L. N. Hunter is the Author of The Feather and the Lamp, amongst others!
L.N. Hunter’s comic fantasy novel, The Feather and the Lamp, sits alongside works in anthologies such as War and Trickster’s Treats 3 as well as Short Édition’s Short Circuit and the Horrifying Tales of Wonder podcast. There have also been papers in theIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks, which are probably somewhat less relevant and definitely less fun. When not writing, L.N. unwinds in a disorganised home in rural Cambridgeshire, UK, along with two cats and a soulmate.
Have you ever written a story from a dream?
My dreams tend to evaporate before I get to them. I have incorporated stuff in stories from daydreams and that semi-conscious state of waking up.
Do you base characters on people you know?
Not whole characters, but small fragments of people have made their way into my writing. Having said that, a couple of (as yet unpublished) vitriolic satires do feature notable political figures – very cathartic writing, that was.
What is your favourite character of another author?
Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld, the most no-nonsense character in fiction. (I also like the greatest mathematician in the world, from Pyramids – a camel who uses his intellectual skills to work out the trajectory for balls of spit.)
Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage or travelled far specifically for a book/author event?
Not really – I’m much more interested in the stories than the author. I have visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, but Stratford’s a pretty place worth a visit regardless of who was born there.
Have you ever cried at a book?
It was touch and go with Granny Weatherwax’s death…
Do you prefer fiction, non-fiction or both?
Both, depending on mood.
How do you feel when you start a book, in the middle, and when you finish?
Optimistic, then depressed, but the final one depends on what ‘finish’ means – definitely depressed at the end of the first draft because I know how much editing work is needed to make it readable; optimistic but nervous when the publish button’s about to be pressed…
What was the first thing you learnt as an indie author that has never failed you?
Not indie-specific, but something I learned early on was that it’s vital to let others take a critical look at my work. We all have a blind spot when it comes to aspects of our own work, and trying to publish something without letting people rip it apart is doomed to failure.
Did you ever consider a pseudonym?
No comment ;-)
Do you try more to be original or pander to readers’ wants?
I’m too stubborn to pay a huge amount of attention to the ‘general’ reader. I write the sort of stories I’d like to read, and keep my fingers crossed that there are enough people like me for there to be some interested readers.
Can you name a famous author whose work you really don’t like?
There are many genres I don’t like, and by extension authors I don’t want to read, but I won’t embarrass myself by mentioning them.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I prefer writing short stories to novels, and while they’re mostly standalone, there are a few where the same characters appear. Short stories are also a way to explore the world of a novel, and I’ve got a couple featuring dragons like the one in The Feather and the Lamp. I’m currently working on a sequel to that novel, but also have a bunch of outlines and first chapters of unrelated novels.
When did you know you were going to be a writer?
I’m not sure I am! I’m a person who writes, but I don’t think I’m good enough or popular enough to call myself a writer yet.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Shortly before the publication date and for several months after, I had to work so much on publicity activities that I did no writing at all. I’m rubbish at all that, so it’s been a bit of a strain. Publication of the novel also means that my current focus is the sequel.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
An e-ink tablet for reviewing and marking up manuscripts. Reviewing your own work on the same screen as used for editing is difficult, but looking at it via a different medium (printed out, audio even) reveals a lot that’s otherwise unseen. I find this tablet to be a lot more convenient than physical paper.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
English at school did an excellent job of turning me off authors! It was a decade after leaving before I let myself be persuaded to see a Shakespeare play, and it’s only relatively recently that I’ve picked up any of the ‘classics.’ Still can’t bring myself to look at a John Wyndham or John Steinbeck.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I’m a lazy reader – I don’t like having to think too hard. Since, as I mentioned earlier, I write the sorts of book I’d like to read, I guess that means I lean more towards taking care than making demands.
Do you always give books not your own a chance right up until the end, or are you quick to DNF?
I used to hate not finishing a book, but came to realise there are so many books nowadays that I shouldn’t waste time on something I don’t like when I could potentially be reading something more pleasurable.
What does literary success look like to you?
The next thing!
Before I had published anything, success was having something accepted somewhere – anywhere.
After that, success was getting paid for a story.
Next, appearing in one of the top tier journals – still working on that one…
On the novel side of things, getting an agent or publisher interested in it was a measure of success (or should I say, a measure of validation).
The two things I want from my novel now are to see it on a shelf in physical bookshops and actually making some money from it!
A dream of a stretch goal is for it to appear in other media – graphic novel, movie, …
Do you have any secret marketing advice?
No, but I’m open to people telling me what I need to do that’s 100% guaranteed to succeed.
Do you do a lot of research and why, or if not, why not?
I try to pick topics that don’t need much research ;-) But where I am writing something based on reality, I do want it to be accurate, so I do as much as the story requires.
What genre would you like to see more of in the world?
Comic fantasy – Terry Pratchett’s death left a hole in that space. Sure, there are some authors plugging the gap, but not enough yet.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Oh, to have enough reviews to make it worth reading them.
Do you ever think it’s ethical to reply to your book reviews?
I’d maybe reply to a positive one, if only to thank the reviewer. I’d never respond to a negative one, just in case I’m feeding the flames.
Have you ever Googled yourself?
Only after someone told me about Google ‘knowledge panels.’ I did a search and was surprised that one existed for me; I then tried to edit it to make it better, but Google rejected the changes, and then I forgot about it. Prompted by this very question, I’ve just searched for myself again, and see that my knowledge panel no longer exists. I’m not sure what that says about me.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The words. All the words.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Too long. The Feather and the Lamp was about five years from idea to publication (with lots of pauses and distractions). I’m hoping the sequel, The Djinn and the Moonflower, will be finished in a year (with far fewer distractions).
Do you think writer’s block exists?
It’s a blanket term for a lot of reasons not to write. Blaming writer’s block is incredibly unproductive, and working out what the actual reason is essential, to work past whatever it is.
Which other medium would you love to venture into (film, musicals, plays etc.)
While I like the idea of films/video, I don’t think I have the brain for it. I like playing with dialogue, though, and I think that might translate into working on audio plays.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Find L.N.'s work on Amazon!
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