Jason Hunt’s Lawmen Make You Pay the Fiddler
Jason Hunt wrote his first story at five years old. His father paid him a quarter for it. He continued to write and ended up studying writing at Cornell with William Kennedy, the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Ironweed. He was a little too restless back then for the hours it takes to write fiction, so he threw an old Gibson guitar in the back of a Plymouth Valiant and drove down to Nashville to try his luck at songwriting.
Jason wrote a lot of songs and played with a lot of great musicians – he even bought his first pair of cowboy from Garth Brooks himself – but he kept thinking about fiction.
Jason started out writing detective fiction. He published short stories in places like Hardboiled, Pulp Pusher, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Yellow Mama, and A Twist of Noir. After writing two novels and dozens of stories about tough loners working the mean streets of modern-day America, he realized where these guys came from. They were the descendants of the lawmen and outlaws of the old West.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
Let’s see, I am a communication manager at a biotechnology company near Boston. I used to write country music in Nashville, and I still love to play guitar and harmonica with my son, who is a 17 year-old rock’n’roller. One of my daughters is a writer and the other is an actress. My wife has put up with me for 22 years and, as a result, is probably being considered for sainthood.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
The whole bunch of them are creative, so they don’t really think much about it. Someone is always writing something. I just do it a little more consistently. J I’ve written so many different things that no one in the family has the stamina to read all of it. (At least that’s their excuse.) I wrote a poem called Detestable Vegetables when the kids were little, and I know they all read that. I’ve published a lot of hardboiled detective fiction, and I have forbid them from reading any of that until they are at least 25. I gave them all a copy of the new book, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S GUNFIGHT, but none of them have read that yet. Maybe it’s because they had to listen to hundreds of songs I wrote. I don’t know. J
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I do. I was 4 or 5 and my father was teaching me to read. I said I could write better stories than the ones I was learning with, so he said he’d pay me a quarter if I wrote an original story. In those days, a quarter could actually buy stuff, so I said down and wrote “the 3 little Fishermen.” No kidding. I stapled together sheets of onion-skin typing paper and wrote a few pages, liberally illustrated throughout. When I gave it to him, he was delighted and paid me a quarter. I asked if he’d pay me another quarter if I wrote another story. He said yes, and I haven’t stopped writing since.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I do a lot when I write the first book in a series. For the new book, my first Western, I did a ton of research. You don’t realize how much you DON’T know about a particular period until you start writing about it. A dusty cowpoke walks into a saloon and orders…what? Could you get beer? If so, how was it served? How much did it cost? What kind of currency was the cowpoke likely to have? The list goes on and on and on. For the setting, I picked a historic ghost town – Shakespeare, New Mexico – so there was a lot of stuff online. Also, I downloaded hundreds of photos and hung them up all over my office, so I could look around and feel like I was there.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
I try to get a really well-developed sense of the characters. That’s more important to me than the plot. I have to know everything I can about each character to be able to predict how they are going to act in the situations into which I throw them. Sometimes I’ll sketch the characters or cut out pictures from magazines so I know exactly how they look. I imagine their parents, where they grew up, what the major events of their lives were, when they first fell in love, what they think about God…I really need them to come to life for me before I can hope to make them come to life for a reader.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
I am writing something all the time. I have to squeeze fiction in wherever I can. It’s usually in the middle of the night or early, early in the morning before everyone gets up. Then I go to work and write boring stuff all day, only to come home at night and escape into my own stories.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place
I do and I don’t. I have learned over the years to write wherever and whenever I can: Starbuck’s, Duncan Donuts, Barnes and Noble, libraries, on the train, in the car while I’m waiting for someone. I always write on the laptop, and I’m always drinking something – coffee, Diet Coke, red wine, you name it.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My perfect hero is tough, but tender. He has to be able to kick the !@#$% out of the bad guys, but has to treat women with respect, and he has to be especially kind to kids and animals. He is has some literary or artistic leaning, even if he has never had a chance to develop it, and he is always struggling to understand his relationship with God. He is not really “religious,” but he believes in something bigger than himself. He defends the underdog and abhors hypocrites.
And he can juggle. J Okay, maybe he can’t juggle….
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
I think my Facebook page is the best way to reach me.
What are your hobbies?
I like playing music. I love reading, although I am mostly an audiobook person these days. I like to cook and to camp, and I love movies. I like travelling, but I also like hanging out, eating popcorn and watching TV. I like talking long walks with my beagle Lulu and sitting around with my lazy, multi-breed, fat-cat Pandora. And drinking wine – I’m particularly fond of that. J
Kyle William Lees saw his father and brother murdered by Confederate marauders at the close of the Civil War. The gang tried to kill him, too, but he survived. Now he carries a tattered list with thirteen names, and he is scouring the West in search of vengeance, crossing off one name at a time. When his quest takes him to Shakespeare, New Mexico, Kyle finds more than he bargained for, including the infamous Tom Brennan, one of the fastest and deadliest gunfighters around.