Interview with LK Hunsaker

What are your five favorite books, and why?
Only five? That's tough. Let's see:
1) I have to start with the Hardy Boys series because it pulled me back to my local library time and again until I read every single one they had, and thankfully, that was a lot. After I'd gone through them all, I started searching for other books that looked interesting. Of course there were plenty. I do love libraries!
2) John Jakes, the Kent Family Chronicles. I was so fully captivated by that series they might be the first books I reread (since I haven't yet reread a book). I read them back when I was a teen. I love history, especially American history, and the characters pulled me right in.
3) The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I love the whole inter-connectedness idea and it's truly uplifting. I'm Christian and follow Christ's teaching to love each other and treat people well (at least I try!), but I've studied enough world religion to realize at the heart of it all, the best and most influential religous leaders all really agree on that one thing: love each other and treat each other, and ourselves, well.
4) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Just ... yes. I haven't read them all yet but I plan to get there.
5) Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Not only is it a touching realistic story with beautiful societal content, but her prose is absolutely outstanding. I also love Gilead and Home. These will be rereads, as well. As a literary-bent writer, these are books not just to savor, but to study.
I cheated a bit using series, but I'm a writer who knows you have to break the rules at times.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a lot of literary/mainstream fiction and I have since I was young. I also love historicals and my current author loves are Edward Rutherford and Frank Delaney. I tend more toward male authors for some reason. However, I do love a nice well-written deep characterization romance when I can find that. Now and then I read non-fiction, often music and other artist biographies. I like cozy mysteries, such as Roberta Isleib and Maggie Toussaint. I'm fairly open to most genres other than horror, graphic suspense, erotica, or sci fi (although I'm a Star Trek and original Star Wars fan).
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Sony Reader, first edition, that still works just fine for me! I still prefer print, but as an author, I don't care how people choose to read, as long as they read!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Actually, going out and doing signings at arts fests has been the most successful. People enjoy meeting the author face-to-face and are more willing to give you a try when they've talked with you than if you're another unknown author name on the internet. Establish personal relationships. If your work is enough a part of you, as I think it should be, you are your best marketing tool. Online, be genuine, but never be rude. (If you can't be genuine without being rude, that's another story!)
Describe your desk
Oh... I probably shouldn't! Let's just say that artists are seldom neat, right? I'm an artist on top of being an obsessed novelist. Does that answer well enough? I will say I'm glad to finally have a small den painted light teal with two windows beside my messy desk where I bird watch while I'm pondering my stories. And I can shut the door. That's a huge, huge plus.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a bitty farm town near Peoria, Illinois in a blue collar family that was the center of everything I did. I was able to walk uptown to the store, library, post office or to the beautiful park and hang out without crime issues. At night, my two sisters and brother and I would play games like Kick the Can with our neighbors until well after dark. Grandma was a highly respected grade school teacher and Grandpa was a highly respected service station owner and welder who everyone around went to for his common sense advice. I learned very early on the importance of the family name and honor and respect and dirty-hands hard work and being proud of who you are and making your family proud of you.

Everything about that upbringing influences my writing now. I still believe in those values and it comes out in my characters and in my stories of real people doing real things. Even when my character is or becomes a "big" name, their inner "realness" and their upbringing comes out into the story and that's where the focus stays.

I did set my first published novel, Finishing Touches, in my hometown area, and recently continued it with the sequel, Final Strokes. You can find them both together in print in a combined edition titled The gallery.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing and creating stories ever since I can remember. When I was young, around ten or so I would guess, I would write musical plays using Americana music books and such, adding stories to go with them, and my siblings, cousins, and three neighborhood friends would perform with me for our large family gatherings. In high school, I turned to poetry and a fan fic play, and I started a few long stories that sat in my file tub while I had to focus on high school and then college and marriage and kids...

