Harry Hunsicker is a crime writer and the former executive vice-president of the Mystery Writers of America.
His work has been short-listed for both the Shamus and Thriller Awards.
We got together for a quick chat about writing.
Firstly, thanks for agreeing to the interview Harry, I know you’re very busy.
So tell me a bit about how you started writing crime thrillers.
I’ve always been a big reader, especially of thrillers and mysteries.
At some point I had that moment that most writers experience, where I wondered if I could create the same kind of books.
I know you’re also the former executive vice-president of the Mystery Writers of America. What was that experience like?
I’ve been on the board of the Mystery Writers of America off and on for a number of years. In 2008, I served as the executive vice president.
It was a marvelous experience in that I got to meet a lot of interesting people and travel a great deal.
It sounds like a great experience.
So your debut novel Still River was nominated for a Shamus Award. How did it feel to get that kind of recognition for your very first novel?
Incredibly gratifying. Then, I lost.
Ah, ok… Moving swiftly along…!
I generally outline my stories before starting to write, but I know other authors who prefer to just see where the story takes them. What approach do you tend to use?
I need to know the climax or twist that all stories have.
Sometimes I have an extensive outline, other times just a few notes. But I always like to know that twist before I start.
I’m generally like that with novels, but not so much with short stories.
So I read that you visited a power plant to research The Grid. How much research do you generally carry out for each book?
Visiting the power plant for The Grid was the most research I have ever done.
Most times, I just spent a lot of time on google. I find that if I research too much, it bogs down my story telling.
In terms of characters, where did Jon Cantrell and Lee Henry Oswald come from, and – I have to ask this as I’ve been asked the same question about some of my characters – how much of them is you?
I read a lot of detective fiction and hard boiled stuff so I wanted characters who reflected that end of the genre.
As with most – all? – writers my characters are completely fictional except for a large dollop of wish fulfillment.
We all want to be able to solve the crime, get the girl, have the witty comeback, etc, and when you create a character, you can do all that.
So in my latest novel I use a mix of first person and third person narrative, alternating from one chapter to another, and I can see that you wrote The Grid in this way too.
Why did you decide to use this combination rather than choosing one over the other?
I wanted to try and write from a woman’s point of view.
Turns out she was crazy, so I’m not sure what that says about me.
In terms of short stories, I like writing them as I find I can get away with more – for instance the main character can die at the end without the reader feeling cheated.
What do you like about writing shorter fiction?
I like short fiction because I know very quickly if the story is going to work or not.
So are there any tips you would give any aspiring authors, and is there anything you wish you had been told before you started?
Never give up.
Ok so lastly, I read that as a child you wanted to be either a fireman or a cowboy. Are these still ambitions of yours? 😉
Where are earth did you read that? If I had to choose, I would say cowboy.
Good choice – they’ve got cooler hats…! And it was in a piece you wrote about Dallas* by the way.
Thanks again for your time Harry.
You can find Harry at his website – www.harryhunsicker.com