Welcome to another episode of Couch Convos! Today we welcome A. Renee Hunt, author of ‘Puddle’ to the blog. Let’s get started.
LWT: How did you get into writing?
©A. Renee Hunt used with permission
ARH: I began writing back in elementary school. I was a military brat, so I was alone a lot. My thing was to hide in bathrooms and write stories. I’ve had a lifelong obsession with journals, so I used to buy them with my allowance. I would then calculate a story, with illustrations, and write so the tale fit perfectly inside. I would either keep them for myself or give them to my friends. Everyone loved them so I asked for a typewriter and the end result: me today!
LWT: In this book you take a silly childhood pastime and turn it into something sinister. How did you come up with this concept?
ARH: That’s a fun story I share; I’m a home school mom who believes in morning walks. When my son was in sixth grade, we took a walk on a rainy day. Normally we stomp puddles, but this storm snuck up on us unprepared. On the way home, I was struck with the idea of stomping a puddle, but instead of making a huge mess of a splash, we fell in. I could see the opening above me, while beneath the rainwater and everything! So we got home and I grabbed my umbrella and camera and snapped a bunch of photos. That day, I wrote the tale in about four hours. The current version has been revamped, but still the original story.
LWT: I read the 2nd Anniversary Edition of ‘Puddle’. Were there any significant changes to this edition?
ARH: Yes I’ve made some changes, that I felt were significant, but only to lend the urban legend more substance. At the time, I was living in DeSoto, MO, which carries a lot of history, both black and white. I wanted to add more into Puddle, without taking from the original myth. Some of the events mentioned are from true, but as far as which ones… I won’t say. “wink wink”
LWT: When I write I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Quinn and Maxine?
ARH: When it came to Quinn, I saw my middle school self, because I was always new. Many times, I was the only black kid or one of a few, as well, so it just worked. I saw a friend of mine named Nicole as Maxine. She and I became besties, years after she’d beat me up for being new. Another crazy story I may share in a novelette.
LWT: Did you allow your son to read this story or was it too scary for him?
ARH: Whenever I decide to write a short story on children, I always want it safe for my son to read. Reading is a huge deal for me, passed on by my engineer of a father, so if I’m writing on kids at a certain age, I want my son to be able to read it too. Thankfully, this one wasn’t bad for him, but he’s not really in to horror… yet.
LWT: I see you have written a couple of Halloween tales. Do you only write short stories for children?
ARH: Those Halloween tales were actually written for my son. He was the inspiration- he’s even on the cover of the In The Walls short stories. I’ve had a lot of friends enjoy them but no, children are not my usual focus. I usually write with New Adults in mind. I guess because that’s how I still see myself. And I’m not!
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
ARH: Ever since my first experience with traditional publishing and moved Indie, I’ve always done things backwards. When I get a story idea, I create my book cover. Either I will make it all from scratch myself, or I will reach out to a really fabulous artist I’d originally found on Fiverr.com. Now we’re friends and he’s my Go To man for artwork. I draw it, but he creates what I want to see, like a true visionary.
LWT: Do you use social media and does it help with sales?
ARH: I love social media, but as far as it helping me, I can say about half. By no means do I feel I’m a big selling author, because that’s no why I write. I just love the idea of getting a story out of me and sharing. When I use social media, it helps but I mostly use it to help others. Crazy I guess.
LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.
©A. Renee Hunt used with permission
ARH: LOL Spill the tea; I like that! My process is as such: I gain an idea and purchase a new journal. I then create my characters in such a way’ they practically come to life. When I can see them clearly, I have them drawn by my concept artist. I then add their pics to my journal and as I write, they’re either on my computer, beside my document, or open in my book so I can see them. To me, they’re real- conversations, quirks, jobs- I need to see them. I can write any place at any time, on my Mac, iPhone or iPads. I also take lots of notes and add them to the journal. By the time I’m done with the story, that journal is a wreck!
LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?
ARH: My worst challenge as an indie author was when I took my traditionally published, first novel back from the publisher. It was crazy, I was foolish and I didn’t have the control I was promised. Now, I can do what I wish when I want, and when it flops, I have myself to blame on my choices- not someone else’s.
LWT: How does your editing process work?
ARH: Oh my goodness, my editing process is very redundant. I run through it a few times, making changes. Then I read it again with changes. Then again, before passing it to someone to read. I make appropriate adjustments and read it again. Then I find a team of at least 6, then make adjustments and read again, before sending it to an editor. I then read it again. By the time it’s published, I’m sick of it!
LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?
ARH: My three tips are: (1) Don’t ever pay to be published! (2) Make yourself sick of your story by reading it so many times, you can find nothing wrong. Then hand it to others for editing. My final tip, (3) Always keep a thesaurus on hand. It should become your best friend.
LWT: Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?
ARH: I believe the most unique method of marketing I’ve ever had the pleasure was marketing inside a comic book. A friend of mine was releasing his first graphic novel, and he gave me a half page, FREE! Best move I ever agreed to.
LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
ARH: I’m not even going to lie- my best resource are other authors! I read more than 200 books a year (physical, ebook & audio), and because of their styles, I developed my own. As an author, the best thing you can do is glean successes and mistakes made by other authors.
LWT: We met on Instagram, where you are very active. How important is a site like Instagram for indie writers?
©A. Renee Hunt used with permission
ARH: I am just now easing up on how much I’m on media, but I LOVE Instagram more than any other site. People share and interact more there, than any other for me. Plus, there’s no drama.
LWT: What does success look like for you?
ARH: Oh that’s an easy one! Success is when my mom called me last week stating, my aunt had mentioned to some friends that her niece was an author and stated my name. They said they knew my name and title- even the story’s theme. They’re in Philly! Needless to say, I was elated. To me, that’s the best form of success; someone knew my name and my story. The sales can come later.
LWT: What’s up next for you?
ARH: I am currently writing my first serious novel, as an Indie Author. The Malignant Soul is my toughest project yet, because I have to go deeper than I’ve ever gone emotionally. With a novel of this capacity, I need more description, more personality and more of a plot. It’s a complex story, but I believe my research and imagery will push this novel to great heights.
A. Renee Hunt, Alyssa by those who know her, is a home school mother, London Lover, Book & Funko Pop Hoarder, Tea Drinker, Reader & Reviewer. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and son.To connect with A. Renee please click the links to her Social Media sites below. To purchase her e-book, Puddle, click here to go to Amazon
Author Website: http://www.areneehunt.com