Author Answers with Harry Hunsicker

harry-hunsicker_308-extrasmallThe Word Nerds are pleased to welcome Harry Hunsicker as our guest this week. He’s got a new series launching in 2014 and also writes short stories, so we decided to chat with him about all of it.

WN: Which form do you like best – short stories or novels?

HUSICKER: I prefer to read novels but I usually enjoy writing short stories more.  You can see the end result much quicker with short fiction.  I.e. you can know sooner rather than later if it’s going to work or not.  That’s a good thing for someone with a short attention span like me….wait, what were we talking about?

WN: Your next novel, The Contractors, is the start of a new series.  What is it like to jump into a new set of characters after your Lee Henry Oswald series?

HUNSICKER: It’s a lot of fun because I really liked the two main characters in THE CONTRACTORS, Jon Cantrell and his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Piper.  They’re damaged souls who can’t quite get it together when it comes to being together.  That said, when I was writing THE CONTRACTORS I never envisioned them as series characters so it’s been challenging.

WN: The main character from The Contractors is Jon Cantrell, a disgraced ex-cop, works for a private military contractor. He’s a DEA agent paid on a commission basis, patrolling one of the busiest drug-hubs in the country: Dallas, Texas.  What kind of research did you do for the story?

HUNSICKER: Jon Cantrell and his girlfriend Piper work as private law enforcement contractors.  They are Texas-based DEA agents with DEA credentials, guns, and the right to use deadly force.  But their paychecks come from a private company. So imagine the Black Water guys—military contractors—operating inside the borders of the United States.  With badges.

I spent a lot of time on Google learning about the private military industry.  Then I talked to a couple of lawyers who had worked for Homeland Security and the Department of Justice and learned such a scenario does exist, though not to the extent that I imagined.  Probably.

There was a recent article in the New York Times about the wind-down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and how private military firms—used to the fat government contracts—are turning their attention toward domestic operations, specifically along the US/Mexico Border.  Which, coincidentally, is where a lot of the action in my new novel takes place. (Good to be on the front side!) Here’s the article.

WN: Are your books story, character or setting driven?  Pros or cons of the driver?

HUNSICKER: Character and to a lesser extent setting.  The story should always flow from the character.

WN: What should readers expect when they pick-up one of your novels?

HUNSICKER: A lot of action and a strong sense of place.  Flawed but likeable characters.  My best efforts.  I put everything I have into every sentence.

WN: Your twitter profile proclaims you to be both a life coach and a profanity specialist.  What’s your favorite profanity and does it help you as a life coach?

HUNSICKER: I’m not really a life coach though in my free time I like to offer unsolicited suggestions to other people.  It makes me feel better about myself.

My favorite profanity?  Are we allowed to swear on the internet?

WN: You’re also the former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America.  What was it like to serve in that capacity?

HUNSICKER: That position was where I perfected my skills as a profanity specialist.  It was a great deal of work but in retrospect a great deal of fun as well.  I was fortunate to meet a lot of interesting people during that time.

WN: Tell us about your writing space.  What do you consider essential for starting out your session?

HUNSICKER: My office is lined with bookshelves (surprise!)  and is pretty cluttered.  I also write at a local coffee shop fairly often.  I like to feel the energy of a public place.

WN:  Do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice you’d like to share?

HUNSICKER: “Never, never, never give up.”  –Winston Churchill

WN: What question did WN not ask, that you really would love to be asked?

HUNSICKER: What was it like to be named a Quarterfinalist in the 2013 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science?

Un-freaking-believable.  Me?


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