Interview with Rik Hunik

Which of your books are most popular?
"The Gold Watch", a western ghost story set during the Barkerville gold rush, has been my most popular story since I published it. My alternate history fantasy mystery novel "Easy Money" has gained in popularity since I set the price to free. Other popular stories are: "The Emperor Germanicus"; "Incident In A Tomb"; 'For Sakina"; "Reality Check", but my most popular book by far is my fantasy novel "The Dark Gate".
Of the stories published at Smashwords, which are your personal favourites?
In no particular order: "The Dark Gate", because I invested so much time in writing it, and it is unlike anything I've read. "The Emperor Germanicus", because I always wondered how different the Roman Empire would have turned out without Tiberius, Caligula and Nero messing things up so badly. The idea was with me for a long time and I always conceived it as a movie. "Reality Check", just because it's a cool, frightening idea and it turned out very well. The poem "On Full Moon Night", just because. "Vacation Violation", because it turned out pretty good for a story I wrote and submitted in one day. Also "Witch's Skin" and "Easy Money".
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I got tired of rejection slips that kept saying things like: "no, but you have a terrific style and we'd like to see more.": "Shortlisted but a slightly stronger story won out.": "We just did a story with that theme last month.": "We liked it but it just didn't fit.": "You should have no problem getting this story published somewhere else."
I keep sending my stories out to magazines and anthologies. Of course I still get rejection slips like that, and I occasionally get an acceptance letter, but Smashwords is still the best place to find my stories.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
By providing a platform where the general public can find my books.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
First of all, having a good product. Second, free books. Third, keeping to a regular publishing schedule.
What is your writing process?
Ideas come first, Then bits of conversation or little movie-like snippets play in my head and I try to translate them into words and sentences.I use an outline to make sure all the pieces go in the right places, then I fill the spaces between, until everything is dense enough to be convincing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Producing a high-quality story and having people appreciate it.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are everything to me. Without them my writing would be just an exercise in self-indulgence. For too many years it felt like my wife was my only fan. Smashwords has helped to change that.
What are you working on next?
I always have a number of stories in development but my most ambitious project now is "Alien Abduction", a pencil and paper and dice role playing game unlike anything else, with an accompanying short story or novelette. Also in the works, but still a long way off, is a sequel to "Easy Money".
How do you approach cover design?
My main concern is that the title and byline be legible even in the postage stamp format. I don't have the talent or the time to paint a cover picture for each story and I have a very low budget so I have to rely on my personal library of photographs, which is quite extensive but limited, or public domain images.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don't know about five favorite books, but I can come up with five favorite series:Roger Zelazny's Amber books, Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and the Garret P.I. series by Glen cook. And I can't leave out Timothy Zahn's Quadrail series. Or Stephen King's Dark Tower series.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working for a living (in construction), working on various art projects, reading, watching movies, puzzles.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Browsing Smashwords, searching categories, tracing back to people who have added me as a favourite or written a review.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
There were some assignments in grade school, and some forgettable horror and fantasy stories I wrote while in high school. A few ideas were salvaged for stories I wrote much later, but the earliest story I kept was "Green Eyes", which I originally finished in 1985, but it has gone through numerous rewrites and edits before becoming the version published at Smashwords.
When did you first start writing?
Not counting assignments in school I started writing stories while still in high school in the early '70's, mostly derivative, forgettable horror and sword & sorcery. After high school i spent a number of years mostly writing poetry, and then I spent more time painting than writing. In 1985 I wrote "Green Eyes", which is the first story I kept a copy of. It's been through numerous rewrites and edits to become the version published at Smashwords. In the early '90's I became more serious and committed to writing and my output increased.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use Adobe Digital Editions on my computer, though I would like to get a hand-held device someday.
Published 2014-03-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Hole
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Series: Short short stories, Book 9. Price: Free! Words: 800. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
(290 words)A flash fiction horror story. A curious man lowers a camera on a cable into a reputedly bottomless hole.
