Author Interview: C.H. Bunn
The Hawk And His Boy is the first book of the Tormay trilogy. It begins with a young thief named Jute. There's nothing particularly special about him, other than a knack for being quiet and having quick hands. One night, his master in the Thieves Guild instructs him to break into a wizard's house and steal an old wooden box. They have a client for the job who is eager to pay a great deal of gold for the box. It should've been an easy job. Climb down the chimney, find the box, and get out fast. His master tells him, on pain of death, do not open the box. Of course, being a boy, Jute opens the box and sets off a chain of events that soon has him on the run from the wizard, the entire Thieves Guild, and their client, who happens to be the Lord of Darkness himself. On his odyssey of escape, Jute is aided by an odd assortment of friends, including a guilt-ridden assassin, an overly-talkative ghost, and a hawk who just might be able to teach him how to fly. But the Darkness will do anything to find Jute, even if it means plunging the whole land of Tormay into war.
About the Author:
I was born and raised in central coast California. In my early years, I worked on my family's farm. After high school, I spent some years wandering around the world, working various jobs and also volunteering in missions. I've done construction in the Amazon, relief work for the United Nations in Thailand, and orphanage work in Ethiopia. I've worked on a kibbutz in Israel, done construction in Hawaii, and mission work in Kenya. My wandering during those days took me to around 30 countries. I have a BS in Liberal Studies and a MA in Film/TV Production. After grad school, I spent several years working for a TV production company in Scotland, followed by several years working for an animation company in Chicago. Currently, I'm back in California, where I again work on my family's farm. Funny how life seems to come full-circle.
1. When did you decide to start writing?
I've been fiddling around with stories ever since I was a boy in grammar school. I wrote a story in the seventh grade (something to do with aliens, intelligent avocadoes and a blender) that so alarmed my teacher that she sent a note home to my parents recommending I see a therapist. My parents decided against the idea and I guess I turned out mostly all right.
I started writing seriously, however, at the age of 30. I was working in Chicago for a company that made the animated series VeggieTales. The work was good, but the peons (such as myself) weren't allowed to participate in the story portion of the animation process. This frustrated me to no end, and it was this frustration that compelled me to start writing seriously.
2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a novel in it?
I write in several different genres, but my main love is fantasy. I've been a longtime admirer of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis for the depth and beauty of their storytelling. Their work has inspired my own efforts in fantasy, including The Hawk And His Boy.
3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?
I wasn't worried about word count when I first started writing because I was clueless about industry standards for acceptable length. When I finally learned there were standards, I got fairly depressed as I had just finished writing The Hawk And His Boy. The book is part of a longer book (The Tormay Trilogy), and the complete work clocked in at 450,000 words. That's about as long as a phone book or one of those IRS tax code manuals. I started pruning at that point with a chainsaw.
4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?
I don't have any real quirks, such as needing to wear a bow tie while writing, or that sort of thing. I do have some practices I usually follow, though. I tend to write copious amounts of back-story in order to give myself a firm footing for the actual story. I'll also write the beginning, then the end, and then spend the rest of the time calculating how to get from one to the other.
5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?
If I had to describe The Hawk And His Boy in one word, it would be escape. The three main characters in the book are all trying to escape various things. The thief boy, Jute, is trying to escape a considerable number of different people and interests who are trying to kill him. The assassin, Ronan, is trying to escape his past. Levoreth, the girl from the wilds, is trying to escape the dreadful burden of who she is.
Mind you, the word escape holds true only for the first book of my trilogy. The rest of the books and their larger story are built on themes of redemption, death, sacrifice, love and revenge.
6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?
There's a nod in that title to C. S. Lewis. I'm a big fan of his book The Horse And His Boy. My title, The Hawk And His Boy, however, refers to the two characters, the thief boy, Jute, and his mentor, the old hawk. The rest of the characters and story revolves around who those two are and the choices they make.
7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?
My hope is fairly simple. I hope that my readers will just have a great time reading my book. My aim with this story was to spin a dream that would hold true from the first word to the last. I'm a firm believer in escapist stories and I think there's nothing more delightful than to be able to plunge into someone else's tale for a couple hours and finally come back to the surface, smiling and all the better for the experience. I hope that The Hawk And His Boy can provide such an escape.
8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.
Initially, I planned on trying the traditional agent route. Query letters, slush piles, excel spreadsheets filled with minute detail about this or that agency, what they had already published, what they were looking for, quirks of their agents, etc. But then I realized that query letters, statistically, could sit molding in inboxes and on desks for months, that manuscripts could sit and gather dust for even longer, that, even if accepted by an agent, the subsequent process of finding an editor and a publishing house could take even longer. It was at that point that decided to go the epublishing route. I have no grand plans of becoming the next Robert Jordan. I'm happy enough to get my book out there into the ether and start selling it, one at a time. I'm content with that, and I have three other books nearly finished that'll soon be joining the first.
9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?
If I can give any advice, it's this: write, and keep on writing. Also, read a lot. And don't just read the genres you're most comfortable with. If you haven't read a biography or a history or a memoir since the force-fed days of high school, go read one. It'll do you good, and it'll do your writing good. Read the classics. There are pretty good reasons why they're classics.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be a part of my Author Interview series, Christopher. It was a pleasure having you. And, dear readers, Christopher has been gracious enough to giveaway a couple of Kindle copies of his novel The Hawk And His Boy. So, stay tuned. Tomorrow's post will let you know how you can win a copy.