J.A. Hunsinger is represented by the interviewer's Pump Up Your Book Promotion, a public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.
J.A. Hunsinger is the author of the new historical fiction novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, which is a character-driven series of historical fiction books about the adventures of medieval Vikings as they struggle to establish a settlement in North America in the face of hostile native opposition. We interviewed J.A. to find out more about his book and his life as a published author.
Thank you for this interview, Jerry. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I am a retired commercial airline pilot, technical writer, and air transport engineering technical pilot. During my flying career, I ranched for twenty years. Then later I owned and operated a commercial fishing vessel in Texas for ten years. I have been writing since the nuns taught me composition in grade school. Axe of Iron: The Settlers is my first novel.
Do you write full-time?
Yes, I work every day, either writing or promoting.
Was there anyone in your life that you can give credit to helping pave the way?
That is easy, my wife Phyllis. Without her support and advocacy, I would not have completed and published this first novel of my series. It is the most difficult undertaking of my life. She pushes me just enough, and I need a push on occasion, to get the job done.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Axe of Iron: The Settlers is the first novel of a continuing character-driven tale of a medieval people whose wanderlust and yearning for adventure cause them to leave the two established settlements on Greenland and sail west, to the unexplored land later referred to as Vinland.
Eirik the Red established Eiriksfjord in 986 and later Lysufjord, 400-miles to the north. Just 22-years later, new settlers from the homelands found all the best land already occupied, the fragile Arctic environment strained by too many people and animals on too little arable land.
Under the capable leadership of Halfdan Ingolfsson and his lieutenant, Gudbjartur Einarsson, 315 men, women, and children set sail from Greenland in the spring of 1008, bound for the unexplored continent across the western ocean.
Standing in their way are uncounted numbers of indigenous people, the pre-historical ancestors of the Cree (Naskapi), Ojibwa (Anishinabeg), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians. From the outset, these native people strenuously resist the incursion of these tall, pale-skinned invaders.
Two calamitous events occur that pave the way for the hostile beginnings of an assimilation process to occur between these disparate peoples. The way is rocky and fraught with danger at every turn, but the acceptance and friendship that develops between the Northmen and the Naskapi over an affair of honor, the eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and a scenario that seems ordained by the will of the gods, makes it all begin to fall into place, as it must for the Northmen to survive.
See the saga unfold, in this first book of the Axe of Iron series, through the eyes of the characters as each day brings a continuation of the toil, love, hardship, and danger that they come to expect in this unforgiving new land.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
My Swedish/German heritage gave me a lifelong interest in the Vikings. My studies and research on the subject opened a window to the many opportunities for a writer to craft a story using fiction to convey topics of a historical nature. My writing focus is exclusively on the Norse people who voyaged west of Iceland in 986, settling Greenland and portions of North America in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In my character-driven novels, I combine the scant history of the medieval Greenland Norse people that we have, along with my own imagination, to craft a plausible story about their still unexplained disappearance.
Why did you feel a need to write it?
There are those of us who contend that the settlers of Norse Greenland assimilated with the pre-historical natives of North America. My novels are dedicated, in part, to them, the four thousand settlers who disappeared. I believe that they did not disappear; rather they assimilated over the course of the five hundred year history of the Norse Greenland settlements. I show this assimilation process, in my five book Axe of Iron series, through the eyes of my characters, from both a Norse and pre-historical native perspective. You will note that I do not refer to them as Indians, for the time that I depict is five hundred years before Columbus erroneously called the natives of the islands of Hispaniola, Indians.
What kind of research did you have to do to write your book?
Research is extensive and ongoing. I have amassed an extensive library of books and university research papers on the Viking culture. I also have a library of DVD course material on the subject. My books would not have been possible, given the authenticity depicted therein, without the data available on the internet. With the exception of university papers, the data are free for the most part. My wife and I have also traveled extensively in Scandinavia, visiting Viking sites and museums. Summertime travel will continue as we visit the areas of Greenland, Canada, and the U.S. where my tales take place.
What message are you trying to convey with this book?
I want to tell the story of a people, in a fictional sense, through their eyes, to give their individual lives, their very existence, a meaning in a manner that no novelist has ever undertaken.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
Historical fiction has always been of primary interest to me because it gives the reader a vision, in a well-written book, of a time that we have not experienced.
Where do you get ideas to write your books?
As the saying goes, “So much, so little time.” At my age, I will not exhaust the possibilities in my area of interest.
How do you deal with rejection?
Do you write mainly by day or by night?
Usually, my day begins early in the morning and extends into early evening. Sometimes I will awaken from a sound sleep with ideas that must be written down, so I begin then.
Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?
Writer’s block is unknown to me. I believe that if a writer sticks with what they know, and I do, such will not occur. I live with my characters each and everyday, I mean with them, and I resume that contact at will.
How long did it take your book to be published from the time you submitted and was accepted to the time it was finally released?
Almost two years, production of a quality book without errors is a long process.
Can you tell us a little about the publisher who published your book?
My wife, Phyllis, and I own Vinland Publishing, LLC, the publisher of Axe of Iron: The Settlers. We are interested only, like most publishers, in a very narrow list of genres that are detailed on our website under Submissions.
Do you blog?
Yes. In my view, the internet is vital to book promotion. I have utilized, and will continue to utilize every avenue for book promotion on the internet. A blog focused on your areas of interest that naturally afford the opportunity for promotion of your literary works is as important as any other advertising. More people will view your efforts on the internet and the cost vs. exposure aspect of a blog are minimal compared to print advertising, which I have found to have very limited value.
Do you have a website?
Absolutely! A website is vital to an author.
How do you deal with a bad review?
Thus far, I have not had a bad review. On the contrary, they have all been most complimentary of my work. All have commented favorably on my extensive research and the richness of my characters. I am happy about that.
What’s next for you?
The first draft of the next book, Axe of Iron: Confrontation has been edited. BookMasters, Inc. does all of my production, warehousing, and fulfillment. They will receive the manuscript and graphics soon. I expect publication to be June 2009.
Thank you for this interview, Jerry!