Friday
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Series: Short Stories, Book 14. Price: Free! Words: 4,400. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Crime
(3600 words) A short horror story about a man who parties on Friday night, and is compelled by a strange, new drug to kill a woman. When he wakes up in the morning it's Friday again and apparently the murder never happened. (A slightly different version of this story first appeared in Midnight Times, #20, Winter 2008.)
Lakeside Motel
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Series: Short Stories, Book 13. Price: Free! Words: 3,460. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(2970 words) When Dwight has an argument with his wife and storms out of the house he is forced to take a motel room for the night. All the motels in the small town are full but at the Lakeside Motel he finagles his way into a room reserved for someone with a similar name. Later that night he has an unusual visitor.
Night Lures
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Series: Short short stories, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 1,250. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(760 words) A science fiction fishing story. This story first appeared in Barbaric Yawp, Apr. 2010
Levels
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Series: Novelettes, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 10,720. Language: English. Published: April 29, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
10,350 words. A science fiction novelette wherein Detective Frank and his rookie partner are confronted with a headless corpse in a locked motel room. When similar murders occur in other places it seems he will have to accept a supernatural aspect, but nothing is as it seems and he’s in for a wild trip that will take him places he never imagined. This story first appeared in Buzzy Mag, May, 2012.
Forces Of Evil: The Board Game
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Series: Short Stories, Book 12. Price: Free! Words: 6,760. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Undead
A horror short story about a young couple at a cabin in the woods who find a role playing board game about defending a warehouse from an army of zombies. By playing the game and losing they shift the balance, giving evil the upper hand. As evil runs rampant in the world they race against time and zombies to set things right.
The Dark Gate
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 116,430. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
A sword & sorcery thriller novel. At the center of the city of Satyrn the Black Tower rises high. Kharl, the most powerful mage in Satyrn, is building his magical matrix in a secret chamber beneath the Black Tower, where it draws on all the mana in the city and concentrates it for his use. If he can complete his matrix he will open a dark gate and let Shigg'rath, the Dweller Beneath, come through.
Goldbug
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Series: Novelettes, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 8,640. Language: English. Published: January 31, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
A light-hearted fantasy story about Shawn, a university research student with a mission to find the source of gold in the Dragon Mountains. He saves Geezer, an old prospector, from some bandits. Geezer has a special talent for finding gold so Shawn recruits him to help with his mission.
Witch's Skin
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Series: Short Stories, Book 11. Price: Free! Words: 3,490. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
While cleaning the attic in her inherited old house Suzi finds a secret room containing a shelf full of mysterious items and a shrine dedicated to a murder trial from decades ago. The room also contains a booby trap, a spell that compels her to don the long-dead witch's skin like a garment. A slightly different version of this story appeared in Tales Of The Talisman, Vol.4 #4, Apr. 2009.
Good-bye Grandpa
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Series: Short short stories, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 2,050. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(1600 words) Angry at Professor Kline's public statement that time travel was impossible, Nick marched into Kline's lab with the equations to prove that it was possible, only to find Kline was waiting for him with a few surprises. And a time machine.
The Treasure In The Monkey's Fist
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Series: Short Stories, Book 10. Price: Free! Words: 5,640. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
A slightly different version of this story appeared in Wild Violet, Vol. 6 #1, Spring 2007. A fantasy story wherein a young man learns of a fabulous treasure, beats everyone to the treasure cave, and becomes trapped inside by an ancient spell.
Defiance 2
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Series: Poetry, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 980. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
A rhyming poem about depression and despair and hope. Although this is another poem about defiance, it is a different kind of defiance, a healthier defiance.
Green Eyes
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Series: Short short stories, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 1,650. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
Sid hated cats. Sid liked to party. When a black cat spoiled his party he got upset. A short short horror story about a man who tried to run over the wrong cat.
Dead Man's Ashes
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Series: Short short stories, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 2,470. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
A sequel to "Worse Than An Orphan's Curse", wherein Dar, a young thief, is sent into the darkest part of the city by Peli, King of the Beggars, to recover the ashes of the man who cursed him, so he can exact his revenge on the dead man's spirit.