In 1996, I became serious about novel writing and have been fully and full-time obsessed with it since then, even around kids and moving and working and finishing my psychology degree.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest is The gallery, and I mentioned it already, but it's the story of a young newly widowed artist with an infant and no direction for her life. She'd married to escape a domineering mother and now she's on her own and figuring out what to do. Finishing Touches, her beginning story, came out in 2003. This year I finished the sequel where she's found a direction and is working hard toward the path she chose but she hits a huge roadblock and has to reevaluate. The sequel is called Final Strokes. They are both here on Smashwords as individual books. The gallery, the combined edition, is in print.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Back in early 2003 when I had my first novel ready to go, I started researching the industry and what it took to get a book published. It was disheartening to find that it could take months to even get a query answered and if accepted, a couple of years or so for the book to come out. I have a lot of patience in some areas, but not when it comes to getting my books out when they're ready. Also, I didn't like a lot of the contract issues. I didn't want to turn my work over to be more someone else's property than mine. I put my heart and soul into these stories and the characters truly matter to me and I didn't want to give them away, which is how it felt. So when I started reading about companies that offered to help print and distribute books for authors who "couldn't get" a contract, I pushed my research that direction. I studied the process and what each company offered. I listened to others who had gone that route so I knew what to look for and what to avoid, and I chose one that was as close as I could get to what I wanted. Infinity Publishing was reasonably priced and when I emailed, their customer service was friendly and fast, so I went that direction. Now I know many authors and "experts" say never, ever use a "vanity" publisher, but I'd have to argue that. If you're careful and do your research, it can be a good place to start for prints. Back then, ebooks were unheard of and Smashwords didn't exist, so prints were my focus. It was the best option for me since I wasn't willing (and couldn't afford) to take my manuscript to a print shop and have 1,000 of them printed that I would then have to distribute myself. It never would have happened.

When the ebook world began to surge, I started looking for a way to join in that would let me keep control and ownership and not cost more than I could afford to risk. When I found Smashwords, it was still in its beginning stages, but it was exactly what I was looking for, so I jumped right in. I was thrilled with it and sent other authors to check it out. I'm so pleased with the way it's grown and spread.

I believe authors should be able to retain much of the control of their art, because to me, writing is art and art shouldn't be diminished by the "rules" and by what's in and selling at the moment. I'm a big do-it-yourselfer in most aspects of my life, very much an indie in every sense. Do the work yourself*. Take your own risks. Put yourself out there. Put the time and effort into doing it right. And fully enjoy the rewards when they come. *By doing it yourself, I don't mean not to get help. Of course get help as far as beta readers, editing, cover art if you're not design-educated, etc. I mean keep control.

Being an indie author is not for everyone. It isn't. But it's an incredible option for those of us willing and able to do so much of the work ourselves.

By the way, I did not self-pub because I "couldn't get" a contract. I haven't tried. It's disparaging to indies for critics of the self-pub process to say we only do this because no "real" publisher wanted our work. I know it's true for some, although often it's only because the genre doesn't fit the current market, but it is not the general rule. Some of the best books I've read are from indies. And I'm very particular.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I write because it's who I am and that's a great joy in itself. Doing what you love is a necessity. But more than that is the reaction I get, such as, "You made me cry twice by page 29" and "I just love it!" and "They could be my neighbors because I know them so well and they matter to me so much." (paraphrased quotes from actual readers)

