BRT was written quite differently. I just wrote it. Without a plan. It was very much an emotional process and an instinctive exploration of the themes and ideas that I wanted to explore.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
Character. Always character. A good character drives plot naturally and authentically.
How many rewrites did you do for this book?
Seven. The last few rewrites are part of the editorial process, but the earlier ones come as a result of my own review of the work and comments from my beta-readers.
Are beta-readers important?
Vitally! They are the test audience and give feedback on how well the novel connects to them. It is important to have beta-readers who are able to be honest about their reading experience, and unafraid to criticize the work.
Is there certain advice you get again and again from beta-readers?
Yes. My first drafts of a story—including BRT—are often terse and leave too much unsaid. I tend to write sparsely and leave a lot about the world hidden. These mysteries are meant to be slowly unveiled. My beta-readers and my editor often point out when I have been too opaque. As a result of this, my stories tend to grow longer through the process of revision.
Any final comments for potential readers of Bed of Rose and Thorns.
Your feelings matter.
Categories: BookView Review Interview
Thank you for the great interview.