Interview with Callie Hunter

What made you start writing with the intention of sharing with other people.
Even as a kid I liked to write stories, but it only became an intention to share when I wanted to build on the foundations of my characters. Sure, I have a character, but how would they interact with others? How would they grow and adapt to new challenges? I really learned that sharing my writing was a good idea when I discovered roleplaying. But that didn’t teach me the correct way to write, and taught me very bad habits. But with that practice, I learned to build a good character and give them elements of realism.

It wasn’t until I turned that character into a novel that I desperately wanted to share with writing workshops, mostly online, as there aren’t many close to where I live, sadly. If I share my writing and other people enjoyed it? That’s what drove me to keep trying, learning from mistakes and producing higher quality work.
What kind of roleplaying did you do? Was it like roleplaying games or acting coursework?
It was more of the create a character and write in their perspective, you became them, and you could experience the things they did—while meeting other writers, and your characters could merge. Without this, the foundation of some of stories wouldn’t exist. The first novel I wrote that’s in need of heavy editing at the moment, called In Between Dreams, started from roleplay.

I could develop my writing, while meeting other people that allowed me to develop my character from a teenager addicted to drugs, to a grown man and a father. It’s far more intense than it sounds when you’re engulfed in it, however. Everything that happens to your character, also happens to you. It can be tough on your emotions, but it certainly teaches the writer how to identify with, and become your character. How could you expect other people to care for them if you don’t?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
When I grew up, I didn't have many friends, and the area I lived in was mainly full of outgoing people. I tended to keep to myself, lost in my own world with my characters and stories, so in a way it heavily impacted my writing. It taught me how to turn off the real world and go to somewhere nicer, somewhere I could do anything, be anyone and experience anything in the world that I wanted to.
Is this something you still employ with your writing?
Unfortunately, no. I haven’t the time, and as my desire for writing increased—to explore the technicalities—the new writers were very vague, and only liked one-liners. I gave up years ago, but through that mental training I can now take the idea of a character and build them on my own, as I write, I can explore those things without needing physical people to help. In that sense, it’s helped me to grow as a writer, but also to associate with my characters. By putting a piece of yourself into them, whether it’s experiences, or the same fears (the fear of abandonment, for example) the writing can really come alive. When the characters feel real to you, they should feel real to the readers. That’s the most important thing for me.
So when you’re developing a story, do you put the characters together first and build the plots around them or do the situations occur and you find characters that would play off of them in interesting ways?
From the people I’ve discussed it with, I work in a completely different way. [laughs] I start with a character, but I don’t plan every aspect of their life, I start with one. For example, Hunter in Bruised, a bachelor with his pick of women, discovers he has a daughter, and he has a choice whether he takes care of her after her mother’s death, or he gives her away. That’s all I knew, and as I wrote the story, he wrote himself.

In terms of plot, I plan key events, but not the in between. Over planning kills all spontaneity for me. Getting from A to B is the character’s job. I give them a lot of freedom to write themselves, and I’m even surprised by what comes from their mouths or the things they do!

But this is the fun of writing for me. I start with an idea but by the half way mark, I have a full character history that isn’t forced – it came naturally when the characters choose to reveal it. I’ve read that Stephen King does the same, and it really does work for me. If you trust in your characters to guide the story, you won’t be disappointed.

But then there are instances where the characters refuse to co-operate. I put them in the naughty corner and tend to another project before they are like “Callie, come back to me! Here’s your ending, write this scene! Come back!” [laughs]
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy for me, is enjoying what I've written and when I am moved, I feel like I've achieved something. If readers enjoy my work, then I'm even more pleased. I work very hard on my characters to make them likeable, and realistic. Even if they do things that normal don't, or their way of thinking is one way and normal people don't share it, I give my characters many layers to build a realistic person.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean a lot. I always listen to my feedback and what fans have said. They wanted to know more about my short story, Impulse, so I wrote a prequel to summarised it all nicely. I'll always take their feedback on board. Though I have a feeling they may want a sequels to most of my stories. I want them! But I'd have to see if I could do the sequel justice, out of respect for the characters.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a novel outline called 'Paradise Burning' (working title) and editing my previous novels ready for beta readers, and/or publication. I have two novelettes ('Shattered' and 'Disenchanted') that will be released shortly, with any luck.
Who are your favorite authors?
Tess Gerritsen is one of my favourites. I love how she incorporates her medical background while building a very thrilling, gripping story with likeable characters and brilliant dialogue. I'm also very interested in medicine and am training to become a Nurse, so I get extra pleasure from her books.

Ellen Hopkins is my favourite YA author, the only one I've really read, and she is an incredible writer. She writes about the themes I adore, and it inspires me to write about them too. Despite some readers being turned off, there is an audience for that.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The prospect of this new story idea I thought of/dreamt of, or getting back to a story. I am always thinking about my stories or my next one as I finish one project. It's quite shocking how dedicated I can be when it comes to writing because I've rarely experienced that kind of dedication with other areas (such as studying).
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Currently, either studying or catching up on sleep. But I am always thinking about writing, or noting down dialogue I think of on the bus, or when walking through the street.
Published 2013-09-30.
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