Joyride
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Series: Short Stories, Book 9. Price: Free! Words: 6,590. Language: English. Published: September 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
A slightly shorter version of this story originally appeared in “Tales Of The Talisman”, Volume 1, Issue 2, Sep. 2005. Darien thought he was pretty clever when he stole the Black and Gold Special Edition 1977 Trans Am before Fast Eddy could get to it, but before he can sell it he has to endure a road trip fraught with mishaps. And what's with that license plate?
Worse Than An Orphan's Curse
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Series: Short short stories, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 2,110. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
A short fantasy story wherein an orphan's curse brings about the death of a ship's captain, but the captain's dying curse is worse. (Yes, the title is lifted from that poem by Coleridge)
The Sitting
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Series: Short short stories, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 1,680. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
Peter Dennis is flattered to be asked by a beautiful artist to sit for her next painting for a book cover. It starts out well but it doesn't go as he'd anticipated. A short horror story. A slightly different version of this story first appeared in "Black Petals, Summer 2003".
The Eruption At Mount Sarna
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Series: Short Stories, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 5,670. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Zakk has it made; a legitimate store front selling relics of the past, an illegal operation selling fake artifacts in other cities, and an entire buried city to loot, as long as he can keep it secret. Then the temple is discovered, with a sealed door protected by spells in a chamber below the subbasement, and his regular wizard is unavailable.
The Ghost In The Kettle
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Series: Short Stories, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 4,640. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
A slightly different version of this ghost story was published in Midnight Times # 18, Summer 2007, under the title "In The Kettle". When Jeff first heard about the ghost at the Phoenix Tire Retreading Plant he thought the old timer was pulling his leg, but when a young coworker told him the ghost wanted to talk to him he had to change his thinking.
Incident In A Tomb
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Series: Short Stories, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 3,300. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
A short H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror story. When Joe and his cousin Ward broke into a tomb to try out a spell to raise an ancestor they got some unexpected results.
The Hollow Idol's Eyes
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Series: Short Stories, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 6,020. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
It was well known that Aztor, the blind king, would give much for any information that led to his acquiring sight, so when he heard about the magical power of the Hollow Idol's Eyes, and learned the location of the Idol, he sent a large expedition to fetch the eyes. He got all that he wanted and more. This story first appeared in "Of Unicorns And Space Stations", Winter 1999.
A Clone Of His Own
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Series: Novelettes, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 8,020. Language: English. Published: June 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
When Sedric got back to his castle after a disappointing third-place finish at the annual scientific symposium he found his servants dead and the growth tanks in his laboratory being smashed by the henchmen of his arch-rival, Dook. Despite serious setbacks, such as being killed, Sedric uses his science and his magic to fight back. A science fiction/fantasy adventure story.
The Spirit Of The Game
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Series: Short Stories, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 5,400. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
A Thanksgiving Day dinner with a dysfunctional family: the daughter, who has been away at school; the son that never grew up, who earns a living play-testing video games; the widowed mother, out of shape, out of touch; and, in spirit, the father, dead for thirty years. A slighlty different version of this story appeared in the ezine Wild Violet Vol. 6 #2 Summer 2007.
On Full Moon Night
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Series: Poetry, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 510. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2013. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
When the curse of the werewolf takes hold on the night of the full moon, blood will be spilled. A short, rhyming poem (49 short lines) about what it's like to change, experience the hunger, and spill blood.
Key Service
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Series: Short Stories, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 3,520. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Robert Jarvis has a problem with losing or misplacing his keys far more than the average person. Fortunately he has one of those little plastic "Key Service" tags on his key ring so they keep getting returned to him. So far the service has been free. Until a strange-looking dwarf shows up at his door asking for a dollar before handing over his keys.
