Author Interview: Angela Hunt
We’d like to welcome New York Times best selling author Angela Hunt to this blog today. Angela has authored more than a hundred books, she is a sought-after keynote speaker, lecturer and … well the list goes on. In 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree, completed her doctorate in 2008, and was accepted into a ThD. program in 2009 while continuing a very vigorous and prolific writing career. You can learn more about Angela and her career by visiting her web site at http://www.angelahuntbooks.com/index.html
We’ve enjoyed reading many of Angela’s novels—The Novelist, Uncharted, The Justice and many others. One thing Angela Hunt fans soon learn—always expect the unexpected. Readers experience everything from a signing gorilla to a woman faced with running an inherited funeral home with absolutely no experience. Her latest novel, Let Darkness Come, comes with its own unexpected twist.
Q: Angela, thanks for joining us. Tell us a little about your latest novel—or as much as you can without giving away the unexpected.
Hunt: Thanks, Mark. The WIP—work in progress, or work supposedly in progress—is women’s fiction, a tale of three sisters. Lots of angst and estrogen. Sins and secrets.
But if you’re talking about the latest release, it’s a legal thriller with a twist. I call it a “mystical mystery.”
Q: Can you tell us how you came up with this concept?
Hunt: Sure! I found the idea on the Discovery Channel. J In my secular novels, I like to come up with one “spiritual” idea, and in this book I simply wanted to demonstrate that we are more than our bodies—we are also souls.
Q: How did you settle on the title, Let Darkness Come?
Hunt: I had no idea what to call the thing, but in my quest for the perfect epigraph to set the tone, I discovered the phrase “Let Darkness Come.” It seemed to fit as well as anything else.
Q: Tell us a little about your main character, attorney Briley Lester? What makes her tick? How did she come to exist in your mind?
Hunt: Briley is a typical young woman, but she’s driven by an event in her past and her late father’s influence. She also in over her head in the story situation, so she needs all the help she can get.
Q: While representing her client on murder charges, Briley stumbles upon facts she ultimately gives to the court in a manner open for interpretation. She knows others might come to a different—and possibly wrong—understanding of what happened. But by this time in the story, she’s rationalized in her mind that she must give whatever she must for her client. Given her goals and ambitions, how will Briley be able to live with this justification?
Hunt: Most lawyers want to defend their clients as best they can, whether or not the client is guilty—so the truth is secondary. Briley is committed to the truth first, and uses the system (rather brilliantly, I think) to make sure her innocent client goes free. I think she’s able to live with it because it takes some time and some convincing to bring her to the place where she truly realizes her client’s innocence.
Chicago is a long way from your roots in . What led you to locate this novel in the Florida ? Windy City
Hunt: LOL! I DO like to set my books in
, because it makes things much easier. But I needed COLD weather for one pivotal scene, so I had to move things up north. Florida —and its reputation for ruthless politicians—fit the bill perfectly. Chicago
Q: At the end of your novel there is a reference section listing a number of sources you used to help write this story. Among them were Detective Mark Mynheir of the Palm Bay Police Department in
and attorney/author James Scott Bell, both of whom we will visit on this blog (Jim Bell appeared here two weeks ago). Some of your other contacts included other authors, attorneys, a forensic psychologist and the Florida Sheriff’s Department. Tell us a little about your contact with the sheriff’s department and the forensic psychologist. How did this information add to your story? Cook County
Hunt: Because this story was a bit complicated—lots of medical and legal facts to check—I was accosting everyone I knew at every turn. As for the actual Cook County Sheriff’s department, I simply called ’em up to ask some questions about procedures at the jail. The forensic psychologist is a gal pal I met at a writer’s retreat once. Mark and Jim are writing buddies, of course.
Q: As noted above, you’ve acquired an admirable list of academic achievements, but we did not see a law degree among that list. As a non-lawyer, how did you research this legal thriller to make the reader suspend belief and accept Briley in her role as a defense attorney?
Hunt: I read a lot of books on the law, and particularly studied this one particular book on trial procedure. Despite all my research, however, I couldn’t have gotten it right without the help of attorney Michael Garnier, who took the time to read the manuscript, then spent four HOURS on the phone with me to make sure I got the legal issues and testimony right. I’m not a lawyer, but I know some awfully kind and generous attorneys!
Q: The novel is written in a rather unique third person present tense. What did you seek to achieve using this tense?
Hunt: I love present tense because it adds a sense of immediacy. (I know some readers don’t like it, but that’s just too bad.) When a book is written in past tense, at some subconscious level you know the POV character has survived to tell the tale, right? You don’t know that with a present tense book, and you can’t assume. It feels like the story is unfolding right before your eyes.
Q: Did any of your characters in Let Darkness Come surprise you? Did they say or do things unexpected?
Hunt: The turncoat surprised me. The little weasel.
Q: Tell us a little about your writing process. How many drafts? How much research time did this work take? Is your WIP completely outlined before starting or do you start the writing journey and see where your characters lead? Do you find yourself somewhere between these two camps?
Hunt: As you know, Mark, I swear by my “plot skeleton.” It’s enough of an outline so that I know where I’m going, but it’s “open” enough to allow me to discover new things along the way. I do my skeleton, I usually do about a week of research on “big picture” things, then I jump into the writing. If I need more information, I learn it as I go, or look it up between drafts. I usually do four or five drafts, depending upon how much time I’ve allotted for the book. (The plot skeleton, BTW, is completely explained in the new book, A NOVEL IDEA).
Q: What does your ‘normal’ writing day look like?
Hunt: I’m usually at my desk by 11 a.m., and I tend to stay there until my assigned daily quota is done—and sometimes that takes until 8 or 9 p.m. (With lots of breaks for email, meals, and occasional romps with my dogs). I’m afraid it’s a pretty boring picture—it’d make terrible reality TV.
Q: Once you embarked upon a writing career, how did you get from there to here?
Hunt: I’m not sure where “here” is . . . all I can tell you is that I started writing and kept at it. No great plan, no master design, just walking through the doors that God opens.
Q: Which authors have most influenced your writing? Who are some of the individuals who’ve helped you along this writing path, and how did they help?
Hunt: I’m largely self-taught, but I do pick up—consciously and unconsciously—things from all the books I read. But one person who’s helped a lot in the last few years is Donald Maass. Not only his books, but I’ve attended several of his seminars, and he always helps me dig deeper and work harder.
Q: What books are sitting on your reading shelf right now to be read?
Hunt: Latest arrival: REMARKABLE CREATURES, by Tracy Chevalier. Last novel read: SUNFLOWERS, the story of Vincent Van Gogh.
Q: Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you’d give aspiring authors?
Hunt: Get thee to a writer’s conference. At one conference, people can learn what it took me years to learn on my own, plus make friends and meet with folks in the industry. It’s the best use of your time and money.
Next Monday, Feb. 22nd. and March 8th, we’ll focus on prison gang investigations and collection of criminal intelligence. Our law enforcement expert will be Mr. Brian Parry, currently a consultant to the FBI’s National
Gang Intelligence Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Mr. Parry was the Assistant Director of California’s Department of Corrections (CDC), serving with that department for thirty years. He brings a wealth of information about prison gangs and the transmigration of gangs across our borders
On Monday, March 1st and March 22nd, we will be joined by Detective Mark Mynheir of the Palm Beach Bay Police Department in
. Det. Mynheir will tell us about both his careers—a homicide investigator for Florida on March 1st and he’ll return on March 22 to tell us about his life as a crime novelist. His latest release is another crime thriller titled The Night Watchman. Palm Beach