The best thing has been the way they touch others. I've had two people write and say one of my books made such a difference to a family member that it was at their bedside when they passed away. That made me cry. My children's book, Stanley, (not in ebook) has been often bought for friends going through crises and health issues and by missionaries and adult grief groups. It was only meant for my children originally, but you never know how you'll touch someone when you put a book out into the world. There is no greater honor for a writer than to make that kind of difference in someone's life.
Published 2013-09-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Rehearsal: In Refluent Waters
Series: Rehearsal, Book 4. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 249,040. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Still reeling from the devastation of a major loss, Raucous flounders in the waves, both as a band and individually. Through the aftershocks, they grasp onto anything that may steady them: old friendships, burgeoning concepts, and new loves. Rolling out of the Seventies into the Eighties, the band must change with the personal and musical tides while trying to stay afloat on the charts.
Final Strokes
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 90,990. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
Jenna Rhodes has life set up the way she wants, with a burgeoning career and her artist boyfriend at her side. While raising children and juggling job responsibilities, the two painters with different styles find they also have different visions of the future. Their separate choices and Jenna's resentments from the past push them to the far corners of their canvas. A Finishing Touches sequel.
Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents
Series: Rehearsal, Book 3. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 236,030. Language: American English. Published: December 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Literature » Literary
The Raucous crew is on the road moving along toward the end of the Seventies. With several number one hits and a UK tour, the band is set for bigger things and larger adventures. When a sudden explosion rocks them to their cores, the band members, management, and fans question their future. Third of a series.
Moondrops & Thistles
Price: $3.95 USD. Words: 156,710. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Historical » USA
Daws is a stalwart soldier entrenched in his work. Deanna is a fiery spirit on a mission. Love. Honor. Trust. Sacrifice.
Teacher's Pet
Price: Free! Words: 2,170. Language: English. Published: May 20, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
From the point of view of a little guy who sees things a little differently.
Growing Season
Price: Free! Words: 1,130. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
Cheryl runs into a stranger, literally, who teaches her there's nothing wrong with a little dirt. A "Finishing Touches" related short story.
Sleigh Bells on Fourth Avenue
Price: Free! Words: 2,110. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Family, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Misty is reunited with her estranged cousin through the magic of the season and with help from an elf of sorts.
Moondrops & Thistles: short & spicy edition
Price: $1.95 USD. Words: 98,910. Language: English. Published: November 30, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Romance » General
Daws, a soldier dealing with the loss of his CO and friend, goes home on leave to New York City to regroup and runs into Deanna, a rain-drenched, love scorned ball of fire. Together, they try to refuel their own sparks and find a new direction.
A First Thanksgiving
Price: Free! Words: 4,450. Language: English. Published: November 24, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » General
Deanna is introduced to life on a military base when Daws takes her to celebrate Thanksgiving on Fort Drum, in the mess hall.
Toward The Sky
Price: Free! Words: 2,240. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Daws returns to NYC from a military funeral to find a burst of new life in the guise of a rain-drenched love-scorned ball of fire. (Pre-edit scene from an in progress novel titled "Moondrops and Thistles," expected summer 2011)
Protect The Heart
Price: $1.95 USD. Words: 66,780. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Literature » War, Fiction » Romance » General
Abraham and Cameron leave their Snake River Valley homes to join the war effort while Maura, Cameron's near-betrothed, is left at home holding the pieces together. Over time and letters, she ponders her relationship with Cameron and is drawn to Abraham's artistic and poetic nature. A twist as unpredictable as the Snake itself brings Maura an unexpected ally and swift change of course.
Scattered Fake Sunflowers
Price: Free! Words: 2,390. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Sully finds a match to his vase in a place he never would have expected: the beginning of a short story series titled Nature's Molding.
Christmas Chains
Price: Free! Words: 3,430. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
Love-scorned and wary, Deanna finds she's more than willing to bend a bit for what she wants most. A short story that led to a novel in progress: Moondrops & Thistles, expected summer 2011. Prequel to Off The Moon (2009).
Off The Moon
Price: $3.95 USD. Words: 162,570. Language: English. Published: December 3, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Romance » General
"Riveting" Ryan Reynauld is immersed in a world of music, parties, and temporary companionship. At the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern is the way his music is produced, until he finds a young woman on a window ledge. Against advice from family and friends, and through media attacks and fan protests, Ryan determines to care for her himself, making a promise that may destroy his career.
Rehearsal: The Highest Aim
Series: Rehearsal, Book 2. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 318,410. Language: American English. Published: September 23, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Susie, Duncan, and Evan lead Raucous through the music world jungle heading toward the top. Along the way, family secrets are revealed and new additions come along, and the friends must redefine themselves within their new roles. Second in a series of six.
Musings of the Soul: Bound by Nature vol.1
Price: Free! Words: 6,920. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Three short stories exploring human nature meshed with physical nature: Jacob's Cross, Beagle and Sneakers, & Mount Good Take.
Beagle and Sneakers
Price: Free! Words: 1,300. Language: English. Published: May 12, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
A comedy with nuances of romance and a couple of frisky dogs.
Jacob's Cross
Price: Free! Words: 2,220. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Alicia goes fishing in the dark of night to wrestle with her grief and to try to understand the nature of loss and sacrifice.
Mount Good Take
Price: Free! Words: 3,210. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Derek fills a void in his own life by leading locals on weekend treks up a small mountain. This time, a young climber touches that void in a way he couldn't have imagined, or wanted. First published in Wanderings Magazine, Spring 2007. A short story.
Evan's Story
Series: Rehearsal. Price: Free! Words: 3,430. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
After losing his little brother, Evan relies on his best friend to help him pick up and move on. A Rehearsal-related free read.
The Water's Touch
Series: Rehearsal. Price: Free! Words: 2,670. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
During an escape to his beloved Scottish hills and loch, Duncan fights his own need in favor of another's. A Rehearsal-related short-story.
Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
Series: Rehearsal, Book 1. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 284,090. Language: English. Published: January 22, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General
Susie Brooks is a dance teacher whose main stability is her best friend Evan Scott, a guitarist with a flair for the business world. When Duncan O'Neil, Evan’s friend, moves into their world, he changes the dynamics in the band and in Evan and Susie's relationship. Together, they struggle through love, loss, and secret passions during the world of 1970s rock music. First of a series. (2nd ed.)
Finishing Touches
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,190. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Jenna escaped demanding parents with an early marriage to an unknown artist, but her husband's success catapults her into another world she feels she doesn't belong. Newly widowed as a young mother, Jenna fights overwhelming artistic desires while she hides from her husband's shadow. Rejecting her impulses becomes impossible when another magnetic young artist begins to pull at her spirit.