Vacation Violation
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Series: Short short stories, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 1,340. Language: English. Published: April 19, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Saul had a wonderful life for a twelve-year-old, with a loving family and a comfortable home, weekends were three days long, and summer vacation was coming, so why was he tormented by a recurring nightmare? This dark science fiction short short story first appeared in Barbaric Yawp, volume 14, number 3, July 2010.
Easy Money
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Price: Free! Words: 96,480. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
An alternate history fantasy mystery novel. Berk opened his agency to make use of his magic talent for finding things. On the day he expanded his parameters to include missing persons he was presented with two cases that stymied his talent. In the days that followed more women went missing without a trace, and a serial killer, The Skinner, began leaving more dead bodies on the streets of Agrippina
Reality Check
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Series: Short short stories, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 1,860. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
How can we tell what is real? We only know reality by what our senses tell us, but what if our senses are being manipulated or bypassed? Ted thought he had it figured, but he was wrong. Or was he? This mind-bending science fiction horror short story first appeared in Barbaric Yawp, volume 12, number 3, July 2008.
Defiance
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Series: Poetry, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 840. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2013. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
A rhyming poem about standing up to the devil, about hellfire, damnation and suffering. I wrote this poem a long time ago. There is nothing autobiographical about it.
The Gold Watch
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Series: Short Stories, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 4,700. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
While prospecting a creek in the Cariboo Mountains near Barkerville in 1866, Pete comes across the corpse of a murdered man clutching a gold watch in his hand. Pete decides to return the watch to Sylvia, the name engraved on the back, but the owner of the watch, even though he is dead, has vengeance in mind, and a job for Pete. This story first appeared in Crimson Online Magazine #13, 2000.
Widdershins
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Series: Short Stories, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 6,580. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
When Roland's daughter and his wife Berdine disappear into thin air right in front of his eyes in his own back yard he is shocked. When his eccentric old neighbor comes around and tells him his family has been taken to Elfland he is skeptical at first, but he will go there if he must and face the Goblin King to get his family back. (This story is a modern retelling of an old English folktale.)
The Hole Story
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Series: Novelettes, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 11,330. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
This story first appeared in Tales Of The Talisman Volume 5 #2, Autumn 2009. Within an hour of the time Tal wakes up in a strange bed with no memory of who he is, where he is, or how he came to be here on this strange, unknown world, he is being pursued as he climbs endless stairs through featureless fog with Neola, the local teenage girl who took him off the Net and nursed him back to health.
For Sakina
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Series: Novelettes, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 8,670. Language: English. Published: February 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
This story originally appeared in Midnight Times #23, Fall 2008. When Jared gets out of the army he discovers that his sister, his only remaining relative, has been missing for weeks. He teams up with her boyfriend and they follow her trail to the home of Jatarkah, a small-time, disreputable wizard, who seems to be responsible for the disappearance of other women as well.
The Emperor Germanicus
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Series: Novelettes, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 10,010. Language: English. Published: January 28, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Germanicus was groomed to be the leader of the Roman Empire but he died young. Far in the future, Marcus Geni, like many others, believed Germanicus could have and should have become emperor. He believed it so strongly he stole a time machine and made it happen. Sort of. He inserted himself into Germanicus's timeline and made himself emperor, which wasn't quite the same thing.
The Tale Of Orm's Revenge
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Series: Novelettes, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 10,450. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Inspired by the Sagas of the Icelanders, this sword and sorcery novelette follows Orm as he sets out against Sigurd, who killed his brothers and neighbors, and took their land for the use of himself and his gang. Guided by a prophecy, Orm finds allies and unexpected help, including a magic sword..
Down Among The Hoodoos
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Series: Novelettes, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 10,070. Language: English. Published: December 10, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
An atmospheric ghost story. After many years apart Tom runs into his old friend Lenard, who convinces him it would be fun to revisit their old party spot at The Hoodoos. The gate to the park is closed but Lenard has a 4x4. They set up their music to echo down the canyon like they did when they were young and despite some misgivings Tom starts to have fun. Then the glowing red orb appears.